2013 Annual Report
American Academy of Microbiology
Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D.
Chair, Board of Governors
Academy Board of Governors and Fellowship Program
At its annual meeting in January, the Board of Governors, was joined by Erika Shugart, ASM Director of Communications & Marketing Strategy, to brainstorm and develop a marketing approach that would target a broader range of audiences (both scientific and non-scientific alike) to build awareness and extend the reach of the Academy’s awards and colloquia programs. In an effort to prolong these efforts, the Board appointed a sub-committee to collaborate with the Communications department via quarterly conference calls.
Concerned about antibiotic resistance? What if an insect pest becomes desensitized to the protective chemicals applied to crops? All kinds of living organisms have evolved mechanisms of resistance against the chemicals designed to control them – from bacteria, viruses, cancer cells to weeds. This report explores the Darwinian principles underlying the evolution of resistance in these different biological communities and learns how experts in these fields have developed potentially discipline-spanning strategies of combatting them.
Where do new influenza viruses come from? How are they different from the influenza viruses that circulate every year? Why is vaccination so important? To help answer the many questions people have about this multi-faceted virus, the American Academy of Microbiology has issued a report entitled FAQ: Influenza. The Academy convened twelve of the world’s leading experts on influenza in October, 2012 to consider and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about influenza. The resultant report provides non-technical, science-based answers to questions that people may have about the virus.
Microbes in Pipes: The Microbiology of the Water Distribution System
“FAQ: West Nile Virus” was released in June 2013. The report, based on the deliberations of 22 experts, answers questions the public might have about the virus that burst onto the U.S. scene over a decade ago, and made a dramatic comeback last summer. The report explains where the virus came from, why it seems to fade in and out of view, what symptoms it causes, and why it’s so difficult to predict where outbreaks will occur and how severe they will be. Easily understandable, but scientifically sound, readers will learn about the virus’ ecology and epidemiology, as well as what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“How Microbes Can Help Feed the World” explores the many evolutionarily ancient partnerships that all plants have with microbes. The group of scientists who met in December 2012 propose a grand challenge: that improved understanding of plant-microbe interactions could increase crop productivity by 20% while reducing fertilizer and pesticide requirements by 20%, within 20 years. Their ambitious goal – 20:20 in 20 – rests on the recognition that all plants rely on microbial partners to secure nutrients, deter pathogens and resist environmental stress and that these evolutionary relationships have not yet been put to work in agriculture.
FAQ: The Human Microbiome
Reports will soon be released on three additional colloquia that were held in 2013:
The Academy plans to convene three traditional and three FAQ colloquia in 2014:
Outreach efforts for FAQ: West Nile Virus were particularly successful. The report is featured on the CDC website, as well as on several state health department sites including Mississippi, Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, and Nevada. The FAQ: If the yeast ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy: the microbiology of beer has also spurred several novel outreach efforts, including the distribution of hundreds of coasters printed with the report website and beer-related trivia questions and t-shirts with the report website address and the slogan “Love beer? Thank a microbiologist.”
Microbes After Hours
The Academy and Communications Department have continued their collaboration on the Microbes After Hours serires. In 2013, 5 different sessions were held including, “Secret Language of Bacteria,” “West Nile Virus,” “The Microbiology of the Bioeconomy,” “Shutting Down the Government,” and “The Microbiology of Beer.”
Virtual Speakers Program
The Academy has begun collaborating with ASM International Affairs to mobilize the expertise of the Fellows to develop virtual lectures that will be available for delivery around the world. Lectures can be recorded by invited speakers at their own computers, with audio and video synchronized to powerpoint presentations. The program will allow ASM to accommodate speaker requests virtually at meetings worldwide when travel in person would not be feasible.
Roy Curtiss, III, Ph.D., Arizona State University, Phoenix
ASM Founders Distinguished Service Award recognizes a member of ASM for outstanding contributions to the Society in a volunteer capacity at the national level.
Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York
Shelley Payne, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin
BD Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology honors a distinguished clinical microbiologist for outstanding research accomplishments leading to or forming the foundation for important applications in clinical microbiology.
Angela M. Caliendo, M.D., Ph.D., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
bioMérieux Sonnenwirth Award for Leadership in Clinical Microbiology recognizes a distinguished microbiologist for the promotion of innovation in clinical laboratory science, dedication to ASM, and the advancement of clinical microbiology as a profession.
Davise Larone, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, New York
Carski Foundation Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award recognizes distinguished teaching of microbiology to undergraduate students and for encouraging them to subsequent achievement.
Erica Suchman, Ph.D., Colorado State University, Fort Collins
DuPont Industrial Biosciences in Applied and Environmental Microbiology recognizes distinguished achievement in research and development in applied (non-clinical) and environmental microbiology.
Douglas G. Capone, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Katherine Fitzgerald, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
EMD Millipore Alice C. Evans Award honors a member of ASM for major contributions toward the full participation and advancement of women in microbiology.
Bonnie L. Bassler, Ph.D., Princeton University, New Jersey
Gen-Probe Joseph Public Health Award honors a distinguished microbiologist who has exhibited exemplary leadership and service in the field of public health.
James Pearson, Dr.P.H., Virginia Division of Consolidated Lab Services, Richmond, VA
Peter H. Gilligan, Ph.D., D(ABMM), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award honors outstanding contributions toward fostering the research training of underrepresented minorities in microbiology.
Dan Granoff, M.D., Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, California
Maria F. Lima, Ph.D., Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee
Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Awards recognize and award excellence in basic research in medical microbiology and infectious diseases.
Michaela Gack, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Luiz Pedro Sório de Carvalho, Ph.D., MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom
Promega Biotechnology Research Award honors outstanding contributions to the application of biotechnology through fundamental microbiological research and development.
Joachim Messing, Dr. rer. nat, Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey
Raymond W. Sarber Awards recognize students at the undergraduate and predoctoral levels for research excellence and potential.
Kara Hardwick, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina
Fadie Coleman, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts
Moselio Schaechter Distinguished Service Award (sponsored by GSK) honors an ASM member who has shown exemplary leadership and commitment towards the substantial furthering of the profession of microbiology in research, education or technology in the developing world.
Yogendra Singh, Ph.D., Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, India
Scherago-Rubin Award recognizes an outstanding, bench-level clinical microbiologist.
Scott Cunningham, MS, MT(ASCP)SM, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Young Investigator Award recognizes research excellence and potential to further the educational or research objectives of an outstanding young clinical scientist.
Benjamin Pinsky, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine, California
USFCC/J. Roger Porter Award recognizes outstanding efforts by a scientist who has demonstrated the importance of microbial biodiversity through sustained curatorial or stewardship activities for a major resource used by the scientific community.
Floyd E. Dewhirst, DDS, Ph.D., The Forsyth Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Edward Leadbetter, Ph.D., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts