Meeting Notes

March 1, 2007

Welcome to "new" PhD students:

Tawanna has been accepted into the PhD program and we all welcome her, again. There are two others that may be making the crossover from MS to PhD we welcome their prospects.

ASM group discount

Adam has e-mailed info to everyone previously about registering for ASM as a group so we can all save a percentage. I have attached that information to this e-mail. Please file your form and check to Adam or his mail box prior to 3/25 if you want to get on this deal. There is also discussion on a group van rental and road trip to Toronto. There are no formal plans yet but keep in touch if you are interested in participating.

Recruitment Weekend Suggestions

Klaus is very interested in feedback from last month's recruitment weekend. We mentioned a few things like having less prospectives/slot in program, less speakers, more/earlier food, assigned seating, etc. Please e-mail Klaus with any feedback, especially if you prefer th Lord Jeff or Campus Center.

Party at Jeff Blanchard's!

Jeff is very excited about Ken Nealson, who we invited to come speak in May. Jeff has proposed a large party at his place that may include a bon-fire, live music, and lots of wine. We generally accepted his proposal and will keep you updated on specifics as it nears.

Paper City Trip

We have set a date: 4/27/07. The MGSG will be going to the Paper City Brewery to tour the brewery and drink a lot of beer for $5. Come learn about applicative microbiology.

ASM funding proposals

As an official chapter, we are applying for money from ASM again this year. The money from last year went to bringing Ken Nealson. There were numerous proposals about what we could do this year with the money: set up a mini-brewery, expand our mentoring program, expand undergrad recruitment, and bring another speaker. I have attached a draft of those proposals. Please e-mail Caryl if you have any other ideas, if you have any strong feelings about any of the options, or if you have any comments that can help in the drafting process.

Feburary 1, 2007


The departmental retreat is this Saturday at the campus center. Afterwards it is customary for the current grad students to take the prospectives out to ABC. We hope that a large portion of you will attend.

MGSG meeting time

Our current schedule is to meet the first Thursdays of the month at 5pm. We will meet in the graduate lounge when it is open and the conference room when it is not. If you have a conflict with this time and want to come please let us know and we will try to figure out a better time at the next meeting.

ASM group discount

Adam has found that if 5 or more people register for the ASM conference as a group they can each save 10% on their registration fee. If you are interested e-mail Adam.


Graduate Education & Career Development Initiative has two upcoming workshops. They first is titled "Setting Up Shop: How to start a research laboratory?" and will be lead by Klaus Nusslein. The second is titled "A Recruiters Guide to Getting a Job." For more information e-mail Caryl.

ASM Funding

As an ASM chapter, we will be applying for funds, approximately $300. We are collecting ideas on what we could do with this money. We could invite a speaker, host a social event, etc. E-mail Teresa with any thoughts.

Paper City Brewery

A probable social event that we are trying to organize is a trip to the Paper City Brewery. Greg has investigated and it seems that we can all go on a Friday afternoon and for $5 get a tour of the brewery (microbiology related) and get a 2hr bottomless glass. If people express interest we will set a date.

November 2, 2006

ASM registration

If you want to register for ASM as a group to save money, you should give your form and $12 (cash or check made out to Klaus Nüsslein) to Caryl ASAP

Recruitment Weekend

2/3/07 in Campus Center. The Tom Lessie Award in Distinguished Lectureship is an award from the grad students for excellence in teaching graduate courses and it's awarded at the retreat. Last year's went to Pablo Pomposiello. Please e-mail Caryl with nominations for this year. Our Treasurer, Greg, will be collecting a $2 donation for the award (usually awarded in the form of a certificate and restaurant gift-certificate)

ASM student chapter group

We are currently a ASM student chapter group. This is how we got funding to welcome Ken Nealson to give a seminar. We need to reapply in January for next year. Teresa has volunteered to help us reapply.


Professors met Mon 11-6 to decide who will teach what courses when.

Grad Student Trip

We think it would be nice to go on a field trip as a group. BBC or Paper City, would be a lot of fun and technically microbiology related. A ski trip is another possibility. If you feel strongly about this or have other propositions please share via -email.


Supratim announced that NEMBG conference was 11-4. Cayl, Almaris, Greg, attended SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) in October. Javier mentioned 2 valuable conferences this year. NEMPET (North Eastern Microbiologists: Physiology, Ecology and Taxonomy) and BBM (Boston Bacterial Meeting)

October 5, 2006

New Policies

As stated in the new graduate student handbook, there are some new policies that grad-students should be aware of. A doctoral candidate must meet with their committee once a year. The new students will have a quick (15min) committee/panel meeting.

