ASM News

      ASM News

      Intimate Strangers Garners Film Festival Award

      Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth, the four-part TV series that debuted on PBS in November 1999, won the second place award in the Nature and Science Category of the San Francisco International Film Festival. This festival is the oldest in North America and is truly international. This year there were over 1,600 entries from all over the world. There are 26 competitive categories in the festival, including documentaries, shorts, animal, television, and experimental film and video.

      The Nature and Science category was adjudicated by four individuals with specialist expertise in that category. There were approximately two dozen entries from both sides of the Atlantic. Domestically, the competition was strong, with entries from HBO and WNET. International entrants included Canada's CBC and England's BBC. The first-place award went to a film from Hungary called Our Stork. Intimate Strangers, a focal point of ASM's Microbial Literacy Collaborative, was the first prime-time series to focus on the fascinating realm of microbes and microbiology. Individuals who wish to purchase the series for home viewing should call (800)423-1212. Educators who wish to purchase the four-part PBS TV series for classroom use should speak to an operator at (800)LEARNER. Inquiries for international orders should be faxed to (802)864-9846.

      New MicrobeLibrary Web Site


      Change your bookmarks! Redesigned and ready for use, the ASM Instructional Library has become MicrobeLibrary, an independent Web site featuring resources for microbiology teaching and learning. Here you can find the searchable Visual and Curriculum Resource collections, the Microbiology Education peer-reviewed publication, the Focus on Microbiology Education newsletter, and coming in the fall, a compilation of reviews of books, Web sites, videos, and software. The site also provides easy access to Spanish and Portuguese translations of Visual and Curriculum Resources and information on how to submit to any of the areas mentioned above.

      Created through the combined efforts of the Committees on Undergraduate and Distance Education and with support from the National Science Foundation, the Web site reflects the high quality of materials required to meet the needs of undergraduate educators. Each section of MicrobeLibrary addresses a specific concern. "The new design for the instructional library saves time by providing clear links to educational resources," states Kristine Snow of Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wis., a member of the Committee on Distance Education. "Whether you're looking for teaching ideas, teaching resources, or educational research, the quick access afforded by the MicrobeLibrary provides help fast. This Web site will help us all keep up with the increasing demands of teaching microbiology."

      The Visual and Curriculum Resources are peer reviewed and linked to the ASM Recommended Core Themes and Concepts for an Introductory Microbiology Course. Within visual resources, each image is available in annotated and enlarged views and includes a thorough description of what is shown. Animations and video clips provide a dynamic way to illustrate concepts from transcription to phagocytosis. Visuals can be incorporated easily into class Web sites, computer-generated presentations, and handouts. All curriculum resources are presented in a standard format with an abstract, allowing a quick grasp of the activity's goals, as well as relevant information about target audience, materials required, and notes to the instructor. The visual and curriculum resources provide welcome additions to presentations and lesson plans.

      Microbiology Education gives educators a view of the research being done to better understand and improve the dynamics of teaching and<usb> learning in the microbiology classroom. The current publication includes manuscripts on such topics as the value of increasing research awareness at an early stage of the educational process, improving scientific literacy, and using computer technology to foster learning for understanding. This peer-reviewed publication also functions as a means for educators to demonstrate their scholarship of teaching and to be recognized for their efforts to enhance the field of microbiology education. Spencer Benson of the University of Maryland-College Park, chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Education, notes "The ASM MicrobeLibrary site is a resource that facilitates the linkage of practical teaching with scholarship in microbiology education. Not only is it a rich resource for teaching materials and ideas, it also provides a needed peer-reviewed venue for the exchange and development of advances in microbial education, assessment, and pedagogy."

      The Focus on Microbiology Education newsletter furnishes a perspective on current issues. Feature articles address viewpoints on various aspects of microbiology education, ranging from whether nursing majors should be required to take a microbiology course to how to teach classification given the debate between the merits of Whittaker's five kingdoms and Woese's three domains. Short pieces highlight technology innovations, classroom and laboratory activities, upcoming meetings, new resources, and papers of interest in recent journals. All materials are reviewed by the editor prior to publication.

