Funding and Awards

Blue and green color swirls.

One Health Microbiome Center Awards and Grants

Annual Award Series

Nominations are open

Submit a nomination

All members of the One Health Microbiome Center are eligible to submit nominations for awards that recognize the unique and significant strengths of our community. Nominations are reviewed by a committee composed of faculty and trainees.

  • Trainees Awards (undergrads, grads, postdocs)
    • Carolee Bull Leadership Award - Recognizes trainees that demonstrate exceptional leadership, service, and initiative – serving as a peer role model.
    • Nonconformist Award - Recognizes individuals who think outside the box, take risks, and push boundaries – building innovative novel solutions or paths to success.
  • Faculty Awards (tenure & non-tenure tracks)
    • Driving Success Award - Recognizes faculty who champion mentee and peer academic success and personal growth – providing guidance, support, and encouragement.
    • Rising Star Research Award - Recognizes early-career faculty with exceptional independent achievement in grant funding, scientific breakthroughs, mentoring, and/or leadership.
  • Awards for all ranks (techs, admins, trainees, & faculty)
    • Community Engagement Award - Recognizes individuals dedicated to communicating and engaging with broad audiences (e.g., community stakeholders, policy makers, youth, etc.).
    • Creative Award - Recognizes individuals who communicate/apply complex scientific concepts in an engaging or artful way – making science more accessible/interesting to a wide audience.

Emily Van Syoc, Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Biology

Taejung Chung, PhD Candidate in Food Science

Van Syoc and Chung have illustrated outstanding leadership within the OHMC community.

Van Syoc dedicated her time to the community by volunteering at the Microbiome Kickstart Workshop, sharing her expertise and helping to train fellow members, as well as taking on the role of trainee organizer for the Fall 2022 OHMC Seminar Series (MBIOM 550). During her time as the seminar organizer, Van Syoc designed communication and organizational templates and standards that continue to guide current seminar organizers. Beyond her formal contributions, she has served as a cornerstone of support and guidance for fellow graduate students. Van Syoc's active involvement in organizing journal clubs and her role as a mentor have been invaluable to the growth of her peers. Her exceptional work ethic and positive attitude have set an inspiring example for other trainees, making her a role model in the community.

Chung's leadership has left a transformative impact on the OHMC community. Since co-founding the Microbiome Data Analysis Working Group (DAWG) in 2018, he has played a pivotal role in advancing microbiome data analysis training at Penn State. Under Chung's guidance, this group has conducted 14 successful DAWG workshops, providing training to over 100 members from 12 different Penn State departments. Chung adapted these workshops into online accessible formats, further expanding their value. Notably, he has also provided direct support for data projects, resulting in collaborative publications that have enriched the scientific landscape. Chung's commitment to empowering others through computational training and support has been a driving force in the community.

Sarah Richards, PhD Student, Dual Title in Ecology & International Agriculture & Development

Richards is being recognized for pursuing a novel path to a Ph.D and for her impressive international research. She is the first Ecology student to enroll in the International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) dual title program, and is driven by her commitment to translate soil microbiome research into global management solutions. She spearheaded an independent study on Collaborative Learning Schools (CLS) aimed at boosting community participation in sustainable food production, going on to receive funding to continue CLS work in Uganda during the summer. Furthermore, Richards has showcased exceptional leadership by expanding her soil microbiome investigation by performing parallel cover crop experiments at Penn State and in Costa Rica. Notably, her research in Costa Rica utilizes native Costa Rican cover crops and prioritizes socio-economic impacts – defying conventional expectations.

Mary Ann Bruns, Professor of Soil Microbiology & Biogeochemistry, Department of Ecosystem Science & Management.

