Milton Sommerfeld was a professor in the Department of Applied Biological Sciences and co-director of the Laboratory of Algae Research and Biotechnology. He served as chair of the Department of Botany and Microbiology (1980-88), and associate dean for research and facilities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1989-2004). He mentored more than 60 master's students and doctoral students, postdoctoral associates and numerous undergraduates. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Phycological Society of America, British Phycological Society, International Phycological Society, Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, The Society of Sigma Xi and the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. He passed away on May 16, 2017.
He received the Graduate Mentor Award from the ASU Graduate College (1985), Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award from the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1987), Arizona Technology Enterprize's 2007 Innovator of the Year for technologies related to algae biofuels, Algae biofuels research listed as #11 on Time Magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2008.