The American Society for Microbiology Is pleased to Announce its Designation of the
The Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station, Site of Herbert William Conn's Research Laboratory
at the Connecticut Agricultural College (now the University of Connecticut, Storrs)
Milestones in Microbiology site
Milestones Site Dedication Ceremony
A ceremony unveiling the plaque that will mark the site as a Milestone in Microbiology was held on Saturday, October 26, 2013, during the Region One ASM Branch Meeting, hosted by the Connecticut Valley Branch of ASM, at the University of Connecticut Storrs. Stanley Maloy, ASM Past President, presented the plaque on behalf of ASM.
The Milestones Plaque
A symposium, “Herbert W. Conn’s Golden Age of Bacteriology becomes The New Golden Age of Microbial Biology,” was held in conjunction with the Milestones dedication ceremony. Click Here for PDF of Symposium Program
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy issued a Gubernatorial Proclamation in honor of H.W. Conn, and the Milestones designation of the University of Connecticut. The Proclamation was read during the ceremony and formal copies were presented to descendants of Conn who attended the ceremony. Click Here for text of Gubernatorial Proclamation.
Historical Background of the Milestones Site
The Milestones designation of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) recognizes the accomplishments of Herbert William Conn, one of the founders of the Society of American Bacteriologists (now the American Society for Microbiology or ASM).
Conn’s major achievements include
- Research in agricultural and dairy bacteriology carried out at the Storrs Agricultural Station
- Establishment of Bacteriology as a separate academic discipline at the Connecticut Agricultural College
- Leadership in public health microbiology
- Effective communication of science to the public
- Founding of the American Academy of Public Health
- Founding of the Society of American Bacteriologists
The Milestones in Microbiology award recognizes the accomplishments of this remarkable microbiologist and the lasting impact his work has had in agricultural science, public health and education.
Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station and Beyond:
Herbert W. Conn’s international fame in dairy bacteriology began during his tenure as the bacteriologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station on the campus of the Storrs Agricultural School (1889-1905). Conn’s research on the formation of butter and milk spoilage led to advances in bacterial cultivation, physiological measurement techniques, and dairy product production. His research at the Station served as the basis for the “Butter Exhibition” at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which allowed the public to taste flavors of butters made using different bacteria.
Starting in 1892, Conn served as "Lecturer on Dairy Bacteriology" at the Connecticut Agricultural College and so established the first formal instruction in Bacteriology at what was to become the University of Connecticut. After Conn stepped down from his instructional duties at the College in 1906, his laboratory assistant and former student William Esten continued in Conn’s footsteps and became Professor of Dairy Bacteriology at the College.
Conn became a leading advocate for public health laws as a result of his work, and in 1905 was appointed Director of the new Connecticut State Board of Health Laboratory, one of the first such bodies in the United States. He founded the American Academy of Public Health and served on the New York Commission on Milk Standards. Conn was also an accomplished educator at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he founded the Biology Department and served as its head until his death in 1917.
Founding of SAB (now ASM):
While working at the Agricultural Station, Conn collaborated with Drs. A. C. Abbott (University of Pennsylvania) and E. O. Jordan (University of Chicago) to found the Society of American Bacteriologists (later ASM). At the inaugural meeting of the Society held at Yale University in 1899, Conn presented research that reflected his achievements at the Station. His presentation, “Natural Varieties of Bacteria,” included an exhibit of cultures of a highly variable Micrococcus which he had isolated from milk.
The General Public....and Mark Twain:
Not only did Conn write many important papers for professional scientific publications, but he also wrote and lectured extensively for the general public about microbes, evolution and public health. His popular 1897 book The Story of Germ Life inspired Mark Twain’s unfinished story, 3,000 Years Among the Microbes.
- Click Here for MICROBE article (January 2014 issue) regarding the UCONN Milestones Designation
- Click Here for Press Release Announcing UCONN Milestones Designation
- Click Here for text of Gubernatorial Proclamation
- For more information on H.W. Conn and other charter members of ASM, click here
- Click Here to learn about UCONN exhibit on Mark Twain and the Science of H. W. Conn
- Click Here to Access Herbert Conn: Mark Twain's Microbiologist Muse (Microbe, July 2011)
- For more information on the Milestones in Microbiology program, click here.
Any questions? Contact the ASM Archivist