ASM Membership

If you plan on going to the conference in Toronto you should become an ASM member. We can get a $5 discount off the ASM student membership fee. However, we need to apply as a group of 4 or more. Klaus has agreed to be the "sponsor". Please fill out the membership form and turn it into Caryl's mailbox as soon as you can. She'll send an email out again when we are about ready to turn in the forms.


The department picnic is going to be this Saturday 10/14 at noon in Groff Park. Please sign up in the office if you are coming and if you are bring guests and/or food. We have bought lots of candy, games and prizes including a piņata. Adam, and Helene will set up at 11am. Thereasa, Zara and Amber will clean up after. Almaris will help with the grilling. Javier will prepare music. Zara will bring a soccer ball etc. Greg will bring a volley ball etc.

Tuition Bill

Remember your non-tuition tuition bill is due today 10/11! Do not pay your full amount because GEO pays for 95% of your healthcare costs and the MASSPRIG is optional. GEO also has a new dental and vision plan that is free for individuals that you should sign up for very soon if you want continuous coverage.

Next Meeting

Our meetings are the first Thursday of the month in the graduate lounge. Next will be 11/3. Please attend!

September 7, 2006

Welcome new students!!

We would like to introduce the MGSG to the new students as a great opportunity to keep in touch with what is going on in the department and as a way to collect ourselves into a unified group with enough weight to do significant things. Here are our original mission statements:

The purpose of this organization is
(1) fostering student involvement in and communication within the Microbiology program at The University of Massachusetts - Amherst,
(2) creating an environment for student researchers to present their work and engage in scientific discourse,
(3) encouraging participation in scientific conferences,
(4) increasing the number of visiting speakers, and
(5) promoting student participation in local, state and national ASM activities.

Because this is an important group we hope that attendance will improve.

Monthly Meeting Time
We discussed member's availability and have decided that future meetings will occur on the first Thursday of the month at 5pm in the Graduate lounge. The next meeting will be Oct 5th. Our meetings are only once a month!

New Treasurer
William Latouf, aka Greg, has been elected our new treasurer. Congrats!

Department Picnic
The department picnic will be Saturday October 14th noon at Groff Park. Everyone and their families are invited. It is a potluck meal and a sign up sheet for people bringing desserts, side-dishes, etc will be posted in the departmental office soon. Help is needed with entertainment, setup, cleanup, and assisting to cook. Helene and Adam have volunteered with setting up; Teresa has volunteered with cleaning up, and Almaris has volunteered to assist the cook. Entertainment is needed for both adults and children, it will be a joint effort, and many ideas were proposed at the meeting. Greg will bring a volley ball and net, Javier will make music mixes, Caryl will bring rope for a three-legged race, and Jeff will hopefully bring a soccer ball. We will get a piņata, bingo set, and prizes, and maybe a bubble set, and botchy ball set. Anyone interested in acquiring these and other supplies for the picnic should contact Maryanne, who will give you money ahead of time.

A PhD is Not Enough
"A Ph.D. Is Not Enough!" will be held this year on September 19, 2006 at the UMass-Amherst Campus Center with featured speaker Jorge Cham of the Piled Higher and Deeper (Ph.D.) comics. The event is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, please visit

MGSG guest speaker
Through MGSG ASM support Ken Nealson was scheduled to give a seminar this semester. Unfortunately he has to have surgery and will be unable to attend. We hope that he will be able to come next semester. We discussed local seminar possibilities and voted to first invite Edward DeLong, Division of Biological Engineering & Department of Civil and Environmental Engineerin at MIT. For more information on his research visit We will keep you updated if he agrees to come, or if we invite someone else.

Micro 160 Proctoring
It is in all Micro grad-TAs' contracts to proctor the Micro 160's exams. For the new students, Micro 160 is a gen-ed science class of 400-500 students with one grad-TA. Exams are chaos without other grad-TAs to help supervise. This is mandatory and if you have a conflict you should contact Helene ( The exams are 11-12 in Marhar 9/27, 11/1, 12/8, and the TBA final. Helene makes breakfast.

Conference Discussions
As one of our mission statements states, we would like to use this meeting time to discuss conferences that have been attended by members. Due to poor attendance Almaris and Javier's conference discussions have been postponed to next month were we will hopefully have more people.

