News from the Department of Microbiology - July 2017

Miami students at Moonshine U

Microbiology and chemistry/biochemistry students at Miami alum Dave Dafoe's Flavorman Moonshine University

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With areas of emphasis in Molecular Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Environmental Microbiology, the Department of Microbiology provides our majors a wide range of laboratory experiences and a faculty that is dedicated to excellence in teaching and research.

Plans to continue the renovation of our home in Pearson Hall in the near future depend on receipt of financial support from the state of Ohio as well as donations. Please make a gift today!

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Message from the Chair

Luis Actis - Chair of Microbiology

Dear Microbiology alumni and friends,

The 2016-2017 academic year was another great one for the Department of Microbiology, and we’d like to tell you about some of the highlights.

Pearson Hall, home of the Department of Microbiology since 1986, began a major facelift this summer. Renovation of the south end of the building is in full swing. Research labs, teaching labs, and classrooms are being completely rebuilt over a 1-year period, ensuring a fully modern experience for student learning. Plans to continue the renovation in other parts of the building in the near future depend on receipt of financial support from the state of Ohio as well as donations.

The entering undergraduate class in 2016-2017 included about 36 majors in both Microbiology and Medical Laboratory Science, and we hope that many of them will join research labs in microbiology. This past academic year 35 undergrads joined 25 graduate students in research labs, including 8 new graduate students pursuing MS and PhD degrees.

We were very pleased to be visited in April 2017 by alumnus Dr. Bradley Stevenson (BS Microbiology 1992), now a professor at the University of Oklahoma. He delivered a College of Arts and Science Alumni Lecture entitled “Microbiomes of biodiesel storage tanks and their role in fouling, degradation, and corrosion.”

For more details, keep reading below and also see Miami Microbiology Alumni on the MBI website.

We welcome visits from alumni; if you’re planning to visit, please contact me and we’ll be happy to arrange your visit, talk to you, and show you around.


Luis Actis
Professor and Chair

Microbiology students win prestigious national level awardsJana Cable

  • Jana Cable, a junior doing research in the laboratory of Dr. Natosha Finley, was the recipient of both the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which is given to about 300 students in the sciences nationwide, and the Astronaut Scholarship, which was awarded to only 45 STEM students across the United States.
  • Jana joins Maeva Metz (BS Microbiology 2016) as a winner of both these awards in 2015.

Overall, 40 undergraduate students co-authored 13 presentations made at regional, national, and international professional meetings, with five of them included in three peer-reviewed journal publications.

Faculty members receive significant awards

Rebecca Balish
Luis Actis - Chair of Microbiology
D.J. Ferguson
  • Dr. Rebecca Balish was recognized as the Honors Faculty Member of the Year in 2017. She is the first recipient of this new award.
  • Dr. Luis Actis was also honored as a Distinguished Visitor by the Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina where he earned his MS and PhD degrees in biochemistry.
  • Dr. D.J. Ferguson was a member of a team of researchers awarded a National Institutes of Health grant in 2016 to study enzymes that contribute to methanogenesis in archaea.

Expanding the Microbiology curriculum

The Microbiology curriculum is expanding with the purpose of offering courses to help provide alternative professional outcomes to our students.

In the fall of 2016, Microbiology together with the Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering departments offered for the first time the “Principles in Fermentation” undergraduate course. This classroom and lab course was followed by a 4-day hands-on course taught by Moonshine University with the support of Dave Dafoe and staff members of Flavorman.

New Microbiology faculty

Tim WilsonThe Microbiology faculty is growing. In 2016, Dr. Timothy Wilson, coming from the University of Cambridge in England, joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology as an Assistant Professor. His research focuses on mechanisms of signal transduction in the mammalian immune system in response to pathogens.

Dr. Xin WangThe department also looks forward to the arrival of Dr. Xin Wang from Texas A&M University in the fall of 2017, who will also join the faculty. His research focuses on synthetic biology and bacterial physiology.