Expert to give talk on animal microbiome

December 15, 2014

Vanderbilt University professor Seth Bordenstein recently found a new source for antibiotics in Archaea, a kingdom of single-celled microorganisms that lives in hydrothermal vents, marine algae and the mammalian gut. Bordenstein is scheduled to speak about “Animal Microbiomes and the Origin of Species” as part of the Biodesign Discovery Series at Arizona State University, Dec. 16.

“You can’t overstate the significance of the antibiotic resistance problem that humanity is facing,” said Bordenstein. “This discovery should help energize the pursuit for new antibiotics in this underexplored group of life.” Seth Bordenstein Download Full Image

The research, conducted in collaboration with scientists at Portland State University, points to horizontal gene transfer as the method by which Archaea acquired a lysozyme with antibiotic properties, killing certain bacteria.

“It has been co-opted by different domains of life to be used as an antibacterial weapon,” said Bordenstein, who has received a lot of attention since a pair of studies was published in the journals Nature and eLife in November.

The strangest part about his findings is that the antibacterial gene has been found in aphids, mossy plants, bacteria-invading viruses called phages, viruses and even bacteria.

Bordenstein is an associate professor of biological sciences and pathology, microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt University. He is the founding director of the worldwide Howard Hughes Medical Institute outreach program “Discover the Microbes Within!” He received a doctorate degree from the University of Rochester and held a postdoctoral fellowship with the National Research Council while at the Marine Biological Laboratory.

Bordenstein’s lecture will be held at 1 p.m. in Biodesign’s auditorium (B105) at 727 E. Tyler St. in Tempe, Arizona. Seating is limited, so plan to arrive early. The lecture will also be webcast and available on-demand after Dec. 30.

For more information, visit

Julie Kurth

Manager, marketing and communications, Biodesign Institute


Former Oregonian editor encourages journalism grads to 'change the world'

December 16, 2014

A former top newspaper editor urged the newest graduates of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to invent the future of journalism.

Peter Bhatia, former award-winning editor of The Oregonian and the Cronkite School’s Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics, was the keynote speaker at the fall convocation ceremony, Dec. 15 at ASU Gammage, where 142 students received degrees, with more than 800 guests in attendance. Peter Bhatia Download Full Image

Bhatia, the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major U.S. daily newspaper, said the Cronkite School does an extraordinary job preparing students for success in the newsroom and beyond. Citing quotes from musician Bruce Springsteen and the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Bhatia told graduates to pursue their dreams and change the world.

“While so many in my generation wring their hands about what has been lost, you are ready to jump in with both feet, to define how future generations will be informed, and, again, to do it in the right way, moved with the values we hold so dear at Cronkite,” he said. “I am completely confident you will find the way because you are not wed to a traditional past. You are the new wave of content creators, born in a remarkable age of discovery.”

The ceremony celebrated Cronkite student Elizabeth Candello as the first graduate of the school’s doctoral program, established in 2011. Candello joined 15 master’s degree and 126 bachelor’s degree graduates at convocation.

Student speaker Emilie Eaton of Rio Vista, California, said that growing up, she envied her friends who seemed to know what they wanted to do with their lives. It wasn’t until she entered the Cronkite School that she found her passion, she said.

“What is so wonderful about this school is that it has allowed all of us to discover and cultivate so many incredibly important ... personally satisfying passions,” Eaton said. “Because of this school, we are journalists, writers, videographers, photographers, producers, entrepreneurs, public relations professionals and so much more.”

Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School and university vice provost, said more than one-third of the graduating class earned high academic honors. Fifteen students achieved summa cum laude status, with GPAs of at least 3.8; another 21 graduated magna cum laude with GPAs of 3.6 to 3.79; and 19 graduated cum laude with GPAs of 3.4 to 3.59.

In addition, 14 students were inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, a national college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism. The top 10 percent of the graduating class is inducted into the society each semester.

“You are truly a remarkable group of young women and men – and Walter [Cronkite] would be very proud of you,” Callahan said. “Thank you for your hard work, your passion, your dedication and your undying spirit of optimism.”

Student award winners:

Outstanding Graduate Student
Megan Guthrie

Outstanding Undergraduate Students
Aaron Lavinsky
Analise Ortiz
Herminia Rincon

Highest GPA
Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale

Moeur Award
Alex Gallant

Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society
Angel Almendares
Elizabeth Candello
Alex Gallant
Megan Guthrie
Joshua Hamel
Stephen Hamway
Isabelle Higuera
Jennifer Johnson
Laurie Liles
Rachel Lund
Nicole Northcutt
Patricia Oliverio-Lauderdale
Nathaniel Pallone-DeLaTorre
Alyssa Prano

Student Speaker
Emilie Eaton

Reporter , ASU Now