Networking Event Brings Together Microbiota Researchers

The Texas A&M Microbiota Research Interest Group hosted an inaugural Research Networking Event on Nov. 8, 2016, at Texas A&M University in College Station. Diverse, microbiota-oriented investigators across the university came together to discuss their unique critical mass and strategic opportunities. Attendees identified with one of four microbiota themes: human health and disease, animal health and disease, ecological and agricultural microbiomes, and tools and technologies. Theme conveners were Dr. Robert Alaniz (microbial pathogenesis and immunology), Dr. Jan Suchodolski (small animal medicine and surgery), Dr. Jeff Tomberlin (entomology) and Dr. Arul Jayaraman (chemical engineering).

The event opened with a welcome from Dr. J. Martin Scholtz, executive associate vice president for research, who reiterated Texas A&M's commitment to supporting and advancing faculty research programs. Nineteen flask talks by individual university investigators showcased areas of in-house expertise and opened doors for new collaborations. Following the presentations, theme-based groups gathered at convener-led breakout tables where researchers discussed their common interests and research needs. Forming collaborations, building infrastructure and obtaining funding were hot topics in all groups. Networking continued with refreshments and a poster session that wrapped up the afternoon.

Overall, there was much enthusiasm for organizing and connecting microbiota researchers on campus. The event attracted over 75 registrants from 11 different Texas A&M colleges including agriculture and life sciences, veterinary medicine, engineering, medicine and pharmacy.

"I think for an initial meeting, the turnout was very impressive," said convener Jeff Tomberlin, Ph.D., associate professor and director of Texas A&M's Forensic & Investigative Sciences Program. "To attract researchers from across campus and from such diverse backgrounds was truly exciting as it demonstrated the huge potential for developing novel research pathways on this topic." 

The networking event was co-sponsored by Texas A&M Core for Integrated Microbiota Research and the university's Division of Research.

"Microbiome research is a national area of interest for the White House and federal funding agencies, as well as a fundamental area for TAMU researchers," said Glen A. Laine, vice president for research. "The Division of Research seeks to support it through our research interest groups and proposal efforts."

Additional events are planned for spring 2017.


To learn more and join our listserv visit Microbiota Research Interest Group at Texas A&M University.