ESA Microbial Ecology Section Newsletter Fall 2020


2020-2021 Microbial Ecology Leadership Team

Greetings ESA Microbial Ecology Section Members!

We hope you are staying safe and healthy! Thank you to all participants and attendees of the very successful ESA Virtual Meeting. We may not have been able to meet in person, but our energy and participation in the virtual meeting has been discussed throughout the larger ESA community. We want to thank everyone that participated and especially thank those who helped organize the events. We are an active and growing section and we hope you continue to be involved.

Word cloud from statements on microbial ecology generated at the virtual ME Section mixer during the 2020 ESA annual e-meeting

During our annual section mixer, participants collaborated on a lively discussion in response to the prompt “Why microbial ecology?” Check out the member-generated points on the website! If you want to submit additional 1-2 sentence responses to the prompt, please contact us .


Kayleigh Chalkowski is a PhD student at Auburn University and 2020-2021 U.S. Student Fulbright selectee for Madagascar. For her dissertation research, she seeks to understand how interactions between landscape and transient movements of hosts (such as free-roaming dogs) contribute to parasite spread through communities of endemic mammals in small forest reserves in Andasibe, Madagascar. She is also passionate about scientific illustration and she uses ink painting and linocut printing to portray the beauty of endemic island species, biodiversity, and ecological interactions (her work can be seen on Instagram @ecologyillustrated or Twitter @ecoillustrated). In her spare time, she enjoys learning Malagasy, wood-working, and bad reality tv.

Moira Hough recently finished her PhD in the University of Arizona’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology studying how arctic and alpine ecosystems respond to climate change. Her dissertation investigated the impacts of changing plant communities post permafrost thaw on microbial activity and carbon cycling in arctic peatlands.

Alonna Wright is originally from Morgantown, Kentucky and received her Bachelors of Science in Agricultural and Medical Biotechnology with minors in Psychology, Biological Sciences, and Microbiology from the University of Kentucky in 2017. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at University of California - Davis in the Microbiology Graduate Group with a Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology, and a member of Dr. Jonathan Eisen’s research group. In Dr. Eisen’s lab, she studies the ecological and evolutionary relationship between bacteriophage and antimicrobial resistance in agricultural microbiomes using metagenomic analyses. She aims to understand the ecological relationship between bacteria and their bacteriophage companions to utilize for future biotechnology applications of combating antimicrobial resistance.

Updates on Action | Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
ESA initiates a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) task force.

The DEIJ task force welcomes feedback from the community. Visit Towards an ESA DEIJ Action Plan to submit your feedback. Please submit your comments by October 19, 2020.

Microbial Ecology Section SEEDS Initiative

We will use section funds to support the Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) Program and sponsor trainees interested in the microbial world.

For more information (and link to donate), visit ESA SEEDS.

#NoLabNoProblem #NSURP

With the COVID-19 disruptions disproportionately affecting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color students, a grassroots virtual summer research program in the microbial sciences was organized and launched. Led by Microbiologists Drs. Michael Johnson (University of Arizona), Dave Baltrus (University of Arizona), and Jennifer Gardy (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), the National Summer Undergraduate Research Project (NSURP) was launched mid-June 2020. The NSURP leadership advertised the program through Twitter, and mentors and mentees signed up to participate in this 8-week Virtual Summer Research Program. In less than one week, over 200 mentees and 100 mentors signed up to participate and the program continued to grow and match a second wave of participants.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please visit nsurp.org. With the immense success of this program, we hope to amplify opportunities between potential ME section mentors (faculty and grad students alike) and potential mentees to participate in NSURP next year! In support of this action, ME section member (and former Chair) Ariane Peralta will organize a platform for Microbial Ecology Section members to virtually gather, share experiences, and talk through best practices to support virtual research experiences.

We are working to provide additional resources for you!

We are also trying to compile a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in Microbial Ecology. If you would like to contribute, we welcome your feedback on our initial draft by Dec. 1, 2020. FAQ link.

If you have job ads that you would like posted, we are happy to help via our Twitter account @ESAMicrobe and Microbial Ecology Listserv through your ESA membership.



Connect with us @ESAMicrobe
Created By
Ariane Peralta


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