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Microbiological Sciences

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Microbiological Sciences Group Photo

Microbiology is a fundamental biological science concerned with the study of microbes, which are microscopic organisms such as bacteria, archaea, algae, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Despite being unseen, microbes are critical to all life on earth. As microbiologists, we seek to harness the awesome power of microbes to enhance humanity while controlling their negative impacts as agents of disease, spoilage, and decomposition.

Microbiology covers a wide spectrum of specialized interest areas in human and animal health; food, energy, and water security; the environment; and biotechnology. Technological innovations have made microbiology one of the fastest moving and important scientific disciplines in the 21st century, impacting virtually all other scientific disciplines. Since 1910, approximately one-third of the Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology have been awarded to microbiologists.

Our faculty offer expertise in nearly all areas of microbiological study, and take part in active research programs in their fields. We pride ourselves on a well-rounded faculty, who engage routinely in internal and external collaborations at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as with private industry. In addition, our faculty contribute regularly to a rich and innovative body of peer-reviewed research, publishing in internationally renowned journals and speaking at conferences around the world. They also provide fulsome mentoring experiences at all levels of study, with opportunities for students to take part in cutting-edge research in nationally-funded laboratories.

We empower our students to discover and communicate microbiological solutions to local, national, and global challenges.

Our students find careers in a range of industries, including health sciences, biomedical industries, biotechnology, agricultural biosystems, food industries, pharmaceutical industries, and government agencies. The relevance of microbiology to many fields only continues to grow, and graduates with a background in microbiology can look forward to using their knowledge in employment as teachers, professors, public health professionals, researchers, veterinarians, and many other positions.



Microbiome Seminar Series


Two Microbiology Honors undergraduate students, Kathleen Ruff-Schmidt and Kaylee Weigel, submitted a paper for publication about how the regulation of microbes in the human intestinal tract maintains overall human health and prevents diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. Their paper focuses on short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the intestine and how they are produced by bacterial fermentation and aid in inflammation reduction, dietary fiber digestion, and metabolizing nutrients for the colon. SCFAs are starting to be used in clinical interventions for inflammatory diseases. This study aims to evaluate the effects of SCFA on the activation of the stress response in E. coli, a representative intestine bacterium. Three different SCFAs were added to cultures before stressing the bacteria, causing a lower stress activation level than bacteria without SCFAs. Our data is consistent with the idea that SCFAs reduce stress in bacteria and, consequently, the inflammatory response that contributes to disease.

More on the Student Authors

Kaylee Weigel and Kathleen Ruff-Schmidt were Microbiology Capstone/Honors undergraduate students when the paper was sent for publication. Kathleen has since graduated from NDSU and is currently attending medical school at the University of North Dakota and plans to obtain her MD. Kaylee will graduate from North Dakota State University in May of 2023 with a B.S. in Microbiology and in May of 2024 with an M.S. in Microbiology. She plans to attend medical school to obtain an MD and a Ph.D.

Congratulations, Kathleen and Kaylee!

Photo of Kaylee and Kathleen in front of their poster.

NDSU Genetic Engineering Corps (GEC) wins gold medal at iGEM conference in Paris! 

NDSU's GEC has had a unique year, as it was the second year in the iGEM competition and they are only one of two teams within the Midwest. This team focused on community outreach and education efforts since very few people in the Fargo-Moorhead area know about iGEM or what their project was about.

As a result of their efforts, they won a gold in the competition this year, beating out teams from Harvard, Stanford and Yale.

Click here to read more about the team members involved with this year's project.

Check out their promotional video!


Headshot of Samiran Banerjee

Dr. Samiran Banerjee, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiological Sciences, published a recent research paper in the Nature Review journal. This paper draws a critical connection between the human microbiome and its intimate relationship with microbes outside the human body.