Microbiologist’s Lifelong Dedication Shines in the Classroom and Lab
Barbara Kaiser | Adjunct Faculty | Biology
When Barbara Kaiser officially retired from the Wishard [now Eskenazi Health] Department of Pathology in 2001, she was quickly convinced by her colleague DeAnna Fuller to take on a position as an adjunct faculty member teaching introductory Microbiology at IUPUI. 15 years later, Kaiser still enjoys sharing her seasoned perspective on the field of microbiology with students.
Kaiser’s career in clinical microbiology began in 1961 at Louisville General Hospital in the bacteriology department. Over her 55-year career she also researched with the Indiana University School of Medicine and learned from some of the great researchers in the field of microbiology. One of the most important experiences of her career was working with Clifton E. Dowell, Ph.D., and G. L. Lombard, Ph.D., at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia.
“During a sabbatical in the 80’s I studied anaerobic bacteria with Dr. Lombard and Dr. Dowell,” Kaiser said. “It was an exciting point in my career to work with the people who contributed so much to the field by naming organisms and creating new growth media [Lombard-Dowell broth]. The research of these microbiologists is used to this day as the ‘gold standard’ by which the evolution of microbiology has progressed.”
Kaiser says learning fundamental microbiology techniques without the assistance of some modern technology helped her develop her critical skills that she hopes to instill in her students.
“It was fun [to learn to manually do everything in the lab] and good to know,” she said. “The instrumentation we have now is better and faster and more specific than conventional methods. However, if an instrument makes a mistake it’s important for researchers to still have the knowledge that will help them critically think and analyze results. This way they can learn how to spot both problems and trends.”
Kathleen Marrs, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at IUPUI, commends Kaiser for her dedication to microbiology and her students. Marrs and Kaiser share a connection over their early interest in science, both citing childhood experiences playing with insects as instrumental to developing their enthusiasm for biology.
"I have greatly enjoyed working with Barbara over the past few years,” Marrs said. “She demonstrates a true passion and knowledge in the classroom and clinical setting, and is an outstanding instructor. It is always a pleasure to have a conversation with Barbara, and we are fortunate to have her expertise in the Department of Biology."
Every Saturday Kaiser teaches an introduction to microbiology lab and lecture, a course she helped develop and grow over the years. Kaiser’s enthusiasm for microbiology still shines as she discusses tricky pathogens with students after class and lab ideas with colleagues.