MC hosts microbiology branch meeting

On Oct. 26-27, over 115 scientists and researchers attended the annual American Society for Microbiology KY-TN Branch Meeting in Maryville College’s Alumni Gym. Participants strung together 23 presentations and 40 posters, coming from universities from both Tennessee and Kentucky. The gathering was certainly termed a success by the number of participants, and those in attendance could be seen congratulating Dr. Jennifer Brigati, assistant professor of biology at MC, on an accomplished meeting.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Tom G. Schwan, chief of the Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., spoke about acquisition of spirochetes by ticks in his presentation, “Adaptions of Spirochetes for Acquisition and Transmission by Ticks.” Other presentations ranged from classification of mycobacteriophages using polymerase chain reaction (identifying small viruses that infect bacteria based on what genes they have), to fecal indicators of diarrheal diseases in Bangladesh water.

Although no Maryville College students participated in the oral presentations, two presented their own exhibit posters. David Lee Haskins and Elisabeth Klouda both presented their work from summer research examining two proteins in yeast, funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Haskins’ poster focused on the survival of yeast and the function of Gpr1, a protein important for cellular stability, after heat shock, while Klouda’s examined the physical interaction between the two proteins, suggesting that these two proteins form a dimer, meaning that they exist linked together.

Other poster topics were varied, ranging from antibiotic resistance among cultured lactic acid bacteria, to engineering photosystem I, a protein that helps drive metabolism, for enhanced electron transport rates. Both the presentations and posters were presented by a variety of students, ranging from undergraduates to graduate students, as well as faculty members. At the end of the weekend, the president of the KY-TN branch announced that for the second year in a row, a student of Maryville College had received the best poster award.

Alumni Jeffrey Hoover received the honor last year and Klouda this year for her poster entitled, “Clarification of interactions between two GPCRs in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.” The conference offered experience for both MC faculty and students alike, with the opportunity to host the annual convention and participate in contests with over a hundred other scientists from the area.

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