      The Reviews section will allow easy access to published reviews on books, Web sites, software, and videos. All reviews currently published in ASM News will be added to a searchable database to make retrieving specific information easy. This section is expected to become available in the fall.

      With so many resources conveniently located in one location, MicrobeLibrary will serve as a powerful tool in the hands of microbiology educators. Questions about the site can be e-mailed to  .Denise Steene
      Denise Steene is Manager, Educational Resources, in the ASM Office of Education and Training.

      New Academy Brochure Wins Design Award

      This spring, the American Academy of Microbiology released a new series of brochures and display materials designed to explain and advertise Academy programs. The brightly colored graphics feature themes from nature that emphasize the importance of the microbiological sciences to the planet and all its life forms. Election to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology, the Academy's highly successful Critical Issues Colloquia, the ASM Scientific Achievement Awards, and the Certification and Accreditation Programs of the American College of Microbiology are all described and highlighted using the visually striking images.

      The piece creatively combines paper, design, and printing into a cohesive unit, and won Kundia Beverly of Pensaré Design Group a silver medal in Neenah Paper's annual Paperworks Text and Cover Design contest. The piece was commissioned by Academy Director Carol Colgan and art directed by Mary Ellen Vehlow, president of Pensaré Design Group.

      For information on the programs of the American Academy of Microbiology, including a copy of this award-winning brochure, please send a request to American Academy of Microbiology, 1752 N Street, NW, Washington D.C., 20036, call (202) 942-9226, or e-mail .

      Membership Board Retreat

      The Membership Board held a retreat in Washington, D.C. during the weekend of 14-16 January 2000. Having completed a significant part of its 1996 Strategic Plan, the Board met to review the plan and to incorporate the relevant goals/objectives into a plan for the new millennium. Marie Pezzlo, chair, Membership Board, asked Board members to consider opportunities for the future, asking "Are we at a critical point because of the stationary membership growth during the past five years? This may be an opportunity for ASM to narrow its focus. Or, should ASM respond with enhanced flexibility to attract more and different members?"

      Each committee chair reported committee activities consistent with the 1996 plan and its direction for the year 2000. Bill Summers, chair of the Archives Committee, reviewed the implementation of a records management program and its collection development guidelines governing the acceptance of non-Society material. He noted that backlogged collections have in significant part been processed and that finding aids to the collections are now available on the Archives Web site. With these elements in place, Bill Summers suggested, "the Archives must engage in outreach activities to increase the use of the collections for scholarly research, promote service opportunities for all of the components of ASM, and engage in a general promotional campaign to identify and inform potential users of the relevance of the collection." He further indicated that "a good deal of science goes on within the various activities of the Branches, and many of them maintain archives. The ASM Archives should be aware of these local collections and be available to provide advice about the kind of documents which should be maintained and the best means to preserve them." Summers added that the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) Archives are housed within the ASM Archives but are only partially processed because of the current funding level for this collection. The Archives Committee will consider establishing a more proactive book collection policy at the 2000 General Meeting. For instance, ASM members who publish books may be asked to donate copies to the ASM Archives.

      "There are two continuing goals for the Branch Organization Committee: to facilitate the activities of Branches and to increase both national and Branch membership," announced Stephen Sonstein, cochair, Branch Organization Committee (BOC). "The Branch Regional Initiative Program, inaugurated in 1997, has helped to revive two defunct Branches, facilitate a significant increase in the number and diversity of Branch activities, and foster a positive local attitude toward the national organization," Sonstein reported. He noted that together with cochair Norman Willett, the BOC will focus on increasing national membership through the Branch structure, providing mechanisms by which the Branches can better maintain and transmit their membership and financial data to the national organization, and identifying appropriate ways to document membership increases over the coming year.

      The Career Development and Job Placement Committee, chaired by Paul Edmonds, announced that it had met all of its goals from the 1996 strategic plan, including development of an online placement service. "We would like to broaden our approach to include issues related to corporate mergers and to address the increase in biotechnology jobs in the current marketplace," Edmonds said. "Our new JobMatch program permits employers to post employment opportunities throughout the year, contains multi-search functionality, and offers a self-contained database. ASM members may search these postings for positions at no cost," he said.

