Need help from Microbiologist (reply from Industrial side)

Bob McDougall rjmcd at cgocable.net
Wed Aug 29 11:47:11 EST 2001

Well, that got me thinking! While I've done clinical and medical device
manufacturing work, most of my background, including the primary focus
of my Micro undergrad, is so-called "industrial micro".

Unlike most clinical or even research settings, we (microbiologists) in
the food, fermentation, waste management, industrial etc. areas tend not
to be found in groups. Many of us are forced to be very independent, and
establish our own sources of info to stay current, our own mini-networks
of tech contacts etc.. Often much of what we do is non-micro in the
strictest sense. One can go years without streaking a plate! (alas!).
This tends to minimize the amount of "microbiological communication" in
our day to day. It does, however, turn many of us into pretty good
teachers of complicated topics (i.e.- microbial physiology, food safety,
sanitation etc.) to non specialists, line workers, senior management and
other "unenlightened". 

Being relatively solitary in our work, we often take on the protective
colouring of our environments (starting to sound like zoology not micro)
and adapt to the conditions at hand. A few of us are extremely active in
micro related organizations, but I'd say most are not. Unlike those
specialties wherein micro folks tend to be found in groups, this can
make for some degree of professional isolation.

The good news is that (in my experience) there is a strong sense of
community among industrial microbiologists which seems to generate a
feeling of a "kindred spirits" even when meeting for the first time.
Perhaps that's partly due to the relatively small size of the
"community", or a differentiating factor from the med/clinical micro
people, I'm not sure. 

Certainly these days the old polarizations of micro into medical,
industrial etc. are disappearing given the increasing pervasiveness of
micro-related issues throughout society as a whole and the growing
convergence of the methods and techniques used by each group.

What do other micro folks out there think?

I look forward to reading other responses to your question, Jason. I
think it is an extremely useful one.


Jason wrote:
> I am a student in college, and need some assistance with a research paper I
> am doing... If you would take the time to help me I would be very
> appreciative. If anyone has a BS in Microbiology, or any Microbiology
> degree, please answer me this one question...
> 1) How do you communicate in your everyday job environment? Do you do lab
> reports? Formal Presentations? Email? Do you work in groups? If so, how many
> people?
> I am trying to do a study on how communcation exists in the Microbiological
> field after college... Any help would be greatly appreciated.
> Thanks
> Jason

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