U.S. Geological Survey Microbiologist Selected as an American Society for Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer

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Dale Warren Griffin, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) environmental public-health microbiologist, was selected as a Waksman Foundation Distinguished Lecturer for the 2020–22 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Lecture Series. 

Dale Griffin

Dale on board the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s JOIDES Resolution on Expedition 336.  Dale has conducted atmospheric and surface water microbiology studies aboard the Resolution on Leg 209, Exp. 336 and transits 368t and 378t.

(Public Domain)

The ASM, with more than 30,000 members, including researchers, educators, and health professionals, is one of the largest life science societies in the world.  Lecturers are screened through a competitive nomination process, and only the most distinguished lecturers and researchers are selected to participate in the lecture series.  The ASM has maintained a Distinguished Lecturer (DL) series for more than 55 years (current year 2020), and the series has included a group of diverse scientists with diverse topics focused on research on antibiotics, translational research, and environmental microbiology.

Dale has worked for the USGS since 2003 researching microbial occurrence in various environments (air, water, and soil) and the long-range transport of bacteria, fungal, and viral communities, and pathogens around the globe.  Dale has had a prolific career at the USGS, having authored 43 peer reviewed journal articles; 16 USGS reports; and 44 abstracts, posters, outreach products, book chapters, and websites.


Examples of Dale’s recent research at the USGS include the following:


Dale is highly invested not only in advancing science but also in mentoring future scientists. He served as a mentor in the ASM Minority Mentoring Program and has worked with numerous students at the high school, undergraduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral levels throughout his career at the USGS.

Dale received a Bachelor of Science in microbiology, a Master of Science in Public Health with a research focus on methods development for the detection of two pathogenic protozoa (Cryptosporidium parvum and Giardia lamblia) in environmental samples, and a Ph.D. with a focus on the use of molecular methods for detection of indicator microorganisms and pathogenic viruses in fresh and marine waters.

Dale will be providing four lectures for the ASMDL branch meetings from the 2020–22 series:

  • The Global Atmospheric Dispersion of Microorganisms by Desert Dust Storms. The current state of knowledge of how dust storms disperse microbial communities and pathogens at global scales.


  • How Regional Geochemistry May Control the Distribution of Pathogens in Our Ecosystems: Look at Bacillus anthracis in the Contiguous United States of America. Historic and current research on this pathogen that has addressed how the geochemistry of our soils control its endemicity  and how similar approaches may assist us in understanding microbial distribution in future research.


  • Antibiotic Resistance in Microbial Communities in Coastal Soils and Marine Sediments. Current state of knowledge of the presence of antibiotic resistance genes in microbial communities in these environments on both regional (sources such as wastewater impacted rivers and ocean outfalls) and large geographic scales (the coast of the northeast United States).


  • Viruses and Our Quest for Extraterrestrial Life. Overview on viruses (diversity, host specificity, beneficial and detrimental host relationships, survival outside the host, and so forth), and why we should be looking for them in our quest for extraterrestrial life.