      The Committee on Divisions will continue to foster communications through newsletters with a goal to get all divisions online to receive e-newsletters. Divisions have been encouraged to host a Web page, and 20 of 26 divisions have Web sites. "Over the next few years, our Committee hopes to increase interdisciplinary work with other committees and boards and to increase student interest in division activities," said Nancy Hall, chair of the Committee on Divisions.

      The Foundation for Microbiology Lectures Committee, chaired by Janet Hindler, enjoys an excellent reputation for program quality and has continuously fine-tuned its efforts to meet the changing needs of Branches. In 2000, all lecturers were selected by 1 January to enable development of a general program book and listing on the ASM Web site by 1 April. "We have completely revised our timetable to assist Branch meeting planning to ensure scheduling of outstanding lectures at the local level. Without the continued support of the Foundation for Microbiology located in New York, this highly valued, exceptional lecture program would not be possible," said Hindler, "and it continues to be the most significant service offered by the national organization to the Branches. We are very proud of the program, and 89% of Branches use it."

      "The key issue for this committee is how to increase membership," affirmed Dixie Whitt, chair of the Membership Committee. "In the past, new members from the international sector offset losses in the domestic member population. Now, the rate of increase in international membership has slowed, and ASM is feeling the pinch of a declining membership. Is it reasonable to assume ASM has reached a plateau? If so, how is ASM going to retain its current membership?" Dixie Whitt announced that the Membership Committee will be working closely with the Student Membership Committee to maximize membership retention.

      "Communication is important, and the Membership Committee is constantly looking for new ways to communicate with members since not everyone reads ASM's Web site or ASM News," Whitt said. The committee is investigating improved communication tools to promote new benefits related to insurance, dues, online members-only activities, etc.

      Jayne Robinson, chair of the Student Membership Committee, also identified retention as a key goal for the committee. Communication with students should be approached from multiple directions so that a network that supports lifelong ties to the Society is forged. "Unfortunately," Jayne noted, "the assumptions practiced in the past, that if we can reach the students they will come and that if you ask for money for students you will get it, are no longer true. The reality is that it is difficult to reach students, and once we reach them, we are not always sure to get them." Further, Jayne reported "the cost of providing student benefits is often high, and it is difficult to obtain corporate support for student activities. For instance, we have lost corporate funding for the student lounge at the ASM General Meeting."

      The Student Membership Committee has accomplished a broad agenda in the past few years by improving the value and scope of ASM products for students, establishing a student Web site, coordinating a book sale for the 2000 meeting, and creating greater student job opportunities through the ASM Career Development and Job Placement Service. The Committee plans to increase student involvement with ASM, interface more with ASM Branches to promote development of student chapters, survey Branches to determine what individual Branches are doing to attract students, apply survey results to initiate a national student membership campaign, and work to link student chapters with other student chapters.

      The Underrepresented Members Committee was formed two years ago to ensure diversity within the ASM membership. "Once ASM utilizes all the diverse talents in our Society, there will be no further need for this committee," committee chair George Counts emphatically stated. "However, having said that, our committee had to determine the extent of our assignment and found we could not begin to assess the issue until we had reliable data." A concerted effort to collect demographics began with the inclusion of a data card in the 2000 member renewal process. The committee will define "underrepresented" by using a dual approach: (i) evaluating the demographics of ASM membership and (ii) reviewing the demographics of ASM board and committee volunteer assignments. The committee has found a need to get more minority scientists involved in Society activities and seeks greater coordination with other groups in ASM who have similar goals.

      Marie Pezzlo facilitated development of a plan with four critical issues and six goals. Objectives for each goal were identified and assigned to one or more of the Committees. "ASM is fortunate to have such dedicated volunteers. This group was determined to develop a comprehensive plan for the new millennium and this was accomplished in January 2000!," Marie Pezzlo said proudly.

      A copy of the Membership Board plan may be obtained from the Membership Services Department at ASM Headquarters. You may telephone,write, or e-mail to .


