Past News & Announcements

Five College Researchers Exploring Life on the Red Planet

December 2013:  James Holden, along with NASA, and researchers from the Five College Consortium are exploring the possibility of life on Mars as well as other planets.  Scientists believe that ecosystems similar to the deep-sea vents that Dr. Holden studies existed on Mars in years past which leads them to assume that extraterrestrial life existed there for a period of time.  Read more...

Microbiology Seniors in Innovation Challenge MinutePitch Competition

December 2013:  Clarissa Ronzio and Dennis Morgan recently shared third place in Amherst's Innovation Challenge Fall Minutepitch competition.  The team had one minute to pitch their business ideas about their development, Clearocin, which uses bacteria to fight acne.  Read more...

Microbiology Majors in the UMass Marching Band

5 Microbiology majors members of UMass Marching Band: Pat Conboy, Meghan Falvey, Adam Lerman (not pictured), Jonathon McHatton, and Clarissa Ronzio

November 2013:  Five Microbiology majors are also members of the UMass Marching Band:  Pat Conboy, Meghan Falvey, Adam Lerman (not pictured), Jonathon McHatton, and Clarissa Ronzio. These students recently returned from New York City where they performed in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Congratulations on a fine performance!

In Honor of Our Veterans

November 2013:  Microbiology recognizes the following Department members who have served in the military:  Michael Azevedo, William Mohn, Alexander Koehler and Daniel Winn.  We are thankful for their sacrifice and service to our country!

Jesús Alvelo Provides Insight into A. baumannii Outbreak

November 2013:  Graduate student Jesús G. Alvelo-Maurosa provided insight regarding an Acinetobacter baumannii outbreak in a hospital in Puerto Rico for the newspaper El Nuevo Dia. Infections caused by A. baumannii are notorious for complicating treatment of U.S. soldiers following traumatic injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the newspaper article, Alvelo-Maurosa provided an analysis of a CDC report and explained how resistance of A. baumannii bacteria to multiple antibiotics results in serious infections in civilian hospitals as well as in combat zones. The article was cited by multiple high-profile online news sites in Puerto Rico. In a second unrelated article in Mi Puerto Rico Verde, an online environmental news site, Alvelo-Maurosa explained the benefits of using trash and microbial communities to produce biogas as a way to tackle the expensive costs of energy production on tropical islands such as Puerto Rico.

Life Sciences Laboratory Opens Its Doors

November 2013: Phase I of the the newly constructed Life Sciences Laboratory at UMass opened its doors in September.  Four Microbiology faculty and their lab groups are part of research clusters which are now housed in the Life Sciences Laboratory:  Kristen DeAngelis, Michele Klingbeil, Yasu Morita and Wilmore Webley.  The state of the art building is now home to faculty from five UMass departments. 

Book By David Hahn Highlights Research in Webley Lab

November 2013:  Dr. David Hahn, MD, Director of the Wisconsin Research and Education Network recently published a book entitled: “A Cure for Asthma?”  The book challenges the conventional wisdom about the causes and treatments for asthma with the use of strong scientific evidence and compelling case histories. Dr. Hahn is a long-time collaborator on asthma research with the Webley Lab and part one of the book consists of stories told by patients whose asthma has been cured by antibiotic treatment to eliminate Chlamydia pneumoniae from their lungs. These patients had their blood and bronchial lavage samples tested in the Webley Lab as part of a case series study. The work performed by the Webley is repeatedly highlighted in this book and Dr. Webley wrote one of the forewords for the book and is one of three colleagues who statements can be found on the back cover. The stories highlighted in this publication and the conclusions drawn provide unmistakable validation of the clinical importance of the work currently being undertaken in the Webley Lab.

Webley Chosen as Honors Faculty Lecturer

September 2013:  Wilmore Webley, Associate Professor of Microbiology, has been chosen by the UMass Commonwealth Honors College as the Faculty Lecturer for the 2013-2014 academic year.  Dr. Webley's first lecture, "A Cure for Severe Asthma:  New Hope for the Future," will take place on Tuesday, October 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. The lecture is offered as part of the honors seminar course "Ideas That Changed the World." Read more

Faculty Promotions

September 2013:  Effective September 1, 2013, Dr. Stephen Rich and Dr. Klaus Nüsslein have both been promoted to the rank of Professor.

Holden Explores Deep-Sea Volcano

August 2013:  James Holden, Associate Professor of Microbiology, and a team of researchers will embark on back-to-back research expeditions on September 3.  The expeditions will explore the Axial Volcano which is 300 miles off the coast of Oregon and one mile below the ocean's surface.  Holden's research will not be funded by government sources as it has in the past but from private sources: The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI).  The Moore Foundation, started by the co-founder of Intel and his wife, is dedicated to advancing environmental conservation and scientific research.  SOI was founded by Eric Schmidt of Google and his wife, are dedicated to funding oceanographic research projects. Read more

DeAngelis Receives Grant from Department of Energy

August 2013:  Kristen DeAngelis, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, along with Jeffrey Blanchard in the Biology Department and Jerry Melillo at the Ecosystem Center in the Marine Biological Laboratories received a three year grant from the Department of Energy. This project, entitled "Changes in Soil Carbon Dynamics in Response to Long-Term Soil Warming – Integration Across Scales from Cells to Ecosystems," takes advantage of a 22-year climate warming experiment ongoing at the Harvard Forest LTER. Cultivation of microbes, meta-transcriptomics of soils, and development of an ecosystem model for decomposition will increase understanding of the microbial mechanisms that control soil carbon loss in the context of a changing climate.

Webley Provides Insight in to Recent Research Findings

August 2013:  The Los Angeles Times reported on research findings recently published in Science Translational Medicine on the increased effectiveness of antibiotics when trace amounts of silver were added.  Wilmore Webley, Associate Professor of Microbiology, provided insight on the recent discovery. Read more