ASM president shows and tells

Atlas dramatizes microbiology society's work and his own in entertaining address

Eugene Russo(erusso@the-scientist.com)
May 20, 2003

In a presidential address that was full of surprises, outgoing American Society for Microbiology (ASM) President Ron Atlas recounted his own research career and his accomplishments during his yearlong tenure as ASM president. But he also provided a bit of theater for the audience of more than a thousand packed into a ballroom Monday evening (May 19) at the ASM annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"Just as my presidency has been unusual," Atlas told the audience—referring in part to his frequent dealings with the media and policymakers regarding heightened bioterrorism concerns—"this presentation will be unusual."

Atlas, initially a bioremediation specialist, began straightforwardly enough, talking about his role in developing a special bacterial fertilizer that helped in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He also noted recent work with bacteria in which he and colleagues investigated the evolution of antibiotic resistance. Atlas claimed that the work, still in progress,...

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