Message from the Chair

Culture plates
 Psychrophilic algae
 Broth cultures
 A gloved hand reaches toward the incinerator, labeled 'Caution Hot'
Fluorescent bacteria
 Microbes infecting cells
 Fluorescent viruses
 Antarctic research
Goldwater scholar at work in the lab

I am pleased to welcome you to the Department of Microbiology, where students and faculty are involved in exciting educational and research activities. Our programs offer a great opportunity to study the microbial world and to learn how this knowledge has provided a foundational understanding of diverse biological processes, including DNA replication, differential gene expression, the nature of severe infectious diseases and the alarming increase in antibiotic resistance, as well as the nature and role of microbial communities that persist under extreme conditions and contribute to critical biogeochemical cycles, just to mention a small number of examples. Microbiology has also played a central role in the development of biotechnology, from the classical production of bread and alcoholic beverages to genetic engineering used for the manufacturing of recombinant medicines such as insulin and antibiotics, as well as the undesired consequences of using microbial pathogens as biological weapons and agents of bioterrorism. Our alumni have made significant contributions to some of these areas while working in academia, industry or government research facilities. Students enrolled in our program, which is one of the few nationwide that offer a college education focused on Microbiology, have a unique opportunity to obtain a valuable education in a relevant and exciting scientific area that connects with multiple scientific disciplines.

Our students are involved not only in regular class activities, but also in research work conducted by our faculty members interested in microbial pathogenesis; cell, molecular and structural biology; and ecology, evolution and environmental microbiology. Our research efforts, which are supported by university and extramural funds, allow students to make novel and intriguing observations they can present in national and international meetings and publish in national and international peer-reviewed professional journals. More than 60% of the last graduating classes have conducted research under the guidance of a faculty member of our department. These outcomes are in line with our goal of providing the best college education and training possible using the student-scholar model, in which experiential and self-guided learning plays a central role. Students also have the opportunity to participate in several student organizations including the Microbiology Club, which is supervised by a microbiology instructor. The purpose of this club is to promote student interest in microbiology and connect them with the academic and professional world.

I strongly believe our students and graduates have an incredible opportunity to make relevant professional and scientific contributions while at Miami as well as after graduation, whether they work in academia, industry or professional organizations.

Luis A. Actis
Professor and Chair of Microbiology