Microbes are living organisms too small to be seen. While most are friendly to humans, some microbes, called pathogens, can cause disease. Although the medical field has created miraculous antimicrobial drugs to ward them off, menacing microbes often change their protein make-up in devious ways to evade being destroyed, resulting in antibiotic resistance and eventually "super-bugs." Proteins are diverse and dynamic biomolecules that determine how organisms thrive in changing environments. Protein modeling is a computational tool that researchers use to ‘see’ microbial proteins. Using LLNL's high performance computational capabilities, 3D models are created of microbial proteins, providing visual tools to expose microbial secrets. This information can be used to help detect, understand, and identify new ways to treat the menacing microbes.

Student Lecture Notes

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Speaker Bios

Dr. Beth Vitalis

Beth Vitalis has been involved with bioinformatics and pathogen detection and characterization at LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) for 13 years.  She received her BA in Chemistry from Concordia College, MN and her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from University of California, San Francisco. She moved to Livermore in 1997 to coach cross-country Las Positas College and soon started teaching Biology courses. In  1999 she began working as a Life Science Scholar in the Biosciences department at LLNL as a member of the bioinformatics team.  Since 2002, she has been lead biologist on the LLNL Pathogen Bioinformatics team and has provided biological guidance of bioinformatics efforts supporting pathogen detection and characterization for numerous collaborations and sponsors, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since 2008, she has enjoyed being back as an adjunct faculty member at Las Positas College, teaching a variety of Human Biology courses.

Dean Reese

Physics and Biology Teacher
Tracy High School

Dean Reese received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Currently, he is the Science Department Chairperson at Tracy High School and has been teaching there since 2002. He teaches IB Physics, Conceptual Physics, and ELL Conceptual Physics. He has been a Master Teacher for LLNL’s Education Program since 2007 and currently instructs in the Computer Simulation Teacher Research Academy. Dean has co-presented with various scientist in many Science on Saturday Presentations. In 2006, Dean had a DOE Academies Creating Teacher Scientists internship where he interned for 3 consecutive summers at the Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry at LLNL. In 2011, Dean was awarded the Cortopassi Family Foundation Excellence in Science Teaching Award. He is a dedicated advisor for the Tracy High Earth Club, Scientifically Speaking Club, and Computer Programming Club. Dean is a master instructor for the SIMMS (Secondary Integration of Modeling in Math and Science) Project with the intent of developing computer modeling skills for high school science and math teachers within the San Joaquin County. Prior to becoming a teacher Dean was a soldier in the United States Army National Guard.