The Applied and Environmental Microbiology Gordon Research Conference (GRC) has been held every two years since 1950 and is one of the longest running of the Gordon Conferences. The focus of the 2011 Conference is microbial functional interactions from the level of molecules to biomes. This theme will be explored in sessions on bacterial evolution and speciation, microbial interactions and population dynamics, the roles of microbes in ecosystem functioning, the biogeochemical cycling of naturally occurring and hazardous substances, microbially mediated redox processes, and methodologies to assess the functional relationships of microorganisms in their habitats. Diverse ecosystems will be featured and genomics, engineering, and commercial applications of the metabolic powers of microbes will be covered in the various sessions. The conference will bring together leading experts in the field to present and discuss new, fundamental research findings on microorganisms, their activities in the environment, their ecosystem-level effects, and their environmental and/or commercial applications. The intimate size of the conference encourages dialog and exchange of ideas - even between students and senior scientists. The number of young scientists (graduate students, postdocs, and junior scientists) that attend the Applied and Environmental Microbiology GRC meeting has steadily increased. The aim of this award is to further improve on this trend. To accomplish this goal support form NSF is specifically targeted to assist participation of students and young post-doctoral scholars. An important aspect of the Applied and Environmental Microbiology GRC is that for most sessions a young ?and upcoming? speaker will be selected from the Abstract submissions for a short talk. Furthermore, the poster sessions are also lively and organized to stimulate discussions that carry through the week.

The long-term success of the Applied and Environmental Microbiology GRC is based not only on the quality of the individuals who have served as organizers and participants, but also on the fundamental importance of microorganisms to life on Earth, the environment, various industries, and human health. The conference has always had a diverse theme of topics, covering the metabolic, physiologic and evolutionary diversity of microbial life, the complex roles that microorganisms play in life on Earth, and the multitude of applications of microbes in biotechnology, the food industry, agriculture, and medicine. Global change, production of greenhouse gases, remediation of contaminated ecosystems, water quality, the biological cycling of elements, and the symbiotic relationships of microbes that affect agricultural production and our own health are just a few of the areas covered by the conference that have a profound impact on society. The conference series has in the past been a forum for the consideration of critical or even controversial issues that have led to the development of new technologies. In the typical Gordon Conference style, the Conference sessions will be informal, off the record, and open to all participants for the expression of their views. The Applied and Environmental Microbiology GRC has a long record of stimulating advanced research in industrial laboratories, colleges and universities, research foundations, and government laboratories.

Project Report

The Gordon Research Conference on APPLIED & ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLGY was held at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, July 10-15, 2011. The Conference was well-attended with 173 participants (attendees list attached). The attendees represented the spectrum of endeavor in this field coming from academia, industry, and government laboratories, both U.S. and foreign scientists, senior researchers, young investigators, and students. Of the 173 attendees, 83 voluntarily responded to a general inquiry regarding ethnicity which appears on our registration forms. Of the 83 respondents, 7% were Minorities – 1% Hispanic, 5% Asian and 1% African American. Approximately 48 % of the participants at the 2011 meeting were women. In designing the formal speakers program, emphasis was placed on current unpublished research and discussion of the future target areas in this field. There was a conscious effort to stimulate lively discussion about the key issues in the field today. Time for formal presentations was limited in the interest of group discussions. In order that more scientists could communicate their most recent results, poster presentation time was scheduled. Attached is a copy of the formal schedule and speaker program and the poster program. In addition to these formal interactions, "free time" was scheduled to allow informal discussions. Such discussions are fostering new collaborations and joint efforts in the field. Thank you for your support of this Conference. As you know, in the interest of promoting the presentation of unpublished and frontier-breaking research, Gordon Research Conferences does not permit publication of meeting proceedings.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)
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Matthew Kane
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Gordon Research Conferences
West Kingston
United States
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