August 3, 2006

Reminder Of Our Mission Statements
The purpose of this organization is (1) fostering student involvement in and communication within the Microbiology program at The University of Massachusetts - Amherst, (2) creating an environment for student researchers to present their work and engage in scientific discourse, (3) encouraging participation in scientific conferences, (4) increasing the number of visiting speakers, and (5) promoting student participation in local, state and national ASM activities.

Invited Speaker(s)
We voted in May to invite Ken Nealson to give a seminar. He will be coming this semester because of our support. Any suggestions for local speakers that can give a talk would be appreciated. Pat Reilly and Sam Black have been proposed so far.

Conference Summaries
At our next meeting those how have participated in conference are invited to speak to the group and share your experiences. Almaris, Javier, and Dave have volunteered so far.

New Students
There are a total of 14 new graduate students coming to the micro department. 4 are enrolled to get their PhD, 6 are enrolled to get their 5th year MS, and 4 are enrolled to get their MA. We are planning both and Orientation and a mentoring program to ease their transitions.

New Student Mentoring
Paring new students with a current graduate student might really help the new student get comfortable here. If you are interested in mentoring or have questions please attend the information session on Tuesday in the conference room at 12:30pm. If you cannot make it, but would like to participate, please e-mail Caryl. Caryl, Helene, Dave, and Adam have volunteered so far.

There will be an orientation day where current grad students will show the new ones the campus. There is a draft itinerary of this day attached to the e-mail. Please e-mail Caryl of you are interested. Caryl, Helene, and Teresa have volunteered so far.

Pot Luck / Picnic
We were going plan a pot-luck/ picnic social gathering but we heard rumors that the department may be doing the same thing. We will try to keep updated if there is something planned.

A PhD Is Not Enough conference will be 9-19-06. More information will come later when registration is set-up. This is a great opportunity to learn from others experiences. There will be sections for both students in the beginning of their PhD studies, and those further along. There will also be lunch and dinner included, all for free. Micro will be well represented: Wilmore Webley will be giving a talk, and Javier and Almaris will be on a panel.

Next Meeting
The next meeting is tentatively planned for Thurs September 7, 2006 at 4pm.

April 6, 2006

I. Upcoming Meetings and Events:

Connecticut Valley ASM branch annual meeting - April 27th 7 PM in Manchester, CT. Speaker TBA.

Society of Undergraduate Microbiology Majors Picnic - Thursday April 27th - the undergrad group is having a picnic and would like to invite us. Details will follow.

Microbial Sciences Initiative Symposium - Saturday, April 29th, 2006 Science Center, Lecture Hall C Harvard University, Cambridge, MA - free 1 day symposium with a lot of great talks. See the website for speakers. Contact Patricia Waldron if you would like to go, and she will arrange carpooling.

Boston Bacterial Meeting - June 9-10th at Tufts University - A small meeting and a good venue to show your work. Held at Tufts University, $50.

III. ASM funds - money is available for us to apply for through ASM. We can use this money to invite a speaker or to plan any other event. It has been proposed that we have an event for grad students to showcase their research and that we invite a speaker for next fall. Let Patricia know if you have a nominee for an invited speaker.

IV. Mentoring - despite much discussion, we failed to adequately mentor our 1 incoming grad student this year. For next year's students we will try to contact them before they come to campus, offer a campus tour and match them up with a buddy to make the transition process smoother.

February 6, 2006

I. Future Meeting Times: Meetings this semester will be held at 5 PM on Thursdays in the Grad Lounge. If anyone has a conflict with this time who would like to come to meetings, let me know and we may be able to change it.

II. Tom Lessie Award in Distinguished Lectureship: The award was approved and professors were nominated. A local restaurant gift certificate and an award certificate will be given to the chosen professor at the Annual Retreat.

III. Graduate Student Senate: Microbiology can have up to 2 members at the graduate student senate. If anyone is interested in participating, please contact Sherrie Bain.

IV. UMASS ASM Branch: The CT Valley ASM branch approved us as an official Student group. I have sent everyone's names and e-mail address to the secretary, so you may get an e-mail regarding your membership.

V. Undergrad Micro Group: The UMASS Micro majors have formed their own group, and the president was interested in planning a joint event, such as a grad school Q&A. If you have any other ideas, please let me know.

VI. Skills Test and Workshop: There is a GECDI event scheduled for Tuesday February 21st. Dinner is at 5:00 PM, followed by an Introduction to Self-assessment methods, and guest speaker Caroline Gould from UMASS Career Services. For more information and to register, visit

VII. Research Fest: Currently the Chemistry Dept. hosts a poster session and invites local companies to attend in order to encourage networking. Students expressed interest in presenting micro posters at the next Research Fest, which may occur in the Fall. For more information or to help plan, consult Caryl Becerra.

