ASMCUE 2013 Highlights and Proceedings

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20th Annual ASMCUE Highlights and Proceedings, The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, Englewood, Colorado, May 16-19

“20 Years of Vision, Change, and Leadership”

Conference Steering Committee     
Todd Primm
Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
Vice Chair
Mary Mawn
SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, New York
Abstract Review Chair
Robyn Puffenbarger Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia
Microbrew Review Chair
Jennifer Herzog
Herkimer County Community College, Herkimer, New York
Local Organizing Committee     

Aimee Bernard
University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado
Timberley Roane
University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado


Conference Statistics   

There are 395 participants, compared to 337 in 2012. Of those registered, there are:   
  • 350 conference attendees and 45 exhibitors
  • 286 ASM Members and 64 nonmembers (among the faculty participants)   
  • 45% first-time attendees
  • 22 international attendees representing 15 countries   
  • 35 conference attendees registered for the Microbes are Fun 5K Run
  • 173 conference attendees registered for the asm2013 field trip on Saturday   
  • 215 conference attendees registered for the asm2013 one-day pass on Sunday


The Inverness offered a beautiful and relaxing setting for our historic twentieth annual meeting. What a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains (just beyond the IKEA). This was our largest ASMCUE to date, with almost 400 participants! It is exciting to see our community growing so much. Typical for an ASMCUE meeting, 45% of out attendees were first-timers. Their contributions mean so much. As you are all aware, a great conference results from a great community so tremendous thanks goes to all in the community who planned this meeting, who presented, and contributed in other ways. A special thanks to all of our exhibitors and sponsors for their critical support.

Our conference theme of “Twenty Years of Vision, Change, and Leadership” was well suited to both reflect the past and project into the future. Vision and Change comes from the seminal report from AAAS and NSF (and endorsed by HHMI, NIH/NIGMS, and the USDA) on how undergraduate education in the life sciences needs to be transformed to reflect what is known about the science of learning. Please continue to download ( and share this document with other educators and administrators. Not only did this report mention the educational efforts of ASM as exemplary, so did the more recent 2012 report on “The Role of Scientific Societies in STEM Faculty Workshops,” from the National Science Foundation, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, and the American Association of Physics Teachers, which includes a full chapter on ASMCUE. Clearly, recognition of our community is spreading.

The first plenary lecture by Joseph Petrosino, Baylor College of Medicine, on metagenomics was a fascinating look at current work related to the human microbiome project. How impressive the diversity of the human gut is in that despite many years of research, 43% of DNA sequence reads from the Human Microbiome Project can’t be mapped to an existing database. We have so much more discovery ahead of us in microbiology. The talk ended with a surprise proposal of a crowdsourcing project involving ASMCUE attendees, the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, and the American Gut Project. More information on this exciting opportunity soon! We then learned about many of the ASM educational initiatives from Amy Chang, ASM Education Director, including Biology Scholars, Faculty Training Institutes, LINK (Leaders Inspiring Networks and Knowledge), Undergraduate Curriculum Guidelines, JMBE, Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines, MicrobeLibrary, and Science Teaching Careers. ASM staff coordinate over 300 volunteers annually in carrying out these activities. Please join in and volunteer. Following this, attendees had their first chance to learn about resources. Choices included effective crowdsourcing, involving students in curriculum design in Project BETA, service learning, and the Science Case Network. The evening ended with a look at our new assessment sessions, and then a reception and t-shirt fashion show, generously provided by Pearson.  Thank you to our 12 participants who walked down the runway in their microbial inspired t-shirts. The audience voted and we congratulate winner Dave Westenberg, Missouri University of Science and Technology.

