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Chapter 38 : In Love with My Job
The research program in Amy Cheng Vollmer's own lab focused on bacterial stress response, and she and her team of researchers have been studying the role of the universal stress protein (UspA), which they believe, based on recent work, acts as a set of "brakes" on most of the stress responses in the cell. Absence of this protein results in an "over-reaction" to stress and drains Escherichia coli of its precious energy reserve. Presently, they are investigating the roles of the two genes that show homology to UspA to determine if they also serve in similar capacities. They are also investigating bacterial responses to ultrasound in E. coli as part of a study to determine how ultrasound can be best used to sterilize water and contaminated objects. The stress response field is exploding with new ideas and discoveries in the areas of microbial ecology, pathogenesis, genetics, physiology, and general microbiology. In the author's field of research (bacterial stress response), she meet interesting and dynamic people who work on ecological, medical, and evolutionary problems. The author's professional society, the American Society for Microbiology (the ASM), represents a diverse community of people and works to further the professional development of its members, as well as to encourage potential new members.