Minority Microbiology Mentor Newsletter - November


In recognition of National Native American Heritage Month and the many contributions of Native Americans to the microbiological sciences, The Minority Microbiology Mentor spotlights Darrin R. Akins, Ph.D., Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK


  • Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
  • MicrobeLibrary
  • ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute Online
  • ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute
  • ASM Undergraduate Research Capstone
  • ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship
  • Biology Scholars Program
  • asm2015: 115th General Meeting
  • General Meeting Minority Travel Award
  • 2015 ASM Biodefense & Emerging Diseases Research Meeting
  • 31st Annual Clinical Virology Symposium
  • ASM Conferences


  • Short-Term Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research (R25)
  • Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (P50)
  • Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01)
  • Elucidating HIV and HIV-treatment Associated Metabolic/Endocrine Dysfunction (R01)



Darrin R. Akins, Ph.D., Professor, Microbiology & Immunology, Associate Dean for Research, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Lyme disease is currently the most common arthropod-borne infection in the United States, with an estimated 300,000 cases per year. The disease is caused by the pathogenic spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. In humans, Lyme disease typically manifests as an expanding skin rash, termed erythema migrans, which can be followed by heart and nervous system abnormalities and a form of debilitating arthritis. B. burgdorferi, the cause of Lyme disease, is a dual-membraned organism with both an outer membrane and a cytoplasmic membrane, but the borrelial outer membrane differs markedly from those found in typical Gram-negative organisms. One major difference is that the B. burgdorferi outer membrane contains a paucity of integral outer membrane proteins. While a few outer membrane proteins have been identified from this spirochete over the past decades, none have been structurally characterized to any extent. A recent manuscript by Kenedy et al. (J Bacteriol. 2014 196[4]:859-72) described, for the first time, a series of functional assays that provide novel insight into the structure of this rare class of borrelial proteins. The studies revealed that one borrelial outer membrane protein, termed P66, forms an amphipathic β-barrel secondary structure in the outer membrane despite its lack of sequence homology with known outer membrane proteins. The manuscript also provides a novel working model for the structure of borrelial outer membrane protein P66 that can be tested in future studies to examine its role(s) in B. burgdorferi physiology and Lyme disease pathogenesis.

Dr. Darrin Akins is a member of the Cherokee Nation and his predoctoral graduate work was supported by an NIH/NIAID supplemental grant award for underrepresented minorities. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), where he has been since 1998. He is currently the PI on two NIH awards, and he previously directed an NIH-funded Native American Research Center for Health student development program at OUHSC. This latter program was focused on providing research experiences to undergraduate American Indian students in Oklahoma. He has previously served as a permanent member for the American Heart Association Immunology and Microbiology study section and the Microbiology and Infectious Disease Research Committee (MID) study section at NIAID. He also has served on several other study sections, including the NIH/NIAID underrepresented minority predoctoral fellowship study section. He is currently a permanent member of the NIH bacterial pathogenesis (BACP) study section and a member of the Infection & Immunity editorial board.  Dr. Akins was an Assistant Dean in the Graduate College at OUHSC from 2006 - 2011, where he was in charge of directing all summer undergraduate research programs on the OUHSC campus.  He is currently the Associate Dean for Research for the College of Medicine at OUHSC and continues to remain highly active in recruiting and mentoring underrepresented minority students to the OUHSC campus. Dr. Akins’ research focus is on Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne infection in the United States, which is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi.  The current focus of his laboratory is to identify and characterize outer membrane proteins in B. burgdorferi and determine their role in immunoevasion, host-parasite interactions during infection, and their potential role as vaccine candidates for Lyme disease. 


Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
The ASM Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) welcomes submissions of articles that foster scholarly teaching in the biological sciences. Available in PubMed Central, JMBE features peer-reviewed, practical tips for teaching, education research and perspectives, innovations in science, and reviews. The journal is a freely available, open-access publication, and there are no page charges for authors. Manuscripts are accepted on a rolling basis, and editors provide hands-on guidance throughout the review process. To view the journal’s media kit, articles, or submission instructions, visit http://jmbe.asm.org.

