Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter - May 2014

ASM ACTIVITIES

  • CMIIM Special Interest Session at asm2014
  • ASM Kadner Institute: Last Call!
  • Coming this Summer: ASM M(icro)OOCs!
  • Calls for asm2014 Participants
  • Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) Update
  • 31st Annual Minority Microbiologists’ Mixer
  • Fifth Annual Mentoring Breakfast
  • Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives at asm 2014
  • asmONLINE
  • ICAAC 2014 (54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy)
  • 2015 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting
  • ASM Conferences
  • Abstract Submisson and Registration Opens – May 14, 2014
  • New Report explains how Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy
  • Clinical Microbiology Mentoring
  • Special Interest Session: Anatomy of an Evidence-based Medicine Guideline

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITIES

  • National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program (NRT)
  • Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
  • Predoctoral Training in Biomedical Big Data Science (T32)
  • Limited Competition: Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research Coordination Center (U54)
  • Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS (DP2)

ARTICLES OF INTEREST AND OTHER UPDATES

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate Position Examining Microbial Interactions in Marine Plankton
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration Research Biologist
  • Postdoctoral fellow in fungal metagenomics and ecology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Doctoral position in the field of ecology/microbial ecology in Dijon, France
  • Master's and Doctoral scholarships in African Ecology

SPOTLIGHT ON MINORITY MICROBIOLOGISTS

  • Alfredo Torres, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX

 


ASM ACTIVITIES

CMIIM Special Interest Session at asm2014
The Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities is sponsoring a special interest session, “Drug Resistance in Populations with Health Disparities.”

Sunday, May 18, 2014
4:45 PM – 6:30 PM
Meeting Room 254A

Multi-drug resistant microbes are emerging public health threats worldwide, challenging our present therapeutic repertoire. Drug resistance exacerbates disease caused by these “super bugs” resulting in serious morbidity for patients and costly hospitalizations. Underserved populations are highly susceptible to acquire severe infections by multi-drug resistant microbes compared to privileged populations due to self-treatment, little etiologic and preventive epidemiologic research, and inaccessibility to medical care. Although acquisition of antibiotic resistance by microorganisms within these populations is multifactorial, the causes often rely on the practices of the individual, the environment, and the genetic plasticity of each specific microorganism. Therefore, understanding these factors as well as the current and potential medical and therapeutic applications are important steps in curtailing the development of multidrug-resistant microbes, aiming to reduce diseases and mortality in underserved populations.

Conveners:

Dwayne Boucaud; Quinnipiac Univ., Hamden, CT.

Luis R. Martinez; Long Island Univ.-Post, Brookville, NY.

Speakers and Presentations:

Antibiotic Stewardship in Hospitals Serving the Underserved
Belinda E. Ostrowsky; Montefiore Med. Ctr., Bronx, NY.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Antimicrobial Resistance
Gail Bolan; CDC, Atlanta, GA.

Epidemiology and Surveillance of Drug Resistance in Homeless Populations
Edward A. Graviss; The Methodist Hosp. Res. Inst., Houston, TX.

Clinical Adherence and Health Literacy
Ann-margaret Navarra; New York Univ. Coll. of Nursing, New York, NY.

ASM Kadner Institute: Last Call!
Senior-level graduate students and early-career postdoctoral scientists are invited to apply for the 2014 ASM Kadner Institute for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scientists in Preparation for Careers in Microbiology. Sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the institute will be held in San Jose, Calif., on July 19-23. Participants receive careful guidance and mentoring in key topics important for succeeding in the microbiological sciences: (i) career preparation and opportunities; (ii) preparation, review, and critique of research proposals; (iii) scientific presentations and communication; (iv) effective teaching methods; and (v) professional ethics development. Apply by May 30. To learn more, visit http://www.asmgap.org/kadner.

Coming this Summer: ASM M(icro)OOCs!
Having offered blended and online courses in teaching, publishing, and career development for the last several years, the Education Board has fast become one of the Society’s most seasoned developers of training via webinar technology. To broaden participation in these trainings, the Board is launching a new webinar series, ASM M(icro)OOCs, in summer 2014.Based on the concept of “massive open online courses” the ASM MOOCs will take place as three professional development webinars on the following topics:

  • ASM Guidelines for Biosafety in Teaching Laboratories – Building a Culture of Biosafety (June)
  • Writing a Teaching Philosophy Statement – Documenting Your Perspective on Teaching and Learning (July)
  • ASM Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Microbiology – Aligning Concepts, Learning Objectives and Assessments (August)

Each MOOC is designed for ASM members (or potential members) who are currently educators or are interested in teaching. Registration is free, and space will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees can sign up for one or all three offerings. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a certificate of participation. To learn more, contact facultyprograms@asmusa.org.

