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Welcome to Microbiology!

Electron micrograph from 1st year phage classWelcome to the Department of Microbiology, where students and faculty are involved in exciting educational and research activities. Our programs offer a great opportunity to study the microbial world and to learn how this knowledge has provided a foundational understanding of diverse biological processes, including DNA replication, differential gene expression, the nature of severe infectious diseases and the alarming increase in antibiotic resistance, as well as the nature and role of microbial communities that persist under extreme conditions and contribute to critical biogeochemical cycles, just to mention a small number of examples….

Read More from the Department Chair

Combined Bachelor's/Master's Degree Program

{4+1} Our combined degree option allows students at Miami to combine Master’s level research with an undergraduate major, resulting in graduation with both a Master of Science in Microbiology and a Bachelor’s degree in their major (either Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science). Students can count up to 12 hours of graduate (500-level) Microbiology courses towards their undergraduate degree.

The combined program is intended to take 5 years, instead of the 6 (or more) usually required to obtain both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree. Students completing M.S. degree will be positioned for entry into research careers or advanced graduate education at the doctoral level.

Read more about the combined program

Phage Biology for First-Year Students!

Phage course image MBI 223: Bacteriophage Biology introduces first-year students to microbiology using a unique hands-on approach. Students will collect environmental samples to isolate viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages) to analyze, and will learn basic microbiology techniques as they purify DNA for genome sequencing and prepare the phages for electron microscopy.

In the second course in the series, MBI 224: Bacteriophage Genomics, students will perform hands-on analysis of the genome of their phages. Students will learn about DNA structure, genome organization, and basic principles of bioinformatics, and use this knowledge to annotate their bacteriophage genome using computational methods.

Read more about our phage biology courses

Spotlight on Undergraduates in µBiology

Research, Microbiology, and Premedical Studies

Esha Chadra

"At the end of my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. And, being from Columbus, I was told by my peers that Miami University had a great pre-med program, and it was one of the only universities in the Midwest that offered microbiology as a major.

"Hearing this, I had the feeling that my pathway to success would be enhanced by majoring in microbiology and having a pre-med co-major. And, it would be great to be close to home. After exploring Miami further, I quickly learned that the microbiology faculty were easily accessible, and the classroom sizes were not as large as those at state schools. This gave me confidence that it would be easy to find a research project that catered to my interests."

Read more of what Esha Chadha had had to say about how microbiology is preparing her for a career in medicine.

Global Health, Ethics, and Microbiology

Zaheer Choudhury

"Before coming to Miami, I looked at all the majors offered; microbiology was one of the most interesting and medically relevant options for me. It also wasn't as mainstream - it set me apart from students majoring in such things as biology and chemistry."

"With Miami's liberal arts options, I'm able to have two minors: Global Health and Ethics, Society and Culture. After I chose my global health minor, I learned that a lot of diseases that affect poorer countries are bacterial in origin and are very preventable, such as cholera. There is a reason they exist in poorer countries and not more wealthy countries where they can be more easily prevented"

Read more of what Zaheer Choudhury had had to say about how microbiology and global health studies are preparing him for a career in medicine.

Combining Premedical Studies with Microbiology

Neena Patel

"I'm confident that my Microbiology major and Premedical Studies co-major have given me a strong foundation for a career in medicine. Miami has done a fantastic job with not only helping me understand and interact with complex subjects, but also in giving me opportunities beyond the classroom to apply my knowledge in different ways!"

Read more of what Neena Patel had had to say about her microbiology research on HIV and AIDS and her extracurricular activities.

Virulence and Biofilms

Maeva Metz working in the lab

Maeva Metz, a junior microbiology major and molecular biology minor, has received a Goldwater Scholarship. Metz has been conducting research with faculty mentor Luis Actis for the past three years. Her current project involves characterizing a virulence factor that contributes to antibiotic resistance in the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii.


Bacteria in the Environment

Rhea Johnson and mentor Annette Bollmann

Rhea Johnson, an Undergraduate Summer Scholar, fell in love with microbiology when she took a required course for her major. She added Microbiology as a second major along with Kinesiology and has now been conducting research with mentor Annette Bollmann, Associate Professor of Microbiology, for the past two years.


Using Lasers to Study Mitochondria

Art Oliva and his mentor Paul Urayama

Art Oliva, a Microbiology major and Undergraduate Summer Scholar, is working with mentor Paul Urayama, Associate Professor of Physics, on research to help understand the effects of high pressure on cellular metabolism. They use laser-induced fluorescence to study the function of mitochondria—the powerhouses of cells that share an ancestry with modern bacteria.


Genome Editing of Stem Cells

Blake Rasor in the lab

Blake Rasor, a sophomore biology and microbiology double major, received a Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention. Rasor works with Michael Robinson, professor of biology, on research involving retina development in mouse embryonic stem cells, using the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology. His project involves the transdifferentiation of retinal pigment epithelium cells.


Spotlight on Faculty Research

Miami University’s first iGEM team wins gold medal at International Genetically Engineered Machine competition

Dr. Xin Wang

Xin Wang, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, inspired the formation of Miami University’s first-ever iGEM team, which won a gold medal and was one of four teams nominated for two special awards in iGEM 2021, the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Wang's intent was to introduce iGEM to Miami students and show them how impactful the competition can be. The ongoing work in his lab provides a foundation for future iGEM teams to continue with the project. 

According to Wang, “this internationally renowned competition is a great opportunity for students from many different disciplines to work together to solve problems faced by our society.”

Read more about Miami's successful iGem team

Microbiologists' research on biofilms uncovers clues about how to treat pneumonia

Mycoplasma pneumoniae scanning electron micrograph

Microbiologist Mitchell Balish, Professor of Microbiology, and his graduate students are working to understand the features of Mycoplasma pneumoniae biofilms and determine how their development might be inhibited. A recent study by Monica Feng and Steven Distelhorst, graduate students in Balish's laboratory, sheds light on how biofilms of the bacterium M. pneumoniae organize themselves.

Our Symbol

Microbiology Mu symbol Microbiology Mu symbolWe have adopted the Greek letter "µ" as representative of our department and of our field of study. The letter "µ" is a symbol for the scientific prefix micro-, which indicates one millionth of a unit of measure. This is quite appropriate for Microbiology (or µBiology) as the size of the organisms we study are on the order of 1 µm (a.k.a. micron - a millionth of a meter), or smaller. In addition, the symbol is spelled mu, which is also an abbreviation for Miami University (M.U.) Taken together, µ for micro and M.U. for Miami University gives us µmu as shorthand for Microbiology at Miami University, which is the basis of our symbol.