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President's Letter

Dear ASM Maryland Branch Members,


As the President of the Maryland Branch of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), I would like to welcome you to the 2022-2023 Maryland Branch events. It is an honor to serve as President for the year. To introduce myself, I am Bob Ernst, Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis in the School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland


As a branch, we are a diverse group of scientists representing a multitude of backgrounds. Maryland is home to world-renowned universities, institutes, hospitals, biotech companies, and governmental agencies, which educate, train, and employ many of our members. The research interest of our branch is diverse and includes microbiology, virology, medicine, public health, environmental science, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and science policy. To serve our members’ interests and to provide current scientific information on trending topics, we will host four dinner meetings in the next year. These meetings also include a social hour to encourage networking among attendees.


First Meeting: Our first meeting will be October 25th, 2022 at the Albin O. Kuhn Library at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) with Dr. Colleen Kraft, MD, MSc as our keynote speaker. Dr. Kraft is currently the National ASM President and Professor in the Department of Pathology, as well as a Professor in the Department of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. She is also the medical director of the microbiology section for Emory Medical Laboratories at Emory Healthcare, as well as program director of the Medical Microbiology fellowship. The title of her presentation is “Select Agent Management in Hospital Clinical Care” This meeting will also showcase a special exhibit by the ASM Archives.


Second Meeting: For our second meeting, our speaker will be Dr, Russell Hill, PhD, Professor and Director for the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), a research center of the University System of Maryland, located in downtown Baltimore. Dr. Hill is a marine microbiologist whose laboratory focuses on the investigation of symbiosis between bacteria and marine invertebrates, in particular, sponges. The title of Dr. Hill’s presentation will be “"Bacterial Symbionts of Marine Invertebrates: A Resource for Drug Discovery" and will be held at the Delta Hotel Baltimore North in early February, with the exact date yet to be determined.


Third Meeting: Our third meeting will feature an ASM Distinguished Lecturer. This year, Dr. Kristin Parent, the J.K. Billman, Jr MD Endowed Research Professor in the College of Natural Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular at Michigan State University will speak on “A Gateway into Understanding the Unique Vertex of Giant Viruses”. The meeting will be held on April 18th, 2023, with the venue is TBD.


Fourth Meeting: Our fourth and last meeting of the year we be our annual student oral and poster presentation meeting at the University of Maryland BioPark in Baltimore on June 12th, 2023, right before the ASM Microbe Meeting in Houston. For this meeting, undergraduate and graduate students will submit abstracts of their current research, the top abstracts will be selected as winners of the J. Howard Brown Award and these students will give oral presentations of their work. All submitters including non-student members are encouraged to present their research as posters at this meeting as well.


ASM Maryland Branch meetings are possible due to the efforts of our Board of Director’s, and I would like to introduce and thank them for their past, ongoing, and future work for the upcoming year. Birthe Kjellerup is this year’s President-Elect and will serve as the ASM Maryland Branch President for the 2023-2024 year. Monica Smith, Richard Pfeltz, and Silvia Pineiro will continue their roles as Treasurer, Secretary, and Councilor, respectively, and Jennifer Kerr will serve as the Past President. I also wish to thank Paul Leuthy, Jim Kaper, Nick Carbonetti, and Paulette Hammond for continuing to serve the ASM Maryland Branch as members of the Board of Directors. As members of the board, we welcome your questions, concerns, and feedback, and hope that you will not hesitate to reach out to any of us.


We invite both members and non-members of the ASM Maryland Branch and National ASM organization to visit the Branch website (, which contains information about the three Maryland Branch awards (Barnett Cohen, Richard S. Schwalbe, and J. Howard Brown Awards) and information about the four upcoming meetings. Branches of ASM are the foundation of the National organization and play an important role in ASM’s functionality. As such, the ASM Maryland Branch membership is open to the general public with the only requirement being an interest in microbiology.


Branch memberships are only $20 for Full, $5 for Student, and free for Emeritus memberships. We encourage those who would become members locally to also become members of the National ASM organization. Through National ASM (, you may choose to be a Supporting, Contributing, or Premium member, with Contributing and Premium members eligible for discounts to national conferences and meetings as well as discounts on journals and educational materials. For current students and post-doctoral scholars, the National ASM organization continues to offer a discounted membership.


Through the dedicated effort of our past President Jenn Kerr, our Branch partnered with the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS - to spotlight, inspire, and motivate future microbiologists in Baltimore City and the local communities. During the pandemic, this involved both in-person events and online seminars with the local agar art event a rousing success. For the upcoming year, we will continue and further our association with BUGSS and please be on the lookout for an email with a call to action to volunteer to become a part of our science communication and outreach team. We welcome microbiologist at all levels to join in furthering the mission of the national and Maryland Branch of ASM in the Baltimore area.


Finally, we have very exciting news to announce; the branch has commissioned Grace Deitzler, a PhD student, artist, and microbiologist at Oregon State University ( to make our first ever Branch logos. We loved the logos so much that we will be printing T-shirts for sale in the very near future. The new logos and T-shirts will soon be seen on the Branch website along with ordering details. The cost for a T-shirt will only be $15 and will include a free “crabby” sticker. We hope that you are as excited as we are about the logos and wear it proudly to your favorite science and non-science events.


I look forward to engaging with all of you through the Branch’s activity and I hope that you will join us if you haven’t already. I look forward to seeing you at this year’s meetings!

Best Regards,


Bob Ernst, PhD

2022-2023 President

American Society for Microbiology, Maryland Branch

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