Thursday, 20 July 2017 09:42

Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter - July


  • Hot Topics in Microbiology Education Course
  • Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education Seeking Science Communication Manuscripts


  • Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Parent F31 - Diversity)
  • Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging (NIH, R01)
  • Plant Biotic Interactions (NSF, 17-551)
  • Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF, 16-592)


  • Postdoctoral Position in Mars Astrobiology
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Tenure-Track Assistant/Associate Professor in Soil Microbiomes, Colorado State University, Fort Collins


  • Pedro J. Torres, Graduate Student, Cell and Molecular Biology Joint Doctoral Program at San Diego State University (SDSU)/ University of Califorina San Diego (UCSD)


Hot Topics in Microbiology Education Course
Through the ASM/NSF Biology Scholars Program, ASM has trained over 300 faculty in the development and testing of interventions and strategies designed to increase student learning. The principles of this training are now being offered online through the Hot Topics in Microbiology Education Course. Participants will learn how to design classroom or laboratory education research investigations, posing significant student learning questions that can be investigated empirically. The course syllabus includes a focus on building discipline-based education research skills, pre- and post-webinar assignments, in-depth training, and a faculty mentoring community dedicated to supporting leaders interested in advancing education reform. The registration deadline is August 28, 2017.

Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education Seeking Science Communication Manuscripts
JMBE is seeking papers that examine various forms of science communication. Led by experts, this broad-spectrum issue will engage readers of around the importance of effective science communication. All manuscripts must be submitted by August 7, 2017. Learn more about the issue and submit your best work today!




Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (NIH, Parent F31 - Diversity)
The purpose of this Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship (F31) award is to enhance the diversity of the health-related research workforce by supporting the research training of predoctoral students from population groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and those with disabilities. Through this award program, promising predoctoral students will obtain individualized, mentored research training from outstanding faculty sponsors while conducting well-defined research projects in scientific health-related fields relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes and Centers. The proposed mentored research training is expected to clearly enhance the individual’s potential to develop into a productive, independent research scientist. More information can be found at

Multidisciplinary Studies of HIV/AIDS and Aging (NIH, R01)
This FOA encourages applications at the intersection of HIV and aging by addressing two overarching objectives: 1) to improve understanding of biological, clinical, and socio-behavioral aspects of aging through the lens of HIV infection and its treatment; and 2) to improve approaches for testing, prevention, and treatment of HIV infection, and management of HIV-related comorbidities, co-infections, and complications in different populations and cultural settings by applying our current understanding of aging science. Applications appropriate to this FOA should be consistent with the scientific priorities outlined by the NIH Office of AIDS Research (OAR) as described in NOT-OD-15-137.More information can be found at

Plant Biotic Interactions (NSF, 17-551)
The Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI) program supports research on the processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. This joint NSF-NIFA program supports projects focused on current and emerging model and non-model systems, and agriculturally relevant plants. The program’s scope extends from fundamental mechanisms to translational efforts, with the latter seeking to put into agricultural practice insights gained from basic research on the mechanisms that govern plant biotic interactions. Projects must be strongly justified in terms of fundamental biological processes and/or relevance to agriculture and may be purely fundamental or applied, or include aspects of both perspectives. All types of symbiosis are appropriate, including commensalism, mutualism, parasitism, and host-pathogen interactions. Research may focus on the biology of the plant host, its pathogens, pests or symbionts, interactions among these, or on the function of plant-associated microbiomes. The program welcomes proposals on the dynamics of initiation, transmission, maintenance and outcome of these complex associations, including studies of metabolic interactions, immune recognition and signaling, host-symbiont regulation, reciprocal responses among interacting species and mechanisms associated with self/non-self recognition such as those in pollen-pistil interactions. Explanatory frameworks should include molecular, genomic, metabolic, cellular, network and organismal processes, with projects guided by hypothesis and/or discovery driven experimental approaches. Strictly ecological projects that do not address underlying mechanisms are not appropriate for this program. Quantitative modeling in concert with experimental work is encouraged. Overall, the program seeks to support research that will deepen our understanding of the fundamental processes that mediate interactions between plants and the organisms with which they intimately associate and advance the application of that knowledge to benefit agriculture.

