Steven E. Finkel, Ph.D.

Steven E. Finkel, Ph.D.

University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

Candidate for ASM President-Elect
Professor of Biological Sciences and College Dean of Graduate & Professional Education
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

  • B.A., Molecular Biology, UC Berkeley
  • Ph.D., Biological Chemistry, UCLA School of Medicine
Professional Experience:
  • Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School
  • Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Biological Sciences, Molecular & Computational Biology Section, University of Southern California and Professor of Gerontology, USC
  • Director of Graduate Studies, USC Molecular Biology Ph.D. program
  • Deputy Director, USC Center for Excellence in Genomic Science, including Undergraduate & Minority Research Programs (NHGRI)
  • Senior Scientist, Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (NSF Science & Technology Center)
  • Director, Genomics & Geobiology Undergraduate Research Experience program
  • USC Dornsife College Dean of Graduate and Professional Education
ASM Activities:
  • ASM Distinguished Lecturer
  • Member, ASM Awards Nominating Committee
  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
  • ASM William A. Hinton Research Training Award
  • Section Editor, EcoSal
  • Editorial Board, Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Bacteriology
  • Member, Colloquium Advisory Committee for the General Meeting
  • ASM Judge, Intel International Science & Engineering Fair
  • Member, ASM Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Nanocalorimetry Reveals the Growth Dynamics of Escherichia coli Cells Undergoing Adaptive Evolution during Long-Term Stationary Phase.
Robador A, Amend JP, Finkel SE. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Jul 18;85(15). pii: e00968-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00968-19. Print 2019 Aug 1. PMID:31152016

Physiological, Genetic, and Transcriptomic Analysis of Alcohol-Induced Delay of Escherichia coli
Ferraro CM, Finkel SE. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Jan 9;85(2). pii: e02113-18. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02113-18. Print 2019 Jan 15. PMID:30389772

Adaptation of Escherichia coli to long-term batch culture in various rich media.
Westphal LL, Lau J, Negro Z, Moreno IJ, Ismail Mohammed W, Lee H, Tang H, Finkel SE, Kram KE. Res Microbiol. 2018 Apr;169(3):145-156. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Feb 15. PMID:29454026

Adaptation of Escherichia colito Long-Term Serial Passage in Complex Medium: Evidence of Parallel Evolution.
Kram KE, Geiger C, Ismail WM, Lee H, Tang H, Foster PL, Finkel SE. mSystems. 2017 Mar 7;2(2). pii: e00192-16. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00192-16. eCollection 2017 Mar-Apr. PMID:28289732

Genomewide Dam Methylation in Escherichia coliduring Long-Term Stationary Phase.
Westphal LL, Sauvey P, Champion MM, Ehrenreich IM, Finkel SE. mSystems. 2016 Dec 13;1(6). pii: e00130-16. eCollection 2016 Nov-Dec. PMID:27981240

Fitness Cost of Fluoroquinolone Resistance in Clinical Isolates of Pseudomonas aeruginosaDiffers by Type III Secretion Genotype.
Agnello M, Finkel SE, Wong-Beringer A. Front Microbiol. 2016 Oct 4;7:1591. eCollection 2016. PMID: 27757111

Culture volume and vessel affect long-term survival, mutation frequency, and oxidative stress of Escherichia coli.
Kram KE, Finkel SE. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Mar;80(5):1732-8. doi: 10.1128/AEM.03150-13. Epub 2013 Dec 27. PMID: 24375138

Competitive fitness during feast and famine: how SOS DNA polymerases influence physiology and evolution in Escherichia coli.
Corzett CH, Goodman MF, Finkel SE. Genetics. 2013 Jun;194(2):409-20. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.151837. Epub 2013 Apr 15. PMID:23589461

Long-term survival during stationary phase: evolution and the GASP phenotype.
Finkel SE. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Feb;4(2):113-20. Review. PMID:16415927

Research Interests:
Long-term survival and evolution of bacteria under both laboratory and environmental conditions; Characterization of the Growth Advantage in Stationary Phase (GASP) phenotype; Role of error-prone DNA polymerases on generation of genetic diversity and relative fitness; Effects of laboratory culture medium and conditions on long-term survival of bacteria; Role of extracellular electron transport in electricity production, bacterial respiration and survival; Mechanisms of survival of human microbiome organisms and communities; DNA organization during stationary phase in bacteria.

As we emerge from significant reorganization, this is an exciting time for the ASM and its members. We have the opportunity to consider in what directions we should take the organization and how we can best continue ASM’s central role in elucidating the importance of microbiology in all sectors of society and spread appreciation of the fact that we are all “mainly microbe.”
As a member-focused organization, the primary function of the ASM should be to bring the membership together to further our scientific and professional interests. Clearly, the long-term health of the organization depends on maintaining our relevance with all members of the broad microbiology community, but, paramount must be a focus on our younger members. Nationwide, thousands of undergraduate and graduate students pursue studies in microbiology and allied fields and they will go on to address important societal issues, from the threat of antibiotic resistance to the effects of global warming. It is essential that the ASM engage with these students as early as possible. While ASM regional and student branches do an excellent job in this outreach, I would like to propose that the ASM take a more active approach, assuring that every undergraduate and graduate student nationwide becomes an ASM member as soon as they declare their major or path of study.
Ask what the ASM means to any member and you will probably receive as many answers as the number of people asked. While we cannot be all things to all people, we must pay attention to the needs of the membership. As I consider my role, should I enjoy the privilege of leading the ASM, I thought back to why I first joined as a student. Two factors drew me into the organization: the annual meeting and the journals. Receiving the Journal of Bacteriology, to mark-up at my leisure, not only was a great convenience, but was a tangible indication of my arrival as a full-fledged member of our scientific community. What I had not anticipated was being embraced by a broad community of scholars and the accompanying sense of belonging.
Today, with the advent of myriad new technologies, some of the old modes of interaction no longer exist, but the new platforms present exciting opportunities. However, gathering at conferences and having “face time” with colleagues in person never goes out of style. Therefore, one of the challenges for any organization as large as ours is how to enjoy the advantages of new technology while continuing to capitalize on those things we do best. To that end, while we continue to embrace new modes of publication and make the most of social media, we need to rekindle the kinds of interactions that only conferences, large and small, can provide. These personal interactions provide the “glue” that holds us together as individuals and as a nationally and internationally vital organization. All of these activities must be considered to be maximally relevant to the younger generation of microbiologists now being trained.

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