Plenary Session Speakers


Karin Sauer, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Biological Sciences, Binghamton University
Co-Director, Binghamton Biofilm Research Center (BBRC)
Co-Director, Microbial Biofilms REU
Editor-in-Chief, FEMS Microbiology Reviews

Biofilms – Life upon First Contact and Beyond

Karin Sauer, an internationally known expert on biofilm development and antibiotic resistance, has dedicated her career to research that can improve outcomes for patients fighting chronic infections. Sauer is professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, where she also serves as co-director of the Binghamton Biofilm Research Center, and co-director of the Microbial Biofilms REU program. Her research has garnered support from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, private industry and other sources. She is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed publications on subjects ranging from biofilm dispersal techniques to the role of biofilms in cystic fibrosis. Sauer, who holds a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry from the Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, was a postdoctoral research associate at Montana State University. Her most recent project focuses on infections related to implanted medical devices.


Stefanie Milam, PhD

Deputy Project Scientist for Planetary Science
James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
Astrochemistry Laboratory
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Milam works in the Astrochemistry Laboratory at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She is an expert in rotational spectroscopy, observations, and laboratory modeling of astrochemistry and molecular astrophysics of the interstellar medium, evolved stars, star formation regions, and comets. Her observational focus is on the compositional studies of primitive bodies, namely comets and interstellar objects, and uses ground- and space-based facilities to understand their connection to the formation and evolution of planetary systems. She also has a laboratory dedicated to simulate interstellar/cometary/planetary ices and detect trace species employing the same techniques used for remote observations to help constrain the chemical complexity of the ices, the amount of processing that occurs, and interpret past and present data from missions that observe ice features. Dr. Milam has been working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as Deputy Project Scientist for Planetary Science since 2014. Under this role she has helped enable observations within our own solar system from Near-Earth Asteroids to the farthest reaches of the Kuiper belt and even the brightest objects in the infrared sky (e.g. Mars). She has also led the study team for solar system science for WFIRST. In 2021, she was honored with asteroid 40706 (1999 RO240) was renamed to 40706 Milam. She received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 2022 for her work on enabling Solar System Science with JWST.