Sister Noella Marcellino Ph.D. is a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, CT, where she began making the Abbey’s Bethlehem cheese in 1977 according to a traditional technique taught to her by a native of the Auvergne France. She received her doctorate in Microbiology in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut in 2003. With the aid of a Fulbright Scholarship to France
in 1994 and a subsequent three-year fellowship from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), she traveled 30,000 km through traditional cheese-making regions collecting native strains of the yeast-like fungus Geotrichum candidum to assess its biochemical and genetic diversity. A documentary film about this journey, The Cheese Nun: Sister Noëlla’s Voyage of Discovery, produced by the Paris American Television Company, has been shown in film festivals and aired nationally on PBS Television in 2006.
Sister Noella was honored with the reception of the International Academy of Gastronomy’s Grand Prix de la Science de l’Alimentation in 2005, and the French Food Spirit Award in Scientific Advancement, given in the French Senate, Paris, in 2003. She was a scholar-in-residence at the 2011 American Cheese Society Conference in Montreal. She is a contributing author to The Oxford Companion to Cheese, Oxford University Press, 2016, and to the American Society of Microbiology book Cheese and Microbes released in April 2014. She was a guest lecturer for the Harvard University Science & Cooking Public Lecture Series in November 2016.
Her work has been featured in Dr. Andrew Weil’s book Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being, as well as in the 2016 Netflix documentary series Cooked, Part IV Earth: Fermentation's Cold Fire, directed by Alex Gibney and based on journalist and author Michael Pollan's book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, published in 2013.