Calls for asm2014 Participants

  • Microbiology Career Choices: What’s Available and How to Succeed. Microbiologists from public health, industry, government, nonprofits, community colleges, clinical and state labs, patent law, science policy and communications, etc., are needed to offer career advice on Saturday, May 17, 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. Share insights about your work – responsibilities, expectations, colleagues, salary, getting started, and advancement – in interactive, roundtable discussions with 10 to 12 students. To be an adviser, please complete the participation form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1YvNBHdsyI8p-8t2Xvc9KsXFLHeRfSVymm8ZG37wdnzU/viewform.
  • Achieving Your Scientific and Career Goals: How an Individual Development Plan Can Help YOU! Trainees in the biomedical sciences who create and follow a written plan are more likely to achieve their research and career goals. An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an important tool for all researchers. Learn more at the asm2014 IDP session on May 19 (4:45-6:30 p.m., Meeting Room 252A). You will learn all about IDPs, including how to create your own!

Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) Update
At a March 2014 planning meeting at ASM headquarters, JMBE editors outlined initiatives for 2014-2016 and reaffirmed the journal’s goal to publish original, previously unpublished, peer-reviewed articles that foster scholarly teaching and provide readily adoptable resources in biology education. The JMBE website (http://JMBE.asm.org) has been updated to include several author enhancements envisioned during the meeting, and upcoming journal plans include a new thematic module about teaching ethics in science and the publication’s planned migration to the ASMscience platform. The module will be organized and peer reviewed by a guest editor and editorial panel, with manuscripts submissions due by July 1. For a comprehensive overview of all the enhancements JMBE editors are planning for the next three years, be sure to read the editorial by JMBE editor-in-chief Samantha Elliott in the journal’s May 2014 issue (volume 15, issue 1).

31st Annual Minority Microbiologists’ Mixer
Mix and mingle at the 31st Annual Minority Microbiologists’ Mixer. The tradition continues on Monday, May 19th from 9:00 – 10:30 p.m. in Grand Ballroom C at the Westin. Close out the evening with dessert and networking with your fellow microbiologists. One free drink ticket per attendee will be provided while supplies last. Please contact Renee Hunter (rhunter@asmusa.org) with any questions.

Fifth Annual Mentoring Breakfast
ASM's Underrepresented Members Committee (UMC) and Committee on Minority Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) are sponsoring the Fifth Annual Mentoring Breakfast on Tuesday, May 20 from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. in room Commonwealth Ballroom A in the Westin. The Mentoring Breakfast will offer students, postdoctoral scientists, and professionals the opportunity to discuss topics relevant to career transitions with committed ASM volunteer mentors. Please contact Jennifer Mercurio (
jmercurio@asmusa.org) with any questions.

Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives at asm 2014
The Center for the History of Microbiology/ASM Archives (CHOMA) Committee is pleased to announce its schedule of asm2014 meeting events:

  • Poster Session on History of Microbiology:

The History of Microbiology Poster Session presents 20+ posters on a wide range of topics in the history of microbiology: scientists, microbes, techniques and flaming marsh gas.

Date: Monday, May 19, 2014
Time: Posters on Display from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm;
Poster presentations are from 10:45 am – 12 Noon

Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Exhibit Hall B (Posters), Poster Board Numbers 1429-1450

  • CHOMA History Exhibit:

The CHOMA Exhibit will display materials from the ASM Archives relating to Early Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, Cradle of ASM Presidents. 
Date: Sunday, May 18, 2014 – Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Time: 10:30 am – 4:00 pm (Sunday-Monday);
10:30 am – 3:00 pm (Tuesday)   

Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Exhibit Hall (in ASM Booth area)

  • History of Microbiology Lecture – Presented In Honor of Martin Dworkin (1927-2014)
    The History of Microbiology Lecture, presented by Lawrence J. Shimkets, University of Georgia, focuses onThree Heroes of Environmental Microbiology – Robert Koch, Sergei Winogradsky and Arthur T. Henrici

Date: Sunday, May 18, 2014
Time: 4:45 pm - 6:15 pm
Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 258A

Date: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Time: 8:30 am – 12 Noon
Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Room 156C

For additional information on these activities and to learn more about CHOMA, go tohttp://www.asm.org/choma

asmONLINE
http://www.asmonlineeducation.com
Can’t attend asm2014? Sign up to access full length presentations, slides, and MP3s from asm2014 via the web. asmONLINE allows you to select the sessions that are of most interest to you. Select all asm2014 sessions, the General program, or the Diagnostic Microbiology & Epidemiology Program.