Bruns has served as a major pillar in the OHMC community, from participating in initiating its development to serving on the executive committee. As an esteemed mentor, her guidance has helped shape the academic journeys of countless trainees and faculty. Her skilled scientific expertise, understanding of the research landscape, and extensive academic experience give her the tools to help drive success, but it is her generosity, collaborative spirit, and remarkably altruistic nature that has been pivotal in fostering success for many. Bruns’ unwavering support for student initiatives, such as supporting the development of DAWG, underscores her commitment to cultivating the next generation of scientists. She encourages her trainees to explore their independent research interests, unafraid to delve into new techniques and ideas. She played leading roles in developing the dual title PhD in Microbiome Sciences program, as well as the dual title PhD in Biogeochemistry program, demonstrating her dedication to enhancing educational opportunities for students. Moreover, Bruns devotes time to welcoming new faculty, building a nurturing academic environment, and making others feel valued and included. For example, she recently presented at the OHMC’s early career investigator retreat, relaying valuable advice from decades in the making. It is clear that she exemplifies what it means to drive success, contributing to the progress of individuals and long-lasting infrastructure for continuing advancements.

Erika Ganda, Assistant Professor of Food Animal Microbiomes, Department of Animal Sciences

Ganda's research program centers on harnessing the microbiome to enhance animal and human health while addressing antimicrobial resistance. She prioritizes zoonotic diseases, antibiotic-free growth strategies in food production, and the microbiome's role in health. With an active blend of field trials, mechanistic studies, and data analysis, her efforts have yielded substantial community impact, evident in her citation record (1243), h-index (18), and grant awards (≈2 million in research funding), which are exceptional for her career stage. Notably, Ganda’s innovative work includes a parallel sequencing approach for antimicrobial resistance genes profiling (patent pending) and advocating for informed microbiome-based animal production optimization. Moreover, she has developed successful international collaborations with institutes in Kenya, Brazil, and Tanzania. As a leader in the OHMC community, Ganda serves on the OHMC executive committee, awards committee, symposium committee, and the annual Microbiome Kickstart data analysis workshop. Her research and leadership achievements have led to invitations to present her research to the Ambassador of Brazil, Nestor Forester Jr., and the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.

Nina Camillone, PhD Candidate, Soil Science & International Agriculture & Development

Camillone has exhibited exceptional commitment to community engagement through diverse outreach initiatives. From participating in the "BEST" (Broadening Extension through Student Training) program and organizing several high school outreach events to constructing a soil microbiology museum exhibit with the Macrobes for Microbes graduate student organization. Camillone’s impactful activities also encompass educating a broad range of audiences about the role of microbes in promoting soil health. Notably, she has led international research in Costa Rica where she conducted studies in Spanish, developed bi-lingual user-friendly fact sheets, and presented her work at global forums, actively helping to bridge the gap between scientific experts and farmers. Her efforts have garnered widespread attention, engaging over 150 participants from academia, non-profits, industry, landowners, and policymakers in her presentation at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) virtual symposium on soils for nutrition. Camillone is an exemplary community educator.

Daryl Branford, Director of Science-Art Initiative, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Talley Fisher, Senior Research Artist, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Michael Tribone, Multimedia Specialist, Department of Entomology, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

Together, Branford, Fisher, and Tribone comprise Biology’s SciArt team, which explores relationships among microbiology, art, and technology. Their primary objective is to enhance scientific communication on and off campus. Their recent creations include, the BioMachine in the Millennium Science Complex and the Wolbachia Wall presented at Palmer and the Bellefonte Museums of Art. The BioMachine is a digitally interactive giant coronavirus with panel displays and the Wolbachia Wall is a touch sensitive, digital journey into a 100 year story about Wolbachia's origins, biology, and current day applications to control vector-borne diseases. All three awardees exemplify their talents at the intersection of art, design, and science.

OHMC Industry Internship at Qiagen

Competition is currently closed

See full RFP for details on how to apply.

Are you a graduate student with a passion for microbiome sciences, biotechnology, and a desire to explore a career in industry? The One Health Microbiome Center is excited to announce an exceptional opportunity for graduate candidates to apply for an industry internship with Qiagen, a leading global provider of sample and assay technologies for molecular diagnostics, applied testing, and academic research.

Interns will (i) gain hands-on experience in a leading biotechnology company, (ii) work on cutting-edge projects in the field of molecular diagnostics, testing, and assays, (iii) Collaborate with industry experts and scientists, and (iv) develop valuable skills and knowledge relevant to a future career in microbiome biotechnology, relevant to all sectors.

