UGA students win awards at microbiology conference

UGA students win awards at microbiology conference

Athens, Ga. – Two graduate students from the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and three students from the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences won awards at the 95th annual American Society for Microbiology Southeastern Branch Conference, held in Savannah Nov. 5-7.

Demetrius L. Mathis and Garry Coulson are graduate students in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Karen J. Bowers is a graduate student in the microbiology department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Misha Taherbhai and Akshita Khetarpal are pursuing undergraduate degrees in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Students competed for President’s Awards in four judged sections, with more than 40 student presentations. Mathis won third place in the “Graduate Student Talks” categoryand Bowers and Coulson tied for first place in the “Graduate Student Posters” category.Taherbhai and Khetarpal won first and second place, respectively, in the “Undergraduate Student Talks” category.

Mathis is pursuing a master of science degree in veterinary and biomedical sciences. His mentor is Roy Berghaus, an assistant professor in the department of population health. Mathis’s talk was titled “Management Practices Effects on Salmonella Prevalence on Broiler-Breeder Farms in the Southeastern United States.”

Coulson is pursuing a Ph.D. in infectious disease; his mentor is Mary Hondalus, an assistant professor in the department of infectious diseases. Coulson’s poster presentation was titled “Novel Virulence Determinants of the Opportunistic Intracellular Actinomycete Rhodococcus equi.”

Bowers is pursuing a master of science degree in microbiology.Her major professor is Juergen Wiegel.”Natronolimnobius ‘aegyptiacus’ sp. nov., a novel poly-extremophillic archaeon isolated from the lakes of the Wadi An Natrun, Egypt,” was the name of her poster presentation.

Khetarpal and Taherbhai both are mentored by John Maurer of the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center.The subject of Khetarpal’s talk was “Vertical transmission from broiler breeder stocks of poultry integrators is primarily responsible for chicken carcass contamination with Salmonella.” Taherbhai’s talk was on “The Distribution of ST64B like, Gifsy-1 like, and P-22 like Prophages in Salmonella enterica Typhimurium isolates from Passerine, Psittacines, and Gallinaceous Birds.”

Each President’s Award recipient won a monetary prize:$100 for first place, plus a one-year national membership in the American Society of Microbiology; $50 for second place; $25 for third place. Also, each presenting student received $75 to help offset his or her travel expenses.

The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, to conducting research related to animal diseases and to providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 550 who apply.The goal is to increase enrollment to 150 when the Veterinary Medical Learning Center is built.