Biochemistry faculty profile – Professor Ann C. Palmenberg

Photo of Ann Palmenberg
Professor Ann Palmenberg.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, go to school, your influences?

In 2016 my professional autobiography “The Language of Life” was published in Annual Review of Virology. It covers all of the above and many more stories. A copy is available on my website.

What is the focus of your research?

I take apart RNA viruses and put them back together again to see how they work.

What do you consider your major accomplishments?

Establishing a successful, productive, honest career in academic science at a time when that was tough for women.

What advice would you provide to a new assistant professor who is just starting his/her career?

If this is indeed what you want to do, you can do it. Be prepared to fight and stand up for yourself. The rewards and personal satisfaction are worth it. Success is not an entitlement.

When you are not working, what do you like to do? What is your favorite place in Madison?

Camp Randall during a home football game; the Kohl Center during MBB of MHK; my back patio with the raspberries, cherry tree, and a cold beer in hand.

Favorite Quote

“I’ll do it.”

Fantasy Dinner Guests

Aaron Rogers, Russell Wilson, Deric Jeter

Best Advice I Ever Received

“Don’t marry me. I’ll slow you down.”

My Undergrad Alma Mater

St. Lawrence University

My Worst Subject in School

Scientific German

If I Weren’t A Professor, I Would

Write novels

In College I Drove

Baby-blue VW bug

Favorite Books

Anything by LeCarre

Favorite City


Favorite Movies

Anything James Bond

Favorite Coffee

Whatever is currently in my hand

Current Research

Vaccines for respiratory viruses, including the common cold

My Latest Accomplishment

Ten year cancer survivor

Nobody Knows

I played/pitched semi-pro softball (fast pitch) for 10 years in grad school and my early career years and used the winnings to supplement my meager UW stipends. I had to stop when I joined the faculty.