Background

MicrobeTV was founded in 2015 by Vincent Racaniello, a professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University. Vincent began his first podcast, This Week in Virology (TWiV), in September 2008, together with Dickson Despommier, father of the Vertical Farm. Although Vincent viewed the creation of a science podcast as an experiment, he was surprised when people began to listen. Since then, MicrobeTV has become a 501c3 nonprofit organization and has continued to create accessible life science-based podcasts in line with our mission of providing free science education to everyone. Now more than ever, people in our world need access to accurate science so they’re able to identify disinformation. If you have the means and would like to help keep MicrobeTV free for all, please donate today,

About Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D.

Photo by Chris Suspect

Vincent (@profvrr) is a Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University Medical Center. He has been studying viruses for over 30 years, starting in 1975, when he entered the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York with a focus on influenza viruses. In 1979, he joined the laboratory of Dr. David Baltimore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for postdoctoral work on poliovirus. In 1982 Vincent joined the faculty in the Department of Microbiology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. There he established a laboratory to study viruses, and to train other scientists to become virologists. Over the years his laboratory has studied a variety of viruses including poliovirus, echovirus, enterovirus 70, rhinovirus, and hepatitis C virus. As principal investigator of his laboratory, he oversees the research carried out by Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. He teaches virology to graduate, medical, dental, and nursing students. His virology lectures are available online at iTunes UniversityYouTube, and Coursera.

Vincent entered the world of social media in 2004 with virology blog, followed by This Week in Virology. Videocasts of lectures from his undergraduate virology course are on iTunes University and virology blog. You can find him on WikipediaTwitterGoogle Plus, and Facebook. His goal is to be Earth’s virology professor. In recognition of his contribution to microbiology education, he was awarded the Peter Wildy Prize for Microbiology Education by the Society for General Microbiology. His Wildy Lecture provides an overview of how he uses social media for science communication.

The Hosts of MicrobeTV

Hosts of This Week in Virology (TWiV)

Vincent Racaniello, Ph.D.
Rich Condit, Ph.D.
Dickson D. Despommier, Ph.D.
Alan Dove, Ph.D.
Daniel Griffin, Ph.D.
Angela Mingarelli, Ph.D.
Jolene Ramsey, Ph.D.
Kathy Spindler, Ph.D.
Brianne Barker, Ph.D.

Nels Elde, Ph.D.

Nels is Associate Professor of Human Genetics and Mario R. Capecchi Endowed Chair of Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Nels grew up in Minneapolis, the City of Lakes, along with a sister, brother, and a multitude of pets. After graduating from Carleton College with a major in Biology, he continued as a technician in the lab of Stephan Zweifel, pursuing genetic studies in yeast and the fungus of leaf-cutting ants.

As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Aaron Turkewitz at the University of Chicago, his thesis research focused on molecular genetic and evolutionary studies of membrane traffic in the model ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila.

As a post-doc in the lab of Harmit Malik at the Fred Hutchinson Center, Nels developed a research program studying pathogen-driven evolution as an Ellison Medical Foundation Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation and with an NIH Pathway to Independence Award investigating the evolutionary potential of the model poxvirus vaccinia.

After opening the lab in 2011, Nels was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, a Kavli Foundation Fellow, and an Associate Editor for PLOS Pathogens. Nels received the 2015 Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award from the American Society for Virology. The Elde lab uses host-pathogen interactions to study the evolutionary process and evolutionary approaches to understand the selective forces shaping cellular pathways.

Nels’ research has been featured on TWIV and TWIM, including an appearance on TWIV #234, “Live in Denver” at the annual American Society for Microbiology meeting in 2013. As co-host of TWiEVO Nels has achieved the coveted “TWifecta”, where he now strives to highlight exciting research emerging at the interface of evolutionary and experimental biology.

An active clinician and internationally invited speaker lecturing for multiple organizations, including the University of Glasgow, the Peace Corp, University of Minnesota, Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), Floating Doctors, and Remote Care Education, as well as for other groups in Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Africa, and India. One of the hosts of the popular podcasts This Week in ParasitismThis Week in Virology, and The IDPuscast. One of the authors of Parasitic Diseases, now in its 7th Edition with thousands of copies distributed to over 100 countries worldwide. His non-profit organization Parasites Without Borders shares office space with MicrobeTV.

Stephanie Langel

Stephanie Langel (Immune) (@stephanielangel) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University. Stephanie is originally from North Canton, Ohio, where her love of science and biology started during her years in 4-H raising cows, sheep, and chickens. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences from The Ohio State University in 2007, she completed a Master’s degree at Virginia Tech in the laboratory of Dr. Isis Kanevsky studying the role of colostrum (mammal’s first milk) lymphocytes on neonatal immunity in dairy calves.

From Blacksburg, Stephanie moved back to Ohio in 2013 to pursue her Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Linda Saif in the Comparative and Veterinary Medicine Graduate Program at Ohio State University. There, she studied the impact of viral infection during pregnancy on milk immunity and neonatal health in a swine model. After graduating, Stephanie’s passion for maternal and neonatal immunity took her to Durham, North Carolina, where she is now doing her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Sallie Permar. Stephanie is working to develop vector-based IgA antibody therapeutics for pregnant and lactating mothers as well as understand the mechanism of maternal antibody passive transfer in the placenta and mammary gland.