Note that PBI does not require submission of preliminary proposals. Full proposal due date is September 1, 2017. More information can be found at

Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (NSF, 16-592)
The Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases program supports research on the ecological, evolutionary, and socio-ecological principles and processes that influence the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. The central theme of submitted projects must be quantitative or computational understanding of pathogen transmission dynamics. The intent is discovery of principles of infectious disease transmission and testing mathematical or computational models that elucidate infectious disease systems. Projects should be broad, interdisciplinary efforts that go beyond the scope of typical studies. They should focus on the determinants and interactions of transmission among humans, non-human animals, and/or plants. This includes, for example, the spread of pathogens; the influence of environmental factors such as climate; the population dynamics and genetics of reservoir species or hosts; the cultural, social, behavioral, and economic dimensions of disease transmission. Research may be on zoonotic, environmentally-borne, vector-borne, or enteric diseases of either terrestrial or freshwater systems and organisms, including diseases of animals and plants, at any scale from specific pathogens to inclusive environmental systems. Proposals for research on disease systems of public health concern to developing countries are strongly encouraged, as are disease systems of concern in agricultural systems. Investigators are encouraged to develop the appropriate multidisciplinary team, including for example, modelers, bioinformaticians, genomics researchers, social scientists, economists, epidemiologists, entomologists, parasitologists, microbiologists, bacteriologists, virologists, pathologists or veterinarians, with the goal of integrating knowledge across disciplines to enhance our ability to predict and control infectious diseases. Full proposal deadline date is November 15, 2017. For more information please go to


Postdoctoral Position in Mars Astrobiology

Use of Stable Isotopes to Characterize Metabolic Activity in Hypobarophilic Bacteria Growing at 7 mbar

Location: Space Life Sciences Lab, adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center, FL

Start: Fall 2017

Duration: Annually funded for up to 3 years

Human missions to Mars are now under active planning by NASA and diverse industrial partners. In order to develop hardware, spacesuits, and habitats that meet mission objectives while also preventing forward contamination of Mars; the survival, metabolism, and growth of terrestrial microorganisms under Mars surface conditions must be characterized. Recently, 29 bacterial species were identified that grew under simulated Martian conditions near 7 mbar and 0 C (henceforth called hypobarophiles) (e.g., Schuerger et al. 2013, Astrobiology, 13(2), 115-131; Schuerger and Nicholson, 2016, Astrobiology, 16(12), 964-976). However, these experiments were restricted to mostly non-spacecraft microorganisms from arctic and alpine extreme environments, and thus, key planetary protection questions persist for developing successful robotic and crewed exploration missions to Mars. For example, (1) Are hypobarophilic microorganisms present on actual planetary spacecraft scheduled for Mars landings? (2) What are the ratios of culturable to nonculturable hypobarophilic species on planetary spacecraft, or in other oligotrophic extreme environments? And (3), what are the low-temperature, low-pressure, and high-salt tolerance levels for maintenance metabolism and growth of hypobarophilic species under Martian conditions (e.g., in recurring slope lineae, lava tube ice caves, and ground ice)?

The Univ. of Florida is seeking an enthusiastic and capable postdoctoral scientist in Mars Astrobiology to study the growth of hypobarophilic bacteria under simulated Martian conditions. The research will use stable isotope probing, fluorescent stains, and NanoSIMS to explore the lower limits of metabolism and growth for hypobarophilic bacteria under simulated Mars surface conditions of 7 mbar, 0 to -30 C, CO2-enriched anoxic atmospheres, and high salts concentrations. The successful candidate will have a PHD and experience in microbial ecology, metabolism, and bioinformatics of psychrophilic or other extremophilic bacteria. In addition, experience in the use of stable isotopes, electron microscopy (SEM & TEM), or epifluorescent microscopy are desired.

A competitive salary ($50,000) and benefits package will be offered based on work experience and demonstrated writing skills. Interviews will begin on Sept. 11, 2017, and the position filled as soon as possible thereafter (Oct. 1st to no later than Dec. 31, 2017).

Please submit a letter of interest, CV, official grades, and three letters of reference to:

Dr. Andrew C. Schuerger, Dept. of Plant Pathology, University of Florida, 505 Odyssey Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953. E-mail: If by email (preferred), please use the subject heading: Mars Astrobiology Post-Doc, plus the last name of the applicant.

The University of Florida is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine
Seeking highly motivated candidates to fill a postdoctoral fellowship to join the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. The research interest of the laboratory is to understand the molecular pathways of HIV-driven immune activation, the main player in the pathogenesis of the infection. Particularly, the studies are focused in elucidating the mechanisms involved in the activation of the CD4 and CD8 T cell pools that leads to immune dysfunction and failure to viral control. Projects will involve using a murine animal model of viral infection with a strong translational component.

Postdoctoral applicants should hold a Ph.D. and/or M.D. in immunology and with no more than five years of previous postdoctoral experience are encouraged to apply.

Experience in infectious diseases animal models, cell isolations from tissue, cellular immunology techniques, multi-parameter flow cytometry, fluorescence imaging, molecular biology, and working in animal models is highly considered. Applicants must be willing to work under Biohazard Level 2 Safety conditions with HIV-1 and other viruses.

To apply, submit curriculum vitae, a summary of current and future research interests, expected availability date, a description of past research experience and accomplishments, and three references to Marta Catalfamo (email: and/or Apply via JR REF# JR00671.

Tenure-Track Assistant/Associate Professor in Soil Microbiomes, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
The Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position to study the microbiomes of soil systems. This position is a 50% research, 40% teaching, and 10% service appointment on a 9-month contract.

We seek applications from candidates who have expertise in the study of microbiomes associated with soil habitats, including critical zones such as the rhizosphere and/or the soil-water-atmosphere interface, and their functional roles in these systems. We define microbiomes as microbial communities (i.e., viruses, bacteria, archaea, and microbial eukaryotes, including fungi), their genes and the molecules with which they interact.

Candidates should be able to articulate how their research addresses overarching challenges in topics such as soil health, environmental biogeochemistry, and/or sustainable agriculture. Commitment to teaching excellence and stakeholder engagement is an important part of this position.

This position is part of a University-wide microbiome cluster hire, complementing and extending the ongoing network of microbiome systems research at Colorado State University.  Application deadline September 8, 2017.  See full job posting at

For questions contact Dr. Francesca Cotrufo,


Pedro J. Torres, Graduate Student, Cell and Molecular Biology Joint Doctoral Program at San Diego State University (SDSU)/ University of Califorina San Diego (UCSD)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive-aged women. In addition to infertility, PCOS women have metabolic abnormalities that result in increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although androgen excess is considered to be a cornerstone in the pathology of PCOS, the etiology of PCOS remains elusive. Interestingly, recent studies demonstrated that PCOS women have changes in their gut microbiome and indications of a disrupted gut epithelial barrier. In addition, a PCOS mouse model that uses letrozole treatment to increase endogenous testosterone levels was shown to have significant changes in the gut microbiome compared to placebo-treated mice. However, it is unknown if the gut microbiome contributes to the development of the PCOS metabolic phenotype. Using the PCOS mouse model, Pedro Torres investigates whether the PCOS gut microbiome is required to induce the metabolic phenotype, and if the PCOS microbiome is associated with perturbed gut epithelial function. Results from this study will answer fundamental questions about the role of the gut microbiome in the PCOS metabolic phenotype and may expedite development of novel treatment options for women with PCOS including pre- and probiotic therapies.

Pedro Torres’s fascination with biofilms as an undergraduate student encouraged him to dig deeper into science and where he found his true interest in understanding how complex microbial communities contribute to human health and disease. As an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Pedro was introduced to biological research under the guidance of Dr. Scott Hodges where he studied the genetic control of flower color. Shortly after graduating from UCSB, Pedro joined the Microbiology Master’s program at San Diego State University (SDSU) where he became interested in microbial communities and host pathogen interactions. Under the joint guidance of Drs. Scott Kelley and Kelly Doran, his thesis project focused on determining whether salivary microbial communities may provide useful biomarkers for early detection of pancreatic cancer. His Master’s work culminated into a first-author publication and an invitation to be interviewed in Boston, Massachusetts for ASM Live! about the effects of pancreatic cancer on the oral microbiome. After completing his Master’s, Pedro worked in private industry as a Research Associate in the microbiology/assay development department of Roka Bioscience where he gained a broad exposure to practical problems such as juggling multiple priorities and responsibilities, while adhering to tight deadlines. As a first generation college student, Pedro is excited to further pursue his education and training in the Cell and Molecular Biology Joint Doctoral Program at SDSU/UCSD. He is a recent recipient of the prestigious Inamori Fellowship at SDSU and the Microbial Science Initiative Graduate Research Fellowship at UCSD. For his doctoral thesis, Pedro has chosen to work in the lab of Dr. Kelley (Mentor) at SDSU. In collaboration with Dr. Varykina Thackray (Co-Mentor) at UCSD, he investigates the role of the intestinal microbiome in the metabolic disruption that often occurs in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, the most common endocrine disorder in reproductive-aged women. As a Ph.D. student, Pedro will continue to expand his knowledge and research skills in microbiology, molecular biology and bioinformatics while also learning about a new field (endocrinology) and new skills involved in employing mouse models to understand the connection of the microbiome with health and disease. His career goal is to become an independent, biomedical research scientist.

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, 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., Professor in the Quinnipiac University Department of Biomedical Sciences in Hamden, CT.  The Minority Microbiology Mentor Editor-in-Chief is Crystal N. Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA, and the Associate Editor is Andrea M. Rocha, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist with Geosyntec Consultants in Knoxville, TN.

The MMM can post employment ads only if they are first featured on the ASM’s Career Connections site: Career Connections is offering a discount for job postings that are featured in the MMM. Please contact with your ad needs.

For more information about the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) go to the committee’s web page: