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Dr. Les Sommerville

Dr. Les Sommerville
Professor of Chemistry


  • Biochemistry
  • Common soil organisms belonging to the phylum acidobacteria


  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, 1985
  • Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Fort Lewis College, 1980



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Dr. Les Sommerville is available to comment on topics related to areas of interest or expertise. If you need further assistance, contact Public Affairs at 970-247-7401 or by email.

About Dr. Sommerville

Les Sommerville is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Fort Lewis College. He is a 1980 alumnus of Fort Lewis and joined the college as a faculty member in 1991. Dr. Sommerville is the director and principal investigator of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences-Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) U-STAR program, which aims to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences by preparing junior and senior-level students for high-caliber graduate training at the Ph.D. level. He is the co-principal investigator with several other Fort Lewis faculty members of the Four Corners STEM Success (FOCUSS) program, a National Science Foundation grant. In addition, Dr. Sommerville is the principal investigator of Science Scholars: the Native Path Program pending funding by the Society for the Advancement of Native American and Chicano Scientists. Dr. Sommerville mentors many Fort Lewis students in his research involving glucose metabolism, enzymology,and other biochemical aspects of a common soil microorganism Acidobacterium capsulatum. He has received numerous major grants to fund this research and to mentor student researchers. Prior to Fort Lewis, Dr. Sommerville was a faculty member at St. Lawrence University, a visiting assistant professor at Bates College and an adjunct research faculty member at Clarkson University. He was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona, where he studied the structural dynamics of gizzard myosin. 

Dr. Sommerville is involved with numerous national and community organizations, including the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and the Native Americans in Science and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. Locally, Dr. Sommerville is a past board member for the Durango Discovery Museum. 

Selected Publications and Presentations

“Characterization of Aldolase and Transaldolase Activities in Acidobacterium capsulatum,” SACNAS National Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, 2015

“Analysis of Alternatives to Monitoring of Fish in Lake Nighthorse: Use of Water Quality Data to Indicate Levels of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Fish and Use of Fish Fillet Samples to Indicate Levels of Methylmercury Bioaccumulation in Whole Fish”, Bureau of Reclamation, Durango CO, 2009
“Acidobacteria phylum sequences in uranium-contaminated subsurface sediments greatly expand the known diversity within the phylum,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2009

“Acidobacteria phylum sequences in uranium contaminated subsurface sediments” Los Alamos National Laboratory unclassified report #06-5555. U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., 2006

“Glucose Metabolism and Enzymology in Acidobacterium capsulatum”, 229th ACS National Meeting in San Diego, CA, 2004