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JSU Hosts Microbiologists for First Time

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Dr. Anne E. Tebo stands in front of her poster presentation to
answer visitors questions. (JSU Photo: Alex Stillwagon)

By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau

22 October 2004 — Dr. Anne E. Tebo stood in the hallway of McGee Hall explaining her work in the field of immunology to passersby. The passersby were probably other microbiologists and students of microbiology who were at Jacksonville State University for the 2004 meeting of the Southeastern Branch American Society For Microbiology (SEM). About 110 visitors were expected during the two-day meeting.

Dr. Tebo, who is originally from Cameroon, has worked for almost two years studying how mice respond to the secondary infections of a particular strain of a viral meningitis. She is on a fellowship from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“I will try to explain this to you in simple terms,” she said. Her effort was appreciated. She began telling, with animated hand and facial expressions, how the mice in her study had different physical reactions to the initial infection and to the secondary infection. Her conclusions, which were shown graphically on a giant poster, might help eventually help drug companies design the most effective vaccine possible against meningitis.

While browsing the hallways looking at the two dozen or so posters manned by other microbiologists, it is easy to see how the field of study affects the average person’s life from the way waste products are treated to the ways foods are protected to the ways medicinal studies are handled.

JSU is hosting the meeting for the first time. Dr. Benjamin Blair is president this year of the SEM. The Ohatchee native has taught in the biology department at JSU for the past six years. He is excited about what the meeting represents for students and for professionals. Collaboration is a word that he and Dr. Tebo use often.

“This is where students learn to collaborate with others in the field,” said. Dr. Blair. “I can’t describe how valuable that is.”

Dr. Tebo knows the value of professionals helping one another. Her work is only a tiny aspect of other studies by other microbiologists. The information she learned as she worked on her project, which required a few 20-hour days, can be used to help others. She said her name was listed on other nearby posters as contributing to their studies.

Dr. Blair said microbiologists’ scientific work is often done in stages. “You meet people with similar interests. Perhaps they take a different approach. You do one part of a study and others do one part. Together they can publish more papers that way,” he said.

Dr. Blair said the meeting went extremely well. He was especially happy to have three speakers of such high caliber. Speaking on Thursday and Friday were Dr. Randall K. Buddington, professor of biology at Mississippi State University; Dr. Ron Luftig, chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at Louisiana State University School of Medicine at New Orleans; and Dr. Vickie Baselski from the Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

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