Please Note: Participation of speakers for all programs is subject to their approval. Sessions will be available beginning May 28, 2014.

ICAAC 2014 (54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy)
September 5-9, 2014 | Washington, DC
http://www.icaac.org

2015 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting
February 9 – 11, 2015 | Washington DC
http://www.asmbiodefense.org

Submit a 2015 Session Proposal
If your program is conducting research in the area of emerging infectious diseases and biodefense, here is your chance to present your discoveries to over 1,000 scientists, public health researchers, and policymakers from the field.

ASM Conferences

1st ASM Conference on Experimental Microbial Evolution
June 19–22, 2014 | Washington, DC
http://www.asm.org/conferences

  • Discounted Pre-Registration Deadline – May 9, 2014

5th ASM Conference on Cell-Cell Communication in Bacteria
October 18 – 21, 2014, San Antonio, Texas
http://www.asm.org/conferences

Abstract Submisson and Registration Opens – May 14, 2014

Travel Grants – 20 travel grants of $500 each are available for predoctoral student and postdoc abstract submitters within one year of earning the doctoral degree.

Recognize Excellence with ASM Awards
Your help is needed in identifying and nominating distinguished scientists for the asm2015 Awards. This is your chance to honor those who have greatly contributed to the field of microbiology. Two particular awards of interest are the EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award and the William A. Hinton Research Training Award.

The EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award honors a member of ASM for major contributions toward the full participation and advancement of women in microbiology.  This award was established by the ASM's Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology, and is given in memory of Alice C. Evans, the first woman to be elected ASM President in 1928.

The William A. Hinton Research Training Award honors those who have contributed to the research training of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or health professional students and whose efforts have led to the increased participation of underrepresented minorities in microbiology.  This award is given in memory of William A. Hinton, a physician-research scientist and one of the first African-Americans to join the American Society for Microbiology.

The nomination forms and more information regarding eligibility, the nomination process, and other ASM Awards can be found at http://bit.ly/1g83zNP.

Nominations are due July 1.

New Report explains how Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy
Microbes are capable of helping to solve many global grand challenges. A microbe-powered industry could produce more food, chemicals and energy, and therapeutics, while reducing deforestation, pollution, and waste. Training microbiologists to become leaders in this vibrant economic sector will require collaborative partnerships between academia and industry.

Learn more by viewing an infographic on the topic,
http://bit.ly/1eE8qYA, or by reading the American Academy of Microbiology’s newest report, “Microbe-Powered Jobs: How Microbiologists Can Help Build the Bioeconomy” http://bit.ly/1lk32vw.

Clinical Microbiology Mentoring
Learn more about career opportunities for clinical microbiologists during informal chats with practicing clinical microbiology mentors of various backgrounds! Learn about becoming a mentor or enhancing your position as a clinical microbiologist.   Where/When?  Clinical Microbiology Lounge (Convention Center, Room 251) May 18-20, 11:00 am-noon and 12:30-1:30 pm. A list of CMs who will be on-site to talk with you will be posted on the CM Portal, http://bit.ly/1rfgJKt, in early May.

Special Interest Session: Anatomy of an Evidence-based Medicine Guideline
This Professional Practice Committee Special Interest symposium will discuss the development of a blood culture contamination guideline using the CDC-Laboratory Medicine Best Practices A6 methodology. Speakers will describe how a review question is formulated, how research is performed, how evidence is abstracted, how to present data to a biostatistician for a meta-analysis and finally how the manuscript is written. The symposium will be on Sunday, May 18, 4:45- 6:30 pm in Room 252A of the convention center.

 


 

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITIES

National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program (NRT)
The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development of bold, new, potentially transformative, and scalable models for STEM graduate training that ensure that graduate students develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The NRT program initially has one priority research theme - Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE); in addition, proposals are encouraged on any other crosscutting, interdisciplinary theme. In either case, proposals should identify the alignment of project research themes with national research priorities and the need for innovative approaches to train graduate students in those areas. NRT projects should develop evidence-based, sustainable approaches and practices that substantially improve STEM graduate education for NRT trainees and for STEM graduate students broadly at an institution. NRT emphasizes the development of competencies for both research and research-related careers. Strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, museums, and academic partners that enhance research quality and impacts and that facilitate development of technical and transferrable professional skills are encouraged. Creation of sustainable programmatic capacity at institutions is an expected outcome. Proposals accordingly are expected to describe how institutions will support the continuation and institutional-level scaling of effective training elements after award closure. Letters of intent are due May 20, 2014, and more information is available at http://nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14548/nsf14548.htm.

Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
The Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and develop understandings of deeper learning by participants. The AISL program supports six types of projects: (1) Pathways, (2) Research in Service to Practice, (3) Innovations in Development, (4) Broad Implementation, (5) Conferences, Symposia, and Workshops, and (6) Science Learning+ Proposals. Full proposals are due July 10, 2014, and more information is available at http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2014/nsf14555/nsf14555.htm.

Predoctoral Training in Biomedical Big Data Science (T32)
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to solicit applications for graduate training programs in Big Data Science, for the expressed purpose of training the next generation of scientists who will develop computational and quantitative approaches and tools needed by the biomedical research community to work with biomedical Big Data in the biomedical sciences (see definition under Funding Opportunity Description). This proposed training initiative should prepare qualified individuals for careers in developing new technologies and methods that will allow biomedical researchers to maximize the value of the growing volume and complexity of biomedical data. Letters of intent are due June 28, 2014, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HG-14-004.html.

Limited Competition: Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research Coordination Center (U54)
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) invites applications to establish a Coordination Center to facilitate and support consortium-wide activities for NIMHD Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCCs) for Health Disparities Research. The TCC Coordination Center will serve as the focal point for disseminating TCC consortium information to the broader research community and public, including research results, scientific data, and methods to assess the impact of consortium activities on health disparities locally, regionally and nationally. Letters of intent are due May 19, 2014, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-MD-14-002.html.

Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS (DP2)
Avenir means future in French, and this award looks toward the future by supporting early stage investigators proposing highly innovative studies. The award will support those in an early stage of their career who may lack the preliminary data required for an R01 grant, but who propose high impact research and who show promise of being tomorrow's leaders in the field. NIDA has developed two Avenir Award Programs, one for HIV/AIDS research and the other for genetics or epigenetics studies. The Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS will support creative individuals who wish to pursue innovative research at the nexus of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS. The Avenir Award Program for Research on Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS will support research approaches for substance using populations with or at risk for HIV/AIDS that may lead to improved preventive interventions, improved therapies and/or long term retention in care, and ultimately, eradication of HIV. Full proposals are due November 12, 2014, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-DA-15-007.html.

 


ARTICLES OF INTEREST AND OTHER UPDATES

Postdoctoral Research Associate Position Examining Microbial Interactions in Marine Plankton
The Rynearson lab at the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography invites applications for a Postdoctoral Research Associate. The research project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, will examine microscale interactions between marine diatoms and bacteria and is a collaboration with Professor D. Hunt, Duke University. Responsibilities and Duties: The postdoctoral associate will be primarily responsible for analysis of the gene expression component of the project and will be working with high-throughput transcriptomic data and physiological data to tease apart diatom-bacteria interactions. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to design follow-on controlled laboratory experiments and with future proposal preparation. Qualifications: Candidates are required to have a Ph.D. degree by August 2014 in Computer Sciences, Oceanography, Biology or a related field. Excellent command of the English language (written and verbal) and quantitative analytical skills are essential. Candidates should possess demonstrable experience with either the analysis of high throughput sequencing data including programming knowledge or with experimental marine microbiology. Appointment: The position is for 12 months initially, commencing July or August 2014 and renewable for an additional 12 months depending on performance. To Apply: Applications must include (1) a statement of experience, career goals, research vision and interests; (2) curriculum vitae, (3) reprints of relevant publications and (4) names and addresses of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation. All materials should be emailed as a single pdf document to: rynearson@mail.uri.edu with ‘PostDoc Application’ in the subject line. Further information: Rynearson lab: http://www.gso.uri.edu/users/rynearson URI Graduate School of Oceanography: http://www.gso.uri.edu/ Hunt Lab: http://oceanography.ml.duke.edu/hunt/

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Research Biologist
Become a part of the Department that touches the lives of every American! At the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) you can give back to your community, state, and country by making a difference in the lives of Americans everywhere. It is the principal agency for protecting the health of citizens. Join HHS and help to make our world healthier, safer, and better for all Americans. This position is located in the Office of Therapeutic Proteins, Office of Biotechnology Products (OBP), Office of Pharmaceutical Science (OPS) at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). You will serve as a Staff Scientist performing research and regulatory review activities. More information is available at https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/366053200.

Postdoctoral fellow in fungal metagenomics and ecology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
A postdoctoral position is available in the department of Plant Biology, in the School of Integrative Biology, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. PIs Ferrer (aquatic mycologist), Heath (plant and microbe evolution), and Dalling (plant and fungal community ecology) are looking for a highly motivated postdoc to work on a NSF-funded Dimensions of Biodiversity project aimed at understanding the ecological and genetic controls on fungal community assembly and decomposition function in tropical wood-decomposing aquatic fungi. Both the Heath and Dalling labs are lively, highly-collaborative environments with students and postdocs working on a range of topics in ecology and evolution of plants, bacteria, and fungi. The duties of the project postdoc will include preparing libraries for metagenomic sequencing of aquatic fungi communities from environmental DNA samples, RNAseq of cultured fungi in response to various environmental treatments, downstream bioinformatic and statistical analyses, and writing manuscripts based on these results. Application review will begin May 1, 2014 and will continue until the position is filled. Start date is flexible, probably August 2014 or later. All materials should be submitted to the PIs below for consideration. Applications should include a brief cover letter, curriculum vitae, a brief description of past research accomplishments and future research goals (under two pages), and the names and contact information for three references. Contact Dr. Katy Heath, kheath@illinois.edu, regarding the position or application process. For further information about the Heath lab, visit the lab webpage accessible at http://www.life.illinois.edu/heath. Illinois is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, status as a protected veteran, or status as a qualified individual with a disability. Illinois welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity. (www.inclusiveillinois.illinois.edu).

Doctoral position in the field of ecology/microbial ecology in Dijon, France
A 3-year doctoral position in the field of ecology/microbial ecology is available under the supervision of Dr. Romain Barnard in the group of Dr. Laurent Philippot at the INRA, Department of AgroEcology, Dijon, France (starting autumn 2014). The applicant is invited to study the links between precipitation patterns, microbial activity, soil and plant functioning using molecular microbiology and stable isotope methods. Soil moisture plays a key role in mediating the effects of global change on ecosystem functioning. Increased frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events are predicted in Europe, including severe droughts and intense precipitation events. The effects of contrasting precipitation patterns will be addressed in a multidisciplinary approach combining state-of-the-art molecular microbiology techniques with stable isotopes approaches and biogeochemical methods. The candidate will conduct experiments in plant-soil systems under controlled conditions, focusing on the response of plant physiology, soil microorganisms and soil C and N cycling to precipitation patterns. We are seeking a highly motivated, bright and hard-working candidate, with interests in microbiology, microbial ecology or ecology. Experience in the laboratory or in greenhouse is appreciated. Excellent academic record is required. The position will be located at INRA Dijon. The Centre is situated on the university campus, and offers extensive labs and facilities for microbiology and ecology. The historical city of Dijon provides a relaxed environment, 1.5 hours away from Paris by train. Please send 1) cover letter and CV in one pdf file, 2) two letters of recommendation sent directly by the references to romain.barnard@dijon.inra.fr before June 1, 2014.

Master's and Doctoral scholarships in African Ecology
Master's and Doctoral scholarships in African Ecology: the role of birds in shaping networks of interactions between plants, arthropods and fungi. What will the World be like without birds? We know that birds pollinate many plant species, they disperse the seeds of an even greater number, in addition they are predators that prey on innumerable insects every day. Nevertheless, the world without birds is difficult to imagine because so many factors interact in complex ways to shape the natural world around us. To answer the question of the ecological significance of birds we have conducted a bird exclusion experiment on an unprecedented scale. "The World without Birds" consists of six walk-in cages, each of which excludes birds from a 20 X 20 m area of natural Fynbos vegetation in the spectacular Jonkershoek Valley in the Cape Fold Mountains of Africa. The experimental setup, which is already in place, offers the opportunity to test a range of ecological theories with direct implications for conservation. Two important avenues of research remain open: How important are birds as predators; and as vectors of mites and fungi that live inside Protea inflorescences? An overarching aim is to gain a general understanding of how networks of ecological interactions form, and respond to species loss. The Botany and Zoology Department at Stellenbosch University has a vibrant Plant-Animal Interactions study group consisting of several researchers and students. These projects are supervised by Prof. Anton Pauw, Dr. Francois Roets and Prof. Cang Hui, who specialize in evolutionary ecology, entomology and mathematical ecology, respectively. For primary consideration, applicants should apply by 30 April 2014. Informal inquiries, priorto formal application, are welcomed. To apply, please email: 1) a one-page letter explaining why you are interested in this project, why you are qualified for it and when you can begin; 2) your university transcripts; 3) your curriculum vitae; 4) the names and email addresses of three referees. The successful applicant will be informed by mid May. Anton Pauw, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag 1X, Matieland 7602, South Africa, apauw@sun.ac.za, Tel +27 21 808 3314, Cell +27 83 682 4177.

