Top row, third from the right - that's my first Ph.D. graduate Dr. Elsa Bou Ghanem! It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years now since Elsa left the lab. She did a very successful and productive postdoctoral fellowship at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA in Dr. John Leong's lab. She's now an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology at SUNY Buffalo. I nominated her for this special issue of Infection and Immunity that was to highlight the best and the brightest of the junior faculty in the field. I'm thrilled to say that she was chosen from an impressive list of 90 total nominations received to be designated as one of the future leaders in the field of host-pathogen interactions. You can read her mini-review entitled "Older but not Wiser: the Age-Driven Changes in Neutrophil Responses during Pulmonary Infections here.
We've held our weekly lab meetings on Fridays at 4 PM for years. That sounds like a horrible time, I'm sure, but it works for us. It doesn't interfere with most experiments; no one has any classes then; and the MIMG department has never had a "happy hour" type thing at the end of the week because of public school challenges related to serving alcohol on campus.
So we used to gather in the conference room and discuss new data acquired during the past week and planned experiments that were coming up the following week. We often brought food to celebrate occasions, or just to share a new recipe. Now we have this. Some people in the lab; others at home, all staring at our screens. I will say that using the Zoom "share screen" feature to share graphs and images is actually better than the conference room experience in terms of being able to see details clearly. But I miss gathering in that room to celebrate another successful week. And I miss lab outings to restaurants and other fun spots!
This year 31 faculty members across the University of Kentucky were nominated by undergraduate students to receive recognition as an excellent research mentor. I was nominated by Katie Alexander, a senior who has been working in the lab for the past 2.5 years. After graduation, Katie will spend the summer working in the lab to finish up her projects and then head to a PhD program at Emory University. Each of the nomination letters is reviewed by a small committee, and three are selected as the winners. I was shocked and delighted to be chosen for this honor today! Because of the lab shut down, the ceremony took place via Zoom conference, and I was able to watch a short video presentation from Katie explaining why she nominated me. I've always enjoyed having undergrads in the lab. It's fun to watch their careers develop. Thanks again, Katie - I really appreciated your thoughtful nomination.
Katie, Jooyoung, and I drove to Chicago to attend the 2019 Autumn Immunology Conference. I had to arrive early on Friday to attend the Executive Council meeting, so the girls got to spend an extra afternoon hanging out in Chicago, which is always fun. John Wherry gave a fabulous keynote talk the first night. Katie presented a poster on our Apolipoprotein E project. Her abstract was selected as the best in the "Host Response to Pathogens" workshop, and she given an AAI Young Investigators Award! She did a great job during her 10 minute talk, and that night we celebrated with a great tapas meal at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. On the way home we stopped off at the Fair Oaks Farm complex in Indiana for lunch. This is always a great meeting, especially for trainees, and this year was no exception.
John Brummell and Jeff Farber really did a great job of hosting this year's meeting in Toronto. I was able to reconnect with many friends in the field, and met quite a few new people as well. The venue at the the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at the Hospital for Sick Kids was top notch, and the the food at the meeting, the Speaker's banquet at Canoe and the Gala Dinner at the Royal Ontario Museum were all great. The variety of talks we heard throughout the conference, from epidemiological details on the recent polony outbreak in South Africa to the latest cell biology discoveries using Listeria as a tool were fantastic. I'm looking forward to attending the next meeting in New Zealand!
Several members of the D'Orazio lab attended the annual American Society for Microbiology Microbe Meeting in San Francisco, CA from June 20-24th, 2019.
Undergraduates Taylor Senay and Katie Alexander were both authors on a poster presentation entitled "Neurotropic strains of Listeria monocytogenes disseminate to the brain without reaching high titer in the blood." ASM Microbe is a huge meeting, and can be a bit overwhelming, but I think both students really enjoyed seeing so many aspects of the field of Microbiology represented, as they contemplate their future career paths.