Chemical engineering student chosen to present at microbiology conference

Seok Hoon Hong, a graduate student in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been selected by the American Society of Microbiology to present his research at the organization's 110th General Meeting in San Diego.Hong, who is advised by Professor Thomas Wood, will present "Controlling Biofilm Formation, Prophage Excision, and Cell Death by Rewiring Global Regulator H-NS of Escherichia coli" May 25 as part of the meeting's Outstanding Student Poster Session. The session is dedicated to highlighting exceptional students for outstanding research efforts.To qualify for consideration, students had to meet stringent criteria and be selected for a Student Travel Grant. In addition, the research abstract had to demonstrate an interdisciplinary nature.Hong's research, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses on controlling biofilm formation by rewiring the global regulator H-NS, a protein found in Gram negative bacteria. H-NS regulates genes related to biofilm formation in a temperature dependent manner, and the deletion of H-NS decreases biofilm formation.A biofilm is a protective, adhesive slime created by bacteria that have joined together to form a community and reap the benefits of a "strength-in-numbers" approach. Biofilms can grow on a variety of living and nonliving surfaces, including submerged rocks, food, teeth (as plaque) and biomedical implants such as knee and hip replacements.The National Institutes of Health estimate that about 90 percent of infections in humans are caused by biofilms, and the Centers for Disease Control estimate biofilm to be present in 65 percent of hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections. Biofilms typically are the cause for the fatal infections that develop post surgery. More commonly, they are the source of persistent ear infections common among children.The American Society of Microbiology General Meeting is the largest annual gathering of microbiologists in the world. It provides a forum for cross-cutting science that spans the field of microbiology. This year, the meeting will feature nearly 300 individual colloquia, symposia, roundtable discussions, award lecture and poster sessions relevant to microbiology. For more information on the American Society of Microbiology and a full schedule of program activities, visit http://www.asm.org.