VII. ASM roommates: If you need a roommate for ASM this year, contact myself or Winnie.

January 9, 2006

I. The meeting time for the next year will continue to be the first Monday of the month at 4:30 PM, at least until everyone gets their class schedules straightened out. The new meeting place will be the Graduate Lounge at the Student Center.

II. There is a GEO meeting on Friday January 13th at 12:00 noon on the third floor of Skinner Hall to discuss our contract status.

III. The UMASS-Amherst Sigma Xi chapter is accepting applications for membership. Contact Beth Stevens at for more information.

IV. A Communication Group consisting of Adam Glickman, Jessica Johnson, Larry Feinberg, and Jay Rennie has been formed. This group will act as a liaison between the graduate students and the department head and GPD. If you have any concerns, please contact one of the members.

V. There will be a GECDI dinner/workshop on Tuesday February 21st from 5-8 PM to conduct a self-assessment test.

VI. We are looking into becoming a Registered Student Organization (RSO) in order to get more funding for the group, and also looking for a gavel.

December 5, 2005

I. Elections
President: Edward Long
Secretary: Patricia Waldron
Treasurer: Almaris Alonso

II. Outside review
At the lunch we discussed stipend levels, class offerings, financial security, TA-assignment and status of construction in the building. If you have further concerns/complaints/compliments, let Patricia know and she'll send a statement to the reviewers.

III. The ASM constitution was submitted and the committee will vote on it and let us know in January if we are accepted.

IV. We will attempt to also be recognized as a UMASS group in an effort to get more funding.

V. We'll try to get a bulletin board to announce meetings and meeting notes.

VI. We also had a long discussion concerning what channels one should take when he/she faces a problem with an advisor. This will likely be an on-going discussion.

Also, thanks to Javier and Maryanne, the MGSG website is now available from the main UMASS microbiology site.

November 5, 2005

We will have elections for the office of President, Secretary and Treasurer in our next meeting, on Monday, December 5 at 4:30 pm. Nominations can be submitted by e-mail to me by Thursday, December 1. Likewise, if you've been nominated by a third party and would like to withdraw, please do so by Friday, December 2. So far, the nominees are the following:

President: Ed, Sherrie, Dave
Secretary: Patricia
Treasurer: Almaris, Kyle

These positions will be effective upon counting the votes this December, and will be held until new elections in September 2006.

Adam, Jay, Jess (Johnson) and Larry have volunteered to constitute the Representative Committee that will be bringing relevant issues discussed by the MGSG to the department head and the GPD. Thanks for volunteering guys! The only new issue added to the list from our previous meeting was the possibility of creating/designating a student lounge. However, if you have questions/concerns that you think could be discussed in our meetings, pass them onto the committee so that the whole group can discuss them in future meetings and formulate a way to bring it up with the GPD/DH.

A website update is coming soon! Also I will be trying to move it out of the nusslein server onto the main microbio site. Negotiations with Maryanne are underway.

October 7, 2005

Unfortunately, we have only received 12 out of 37 surveys back. This survey is extremely important to determine our new meeting time and to approve our constitution for ASM. PLEASE return them to Javier's mailbox ASAP!

We talked about the possibility of forming a Graduate Student Committee that would represent the Microbiology Graduate Student Group, to bring questions and issues to the Graduate Program Director and the Department Head. Some of the issues that were brought up include:

    Variety of classes / How often they are taught
    Additional courses to take, depending on prospective paths (Statistics, Teaching, etc)
    Adjunct faculty advisorshipk
    Seminar assignment, time, location, number of sessions

This is, as you may expect, an ongoing discussion and more topics and concerns are welcome. Ideally the Committee would be composed of a 1-2 year student, a 3-4 year (post prelims) student and a senior graduate student, to have complete representation. A 5th-year Masters student would be also welcome. So far, Adam has volunteered among the 1-2 year students, and Ed and Beth have been nominated. Who else is interested?

September 9, 2005

We welcomed a few of the new students (Helene, Lynda and Nick) that made it to our first meeting of this semester. Welcome everyone!

Please, remember to register for the upcoming set of APINE Workshops on September 20. Javier and Dr. Wilmore Webley will be part-taking in some of the panels. Volunteers are still needed, so if you're interested please talk to Caryl.

Dave proposed and started a Q&A session about prelims. We had a brief discussion as to how to prepare for them, whol to talk to and how to plan a schedule for proposal submission and committee meeting.

