Microbiome Event

Symposium Kicks Off New Microbiome Initiative for UCR


The UCR Microbiome “Initiative,” a new program meant to bring researchers together who focus on the microbiome from around the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) and the School of Medicine (SOM), held its Inaugural Symposium and Datablitz on Sept. 27.

Roughly 90 people attended from about 22 different labs/PIs, 9 graduate programs, 10 departments, 3 colleges and 3 centers.

The cross-campus interactions centered around a common theme — the microbes that co-inhabit plants, insects and other animals.

Twenty-seven faculty, graduate students and postdocs presented their research in 3-5 minute segments — from gut microbiota linked to obesity, feeding behavior, colitis and chemotherapy in humans to bee microbiota playing a role in pesticide resistance to plant-associated microbes in HLB and response to climate change.

The event was the brain child of Assoc. Prof. of Biology Joel Sachs, who did all of the academic organization and provided the faculty leadership. Norman Ellstrand, Director of California Agriculture and Food Enterprise (CAFE), provided critical support and financed the event along with the Office of Technology Partnerships in RED. The CNAS Dean's Office and the Divisional Dean for Life Sciences Frances Sladek, also supported the event. 

"This could be a very useful template for future events to help jumpstart the interdisciplinary interactions among faculty that are the strength of UCR," said Sladek. "Faculty in attendance found common ground that will lead to additional workshops, joint projects and grants."

Here was the program and speakers for the event:


Session I: Microbiomes in Human Health and Disease 

1. Session Introduction – Frances Sladek 

2. Donovan Argueta, Graduate Student, Bioengineering - Gut-brain endocannabinoid control of hedonic eating 

3. Huinan Liu, Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering - Antimicrobial Biomaterials for Medical Devices and Implants 

4. David Lo, Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Senior Associate Dean - Bridging Regional Ecology, Aerosolized Toxins, & Health Effects: Inflammation & Immunity 

5. Poonamjot Deol, Assistant Project Specialist, Department of Molecular, Cell & Systems Biology - Does Intestinal Dysbiosis Contribute To Soybean Oil Induced Colitis? 

6. James Borneman, Professor, Department of Microbiology & Plant Pathology - Gut Microbiomes Associated with Diet Induced Obesity and Chemotherapy Induced Pain 

7. Marilyn Fogel, Wilbur W. Mayhew Professor of Geo-Ecology and Director, EDGE - Stable isotope tracers of the importance of gut microbes to protein homeostasis 


Session II: Microbiomes in Managed and Natural Plant Populations 

8. Session Introduction – Milt McGiffen 

9. Milt McGiffen, Plant Physiologist, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences - Soil Food Web, Microbiome, Then What? 

10. Michael Piña, Graduate Student, Plant Biology - Biochar and Cover Crops Shift Microbial Communities & Improve Soil Fertility in a Southern California Organic Mango Orchard 

11. Camille Wendlandt, Graduate Student, Plant Biology - Host & symbiont contributions to nodule occupancy in the legume-rhizobium interaction 

12. Kenjiro Quides, Graduate Student, Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology - Host control over rhizobial symbionts by the legume Lotus japonicus 

13. Joel Sachs, Associate Professor, Dept. of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology - Can we harness symbiont epidemics? 

14. Caroline Roper, Associate Professor, Dept. of Microbiology & Plant Pathology - Understanding plant-associated microbiomes in the context of disease outcomes 

15. Ella Deyett, Graduate Student, Genomics, Genetics, and Bioinformatics - Identifying Grapevine Microbial Endophytes for Control of Pierce’s Disease 

16. Courtney Collins, Graduate Student, Botany and Plant Sciences - Examining the role of soil microbiomes in mediating plant responses to global change 


Session III : Environmental Microbiomes 

17. Session Introduction - Jason Stajich 

18. Jason Stajich, Professor and Director, Microbiology Graduate Program - Environmental Mycobiome from fruits to deserts 

19. Holly Bik, Assistant Professor, Department of Nematology - Free-living nematodes in marine sediments: linking molecules with morphology in the -Omics age 

20. Deborah Pagliaccia, Assistant Project Scientist and Managing Director of CAFÉ - Creating a Circular Economy: From Food Waste to Sustainable Food Production through Microbe-Mediated Processes 


Session IV: Animal Microbiomes in Natural and Lab Systems 

21. Session Introduction – Quinn McFrederick 

22. Quinn McFrederick, Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology - Toxins and the microbiome 

23. Jason Rothman, Graduate Student, Microbiology - The Bumblebee Microbiome Protects Against Selenium Toxicity 

24. Margaret Thairu, Graduate Student, Entomology - Small RNAs regulate gene expression in the reduced-genome of a mutualistic endosymbiont of insects 

25. Amanda Hale, Graduate Student, Microbiology - Gut Microbiome Plasticity in Invasive vs. Native Ants 

26. Monica Louis, Graduate Student, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology - Evaluating gut microbiome changes in a selectively bred high runner mouse model 

27. Dohyup Kim, Graduate Student, Entomology – Genes involved in aphid symbiosis respond to host plant specialization 

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