Bette Korber (PhD '88) is a laboratory fellow in theoretical biology and biophysics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She is lauded for pioneering achievements in virology research and computational vaccine design, which provide hope against diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and she continues to equip the scientific community with insights into HIV and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Korber has broken new ground in bioinformatics, viral evolution, vaccine design, and SARS-CoV-2 genomic monitoring. She increased understanding of the early history of HIV in Africa and pioneered computational vaccine designs that confer protection in animal models against HIV, influenza, and filoviruses. Her HIV mosaic vaccine design is currently being tested in a large-scale clinical trial in the Americas. She also led the HIV database project, an effort that provides a comprehensive collection of HIV sequence data to the global scientific community.
Korber delayed retirement in 2020 to study SARS-CoV-2 and soon demonstrated that the virus was rapidly evolving to become more infectious, a discovery cited thousands of times. Her numerous honors include the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, the Department of Energy's highest scientific honor, and both the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Richard P. Feynman Innovation Prize and Los Alamos Medal, the lab's highest honor. She is also a singer-songwriter, and her song "Veneration" recently won a 2022 New Mexico Music Award.