Jorge Escalante-Semerena receives 2004 ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award

04/30/04

WASHINGTON, DC--APRIL 23, 2004--Jorge C. Escalante-Semerena, Ph.D., Ira Baldwin Professor of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, has won the 2004 ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). A deeply committed teacher and mentor, Escalante-Semerena is honored as an inspiring role model who has trained dozens of doctoral and undergraduate students, guiding them to highly successful careers in science.

Escalante-Semerena has had a wide-ranging influence on all aspects of graduate education. To date, he has supervised 21 Ph.D. students in bacteriology and microbiology, many of whom have won awards, fellowships, and traineeships. He has coauthored more than 60 publications with his students, and he is renowned for helping students gain recognition for their work. In addition, he has worked closely with over 45 undergraduates on independent projects; many of these students have themselves gone on to graduate or professional programs. He is also a highly productive researcher, who maintains a busy laboratory focusing on cobalamin (vitamin B12) biosynthesis, the catabolism of short-chain fatty acids and its effects on the cell, and cell aging.

His students uniformly describe him as someone with infectious enthusiasm about doing science, a mentor who treats his advisees with compassion and respect while challenging them to do their best. Students who work with Escalante-Semerena are also known for their unusually high level of professionalism. In addition to mastering the necessary technical skills to do research, they learn to effectively manage their own laboratories, write successful grant proposals, and present the results of their work clearly and succinctly.

Outside the laboratory, Escalante-Semerena has worked tirelessly to recruit students into the sciences. He recently completed a term as chair of ASM's Committee on Graduate Education and served on the Society's Committee on Minority Education. He helped to develop ASM's highly successful Summer Institute for Preparation for Careers in Microbiology, which assists graduate students and postdoctoral scientists in acquiring skills often overlooked during their formal education, such as grant preparation or effective teaching practices. At Wisconsin, he encourages basic science majors to go on to careers in academia and research, and he has conducted numerous recruitment seminars and off-campus visits to encourage students, particularly those from underrepresented minorities, to pursue careers in science.

After completing his undergraduate education at the School of Chemistry, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Escalante-Semerena earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in microbiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana. He finished postdoctoral studies at Illinois and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City before joining the Wisconsin faculty in 1988. He is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

The ASM Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award will be presented at ASM's 104th General Meeting, May 23–27, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana. ASM is the largest single life science society, composed of over 42,000 scientists, teachers, physicians, and health professionals. Its mission is to promote research and training in the microbiological sciences and to assist communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public to improve health, economic well-being, and the environment.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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