Announcing the 2023 MSE Summer Symposium!

The Microbes and Social Equity working group, and The University of Maine Institute of Medicine will once again host a free-to-attend virtual summer symposium.

Save the dates: June 5 – 9th, 2023

We will host one thematic session per day, from 11 – 14:45 pm EDT

Session themes include:

  • Reconsidering ‘One Health’ Through Microbes
  • Microbiomes and climate justice
  • Integrating the food systems through microbes
  • Elevating human nutrition and microbiome practice
  • MSE Member Research Showcase, featuring the work of our members!

Symposium Summary

To understand a microbiome, you must learn about the bustling community of microorganisms and the complex ecosystems they live in, because one cannot exist without the other. So, too, does microbiome research rely on understanding the lives and ecology of humans, because there is no aspect of human life which does not involve microbes in some way. To become better microbiome researchers, we must understand social and environmental contexts which affect humans and, in many cases, prevent them from making choices which result in beneficial microbial exposures. This symposium will focus on developing research skills to create transformative research, including context-aware experimental designs, engaging community stakeholders as research partners, writing transdisciplinary papers, translating research into policy, and creating curriculum which melds microbes and social equity.

Meeting dynamics

Each session will feature one hour of short plenary-style talks by experts in the field, including biological scientists, social scientists, practitioners or policy makers, which will be recorded and made available after the symposium.

Each session will feature a 45-minute panel discission with the speakers which will not be recorded.

Finally, each session will feature 60 minutes of discussion in groups led by speakers and MSE group members, and assisted by notetakers, with ~10 participants per breakout room. Participants will be encouraged to collaboratively problem-solve or create draft documents that are meaningful for group participants, which can lead to additional outputs or action.

Sessions format:

  • 5 min intro to the session and speakers
  • 3 consecutive 20-minute plenary style talks
  • 15 min break
  • 45 min panel discussion with speakers
  • 15 min break 
  • 60 minutes of breakout room discussions

Introducing the new MSE Directors Team!

As the Microbes and Social Equity group (MSE) has grown and dramatically gained members (~120 members and many more subscribed to our newsletter) in 2021, it has become time to add leadership roles in charge of different aspects of running the group! The current list of Directors are self nominated MSE group members, who have generously volunteered their time in 2022 to support the initiatives and development of this international collaboration alongside Sue Ishaq.

The MSE group logo, microbes being weighed on the scale of justice!

MSE Director of Professional Development

Dr. Srinivasan Mahalingam, PhD, searching for post-doc position

This position will focus on finding existing professional development opportunities, as well as working with MSE members to develop new professional development opportunities which may be used for existing MSE members or the general scientific community.

Srinivasan is pictured from the shoulders up, wearing a light blue and red plaid button-up collared shirt, against a beige background.

Srinivasan Mahalingam: Srinivasan is a Ph.D. student in Animal Science at Bharathidasan University (India), working under the guidance of Professor Govindaraju Archunan. His PhD research focuses on the impact of cervicovaginal mucus microbiota (bacterial diversity, volatile fatty acids, and secretory proteins) on buffalo estrus. His is particularly interested in learning more about role of microbiota and their biomolecules (bacterial generated fatty acids and proteins/peptides) on the reproductive tract and intestine. He is currently seeking post-doctoral training to advance my professional research career. The opportunities and resources are immense. People in working societies are tremendously helpful and encouraging, and networking with other scientists has led to a wealth of opportunities. As he wishes to continue his contribution towards science and humanity, he feels MSE can provide ample opportunity to extend group members research professional in an adequate way.

MSE Director of Fundraising

Dr. Ashish Pathak, J.D., LL.M, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor/Research Scientist, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

This position will focus on finding funding for current and future MSE initiatives, such as events, travel to conferences, professional development, and salary compensation for MSE Director or assistant roles.

Ashish Pathak standing in front of calm ocean water on an overcast day, wearing a yellow collared polo shirt.

