Conference explores future of pathogen research, scientific careers

Gainesville, Fla. – Are you curious about how bacteria could survive on Mars? Or how microorganisms contribute to biodegradation of oil spills? Or ever questioned why salmonella survives on tomatoes?

Scientists, students and experts will examine these topics and more at the 97th annual Southeastern Branch of the American Society for Microbiology meeting in Gainesville, Fla. on Oct. 20-22, 2011.

“Internationally known speakers will be sharing with us how miniscule organisms are evolving, what environmental impacts they are contributing and what novel methods are being developed to treat and control associated diseases,” said  Anita Wright, who serves as society president and is a University of Florida professor with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.


Just as microorganisms and the environment are changing, so are scientific approaches.


“More than ever science is becoming interdisciplinary,” Wright said. “Biological findings combined with mathematical equations allow us to make connections between citrus diseases found in Florida with those found in Asia. A combination of computer technology, mathematics and science allows us to track and better manage diseases.”


Just as bioinformatics is enhancing research, so are new approaches to therapeutics, a topic to be discussed at the October meeting. New treatments are being designed to reduce the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


Students and professionals wishing to learn about bioinformatics, new methods to treat pathogens and other up-and-coming employment options will benefit from a session on emerging careers in microbiology.


Out-of-town students traveling 100 miles or more to attend the meeting will be eligible for travel awards to help cover expenses.


Also planned for the three-day meeting are undergraduate and graduate student research presentations, numerous sessions on varied topics including environmental disease and new techniques for identifying pathogens. There will also be a pool party and trivia competition.

The meeting will be held lakeside at the Paramount Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Gainesville, Fla. Registration is still open.

Writer: Hannah Brown,

Source: Anita Wright,, 352-392-1991 x 311