Microbial Early-Career Researchers Association

The Microbial Early-Career Researchers Association (MicroERA) is a networking and professional development group for early-career scientists at Illinois. All undergraduate, graduate students and postdocs conducting research broadly relevant to microbiome or microbial sciences are welcome to join. This group provides opportunities for professional development and networking for early-career scientists.  Join the #microERA channel on Slack or subscribe to the microERA email list for updates. You can also find us on social media to keep up with our events.

To learn more about MicroERA and how to get involved, please reach out to them at microERA.uiuc@gmail.com.


See the MicroERA events calendar for all upcoming events and activities.

MicroERA Research Symposium March 18, 2024

Abstract submission and registration are now open for the 2024 MicroERA Research Symposium! This event is an opportunity for trainees from across the campus to showcase their research in microbial systems. We invite you to present your work in a poster session or a short talk or attend to support the work of your peers.

Event Details:
Date: Monday, March 18, 2024
Time: 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Location: Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) Conference Center
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Jan-Peter van Pijkeren, University of Wisconsin-Madison Food Sciences

Thank you to the Department of Microbiology, the Personalized Nutrition Initiative, and the Microbial Systems Initiative for their generous sponsorship. 

Important Dates:
Abstract Submission Deadline: (Extended), Friday, March 15 at noon.
Registration (for non-presenters) Deadline: Friday, March 15

Early-Career Research Opportunities

American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Leadership Development Training Series designed to support postdoctoral women’s transitions into microbial science leadership roles. 
Registration opens Jan. 1, 2024 and rolls till Sept. 6, 2024. For the webinar schedule, qualifications, and more details visit the information page.

MicroERA in the News

Image of students Katie Frye, Kirsten Farley, and Professor Cari Vanderpool. The title of the image states, "U of I students explore interdisciplinary approaches to microbial systems through MicroERA

University of Illinois students and postdocs are connecting across disciplines to explore research, networking, career and professional development opportunities related to microbial systems. Check out what MicroERA is doing to help positively impact early career researchers at Illinois and why you should get involved! Read the Story

Past Events

MicroERA Research Symposium April 10, 2023

The Microbial Early-Career Researchers Association (MicroERA) will host the 3rd Annual MicroERA Research Symposium on Monday, April 10, 2023. The symposium will be held from 1 to 6:00 p.m. in rooms 4029 and 4035 at the Campus Instructional Facility (1405 W Springfield Ave, Urbana). This event features “lightning talk” oral presentations and a poster session highlighting the excellent work conducted by trainees across campus.

Dr. Arthur Prindle, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at Northwestern University, will be the keynote speaker.

Abstract submission is closed, but attendees can register for the symposium until April 5.

Program Book

Symposium Schedule

1:00 – 1:15 p.m.Welcome with MicroERA President Elizabeth Brandley and MSI  CIF Room 4035
1:15 – 2:30 p.m.Oral Presentations CIF Room 4035
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.Coffee BreakCIF Room 4029
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.Keynote Presentation – Dr. Arthur PrindleCIF Room 4035
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Poster Session and Reception
Odd Number Posters Presented   
Even Number Posters Presented
CIF Room 4029

MicroERA hosted two workshops with the goal of improving and practicing presentation skills:

Communication Workshop I with Professors Hatoum-Aslan and Sirk. On Monday, March 6, 12-1 p.m in Bevier 249, Dr. Hatoum-Aslan and Dr. Shannon Sirk provided practical tips on oral and poster presentations and answer your questions. Lunch was provided.  

Communication Workshop II- Peer-to-peer feedback. Trainees had an opportunity to practice their presentations and receive constructive feedback on Monday, March 27, 12-1 p.m. in Bevier 249.

MicroERA Faculty Q&A- Tuesday, February 7

Get to know Illinois microbial faculty at the next MicroERA Faculty Q&A on Tuesday, February 7 at 5:30 p.m. in Bevier Commons (room 249), Bevier Hall, 905 S Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801.

This event featured Dr. Michael Miller, Professor of Food Microbiology; Associate Head for Graduate Programs in the Department of Food Science & Human Nutrition. Dr. Miller will be discussing his research and teaching valuable technical skills that may be applicable to your own work. Snacks will be provided.

MicroERA Faculty Q&A- Tuesday, November 15

Get to know Illinois microbial faculty at the first MIcroERA Faculty Q&A on Tuesday, November 15, 5:15-7 p.m. in Miller Auditorium (B102) at the Chemical & Life Sciences Laboratory (CLSL)

Join us for an enlightening discussion with Dr. Jacob Allen, a researcher and Assistant Professor from the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health. We’ll kick off the night with an overview of Dr. Allen’s research, which aims to improve human health by understanding how specific environmental interventions and conditions (exercise, psychological stress, and diet) impact the gut microbiota. Dr. Allen will then share with us how he found his career path and passion for science. To wrap up the night, we’ll give attendees a chance to ask Dr. Allen questions that will hopefully advise and inspire future careers in microbial science! Bring your burning questions and your friends to learn from this accomplished researcher in the field. Snacks will be provided!

Networking at Collective Pour- Friday, November 4

Join MicroERA for a Social at Collective Pour (340 N. Neil ST. Ste 101, Champaign, IL) on Friday, November 4, from 7-9 p.m. Take a break and socialize with other trainees.

Eat at Chipotle on November 2nd

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 2nd. MicroERA receives 33% of sales at the Green Street Chipotle if you use code 84WHPHE or show the flyer below.

MicroERA T-shirt Sale

Online orders are open for MicroERA’s t-shirt sale closes at midnight on Wednesday, September 29th. Click here to order: MicroERA T-Shirt Sale | POGO by Underground Printing (undergroundshirts.com)

Fall 2022 Welcome Back Social

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Join MicroERA in celebrating the start of the fall semester! Come have fun and interact with fellow students and postdocs on September 2 at 7 p.m. at Barrelhouse 34, 34 Main st., Champaign, IL 61820

MicroERA Spring Symposium – April 11, 2022

The Microbial Early-Career Researchers Association (MicroERA) 2nd annual Research Symposium was held in-person Monday, April 11, from 1-6 p.m. at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). The MicroERA Research Symposium highlighted interdisciplinary microbial systems research among trainees.

Students, postdocs, and faculty made great connections and explored the scope of microbial research here at Illinois and in the field more broadly. The success of the symposium is result of the continued efforts MicroERA’s and its members have made to advance their professional development and to build and maintain connections with each other despite the difficulties of the pandemic.

*New: Link to Program Booklet


Rawls Lab Seminar

On May 5th, Dr. John Rawls, Professor at Duke University and Director of the Duke Microbiome Center, gave a seminar titled, “The impact of host-microbe communication on intestinal physiology: lessons from the zebrafish.” The Rawls lab studies how the intestinal microbiome contributes to vertebrate physiology and disease.


Dutton Lab Seminar

On May 26th, Dr. Rachel Dutton, Associate Professor at the University of California San Diego, also gave a seminar titled, “The Secret Life of Cheese.” The Dutton lab studies microbial communities using cheese as a model system.