Ashish Pathak: Ashish’s academic background includes a BS in Biology followed by an MS and PhD in Environmental Sciences from FAMU, Tallahassee. Prior to graduate school at SOE, Ashish completed a law degree (akin to JD in the US) followed by an LLM degree (Master’s in Legal Law). During the MS program in law, he researched the nexus between impoverished communities and decline in human health due to complete lack of environmental equity and related environmental justice issues. Having held post-doctoral and now a research scientist position at FAMU’ SOE, he continues to conduct research at the intersection of sustainability sciences, the nexus between Food-Energy and Water, especially surrounding racial disparities and inequity with populations of color, and accomplish 14 out of the 17 sustainability development goals adopted by the United Nations in 2016

Social Media Management Team

This team will focus on connecting our members to our social media accounts and vice versa, to streamlining our social media content, and to assist in communications within the group and to the general scientific community. This position will also help improve existing webpages and consider additional functionality (e.g. online reading lists, a group-facing or public-facing member directory)

MSE Director of Social Media

Sarah Ishak, M.S. student, Université de Sherbrooke

arah is pictured here in front of a large body of water along a green trail. She is holding up two peace signs with her hands and is wearing a blue top and grey pants with a purple jacket tied around her waist.

Sarah Ishak: Hailing from the Land Down Under (Australia), Sarah is now a Master’s student at Université de Sherbrooke in Québec, Canada. She graduated from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) degree, and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Ecology and Environmental Science. Her current research project is looking at the microbiome of boreal mosses from the Eeyou-Istchee region of Québec. She joined the MSE working group in the hopes of helping to provide under-represented communities the space to share their research. In conjunction with Emily Wissel and Dr. Katherine Maki, we hope to share stories and keep you updated on what the MSE Working Group has in store! You can find Sarah on twitter @microbluvrsarahvrsarah

Social Media Curator

Emily Wissel, PhD candidate, Emory University
Bio below!

Social Media Curator

Dr. Katherine Maki, PhD., Post Doc at NIH

Katherine Maki is pictures here in front of a field in a flowery blouse and a black blazer.

Katherine Maki: Katherine Maki is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Center, in the Translational Biobehavioral and Health Disparities Branch, and she is transitioning to an Assistant Clinical Investigator Position in the same department early 2022. Dr. Maki is a nurse practitioner and received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing. Her dissertation research examined the effects of chronic sleep disruption on the microbiome and cardiovascular system in rats. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Maki worked on an interdisciplinary team on several intramural and extramural research protocols focusing on the human microbiome. She combines oral and gut microbiome analyses with biosignal and neuroimaging technology to study the gut-brain axis, and how it relates to health and disease. Dr. Maki is particularly interested in the relationship between environmental factors such as poor sleep and alcohol abuse with cardiovascular risk through microbial and metabolite mechanisms in humans.

MSE Director of Resource Dissemination

Emily Wissel, PhD candidate, Emory University

This position will work closely with Social Media and Resource Archiving Teams, and will focus on gathering information and resources to share within the group (e.g. new publications, funding opportunities). This position will facilitate resource gathering from members, and curate in-group emails to disseminate to interested members only to avoid excessively emailing group members.

Emily Wissel on a sandy beach, with a view of the ocean and a mountainside in the background. She has glasses and is wearing a long sleeve green jacket.

Emily Wissel: Emily Wissel is a PhD candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Emory University. Her dissertation work explores how the gut and vaginal microbiome change during pregnancy and how factors like antibiotics impact that shift. Emily explores how our understanding of the microbiome can meaningfully inform health interventions and help us better understand mental health and cognition. You can find Emily on Twitter @emily_wissel

MSE Director of Resource Archiving

Patrick Horve, PhD student, University of Oregon

This position will focus on the long-term archiving of group documents, media, and other materials, including making them readily available to members, and revising working documents into a more professional draft before archiving.

Patrick is pictured here in a navy blue suit and tie against a red brick

Patrick Horve: Patrick is currently a PhD student at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon in the Institute of Molecular Biology. He is broadly interested in the interactions between microorganisms and the world around them, including the environment, other microorganisms, animals, and humans. These interactions can be both detrimental and beneficial for all of the individuals involved, making both positive and negative engagement with beneficial microbiomes through access to public resources, nutritious food, clean water and air, safe shelter, social interactions, and effective medicine a potentially (and often) inequitable process. By working with MSE, he hopes to encourage the combining of microbiology and social equity work and the promotion of evidence-based and equitable public policy. You can find him on twitter at @PatrickHorve