Need help from Microbiologist

Richard Oeffner roeffner at csusm.edu
Wed Aug 29 12:32:06 EST 2001

Interesting question. I  am currently working in an academic research lab,
actually I work for a chemist who is looking at natural products from marine

As for communication on a daily basis, I am fairly lucky in that my boss has an
office 25 feet from mine (or is that unlucky?...depends on the situation). Most
of my communication on a daily basis is verbal, at least with my boss.  There
are instances in which I do present a semi-formal papers, or at least an outline
of some type. I also do help to edit or suggest improvements for some of our
official communication (i.e. grant proposals, progress reports, etc.). We also
will hopefully be publishing at least one article in the coming year, and I am
going to have a part in that too. We don't really have any formal meetings.

As for microbiology information, I use the web. I find the newsgroups
interesting and have had the chance to help and be helped by others. I also
frequently use the ASM (American Society for Microbiology) web site and am a
member. I find that mostly I use their journals to keep up to date and to find
info on my current interests. Also, the university I work for has online access
to the Prokaryotes, so I use that on a regular basis.

The main part of my job is running the lab and ensuring that progress is
occurring. I ride herd on usually 4 or more students each semester, as well as
some student employees in our lab. Most of my communication with them is verbal,
but I do supply them with basic protocols and references as needed. Most of my
info is kept on the computer. I keep separate files for all of my bureaucratic
files, work items, protocols, and several databases of information relating to
our current research. Since I have been here, we have gone from around 200
samples to over a 1000 in just under a year and a half, making computers vital
to the record keeping process. I also provide several data tracking sheets for
various people to record the information they have  generated. This seems to
work fairly well, as I can then take the tracking sheets and transfer the data
to the database as needed.

I know there is an ASM chapter here in San Diego, but I have had a hard time
finding out meeting times. I went to several of the monthly meetings when I was
in school, but have not been since, for various reasons. I think the most
informative/interesting thing I have done is attend the ASM yearly General
Meetings. This is a nice way to find out lots of current work and meet other
people with the same interests. Most of the presentations are well done, as well
as very informative and there are literally hundreds of different
presentations...so I can always find something of interest.

As others have mentioned, being a microbiologist is a bit isolating . Luckily, I
do have one other microbiologist on campus, and we have talk about all aspects
of micro on a regular basis. Most of the people I went to school with I have
lost touch with over time. But I read a lot, and the web has become a valuable
tool for info gathering.

I don't know if that helps at all Jason. Best of luck on your research.

Richard E. Oeffner
CSU San Marcos

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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