MSU undergraduate student receives American Society for Microbiology fellowship

Posted: 2:37 PM, Sep 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-09-25 14:37:31-04
MSU undergraduate student receives American Society for Microbiology fellowship

Keelyn O’Brien, a Michigan State University microbiology student and Alumni Distinguished Scholar, is one of 19 students selected nationwide for a 2017 American Society for Microbiology, or ASM , Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

The ASM, a professional organization for scientists studying viruses, bacteria, fungi and other areas of microbiology, is the largest life science professional organization in the world with over 50,000 scientists and health professionals world-wide. The society developed the fellowship program to support undergraduates actively pursuing careers in the microbial sciences and working with an ASM faculty mentor.

O’Brien’s project earned the fellowship’s $4,000 stipend and funding for travel expenses to the 2018 national ASM Microbe Meeting held in Atlanta next June, where O’Brien will have the opportunity to present a poster of her research.

“I was very excited to receive this award,” O’Brien said. “Pursuing a scientific career requires a lot of time and dedication, so to have someone recognize the potential of the project, believe in me and be supported financially is nice.”

O’Brien’s research began her first semester in the lab of Ashley Shade, assistant professor of the microbiology and molecular genetics department. By plating two competing bacteria against each other over several evolutions, they found that later evolutions of the second bacteria were more equipped to kill or resist pressure from the first. O’Brien used her fellowship to spend the summer searching for the second bacteria’s elusive inhibitor molecule that makes that resistance possible.

“We're very proud of Keelyn,” Shade said. “The opportunity provided by the URF to present her research at the internationally-attended ASM Microbe meeting in 2018 will be priceless to advancing her career goals.”