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Honoring Dr. Abigail A. Salyers, Arends Professor Emerita of Microbiology in the College of Medicine
Friday, June 28th, 2013

The College of Medicine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign recognizes Abigail A. Salyers, Arends Professor Emerita of Microbiology, for excellence in research and teaching.

Professor Salyers' research has focused on normally occurring bacteria in the human intestinal tract that are a cause of post-surgical infection and are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Her work has targeted the lesser known but more prevalent Bacteroides and the transfer of antibiotic resistant genes.

Professor Salyers’ research group developed the first genetic system for the Bacteroides species, and applied this innovation to help other groups develop genetic systems for bacteria that may play a role in heart disease and preterm birth.

Dr. Salyers’ work has played a significant role in influencing the design of antibiotic drugs and has contributed to strategies for curbing the spread of antibiotic resistant genes. She has published over 150 scientific papers and two textbooks across her career, and her lab continues to produce research in this area. In recognition for her outstanding achievements in research and standing in her field, Professor Salyers was awarded the G. William Arends endowed appointment in 2004.

Dr. Salyers’ research expertise has drawn broad public interest: she has been called upon to testify on the safety concerns of genetically modified plants and antibiotic use in agriculture, and to comment on the Washington, D.C. Anthrax incidents in 2001. Her extensive service in her field includes positions on federal advisory panels and a term as the President of the American Society for Microbiology.

Professor Salyers has been recognized for her valuable instruction to students who cited her “organization, exceptional and concise lectures, and practical medical information to the theoretical aspects of microbiology” as being very rewarding. She was awarded the Golden Apple Award for her teaching and for representing the highest professional ideals, and was also chosen to appear on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students. Dr. Salyers received the UIC Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1990.

Dr. Salyers received her Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics from George Washington University.  She joined the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana in 1978 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 1983 and to Professor in 1987.

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