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CAS professor selected for American Microbiological Society Lecture Program

TAMPA, Fla. – An integrative biology professor has been chosen as a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Society of Microbiology.

Valerie J. Harwood, Ph.D. has been selected to give lectures to students and faculty at American Society of Microbiology branch meetings throughout the country from 2014-2017. She specializes in environmental microbiology and will be covering topics related to her research.

Harwood said this position will give her a chance to talk to students and faculty in different states. She can contribute to mentoring students in science, and they can learn from her scientific experiences and research. She said the main benefit to this position is, “providing a service to science.”

In the lectures, she will discuss her research and how it applies to bigger questions. The two main topics she will cover are microbial source tracking and pathogenic vibrio.

Harwood explained microbial source tracking as an effort to determine the source of which animal or human fecal in sewage water contributes to contamination. The contamination in water can cause a high risk to human health. Microbial source tracking is about identifying the source and finding solutions.

Harwood explained pathogenic Vibrio vulnificus as a naturally occurring bacterium that lives in estuaries like Tampa Bay and other places around the world. Vibrio vulnificus can cause wound infections, gastroenteritis (intestinal infections) and even death via septicemia. Her research investigates the growth of these pathogens in water in order to better understand the risks of wound infections.

Harwood said she loved this field of study when she took her first microbiology course as an undergraduate. She believes this position will not only benefit students and faculty around the world, but also allow her to be in contact with graduate students who might potentially want to join in her research program here at USF.

The American Society of Microbiology is one of the largest microbiology organizations in the world that provides funds to smaller branch divisions. The funds allow the branch divisions to invite speakers from across the country and give students access to accomplished scientists like Harwood.

- USF -

Filed under:Arts and Sciences Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology    
Author: Jasmin Lankford