Students and faculty are encouraged to visit and contribute to MicrobeLibrary, a peer-reviewed, digital media center of more than 1,700 free resources developed by and for educators. Library content is available through four searchable collections: Visual Media Briefs, the Gallery, Laboratory Protocols, and the Student Learning Assessments in Microbiology Database (SLAMD). Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis, and library editors are now accepting content for the Briefs, Gallery, and Protocol Collections. Learn more at http://www.microbelibrary.org/.

ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute Online
The ASM Committee on Graduate and Postdoctoral Education is pleased to announce the inaugural Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute Online (SWPI Online). Delivered as a four-webinar series melded with pre- and post-webinar assignments, structured mentoring, and a community of practice, SWPI Online will provide a three-month overview of the scientific writing and publishing process. The series is geared towards individuals who are unfamiliar with scientific writing and publishing and have never published in a scientific journal. Topics include condensed discussions of manuscript components and the manuscript review process Apply by December 1. Learn more at http://www.asmgap.org/swpi-online.

ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute
The ASM Committee on Graduate and Postdoctoral Education invites senior-level graduate students and early-career postdoctoral scientists to apply to attend the 2015 ASM Scientific Writing and Publishing Institute. Sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the institute will be held March 19-22 at ASM’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. Under close guidance from established journal editors and reviewers, institute participants learn strategies for writing and submitting manuscripts, writing abstracts and titles, selecting journals for submission, responding to reviewer comments, being a good reviewer, and addressing ethical issues in research and publishing. Apply by December 10. Learn more at http://www.asmgap.org/swpi.

ASM Undergraduate Research Capstone
Targeted to undergraduates from underrepresented minority groups in the sciences, the ASM Undergraduate Research Capstone Program enhances students’ professional development after their summer research experiences and boosts their competitiveness for graduate or professional training by providing opportunities to present microbiological sciences research. Awardees are supported to attend the ASM General Meeting and the ASM Capstone Research Institute, with the meeting providing a national venue to practice presentation, networking, and other skills learned at the institute. Apply by December 1. Note: Capstone awards are contingent upon abstract acceptance to the ASM General Meeting; thus, applicants must also submit abstracts for participation in the meeting. Learn more at http://www.asm.org/urc.

ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship
The ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship program provides undergraduates interested in graduate careers (Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.) in microbiology with opportunities to conduct full-time research at their home institutions and present research results. Fellows spend at least 10 weeks in the summer conducting research under the direction of ASM member faculty mentors. In addition, dependent on abstract submission and acceptance, fellows are supported to present their research results at the following summer’s ASM General Meeting. Apply by February 1. Note: This program requires a joint application from the student and an ASM member willing to serve as the faculty mentor for the duration of the fellowship. Learn more at http://www.asm.org/urf.

Biology Scholars Program
Developed with support from NSF (grant no. DUE-1022542), the ASM-NSF Biology Scholars Program offers three professional development residencies that help biology and microbiology faculty in taking their classroom teaching and educational research to the next level. Each residency is a yearlong commitment comprised of online assignments, one or two face-to-face meetings, and specialized peer-to-peer mentoring. Assessment Residency participants learn to measure students’ foundational knowledge, monitor gains in learning, and collaborate with colleagues to improve student learning and performance. Research Residency participants design research projects that investigate student learning; understand methods for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting surveys and data on student learning outcomes; and identify venues for publishing study results. Transitions Residency participants “transition” from conducting scholarly work in student learning to publishing in biology and/or science education venues. Apply by February 1. Learn more at http://www.biologyscholars.org.

asm2015: 115th General Meeting
May 30 – June 2, 2015 | New Orleans, Louisiana

asm2015 will host a wide range of interactive workshops, scientific sessions, and networking events specifically designed to explore each unique area of microbiology, including yours!

