Meet a Microbiologist

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Meet a Microbiologist: Marcos Voutsinos

While most of us worry about the ripeness of our bananas, Marcos Voutsinos has been preoccupied with something else: the banana freckle. Despite its innocuous name, banana freckle is actually a fungal disease caused by the fungus Phyllosticta cavendishii and characterized by “freckles” of fungus on the banana fruit, leaves, and stems. The fruiting bodies of P. cavendishii can spread up to 1 km during the tropical monsoonal weather making this microorganism a serious concern for the $600 million Australian banana industry. (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Jesus Romo

Growing up, Jesus Romo never thought he would become a microbiologist. “I actually wanted to be a paleontologist as a kid and [my parents] always bought me books about dinosaurs and dinosaur toys,” he says. Now Jesus is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at San Antonio studying fungus in the lab. When not in the lab, Jesus enjoys investigating fungi of another kind: the mushroom.

Originally from Coahuila, Mexico, Jesus immigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was 10 years old. After a year of frustration and not wanting to go to school because he did not know the language, Jesus quickly became fluent in English. He attended the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as an undergraduate while working six nights a week. Though he did well in his courses, he had no idea undergraduate research opportunities existed. He took a microbiology laboratory course in his last semester and the instructor thought he would make a good teacher and recommended he look into graduate school (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Juliana Ansari

Juliana Ansari is a laboratory supervisor with a predilection for probiotics. At Fairfield University, Juliana coordinates instructional biology labs and runs a research program with undergraduates. As a laboratory supervisor, Juliana designs lab activities, makes media, and maintains bacterial cultures and live animal collections.

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Meet a Microbiologist: Amanda Gunn

Microbiologist Amanda Gunn takes on something unusual for a microbiologist; she started a fish research and community lab. When Amanda came to Grays Harbor College as a faculty member, she wanted a way to fit her work into the needs and culture of the community. “Everybody here hunts or fishes, and it seemed like a good way to get the community interested in science,” Amanda says. Thus, Fish Lab began.

Fish Lab is a volunteer-based program intended to both restore and monitor the waterways in the area and to get the community involved. Amanda holds volunteer Fish Lab hours twice a week where students and community members can participate in water quality analysis, trail work, dissections, and more. (more…)

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Meet a Microbiologist: Kimberly Walker

Like many young scientists, Kimberly Walker took to her natural surroundings for study. As a child, she would do experiments on ants near her house. After a B.S. in medical technology, she pursued a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology. She studied the molecular pathogenesis of Gram-negative bacteria, specifically Bordetella pertussis, Proteus mirabilis, and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli.

She is fascinated by the secretion systems of Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria use different forms of secretion to transfer proteins from within the cell to the exterior. Secretion systems have many functions, whether to emit toxins or to build extracellular structures. “They are brilliant. Type II is my favorite,” she says. (more…)