      NAS Inducts 13 ASM Members

      In May, 11 members of ASM were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) during its 137th annual meeting. In recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, a total of 60 new members were chosen, bringing the total number of active members to 1,843. Inductees from ASM and their affiliations at the time of election are:Rita R. Colwell, director, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va.Jack E. Dixon, Minor J. Coon Professor and chair, department of biological chemistry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor.Stanley Fields, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor, departments of genetics and medical genetics, University of Washington, Seattle.Charles A. Janeway Jr., investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor of pathology, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.Richard D. Kolodner, professor of medicine and head, Laboratory of Cancer Genetics, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla.Joan Massague, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y. \Barbara J. Meyer, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor of genetics and development, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley.Eric N. Olson, professor of molecular biology and oncology and Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Distinguished Chair in Basic Cancer Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.Peter Palese, professor and chair, Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.Joseph Schlessinger, The Milton and Helen Kimmelman Professor of Pharmacology and director, Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, New York University Medical Center, New York, N.Y.Reed B. Wickner, chief, laboratory of biochemistry and genetics, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Md.

      Among 15 foreign associates also elected at this time were two ASM members. Foreign associates total 320 and are nonvoting members of the Academy who have citizenship outside of the United States. Newly elected foreign members from ASM are:Yoshito Kaziro, professor, faculty of bioscience and biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan.Bruce W. Stillman, director, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, N.Y., Australian residence.

      The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering science and its use for the general welfare. The Academy was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which calls on the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.

      AwardCharles W. Kaspar, associate professor of food microbiology and toxicology (Food Research Institute) and associate director of the Environmental Toxicology Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently received the Pound Award for Research. The award is given annually by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences to a mid-career faculty member for excellence in research.

      Kaspar was honored for his work on Escherichia coli O157:H7, the cause of a major, and sometimes deadly, form of foodborne illness. Since 1992 when he started studies, Kaspar has become a nationally and internationally respected authority on this subject. He has tracked the spread of the bacterium among dairy cattle on Wisconsin farms and also has contributed to our understanding of the survival of the bacterium under acidic conditions.

      Kaspar earned the B.S. degree in biology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha (1980) and M.S. (1983) and Ph.D. (1986) degrees, both in microbiology, from Iowa State University. He did postdoctoral research at the University of Maryland (1986-1988) and then worked for the Food and Drug Administration (1988-1990) and the Cargill Company (1990-1992) before joining the faculty of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1998.

      Deceased MemberMarion E. Wilson, former Director of Microbiology at the Public Health Laboratory Services of the New York City Department of Health, died on 4 May 2000. Among her many activities in that position, Wilson was instrumental in ensuring high-quality laboratory performance by initiating the proficiency testing program for the City of New York and overseeing the certification program for laboratory directors. In recognition of her efforts, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York City Branch of ASM. Her activities for ASM included membership on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and chair of the Committee on Postdoctoral Education Programs of the American Academy of Microbiology. She was the inspiration for and coauthor of a well-respected textbook for nursing and allied health students, Microbiology in Patient Care, and its accompanying manual, Laboratory Manual and Workbook in Microbiology: Applications to Patient Care. Even after her retirement, she continued active involvement in these publications, contributing to them through the sixth edition, published in 1998. Wilson served as a mentor to many professional colleagues as well as family and friends outside of the microbiology field. Although ill with a chronic condition for the past few years, she maintained an independent lifestyle and kept up an active correspondence with family and friends through e-mail, which she began using when in her late 70s. She also enjoyed keeping up with microbiological activities; among her last e-mail letters were comments about the excellence of the television series Intimate Strangers prepared in conjunction with ASM and broadcast on public television stations. Her generous professional contributions and friendship will be missed.Josephine A. Morello
      University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.Irene Weitzman
      Sun City West, Ariz.

      International Activities

      ASM Ambassador Program-Recent Appointments

      ASM Ambassador Program

      Continuing with the expansion of the ASM Ambassador program, the International Membership Committee (IMC), a standing Committee of the CPC International Committee, announces the recent appointment of three new ASM Ambassadors who will represent the Society's interests in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

      ASM's new Ambassador in Mexico is Edmundo Calva. 


