McDaniel College Honors Zengel Sisters

By Anahita Sotoohi

On April 9, Janet Zengel Messer and her twin sister Janice Zengel, both of the class of 1970, were inducted into the McDaniel College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The twin sisters had previously been members of the Argonauts, the honors society of McDaniel College, prior to the establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter there in 1980. At the time of their graduation, both sisters received high honors in biology and were members of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society.

Janice Zengel earned a Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1976 and followed it with research at Stanford. She worked as a research associate at the University of Rochester for six years, which included a year as a visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen. In 1994, Zengel returned to Maryland to serve as the senior research scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Maryland, a position she held for nearly twenty years. Her current research focuses on the formation and function of ribosomes.

Zengel currently lives in Pittsburgh, although she occasionally commutes to Baltimore to give lectures. Over the course of her career, she has received grants from the National Science Foundation as well as the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and published forty-five peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals such as RNA as well as an article in the upcoming Journal of Bacteriology. Zengel was also cited in the 2009 book Protein Synthesis and Ribosome Structure (Wiley, 2004). She was named Mentor of the Year at the University of Maryland in 2004 and was particularly commended for her work with minority students enrolled in the Meyerhoff Program.

Her sister’s academic career has been equally illustrious. When Janet Zengel Messer graduated from McDaniel, she immediately headed to the University of Miami, where she earned a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics in 1973. She worked as a research associate professor at the University of Miami for five years, then worked as an associate research scientist at Emory University for two years. In 1980, Messer returned to Florida to work simultaneously as a research biologist at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center as well as an adjunct professor of neuroscience at the University of Florida College of Medicine. In her time at those institutions, Messer published articles in journals such as the Journal of General Physiology and the Journal of Neurophysiology.

In 1998, Messer and her husband, Joe, created Global Power Resources, Inc., which provides engineering and mechanical service to industrial and power generation sectors throughout the world. The goal of the company is to aid clients in buying and selling power-generating equipment, and their clients range in location from Canada to Venezuela. Some of their larger corporate clients include CIGNA, Goya Food Products, and Enron North America. She and her husband currently live in and run their company from St. Augustine, Florida.

The sisters were inducted alongside twenty-six current seniors and four juniors. 

Anahita Sotoohi is a senior at Agnes Scott College double majoring in classical languages and art history. Agnes Scott is home to the Beta of Georgia chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

Janet Zengel Messer (left) and Janice Zengel (right) with McDaniel College President Roger N. Casey. Photo Credit: McDaniel College News.