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Welcome to the Department of Microbiology
Our mission is to educate students and conduct research across the breadth of modern microbiology. Microbiology is the study of small organisms, mostly microscopic, including bacteria, archaea, small eukaryotes including phytoplankton, zooplankton, parasites and fungi, and viruses. Future Microbiologists will help to control emerging and reemerging infectious diseases; harness microbes to produce green chemicals or to convert biowaste to energy; learn the environmental roles of the uncultured bacterial and archaeal majority on Earth; and decipher the functions of the many unique genes found in prokaryotic and bacteriophage genomes.
Microbes of various types are everywhere on Earth, and they impact our lives and our environment in profound ways. Many cause disease, and the study of pathogenic microbes and host immunity systems is a cornerstone of medicine and public health; since 1910, one-third of Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to microbiologists. But many microbes are beneficial, either through mutualistic interactions with their host animal or plant, or through their contributions to nutrient cycling and genetic evolution in the environment. Microbes occupy an incredible range of habitats in the environment, from the oceans and soils to plant leaf surfaces, and including such inhospitable sites as deep-sea rock microfissures, and locales high in salt, temperature, and pressure.
We offer the only B.S. degree in Microbiology in Oregon, training over 300 majors. The Microbiology Program at OSU offers courses that study the diverse properties and roles of microbes with respect to human and environmental health. A selection of upper level courses lets students choose to emphasize different specialties, with strong representation of both pathogenic microbiology and environmental microbiology. The hands-on training with laboratory courses and opportunities for lab teaching assistantships and undergraduate research results in readily employable graduates. The Microbiology Students Association provides experiential opportunities such as field trips and demonstrations to K-12 students at career fairs or in local classrooms.
The Microbiology Program provides graduate training leading towards PhD and MS degrees. The Program supports broad interests in microbiology, including environmental and pathogenic microbiology, with studies that encompass a spectrum of approaches from the ecological and organismal to the molecular genetic and biochemical. Faculty from several colleges and departments participate as major advisors.
We conduct research on a broad range of subjects covering bacteria, viruses and parasites, and their roles in the health of the environment, humans, animals and plants. We have strong representation in bioinformatics-guided research, marine and freshwater microbiology, and fish health studies. Research Highlights: Distinguished Professor Stephen Giovannoni's studies have identified the SAR11 group as the most abundant open ocean bacteria; SAR11 member Pelagibacter has a streamlined genome and surprising auxotrophic dependencies on nutrient forms provided by other organisms. Dr. Giovannoni was the 2012 recipient of distinguished awards from the American Society for Microbiology and International Society for Microbial Ecology. Dr. Jerri Bartholomew's research has identified infection by myxozoan parasites as a major stressor on Klamath River Chinook salmon as part of her studies on disease threats to native fish runs. Distinguished Professor Luiz Bermudez studies pathogenicity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which remains a vexing problem in the developing world. Dr. Peter Bottomley studies nitrogen cycling in soils, including determining the roles of bacteria and archaea.
Starting July 2014, scientists with NASA’s Ship-Aircraft Bio-Optical Research (SABOR) experiment will make observations from ship and aircraft off the U.S. Atlantic Coast aimed at advancing the technology needed to measure microscopic plankton in the ocean from space. For the next three weeks, follow SABOR researchers as they work toward finding out how and why plankton are changing around the planet, and where the carbon associated with plankton goes. Plankton play an important part of the climate system and deliver oxygen to the atmosphere, absorb carbon dioxide, and form the base of the marine food chain.[...]Read More