      Calva is Professor Molecular Microbiology and chairman of the Department of Molecular Microbiology at the Instituto de Biotecnologia at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "I feel I have two obligations: to give back to ASM some of the richness that it provided in my scientific life, and to provide similar opportunities to other individuals," he says, "especially the many talented young scientists of the developing world, who are contributing to the furthering of microbiology in their own countries." Calva is a Past-President of the Mexican Biochemical Society, a member of the International Advisory Board for the Fourth International Symposium on Typhoid Fever and Other Salmonellosis, and a member of the editorial boards of several publications.


      Representing ASM in Guatemala is Pamela Pennington de Sanchez, Ph.D. Pennington is a postdoctoral fellow working with the CDC at their field station in Guatemala. She undertook her undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States, before returning to Guatemala on an ASM/NCID Fellowship to work on a project involving the development of a strategy for the control of Chagas disease transmission in Central America. "My interests in Chagas disease research, education, and technology transfer to our countries should provide a good foundation for networking within the large community of microbiologists in Latin America," said Pennington. "In my opinion, developing these contacts would be the best way to promote ASM at all levels."


      Valeria Hryniewicz, M.D., Ph.D., currently the Managing Director of the Sera and Vaccines Central Research Laboratory in Warsaw, Poland, joins the recently appointed Ambassador in Russia, Roman Kozlov, as ASM's second Ambassador to Eastern Europe. Her responsibility will encompass Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, and the Baltic Republics. Hryniewicz has had considerable experience in international scientific cooperation and education programs for the countries of the region, and plans to create a broad network of researchers interested in cooperation between those countries and ASM that will help to develop ASM\'s educa<tk;2>tional outreach strategy for Eastern Europe.

      The International Membership Committee is currently soliciting nominations for the position of ASM Ambassador in the regions of Latin America and Eastern Europe.

      The purpose of the ASM Ambassador Program is to identify ASM international members who are knowledgeable of the governance programs and services of the Society and who would be willing to represent the Society's interests in and about their region of domicile. More information on the ASM Ambassadors Program can be found on the ASM Web site at

      Any ASM member may be nominated for this volunteer position. ASM Ambassadors must be nominated by at least two full members of the Society (self-nomination accepted). Nominations should include: name; address; curriculum vitae; ASM Member Number; years of ASM membership; membership of any ASM committees; ASM and non-ASM meetings regularly attended; area of scientific interest; membership in national, regional, and international scientific societies; and a letter of intent, including an action plan for their proposed activities.

      The nomination should be sent to the Assistant Director of Minority & International Activities, American Society for Microbiology, 1752 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036.

      To qualify for this volunteer position, ASM Ambassadors must be extremely well versed on the rights and liabilities of persons representing the Society. They must be familiar with the ASM Volunteer Handbook and agree to follow the policies contained therein, and knowledgeable of the rules and protocols governing individual actions taken on behalf of the Society.


      ASM Branches on the Web

      The following ASM Branches have established sites on the World Wide Web:




      Eastern New York

      Eastern Pennsylvania








      New Jersey

      New York City

      Northern California

      North Central



      Rocky Mountain

      South Carolina



      Washington, D.C. 


      ASM Divisions on the Web

      The following ASM Divisions have established sites on the World Wide Web:

      Division A, Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

      Division B, Microbial Pathogenesis

      Division C, Clinical Microbiology

      Division D, General Medical Microbiology

      Division E, Immunology

      Division F, Medical Mycology

      Division G, Mycoplasmology

      Division I, General Microbiology

      Division K, Microbial Physiology and Metabolism

      Division M, Bacteriophage

      Division N, Microbial Ecology

      Division O, Fermentation and Biotechnology

      Division P, Food Microbiology

      Division Q, Environmental and General Applied Microbiology

      Division R, Systematic & Evolutionary Microbiology

      Division U, Mycobacteriology

      Division W, Microbiology Education

      Division Y, Public Health

      Members are encouraged to visit these Web pages, which are also accessible through the Membership section of the ASM Web site.