Internship Details:

  • When: Summer 2024 (6-8 weeks)
  • Where: Qiagen R&D facility in Hilden, Germany
  • What: Interns will learn about the broader R&D pipeline, as well as work on specific products or technologies in a lab setting. This work may have the potential to lead to a co-authored publication.
  • How: Salary/stipends should continue to come from the student’s PI or other standard sources (fellowships) during the students visit. Qiagen will provide travel and lodging, for the duration of the internship.

Interdisciplinary Innovation Fellowships (IIF)

Competition is currently closed

See IIF application instructions to apply

Awards for up to $5,000 that support short-term training experiences in the laboratory of another center faculty member or external colleague, with the goals of expanding the creative capabilities of the community and facilitating collaborative discovery among Microbiome Center members, with an emphasis on connecting traditionally “siloed” units.

  • "Harnessing synthetic biology to study adaptive evolution of nitrogen-fixing bacteria"

  • "Assessing the Impact of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines on Respiratory Tract Microbiota in Mice"

  • "Microfossil analysis of ancient dental calculus of the Elmina population, Ghana"

  • "Prediction of Phage Susceptibility of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Using Machine Learning"

  • "Development of a Granular Hydrogel-Enabled Gut-on-a-Chip Platform for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research''

    • Sina Kherabadi, Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering, advised by Dr. Amir Sheikhi, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.

  • "Creating an Integrative Multi-Omics Model for Predicting Drug Metabolism"
  • "Microfluidic Chips to Assess the Motility Abilities of Bundle Forming Cyanobacteria from Biocrusts"
  • "Co-culturing of Host and Microbial Cells for Elucidation of Host-Microbiome Interactions"
  • "Bridging the Gap Between Soil Microbial Communities and Soil Gas Emissions"
    • Jose Raul Roman, Postdoctoral Researcher advised by Estelle Couradeau, Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management.
  • "Mitigation Strategies of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) via Microalgal consortia for sustainable wastewater reuse"
    • Waleed El Sayed, Research Associate advised by Meng Wang, Assistant Professor in Environmental Systems Engineering.
  • "Can Fermented Food Microbiomes Be Leveraged for Food Safety and Nutrition Security?"
bacteria growing on petri dishes

Trainee Conference Travel Grants

Competition is currently closed (will re-open in Fall 2023)

Submit an application for up to $500 of conference travel support to present your research. There are two application cycles (Fall and Spring). A limited number of travel grants will be awarded each cycle.

  1. All undergraduates, grad students, postdocs, and other trainees are eligible.
  2. Eligible travel expenses include: Conference registration fees, flights/other travel, and accommodations.
  3. Awards will be granted though a reimbursement process post-travel (itemized receipts will need to be provided).
  4. Awardees are expected to include the Center's watermark/logo and acknowledge support in their talk and/or poster.

Awardee NameLabConference
Victoria PearceTownsendASM Microbe
Madangchanok ImchenBordensteinWolbachia 2023
Sanae AllenInwoodThe Hawaiʻi Mushroom Festival
Abby GanczWeyrichInternational Society for Biomolecular Archaeology (ISBA)
Marcella BaizToewsAOS & SCO-SOC 2023
Sterling WrightWeyrichWorld of Microbiome Conference
Waleed Mohammed Mahmoud El SayedWang2023 AEESP Research and Education Conference
Jamie SpychallaCrandall2023 Applied and Environmental Microbiology Gordon Research Conference
Susan TianBisanz2023 North Caroline Microbiome Symposium
Daniela Betancurt AnzolaBisanzASM Microbe
Benjamin AndersonBisanzASM Microbe
Min KimBisanzASM Microbe

Shared Resource Grants

Competition is currently closed

This funding supports new directions of scholarship in the microbiome sciences and provides shared resources that will make a significant impact on the research and educational endeavors of our Penn State community. Multi-PI proposals and cross-departmental collaborations are encouraged to maximize impacts.

Eligible requests include: equipment, software, database subscriptions, and other technologies. Funds can not be used for salaries, travel, or laboratory consumables. The Microbiome Center will maintain primary ownership of awarded resources, but awardees are expected to house and manage basic usage.

  • "A portable microscope setup for educational outreach (Macrobes for Microbes)"
  • "Unique Dual Indexes To Drive Microbiome Sequencing at PSU"
Bacteria growing on a petri dish.

Find other internal and external funding on the Senior Vice President for Research website.