VMS at NDSU
As a department, we have two main goals: (1) exploring novel research and (2) sharing with students our fascination and knowledge of dynamic disciplines in microbiology, including bacteriology, epidemiology, fungal biology, immunology, molecular biology, parasitology, and virology. We work to achieve excellence in these areas by creating a student-centered environment that values diversity and encourages discovery, ingenuity, integrity, and collegiality.
All the Places You'll Go
The MICR 354 Scientific Writing students have taken over the homepage for the fall semester. Stay tuned as they profile alumni and share fun, inspiring, micro-related videos. For now, catch up with...
Elliott Welker, '11 B.S. (Microbiology and Biotechnology), '13 M.S. (Microbiology)
By Ellen Buysse
Elliott Welker is practically a VMS elder. After graduating from NDSU with both a bachelor’s and master's degree, he traveled a whopping 150 feet from the south end of Van Es to the north end to pursue a PhD in genomics and bioinformatics in Dr. Nathan Fisher's lab.
When asked exactly what he does, he explained that he’s currently “working alongside the USDA to better understand the effects of colony collapse disorder (CCD) in honey bees. Honey bees play a huge role not only for honey, but economically as well, as billions of dollars worth of crops get pollinated solely by honeybees each year.”
He chose to study microbes “because they affect everyone and will always affect everyone. They can save our lives or end them quickly; they are such simple forms of life, yet so complex.” But it’s more than just complexity that drives Elliott to inhabit his lab space for 60 hours a week (including many weekends and holidays). It’s also the mystery; that you can go out and grab a handful of dirt and find tons of never-before-seen microbes.
He does occasionally escape the lab, and when he surfaces, he does things like found the Veterinary & Microbiological Sciences Graduate Student Association, or VMS GSA for short. He is the current GSA president and organizes things like a periodic journal club, the VMS fall picnic, and "meet and greets" with visiting professors. The organization even went to a local high school to talk to science classes about research going on in VMS.
But his research is his primary focus because it will be that important springboard into, what he hopes will be, a career with the USDA, DOE, EPA, or other federal, research agency.
The Micro Highlight Reel
By Francis Landman
The new show, Scorpion, on CBS recently had an episode about engineered viruses. In “Single Point of Failure,” a father, Richard Richter, loses his daughter to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The disease is caused by a mutation in the SMN1 gene of the 5th chromosome, which results in the inability to produce sufficient SMN protein for survival of motor neurons. In the episode, the investigating group finds out that Richter’s daughter was a participant in a clinical trial for Trexacane. Although the drug was helping Richter’s daughter, the pharmaceutical company decided to develop Trexacane for asthma instead. The disgruntled father, seeking revenge, builds viruses to target the children of the employees at the pharmaceutical company. Richter, a Professor of microbiology, uses modern sequencing techniques to engineer viruses that target the weakest part of each child’s genome. The team of investigators reverse engineers the viruses to save the children from dying.
Watch the show to see how the team catches Richter and saves the children!