A Brief History of Miami Microbiology

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

Our beginnings

Dr. Bruce Fink began instruction in our discipline at Miami in 1906. The Department of Botany and Bacteriology was expanded to two men with the addition of Dr. Orton K. Stark in 1928. Dr. Stark was given the charge to develop a curriculum in bacteriology and to "fill his time" in teaching plant physiology. After six or seven years his teaching and research effort became limited to bacteriology. In 1946 the discipline of Bacteriology was moved to the Department of Chemistry and Bacteriology. When Dr. Stark was on sabbatical leave at the University of Michigan for the 1955-56 academic year, Dr. C.K. Williamson joined to help with the teaching load. When Dr. Stark returned in 1956, Williamson was retained and the Department of Bacteriology was established with a faculty of three full-time members. In 1962, when Williamson became chairman, the faculty was increased to four members, the others being Dr. Stark, Dr. Robert Brady (1957), and the newest member Dr. Susan Rockwood (1962). The following year, the name of the department was changed from bacteriology to microbiology consistent with such change at the national level.

Our graduate programs

The Microbiology Department offers two graduate research degrees: the Master of Science (MS) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The MS Program has existed since 1933, and the department began formal plans to develop a doctoral program in 1964 when it requested an evaluation by the American Academy of Microbiology through the offices of the American Society for Microbiology. Their staffing recommendations contributed to our acquiring the following faculty members: Dr. Ronald Treick (1965), Dr. Ivan Kochan (1967), Dr. Jnanendra Bhattacharjee (1968), Dr. Gearold P. Breidenbach (1970), and Dr. Ted Pass II (1971). The PhD Program in Microbiology was established in 1972.

More recently…

Dr. Luis Actis took over as Chair of the Department of Microbiology in 2006. Since that time, the Department has expanded its interdisciplinary graduate program offerings. In 2010, we joined with the Departments of Botany, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Zoology in establishing the MS/PhD program in Cell, Molecular and Structural Biology (CMSB), and with the Departments of Botany, Geography, Geology & Environmental Earth Science, and Zoology in establishing the PhD program in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (EEEB).

At the undergraduate level, we established a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology program (2011) to accompany our existing Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Microbiology and our BS in Medical Laboratory Science. In 2012, the Co-major in Premedical Studies, proposed by the Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Zoology, and a new interdivisional minor in Bioinformatics, offered by the Departments of Botany, Computer Science & Software Engineering, Microbiology, and Statistics, were approved.