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Seth R. Bordenstein      

Scientist, Educator, Founder & Professor in Microbiome and Virome Sciences

As a recognized thought leader and scientist who studies the centrality of microorganisms to the biosphere, vector-borne diseases, and human health, Dr. Seth R. Bordenstein has peered into the world of microorganisms that dwell inside animals for the past 25 years. His north star is focus on the important keystones that we should already know about in textbooks or apply in the clinic, and his research specialties span the extraordinary utility of microbes to control mosquito-borne diseases, the secrets of microbiome diversity across the diversity of humans, and the major trends of host-associated microbiomes across the animal kingdom. These interests align with the distinguished One Health Microbiome Center that Bordenstein directs at The Pennsylvania State University. As one of the largest and most venerable organizations in the field, the Center is composed of over 500 members who develop and execute complex and often transformative projects related to the microbiome sciences across agricultural, environmental, and human health.

Bordenstein is a Professor in the Departments of Biology and Entomology as well and the former and founding Director of the worldwide HHMI-initiated science education program Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project that brings biodiversity, biotechnology, and bioinformatics directly into the classroom. He is the recipient of the 2014 Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Research, 2018 Chancellor Faculty Fellow Award from Vanderbilt University, 2020 Genetics Society of America Award for Excellence in Education, 2020 Centennial Endowed Professorship, and 2022 Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Endowed Chair in Microbiome Sciences. There has never been a more important time to learn the story of Earth’s microbes and how they change both our perspective of nature and our identity of where we belong in it. Bordenstein is keen to continue to expand his research and education portfolio and develop new partnerships with academia, industry, private foundations, and donors.

Speech Topics

Life on Planet Microbe: Why We Look Down for Wonder, Discovery, and Impact?

The influences of microbes on our lives and biosphere have never been more evident to humanity than right now. Pandemic threats, health disparities, vector-borne diseases, and increasing threats to planetary biodiversity are clear and present risks. As we look to the future for rapid and sustainable solutions to 21st century challenges, the keys to unlocking a new set of solutions and a fresh awareness of the depths of planetary life rest in the microscopic realm. The microbiome revolution is underway, and it has been in motion since life arose some four billion years ago. The past similarly has profound implications for everything from life’s origins and major transitions to the sources of evolutionary novelty and the roots of our own species.

At a pivotal moment in our quest to understand life (including our own species) and solve sustainable challenges, Dr. Bordenstein will engage general audiences in the wonders of microbiome science, ignite their curiosity, and spark critical conversations about the philosophical dimensions and practical applications of the Microbiome Revolution. He will also speak directly to educators and scientists about the relevance and impact of studying and engineering microbiomes to curb vector-borne diseases, prioritize human diversity in clinical microbiome studies, educate the next generation of teachers and students, and enhance several tenets of modern biology.

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