In addition to research, Stephanie is passionate about communicating science to the public, particularly in underserved communities within both rural and urban areas. Stephanie created an “After School Animal Sciences” program for Columbus City Schools where students participate in talks, demonstrations, and experiments to learn about science and science-related careers. She’s currently a member of the North Raleigh Lions Club in addition to working with The Pregnant Scholar, an organization that advocates for pregnant women and mothers in science.

Stephanie loves spending time with family and friends, particularly her husband and two rescue dogs, hiking the trails of any state park she can find. This fall Stephanie is excited at the prospects of her favorite team, The Cleveland Browns, and is cheering on the Buckeyes in any capacity.

Cindy Leifer

Cindy Leifer, Ph.D. (Immune) (@CindyLeifer) is a Professor of Microbiology and immunology at Cornell University. She completed her doctoral studies in the laboratory of Carl Nathan where her passion for everything innate immune blossomed. She continued a postdoc at the NIH before opening her own lab in 2005. Since then, her research has focused on understanding the function of a specific family of receptors, Toll-like receptors, which are critical for immune protection from infection.

She also investigates the unique and myriad regulatory mechanisms controlling these receptors since their dysregulation leads to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

In addition to research, Dr. Leifer loves teaching immunology to undergraduates, graduate students, and veterinary students. She is also passionate about women in STEM. She advocates for women and organizes professional development opportunities with a focus on topics that are particularly important for women such as negotiation, work-life balance, and the impostor syndrome.

Dr. Leifer is the author of over 45 scientific articles, book chapters, and reviews. She has also authored several OpEd pieces on vaccines, women in STEM, and science denial.

Amy Rosenfeld

Amy Rosenfeld, Ph.D. (Q&A) is Principal Investigator at the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She completed her Ph.D. in 2005 with Vincent Racaniello and returned to Columbia University 10 years later to continue her work on enteroviruses as the Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.

Her recent work has demonstrated that neurovirulence of EV-D68 is not a recently acquired phenotype, and that antibody responses to enteroviruses are cross-reactive, a property not previously appreciated. She has appeared numerous times on TWiV and is also host of Q&A with A&V, a live stream program on the MicrobeTV network.

Elio Schaechter

Elio Schaechter

Elio Schaechter, Ph.D. (TWIM) is an actively retired microbiologist, currently living in San Diego, California. He spent most of his research career working on growth physiology and bacterial cell organization. In 1985-86, Elio served as president of the ASM. He has a deep love of teaching, and has been told that his natural habitat is the other side of the lectern.

He has authored several textbooks and co-edited treatises. He continues to write. After retirement, he tried to satisfy his curiosity in broader microbiological phenomena, especially those related to ecology and symbiotic relationships. His hobby is wild mushrooms. For a short account of his activities, visit his home page.

Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt, Ph.D. (TWiM) is the Professor and Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the Office of Special Programs at the Medical College of South Carolina. Dr. Schmidt is leading a team of infectious disease specialists from three health sciences centers and engineers from industry. This team assesses what role the microbes associated with objects that patients, health care workers, and visitors encounter while in hospital play in the acquisition of an HAI.

Through their first interventional study, they established that the intrinsic microbial burden played a significant role in the acquisition of an HAI. Limited placement of cooper was found to reduce the burden by greater than 85%, resulting in a concomitant 58% reduction in HAI. These data served as the basis of his recent TEDx talk. Dr. Schmidt has been a member of the Communications Committee for the American Society for Microbiology, co-chaired the society’s careers poster development, and helped revise the society’s public website, Microbeworld.org. He has led numerous, national workshops on the use of computers for instruction in medicine, microbiology, and infectious diseases, has been a panelist on Science Friday broadcasted by National Public Radio, and has been a content editor for Microbeworld Radio, a daily radio show/podcast produced by the society for the general public.

Michele Swanson

Michele Swanson

Michele Swanson, Ph.D. (TWiM) is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School.  Michele earned a B.S. in Biology from Yale, where she also played collegiate field hockey and softball.  She was introduced to the exciting world of experimental science as a research technician at Rockefeller University in the lab of Samuel C. Silverstein, an expert in leukocyte cell biology who conducted seminal studies of Legionella pneumophila growth in macrophages. 

Michele developed her love of genetics as a graduate student, using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a tool to study gene expression with Marian Carlson at Columbia and Fred Winston at Harvard.  After a brief hiatus devoted to her two children, she began postdoctoral training with Ralph Isberg at Tufts and HHMI, where she developed cell biological methods to analyze the fate of L. pneumophila in macrophages.  In addition to exploiting this pathogen as a genetic probe of macrophage function, her lab at Michigan investigates how metabolic cues govern L. pneumophila’s differentiation to specialized cell types equipped for intracellular replication, transmission between host cells, or persistence in the environment.

The gifted Ph.D. students, postdoctoral fellows, and undergraduates Dr. Swanson has had the privilege and pleasure of mentoring at the University of Michigan are source of pride to her.  She is also the Director of the Medical School’s Office of Postdoctoral Studies and a lecturer in the Infectious Disease Sequence.  Michele is also honored to Chair the American Academy of Microbiology and co-author with TWiM host Elio Schachter and Drs. Fred Neidhardt and Gemma Reguera the ASM Press textbook Microbe.

Michele first appeared as a guest on TWiM in May 2013 on Episode #56: “Live at ASM in Denver.” She was delighted to have the opportunity to work with Vincent, who had taught her the wonders of virology during her graduate years at Columbia, and with Elio, the masterful Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology & Microbiology during her postdoctoral years at Tufts.  Michele is committed to sharing the excitement and power of laboratory science not only with the taxpayers who fund our research but with future generations of scientists.