 


SPOTLIGHT ON MINORITY MICROBIOLOGISTS

Alfredo Torres, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
It is increasingly accepted that vaccines are the most efficacious and cost-effective means of protecting human and animal populations from infection. This is particularly true for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) because antibiotic treatment may induce the expression of Shiga toxins (Stx), leading to the development of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Some vaccines have been developed for cattle (STEC reservoir) and are able to reduce STEC O157 colonization; however, no human vaccine is available. Therefore, in our study, we proposed that STEC O157:H7-specific antigens can become components of vaccines able to protect against pathogenic E. coli infections without affecting commensal flora found in the human intestine. By comparative genomics, we identified STEC O157-specific antigens with a high probability of exposure to the host during infection, and by immunoinformatics approaches, we prioritized these candidates into groups based on their putative antigenicity. Further, screening of a subset of these vaccine candidates in a murine model of gastrointestinal infection demonstrated that STEC-specific host immune responses and reduction in STEC colonization of the murine intestine were achievable. More importantly, our advances in understanding intestinal mucosa immune host-specific responses against STEC O157:H7 will be applicable in the development of mucosal vaccines against other enteric pathogens.

News release (written and audio) describing the vaccine project (English and Spanish) can be found here: http://www.guidrynews.com/story.aspx?id=1000059756

Alfredo Torres, PhD is a Professor at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). He has considerable expertise in the specific area of bacteria-intestinal and bacteria-respiratory tract host interactions. Dr. Torres trained in molecular biology as a graduate student with Dr Shelley Payne at Univ. of Texas at Austin, and learned bacterial pathogenesis and genetics from Dr. James Kaper at the Univ. of Maryland, before starting his own research group at UTMB in 2003. In the past eleven years, the laboratory has pursued studies to understand the pathogenic process of Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and other pathogenic E. coli, and the interaction of these pathogens with the intestinal mucosa. His group has contributed to the knowledge of STEC virulence factors, particularly those adhesins associated with human infections, defining the bacterial factors mediating intestinal tissue tropism, and understanding immunogenic antigens and their value as vaccine candidates. His laboratory is also characterizing the pathogenic mechanisms of Burkholderia mallei and B. pseudomallei with the goal of developing suitable vaccines and therapeutics. Dr Torres also has an interest in teaching and training the next generation of American and Latin American scientists. He founded and currently coordinates the Latin American Coalition for Escherichia coli Research that organize courses, symposia, free of cost to trainees in the region. He also teaches and train graduate and undergraduate students in bacterial pathogenesis in the USA, Mexico and other countries in Latin America.

 


In July 2006, the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) of the American Society for Microbiology Public and Scientific Affairs Board developed a monthly e-newsletter which contains information pertinent to minority microbiologists. Currently, there are very few minority-based newsletters for scientists, and there are none for microbiologists.

This e-newsletter provides a central means of distributing pertinent information to underrepresented minorities in the field of microbiology. Some examples include career advice, networking tips, relevant news articles, unique funding and career opportunities, microbiological issues affecting minorities (e.g., HIV), minority issues affecting microbiologists (e.g., minority retention), and scientific articles published by minorities or by minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

The target populations are African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Native Americans, Alaska natives, and Pacific Islanders; however, all ASM members are invited to sign up and to share this information with others who may find this e-newsletter beneficial.  

Signing up to receive The Minority Microbiology Mentor is very easy and is open to ASM members and non-members: simply go to http://asm.org/index.php/component/content/article/31-forms/forms/238-subscribe-to-listserv, enter your email address, and select "MinorityMicroMentor" then submit, and you will receive confirmation of your subscription by email. If you are an ASM member, you will be prompted to Log In before signing up.

The Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities is chaired by Dwayne W. Boucaud, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Quinnipiac University Department of Biomedical Sciences in Hamden, CT.  The Minority Microbiology Mentor Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Floyd L. Wormley Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Associate Editor is Crystal N. Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA.

If you are interested in placing an ad in the MMM, please send the copy to CMIIM@asmusa.org by the first of the month.

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