The HBCU-RISE Center for
Microbial Ecology, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, and Water Quality at
Florida A&M University Environmental Sciences Institute is a project funded
under the auspices of a grant from The National Science Foundation Historically
Black Colleges and Universities Research Infrastructure for Science and
Engineering (HBCU-RISE) Program. The objectives of the HBCU-RISE program are to provide high quality
research projects under the general theme of Microbial Ecology, Molecular
Biology, Biotechnology and Water Quality for training and graduating minority
doctoral scientists, particularly African Americans, graduate students from minorities underrepresented in the
sciences who have high-quality research training and preparation to assume
professional positions in academia, government or private industry, to increase graduate infrastructure, support faculty
research and promote environmental sciences and biotechnology research.
outcome will be a population of students equipped with knowledge, experience,
and products, including a record of quality publications, who are well positioned
to continue to develop as professional scientists. The Program supports studies on the interactions of bacteria and viruses
with vibrios and the influence of environmental conditions on their ecology. Both viruses and BALOs are predators and have
potential roles in regulating bacterial populations. The sequencing and comparative genome project
led by CO-PI Jonathan Badger will examine genetic influences on the ecological
behavior of the BALOs. Moreover, students will gain knowledge and hands-on
experience at one of the world’s foremost gene sequencing facilities, the J.
Craig Venter Institute/The Institute of Genomic Research (JCVI/TIGR).
The HBCU RISE program was
built upon the establishment of a highly productive Molecular Microbial Ecology
Laboratory (MME Lab) initiated in 2005 by Principal Investigator Henry Neal
Williams, who is one of few experts on the ecology of Bdellovibrio and Like
Organisms (BALOs) with support from the 2005 HBCU RISE award to FAMU and the
Principal Investigator. Currently the
laboratory is fully operational. Since its inception, its students, faculty,
postdoctoral fellows and collaborators have produced a number of presentations
at national and international meetings, grant awards, publications in
peer-reviewed journals including an article in the highly regarded Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
This is one of rare publications by an HBCU team to be published in the journal.
are currently supporting 3 Ph.D. students, two M.S. students, 3 undergraduate
students and a postdoctoral fellow. Molecular microbial ecology is one of the most
rapidly growing academic tracks in ESI in student recruitment, grant
applications submitted and faculty publications.