A doctor who served as director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Surgeon General shared his life experiences and offered Weber State University students advice about their futures in microbiology.

Dr. James Mason told students that germs are just a part of life.

“When we talk about microbiology, most people think of germs and infectious diseases, and they think of bad germs,” he said. “We need to wipe that out of their minds. These germs are a form of life, and every one of them has potential in them.”

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Dr. Mason, former director of the CDC and U.S. surgeon general was personable and friendly while answering questions about his field Mar 30. (Abby Van Ess / The Signpost)

For example, he said, a researcher at Utah State University discovered a natural, safe indigo dye, using E. coli, a germ that causes food poisoning, to synthesize it for commercial use.

He also spoke about how to be successful not just in life but careers in general.

“This is the best time of your life, so enjoy the journey,” he said. “Don’t say you’ll be happy in the future, or I’m going to be glad when I complete a big goal in the future. Make every day count. This is an important time in your life.”

After talking briefly about his life and a few of his experiences, Mason opened the floor for questions.

When he was asked about how to get further in a career, Mason said to students in attendance, “If you want to succeed in life, if you want to have opportunities, don’t mind your own business. Learn what you are being taught. Then go beyond and apply it.”

The event was sponsored by the Microbiology Club and the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke Family Pre-Medical Program. Students were able to ask questions and to learn what it’s like to work in their future fields.

Christine Lobato-Inagaki, senior and president of the club, arranged for Mason to come to Weber State, and she said he was excited to come.

“He has been really wonderful in supporting us as a school,” she said.

Lobato-Inagaki said this talk was an important part of the Microbiology Club’s mission.

“We just do everything that we can to benefit our students in trying to pursue their career goals, so anything they need we try to provide for them,” she said.

She said Weber State will host the national American Society for Microbiology meeting next year, providing another important opportunity for students to network with professionals.

Jason Fritzler, adviser for the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke Family Pre-Medical Program, said these events help students in the microbiology field.

The clubs and its events, he said, “create opportunities for students to make those contacts, so they can be successful when they leave here. They make good contacts for the university.”

For more information about the Microbiology Club and about the American Society for Microbiology, head over to the student organizations section of the WSU microbiology website.

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