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President’s Forum: Advancing Knowledge and Innovation

Advancing Science
Presented by Rush D. Holt
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Science Family of Journals
Washington, DC

Philanthropy: What Can It Do for Science?
Presented by Miyoung Chun
The Kavli Foundation
Oxnard, CA
More Items for Purchase in this Course

Life after Death

Decomposition returns an organized system back to its constituent compounds via the biochemical and chemical breakdown of molecules. Bacteria, fungi, and related microbial communities are fundamental in the process of decomposition and the significance of their role in these specialized scenarios is becoming increasingly better understood. The knowledge generated by these “pan-omic” studies has far-reaching impacts in diverse fields such as carbon cycle, climate change, microbial ecology, renewable energy, synthetic biology, downs silence, and human health. The session will organize talks that describe microbial communities of decomposition at a variety scales and for a variety of systems and how actionable knowledge is generated by inter-disciplinary R&D.

Unearthing the Dark Matter of Microbial Metabolism and Diversity

The genomic revolution ( over 25,00 microbial genomes are sequenced to date) combined with new genomic methods to sequence uncultivated organisms has revealed how little is really known about microbial diversity and metabolism. This session will highlights the “unknown, unknowns”, i.e., aspects of microbiology about which we know little currently, and in fact, don’t even know how much we don’t know. Examples will including efforts to cultivate the uncultivated, efforts to characterize previously-unrecognized or poorly understood microbial diversity, and methods to predict the function of unknowns coding sequences or RNA in microbes.

Single Cell Dynamics

Recent advances in microscopy have revealed that, even in a genetically identical population of microbes, individual cells have distinct life histories and behaviors. Often the variability between cells is dramatic and can result in a life-or-death difference in outcome in the face of stress. At root, this heterogeneity in behavior results from molecular fluctuations in the biochemical circuitry that underlies cellular behavior. Recent developments in precision microscopy have made it possible to gain deep insights into the mechanisms and importance of single cell dynamics. One is the ability to follow single cells over long times using fluorescent reporters of gene expression and physiology. The other is the advent of super-resolution imaging technologies (the subject of the 2014 Nobel prize in Chemistry) that makes it possible to visualize single molecules and molecular substructures in a live bacterial cell. This session will feature a suite of speakers using advanced microscopy techniques to interrogate the lives of microbial cells and how the molecular mechanisms and strategies they use to deal with environmental challenges.