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, most of which are too small to be seen by the naked eye. These organisms include bacteria, archaea, small eukaryotes including phytoplankton, zooplankton, parasites and fungi, and viruses.
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.
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,
• Decipher the functions of the many unique genes found in prokaryotic and bacteriophage genomes.