Student Receives National Awards for Microbiology
Sophomore biochemistry major Robert “Bobby” Geiger recently received two national awards from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) for his research in microbial genetics conducted at Otterbein: The ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship and the ASM Student Travel Grant Award.
The Undergraduate Research Fellowship is a highly competitive award given to approximately 30 to 40 highly motivated students in the United States who plan to pursue advanced degrees in some aspect of microbiology research. The award provides a summer stipend for ten weeks of full-time research and money to present this research at the ASM General Meeting the following year. The ASM Student Travel Grant Award is a highly competitive award given to undergraduate, graduate and medical students who have been accepted to present at the general meeting. Bobby will use his award to travel to the 112th ASM General Meeting to be held in San Francisco in June.
Bobby has been conducting research at Otterbein University since the summer after his freshman year. He was granted a Merck-AAAS undergraduate research fellowship for summer 2011 and has continued his microbial genetics research in the laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Bennett in the Department of Biology and Earth Science. Bobby conducts research on streptomycetes, a pharmacologically important group of bacteria that produce over two-thirds of the commercially available antibiotics as well as anti-tumor and anti-parasitic drugs. He has used the recently upgraded phase-fluorescence microscope to analyze bacterial mutants and has analyzed samples for a signaling molecule that may be used to control antibiotic production and other aspects of development in these bacteria. More recently, he has worked to solidify experiments that analyze the ability of mutant streptomycetes to form biofilms, which are surface-attached communities of bacteria that have relevance to industry and medicine.
Bobby presented his research at the Otterbein Summer Research Symposium following the end of the Merck-AAAS grant, the ASM Ohio Branch Meeting and the first annual Otterbein Cardinal Colloquium. He is a co-author of a manuscript recently submitted to the Journal of Bacteriology—a very rare accomplishment for an undergraduate research student, especially for a sophomore. Bobby is also an active member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as part of the Otterbein Chapter of the Undergraduate Affiliate Network in addition to his membership in ASM. His interdisciplinary research experience in the new Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) program at Otterbein should provide him with the broad training necessary to pursue his research interests in biochemistry with applications to medicine. As an ASM Undergraduate Research Fellow he will be continuing his most recent project in streptomycete research with Dr. Bennett and collaborating with Dr. John Tansey, director of the BMB program, to incorporate more biochemical techniques into his research.