GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Calvin College)-- To a bacteria researcher like John Wertz, germ is a four-letter word. “I cannot stand the word germ,” said the Calvin biology professor, “because it suggests that all bacteria and viruses are bad.”
In fact, the vast majority of bacteria are good, he said: “We need them. We are much more at risk for disease when our bacteria are out of whack or we don’t have them.”
Wertz has spent his career studying “good” bacteria and was recently awarded $479,000 from the National Science Foundation as part of a $2 million grant to continue his research.
Wertz’s portion will be used to cultivate never-before-seen bacteria in the laboratory, a skill he honed while still a graduate student at Michigan State University.