Microbiology is an essential and dominant aspect of human life. Many people are familiar with the use of microbiology in food production (bread, cheese, beer, etc.), but there are hundreds of other industrial processes that require microbiology. For example, most of the chemicals, plastics, and paints you encounter every day were made from chemicals produced by microbes. Microbes are also a source of many drugs and antibiotics.
Our AIM program was developed to provide a mechanism for students to apply the molecular biology techniques they learn in our core classes to important industrial processes. Some examples of AIM projects include the molecular analysis of microbes present in mixed-community foods (such as sourdoughs, yogurts, and spoiled beers); identifying the microbes responsible for detoxifying wastewater using “bioreactors”; the identification of fungal species that produce novel bioactive compounds; and, the integration of advanced materials science and optics to develop new microbiological and medical platforms.