This year’s meeting includes several travel grant opportunities, including:

General Meeting Minority Travel Award
In an effort to increase the participation of underrepresented minority (URM) groups in microbiology related fields, ASM will offer General Meeting Minority Travel Award. Postdoctoral scholars from URM groups who have demonstrated their interest in mentoring URM trainees in the microbiological sciences will be eligible to receive up to $1,000.

Important Dates
ASM Premium Member Registration Opens: November 13, 2014
Registration and Abstract Submission Site Open to All: November 20, 2014

2015 ASM Biodefense & Emerging Diseases Research Meeting
February 9-11, 2015 | Washington DC
From expert researchers to early-career scientists, this year’s ASM Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting offers opportunities for all who are carrying out research to defend against the growing threat of bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases.

Important Dates

ASM Premium Member Registration Opens: December 1, 2014

Registration Opens to All: December 4, 2014

31st Annual Clinical Virology Symposium
April 26-29, 2015 | Daytona Beach, Florida
Present your research to over 1,000 biomedical researchers and primary care physicians from around the world. Here is your chance to put your work at the center of this year’s discussion on rapid viral diagnosis, clinical course of viral infections, and preventive and therapeutic modalities for virus infections.

Important Dates

Abstract Submission Deadline: February 24, 2015

ASM Conferences

@ASM Conference on Mechanisms of Interbacterial Cooperation and Competition
March 13-16, 2015 | Washington, DC

4th ASM Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance in Zoonotic Bacteria and Foodborne Pathogens
May 8 - 11, 2015 | Washington, DC

Important Dates
Abstract Submission, Registration, and Housing Opens: December 3, 2015
Abstract Submission Deadline: March 2, 2015



Short-Term Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research (R25)
The NIH Research Education Program (R25) supports research education activities in the mission areas of the NIH. The goal of this NHLBI R25 program is to support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce in the mission areas of importance to NHLBI. To accomplish the stated goal, this funding opportunity announcement encourages the development of creative educational activities with a primary focus on Research Experiences. Letters of intent are due December 18, 2014, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HL-16-008.html.

Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research (P50)
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages grant applications to support Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research to stimulate basic and applied research on environmental health disparities. The proposed research is expected to develop innovative approaches to understand environmentally-driven health disparities and improve access to healthy environments for vulnerable populations and communities. The proposed Centers are expected to support research efforts, mentoring, research translation and information dissemination. Letters of intent are due December 9, 2014, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-ES-14-010.html.

Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01)
The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award is intended to identify the most talented Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) who intend to make a long-term commitment to research in the Environmental Health Sciences and assist them in launching an innovative research program focused on the understanding of environmental exposure effects on people’s health. Letters of intent are due January 27, 2015, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-ES-15-003.html.

Elucidating HIV and HIV-treatment Associated Metabolic/Endocrine Dysfunction (R01)
The goal of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support innovative research in humans to elucidate the role of HIV infection, including relevant host conditions or antiretroviral therapy, on metabolic and endocrine dysfunction, as well as to support innovative research delineating the pathophysiology, etiology, risk or protective factors, and potential strategies to prevent, treat, or reverse endocrine and metabolic dysfunction in HIV-infected individuals. Proposed projects must involve human subjects with HIV infection or materials or data from HIV-infected individuals. Proposed projects must also be related to the mission of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases within NIDDK (DEM/NIDDK). Letters of intent are due March 9, 2015, and more information is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-DK-14-023.html.

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., 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.

The MMM can post employment ads only if they are first featured on the ASM’s Career Connections site: http://www.asmcareerconnections.org/home/index.cfm?site_id=756. Career Connections is offering a discount for job postings that are featured in the MMM. Please contact CMIIM@asmusa.org with your ad needs.


For more information about the Committee on Microbiological Issues Impacting Minorities (CMIIM) go to the committee’s web page: http://www.asm.org/cmiim