May 6, 2005

Copies of the new constitution that was drafted by Patricia will be passed around with a sign-up sheet to gain the approval of the whole graduate student body.

The event was a succsess, particularly the first workshop (for starting grad students), discussions about communication and the lunch on mentorship

Help is needed for the next APINE session in lage September (greeters, registration, packet preparation). If you're interested, please talk to Caryl.

Within this discussion Sherrie brought up an excellent suggestion of an additional mandatory graduate student seminar in which we could be exposed as students to additional aspects of our future proefssional and academic lives. We could get talks from faculty on what to expect (K Nusslein, J Holden), grant writing (S. Sandler), etc - with low impact on faculty if they only need to prepare only one class or seminar

Also, inspired by APINE, we may start a mentoring program next year to be tested with the one and only new grad student joining the department.

March 4, 2005

We discussed who, among those prospective students that attended the Microbiology Department Retreat, had a great deal of interest and/or came across as an outstanding candidate.

We discussed an idea brought up by Caryl from the first MGSG meeting, the possibility of a welcoming committee for graduate students. Specifically what a welcoming package may include. Other ideas are more than welcome, here is a list of some of the items that we thought could be relevant:

Where to get an ID
Where is the...
   Health Center
   Science Library / Main Library
Overviews of
   Umail / Squirrelmail
Key people in the department
   Teaching Services
Minority issues
Q&A on
   Graduation requirements

December 8, 2004

Greetings everyone, we had a good meeting last friday and here's a brief review of what we talked about.

A website for the MGSG has been approved by Maryanne and we discussed what should be in it. Here is a list of the contents as of now:
- Meeting notes
- Meeting times
- Funding sources and opportunities
- Conferences / Institutes

A few new issues were raised regarding the Graduate Student Handbook.
- Do 899 credits need to be consecutively taken?
- Is there a format memo for signatures from prelims? Whose responsibility is it?

* PLEASE turn in your Graduate Student Handbook Evaluation Forms. Out of thirty-something forms I have received 6(!) back. It is so important that we, as a group, can voice our opinion to Jim Holden and dthe department about how to make it better and clearer.

* Caryl and Javier will be working on a design for the department's t-shirt. But the competition could still be on, depending of what prize the department is willing to offer. There will be more news on the department's t-shirt over break.

* Our next meeting will be Friday, February 4, 2005. We will not meet on the first week of January. Happy holidays everyone!

October 27, 2004

Almaris came back from presenting at SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) General Meeting in Texas. Almaris reported that it was great for minorities, postdoctoral opportunities, networking and oral presentations. All participating students can apply for funding that covers food and lodging. The next meeting will be in Denver between September and October of 2005.

The Graduate Student Handbook discussion addressed the following issues:
- It needs to include thesis formatting
- Resindence info
- Is the oral exam about the core areas (but not limited to them)? Could it potentially include more?
- Can you qualify with a lab for your core areas?
- Do core areas require one or two classes? Which ones?
- Seminar requirements
- "Failing" is too harsh and may need rewording
- An example timeline could be provided
- Suggestions of courses to take in other departments (Stats, MCB, soil sciences)

September 17, 2004
Initial Meeting

In this first meeting we discussed what the Microgiology Graduate Student Group (MGSG) could be:

  1.1. Current research in our labs
  1.2. Techniques being used that could help others in potential collaborations
  1.3. Equipment available in the department or outside
  1.4. Summer opportunities, workshops, conferences, etc
  1.5. Practice of posters, seminars, prelims, etc

  2.1. Classes available in and outside of the department
  2.2. Discussion of unknown professional/academic opportunities

  3.1. Jim Holden has finished writing a graduate student manual, and he would like the grad students as a whole to read it, critique it and discuss it.
  3.2. Jeff Blanchard is proposing a t-shirt design contest amongst graduate students

  4.1. T-shirt sales
  4.2. Creation of an ASM Student Chapter ($1500 a year provided by ASM)

  5.1. Teaching in local and regional public schools

  6.1. Did you know that we have a GEO (Graduate Employee Organization) steward?


Click below for previous meeting notes from:

March 1, 2007
February 1, 2007
November 2, 2006
October 5, 2006
September 7, 2006
August 3, 2006
April 6, 2006
February 6, 2006
January 9, 2006
December 5, 2005
November 5, 2005
October 7, 2005
September 9, 2005
May 6, 2005
March 4, 2005
December 8, 2004
October 27, 2004
September 17, 2004 - Initial Meeting

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