Microbiology at Miami

Graduate Research in Microbiology

3-minute thesis finalists

Steven Distelhorst wins Three Minute Thesis competition Three Minute Thesis is a research communication competition that challenges graduate students to present a semester's worth of research and study in a three-minute oral presentation with language appropriate for a nonspecialist audience. Pictured with Steven (front row - second from left) were top ten finalists Chris Sedlacek (second row - left) and Wei Li (second row - second from left).

These are some of the recent accomplishments and recognitions our graduate students have received for their research efforts.

Graduate student publications

  • Kuster D.W., S. Govindan, T.I. Springer, J.L. Martin, N.L. Finley, and S. Sadayappan. A hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-associated MYBPC3 mutation common in populations of South Asian descent causes contractile dysfunction. J. Bio.l Chem. 2015 Jan 12. pii: jbc.M114.607911. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Cuperman T.I., and N.L. Finley. Cardiac myosin binding protein-C: a structurally dynamic regulator of myocardial contractility. 2014. Pfugers Arch. 466:433-438.
  • Jacobs, A., M. Thompson, C. Black, J. Kessler, L. Clark, C. McQueary, H. Gancz, J. Moon, Y. Si, M. Owen, J. Hallock, Y. Kwak, A. Summers, C. Li, D. Rasko, W. Penwell, C. Honnold, M. Wise, P. Waterman, E. Lesho, R. Stewart, L. A. Actis, T. Palys, D. Craft and D. Zurawski. 2014. AB5075, a highly virulent isolate of Acinetobacter baumannii, as a model strain for the evaluation of pathogenesis and antimicrobial treatments. mBio, 5, e01076-14.
  • Kong, W., W. Li, O. Prášil, I. Romancova, and R. M. Morgan-Kiss. 2014. An integrated study of photochemical function and expression of a key photochemical gene (psbA) in photosynthetic communities of Lake Bonney (McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica). FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 89:293-302.
  • Pritchard, R.E., A.J. Prassinos, J.D. Osborne, Z. Raviv, and M.F. Balish. 2014. Reduction of hydrogen peroxide accumulation and toxicity by a catalase from Mycoplasma iowae. PLoS ONE. 9:e105188.
  • Springer, T.I., E. Goebel, D. Hararaju, and N.L. Finley.  2014.  Mutation in the β-hairpin of the Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase toxin modulates N-lobe conformation in calmodulin.  Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 453(1):43-48.
  • Ticak, T., D. Kuntz, K. Girosky, J.A. Krzycki, and D.J. Ferguson Jr. 2014. A nonpyrrolysine member of the widely distributed trimethylamine methyltransferase family is a glycine betaine methyltransferase. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111(43):E4668–E4676.
  • Ticak, T., D. Hariraju, M. Bayron, B.A. Arivett, S.E. Fiester, and D.J. Ferguson Jr. 2014. Isolation and characterization of a tetramethylammonium-degrading Methanococcoides strain and a novel glycine betaine-utilizing Methanolobus strain. Arch. Microbiol. Epub Oct 16.
  • Bollmann, A., C.J. Sedlacek, J. Norton, H.J. Laanbroek, Y. Suwa, L.Y. Stein, M.G. Klotz, D. Arp, L. Sayavedra-Soto, M. Lu, D. Bruce, C. Detter, R. Tapia, J. Han, T. Woyke, S.M. Lucas, S. Pitluck, L. Pennacchio, M. Nolan, M.L. Land, M. Huntemann, S. Deshpande, C. Han, A. Chen, N. Kyrpides, K. Mavromatis, V. Markowitz, E. Szeto, N. Ivanova, N. Mikhailova, I. Pagani, A. Pati, L. Peters, G. Ovchinnikova, & L.A. Goodwin (2013) Genome sequence of Nitrosomonas sp. Is79 - an ammonia-oxidizing bacterium adapted to low ammonium concentrations. Standards in Genomic Sciences 7: 469-482.

Graduate research awards

Orton K. Stark Awardees - 2015-2016

The Orton K. Stark Award is given "in Recognition of Academic Achievement of the Highest Order and Efforts and Talents Reflecting the Learning Traditions of the Department of Microbiology." Recent recipients include:


  • Steven Distelhorst


  • Wei Li
Susan R. Rockwood Awardees - 2015-2016

The Susan W. Rockwood Award is given "in Recognition of Excellence in Teaching and Research by a Woman in Graduate Study." Recent recipients include:


  • Gabrielle M. Lopez
  • Hui Shang
  • Cecily R. Wood


  • Emily J. Ohneck
  • Sarah R. Steimer
Donald C. Cox Travel Award Recipients - 2015-2016

Donald C. Cox Graduate Travel Awards were established in honor of Donald Cox, dedicated professor and former chair of the Department of Microbiology. The award provides $400 to help fund either travel to a national or international meeting for a research presentation, or attendance at a workshop beneficial to the graduate student's research. Recent recipients include:


  • Hui Shang
    35th Annual Meeting of the American Society For Virology 
  • Wei Li
    11th Annual DOE Joint Genome Institute Genomics of Energy & Environment Meeting
  • Tzvia Springer
    Biophysical Society 60th Annual Meeting


  • Gloria Wada
    2015 Annual Meeting of the Mycological Society of America
  • Hui Shang
    34th Annual Meeting of the American Society For Virology
  • Isha Kalra
    American Society for Virology 2015 Annual Meeting
  • Tyler Garretson
    American Society for Virology 2015 Annual Meeting
  • Christopher Sedlacek
    4th Annual Conference on Nitrification
  • Jananine Rockwood
    Mycoplasma Consortium
  • Monica Feng
    115th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology
  • Greg Cook
    American Society of Plant Biologists
Other  Award Recipients - 2015-2016

Graduate students can receive travel awards from the host scientific organizations, based on for the quality of their research presentations. Recent recipients include:


  • Heather Beck
    Donald C. Cox Award for Research Excellence for the best podium presentation - Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology
  • Greg Cook
    J. Robie Vestal Award for Research Excellence for the best environmental/evolution poster - Ohio Branch of the American Society for Microbiology


  • Amber Teufel
    Travel Award - Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Granada, Spain
  • Amber Teufel
    Outstanding Student Presentation Award - Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Granada, Spain