Dear Members of the Search Committee,
It is my pleasure to recommend Dr. Susan Hoffmann for the position of Assistant Professor in your department. Susan was my graduate student and ranks among my very best students. I recommend her to you highly.
As a student, Susan coloned and characterized the gliD gene from Cytophaga johnsoniae. She made the intriguing discovery that the GliD protein is required for gliding behavior in Cytophaga and its human hromologue is associated with a highly metastatic form of breast cancer. This observation suggests that there may be features in common between bacterial gliding motility and mobility of human tumor cells. A highly productive collaboration with Professor David Whitely led to the crystallization and high resolution structure of the GliD protein. That work was published in a PNAS paper, on which Susan is a co-author. In addition to the PNAS paper, Susan published three other papers from her thesis, which attest to her hard work, biological insight, and outstanding writing skills. Her high productivity as a graduate student is particularly remarkable because she had two children while in graduate school and her husband is a resident in emergency room medicine.
Susan continued her record of excellent work as a post doctoral student in Jim Wooley's lab working on Bacillus subtilis development. Once again, Susan discovered a gene that is found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, this time in a search for sporulation genes in B. subtilis. She identified a new sporulation gene, designated spoW, which has a mammalian homologue that appears to be associated with lympshocyte differentiation and maturation. Susan has been slow to publish this work and therefore has no publications from her three-year postdoctoral study. No doubt her family responsibilities have contributed to this delay.
Susan proved herself an able mentor and a sterling classroom teacher. She has three undergraduate researchers who have all coauthored publications, which is indicative of the excellent mentorship they received from Susan. Similarly, her calassroom teaching was met with rave reviews. Of all of my students, I feel the most comfortable to ask Susan to cover my classes for me when I was out of town because I knew she would do a great job. Susan was also a cooperative and reliable lab's citizen. She handled responsibility well and conscientiously followed through on all that was asked of her to maintain equipment and ensure that safety standards were met.
In short I give Susan my highest recommendation. She is one of the best students I have seen and is a talented teacher and mentor. She has an uncanny ability to unmask genes that play parallel roles in bacteria and mammals, and I expect her to continue to be as productive and creative as she was as a student in my lab. She would be a good catch for any department and I urge you to consider her candidacy seriously.