[Featured image courtesy Kelly Gull and ASMCUE]
In 2008, I attended my first American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators (ASMCUE) at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. I met my good friend and fellow microbiology professor Julie Oliver there, and we had an amazing time together. We attended an opening plenary lecture given by Dr. Stuart Levy, one of my heroes of microbiology, and I was giddy when I met him – it was like meeting a celebrity.
[Celebrity photo-op with Stuart Levy at ASMCUE in 2008]
Julie and I attended microbrew sessions with fun and interesting ideas for presenting topics to my microbiology courses. Other sessions and activities included presentations on new areas of research, teaching methods, and poster sessions. It was exciting to be among fellow professors who loved microbiology and teaching as much as I did. Everyone was willing to share his or her ideas, methods, syllabi, and perspectives. Julie and I attended an “Author’s Corner” session where textbook authors displayed their latest editions, and we whispered to each other, “There she is! That’s Kelly Cowan! Oh my gosh…” Both of us had taught from Kelly’s textbooks for many years, and there she was in the flesh. I again had that “meeting a rock star” moment. Despite feeling a little intimidated, we approached her table and chatted with her a bit, telling her how much we liked her book. She probably doesn’t remember us from that first meeting, but I’ll never forget meeting Kelly – she was funny, insightful, and open to new ideas. The 4-day conference was fun and exciting, and I left feeling like my brain was filled to the brim with new ideas and renewed excitement for teaching.
Since we live on opposite sides of the country, Julie and I have made it a point to attend every ASMCUE conference since then, and each year has had that same effect – ASMCUE leaves me with renewed energy and inspiration. Along the way, I have met some very dear colleagues and friends who have touched my life in many ways, from helping me with struggles in my own teaching, to collaborating with me on presentations, and sometimes dressing up like microbes. After that first giddy meeting with Kelly, I’ve had the chance to get to know her better, work with her on a number of projects, and become her “lovely assistant” on this blog.
[Sally Monella and Neutro-Phil at the ASMCUE 2013 5k run]
ASMCUE has helped me realize how much I truly love teaching and has helped me transition into the new path that I now find myself on: a PhD student in science education. I plan to return to teaching after I finish my degree because not only do I love teaching and love microbiology, but I am surrounded by a wonderful community of microbiology educators who continue to inspire and mentor me along the way. ASMCUE is where it all started. This year, we return to Boston, and I am looking forward to seeing many dear friends and again packing my brain with exciting new science and teaching ideas. One of the plenary lectures is titled, "Picking for Progress: Mining Nostril Microbiota for New Insights into Pathobionts." Who would want to pass that up? If you’re a microbiology teacher or an undergraduate instructor in any science discipline, I highly recommend you attend this conference – it will fill you up with knowledge, inspire you, and you may have the chance to get a little crazy on the dance floor.
Mavenites: There is still time to enter to win an iPad mini! Click here to jump to The Maven's one-year blog anniversary post and tell me what your favorite post of the last year was. Let me know what you'd like to see in the coming year as well! The contest ends May 18th, 2014, the last day of ASMCUEASMCUE, Phil Mixter, science teaching, students, teaching