CEMI stands for the "Center for Environmental Microbial Interactions" and was launched in 2012. The CEMI’s mission is to enable Caltech researchers to tackle important problems involving microbes in bold and innovative ways.
Here at CEMI, we celebrate the fact that microbial inventions have profoundly shaped every aspect of the Earth. Many important molecular and cellular processes in eukaryotes first arose in bacteria and archaea, and microbial metabolic activities control numerous geochemical cycles. Microorganisms serve as model systems in many areas of science, ranging from basic biology and biochemistry, to the study of physical principles governing biological systems, to the exploration of robustness, stability, and design in complex networks. Interactions among microbes within communities, as well as interactions between microbial communities and their environments, are poorly understood. Yet studying these interactions is key to identifying fundamental relationships in nature, such as: 1) the feedback loops connecting microbial activities in aquatic or terrestrial habitats with changes in composition of the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere, and 2) the symbiotic associations that sustain diverse forms of life today. For example, the interactions between a mammalian host and its microbiota are essential to the host’s normal functioning and development, not merely the cause of infectious disease. Due to their metabolic versatility, microorganisms are emerging as key engineering components for solving global societal problems, ranging from human health, to energy, to providing clean water to more than one billion people who currently live without it.
To join our MicroMail email list (open only to active Caltech members) and keep up with the latest CEMI happenings, contact the CEMI administrator.
The CEMI is off to a great start, but we have big goals and need to raise our endowment to achieve them. If you are interested in supporting our work with a philanthropic donation, please contact the CEMI leadership chair.
The CEMI coordinates various programs to support research and education.
Pilot Grants: CEMI awards grants to a student or postdoc to test an exciting interdisciplinary research idea (at an early stage in the development of the project) that involves a collaboration between two or more Caltech PIs with complementary expertise. These awards are meant to help labs take risks, and, if successful, generate preliminary results that can be used to apply for longer-term support from other funding agencies. A request for proposals (RFP) is announced in June every year, with proposals due in September. See this page for more details.
Facilities Training Grants: CEMI supports Facilities Training grants for students/postdocs to learn a new technique. Click here for a list of previous awardees.
Visiting Faculty Fellowships: CEMI Visiting Faculty Fellowships allow distinguished scientists from other universities to spend time at Caltech (usually 1-2 quarters) enriching the Caltech community via their interactions. However, CEMI also sponsors shorter visits, for example, bringing outstanding international investigators to Caltech for special lectures. Click here for a list of previous awardees.
CEMINAR Series (formerly MicroMornings): CEMI organizes the monthly “CEMINAR” seminar series, a stimulating and supportive forum in which students and postdocs from diverse CEMI laboratories have the opportunity to present their research to each other. Click here for current and upcoming announcements.
CEMI Workshops: CEMI occasionally supports training courses at Caltech that provide members of the CEMI community with an opportunity for intensive training in a particular area. Click here for a list of previous workshops and information about how to propose a new workshop.
Travel Awards: CEMI supports Travel Grants for students/postdocs to enable participation in scientific meetings, workshops, or advanced summer training courses. Click here for a list of previous awardees.
1st Year Graduate Student Fellowships: CEMI awards small “recruiting” bonuses to offset relocation expenses for top admitted graduated students with an interest in microbiology. Click here for a list of previous awardees.