LHU Clearfield Hosts 2010 Allegheny Branch Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology

Attendees survey some of the 20 research posters presented by students during the 2010 Allegheny Branch meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held at the LHU Clearfield Campus. (Provided photo)

LOCK HAVEN – On Nov. 5 – 6, the Allegheny Branch of the American Society for Microbiology held their 2010 fall meeting in the new academic building on the Clearfield Campus of Lock Haven University.

Dr. Joseph R. Newhouse (current President of the Branch), Dr. Joseph P. Calabrese, and Dr. Barrie E. Overton of the LHU Biology Department served as organizers and co-hosts of the event.

Since 1934, microbiologists and their students from Pennsylvania and West Virginia have gathered together to present their research and listen to lectures on current topics in the field given by internationally-known experts at the annual meeting of the Allegheny Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. The parent organization of the Branch, the American Society for Microbiology, is the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world, with more than 43,000 members worldwide. The society has 35 Branches, each of which covers a defined geographical area. The Allegheny Branch encompasses the western half of Pennsylvania and all of West Virginia.

Since 1996, the Allegheny Branch has been actively involved in promoting and improving undergraduate education in microbiology, so one of the major goals of the meeting each year is to provide a venue for undergraduate students to showcase their research projects and gain valuable experience in the process.

The meeting began on Friday evening, November 5, with a banquet, followed by the Undergraduate Microbiology Education keynote lecture “Taking it to the Streets: Novel Research and Service Learning,” given by Dr. Gail Rowe of La Roche College in Pittsburgh.

On Saturday, November 6, twenty students presented posters of their research in the morning, and six students gave oral research presentations in the afternoon. Dr. Marianne Hazel, Interim Dean of the LHU Clearfield Campus, attended the poster sessions, and marveled at the work done by the student participants. During lunch, she welcomed everyone to the campus, and greeted all of the participants personally.

Also on Saturday, Branch keynote lectures were delivered by internationally-known microbiologists Dr. Kenneth M. Noll of the University of Connecticut, and Dr. Susan Whittier of the Columbia/Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Dr. Noll works with heat-loving bacteria, and the title of his presentation was “Challenges for Microbes at High Temperatures and their Evolutionary Solutions.” Dr. Whittier is a clinical microbiologist, and her lecture was “Clostridium difficile: A Re-emerging Pathogen?” Drs. Noll and Whittier also took a great interest in the research presented by the students, and made a special effort to mingle with them to give valuable feedback.

Altogether, nearly 50 attendees representing Penn State University, Duquesne University, Juniata College, Bucknell University, Saint Vincent College, Mount Aloysius College, Lycoming College, La Roche College, and Shippensburg University, helped make the meeting a great success. Many of the participants expressed how impressed they were with the facilities on the Clearfield Campus, the conduct of the meeting, and the hospitality shown to them by Lock Haven University.

Lock Haven University is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), the largest provider of higher education in the commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 250 degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. Nearly 405,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.

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