runway seng 0516 dave

After a topical networking breakfast, attendees went to the first of three sets of pedagogy sessions. Topics included a set of molecular biology simulations for educators (Case It), topics in online learning, and flipping the classroom (a very popular topic, with a lot of ideas and experiences in our community).   Some excellent advice was given when adding active learning, including a flipped format, to your classroom: pave the way and help diffuse student resistance by clearly showing what active learning is, that is works, and why you as instructors are doing it.   Concurrent scientific sessions gave updates on topics such as the old friends hypothesis (immunological entertainment at its best), the lung microbiome in HIV patients, yeast in beer (from the American Academy of Microbiology), epidemiology around pertussis resurgence in the US, current use of microbiology in forensics, and microbial whole-genome sequencing (were you aware that 400 million parallel sequencing reads is typical now?). A hallmark of ASMCUE is involvement of participants in community-driven projects (yes, with active learning, we practice what we preach). This was carried out as participants were updated on the ASM Curriculum Guidelines, and then worked over lunch in applying these to the next step: developing learning objectives tied to the core concepts. After more pedagogy and scientific sessions, a plenary lecture on the microbial communities on young igneous ocean crust was presented by Katrina Edwards, University of Southern California. The day ended with a walk down memory lane reception. What an impressive amount of work has been done by members of this community in the past to set the stage for where we are today. Input was collected from all on a poster and Google form on what our future vision is.

Saturday started at bright and early for 26 attendees who participated in the Microbes are Fun 5K Run. Thank you to our cheer committee “Sally Monella” and “Neutro-Phil” and others that motivated the runners and Mark Martin, University of Puget Sound, for staffing the water station and acting as race photographer. A special thank you goes out to our 5K race sponsors John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (t-shirt), W.H. Freeman (prize for the top race finishers), and Imagineering (race logo).






First place winner
Tor Gjoen, University of Oslo

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Second place winner
David Wessner, Davidson College

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Third place winner
Laura MacDonald, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
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“Neutro-Phil” and "Sally Monella”

Sessions then kicked off with an ASM-NSF LINK plenary panel presentation. Bruce Jackson, MassBay Community College, inspired us about how research involvement has transformed students at MassBay Community College, and Jenifer Alonzo, Old Dominion University, explained how we can become involved in the LINK program. For much of the day, attendees shared excellent posters and numerous educational products were showcased by the exhibitors. This year, all posters were linked to one of more concepts in the ASM Guidelines and tagged with one or more pedagogical categories. Microbrew sessions also filled the day with instructors sharing valuable ideas on teaching and learning. Once again there was a working lunch following a session, this time focused on the PULSE initiative. The goal of PULSE, led for 40 national Fellows and supported by NSF, NIH, and HHMI, is to help life science departments across the nation implement the recommendations in Vision and Change. Participants gave valuable feedback on rubrics to assess where departments lie on the implementation scale being developed. Hopefully, each of you took back an idea on how you can promote and encourage change within your own academic unit. The evening activity was a field trip to the asm2013 keynote session in Denver, to hear some fascinating cutting-edge science on spatial organization inside bacteria, global sequencing of viruses from wild animals in hotspots to predict new zoonotic events, and using cycles of error-prone PCR and high throughput sequencing for directed protein evolution.

Our last day began with the final plenary lecture from this year’s Carski Award winner, Graham Hatfull, University of Pittsburgh. After amazing us with the vastness (estimated 1023 bacterial infections per second globally) and diversity (estimated 20-30 phage strains for each bacterial strain in existence) of the phage world, he described how getting students involved in authentic research of phage hunting and genome annotation at all levels has been a tremendous national success. Many of those involved in his brainchild, the HHMI SEA-PHAGES Program, were in the audience. This was followed by our traditional conference wrap-up to obtain input from the participants on the meeting, and the “passing of the torch” (really strings of beads and a questionable hula shirt) to next year’s Chair, Mary Mawn, SUNY Empire State College. We hope to see you (and others that you invite) at next year’s conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston North Shore in Danvers, MA on May 15-18, 2014.

Final Program

The ASMCUE 2013 Final Program is available in pdf format.

Final Program (pdf - 100 pages)

ASMCUE Mobile App

Poster Session Abstracts

Abstracts for the ASMCUE poster sessions are featured in Volume 14, Issue 1 of the Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education.

Plenary, Concurrent, and Microbrew Sessions

Sessions and Handouts

"A Walk Down Memory Lane and Visioning the Future" Poster Session

Posters and ASM Leaders

Travel Awards

2013 Travel Award Winners


2013 Exhibitors and Sponsors

Photo Slideshow

Photos by Susan English Photography