Samuel Major

Research Associate III & Laboratory Manager

Sam has always been fascinated by those little things that govern our life. He pursued his B.S in microbiology from the University of New Hampshire and his M.S from the University of Maryland in marine-estuarine environmental sciences with a focus in environmental molecular biology and biotechnology. In his thesis, he described the microbial community and probiotic bacteria associated with blooms of microalgae grown to produce biofuels. If he’s not in the lab, you can find him floundering around in the waves at Good Harbor Beach or serenading the local sea-pigeons with his cacophonous guitar skills.


2018 – MS Environmental Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences, Baltimore, MD, Advisor: Russell T. Hill, PhD
2011 – BSc Microbiology; University of New Hampshire

Research Interests

What are those unseen microscopic organisms doing in the ocean? Why is it that 60% of applied antibiotics were originally isolated from a single genus of bacteria? Is fish oil rich in omega-3 fatty acids produced by the fish or by their symbiotic bacteria? How can we identify microbes with extraordinary capabilities? Can we harness their natural processes as new biotechnologies? These are some of the questions that our research considers on a daily basis.
Due to the under-explored potential of marine microorganisms as a source for new biotechnologies, Team Microbe has been collecting bacteria and fungi from various marine environments and marine organisms since late 2017. In the past three years, GMGI has amassed greater than 1700 unique cultures in their Microbe Repository. To pinpoint those cultures that have biotechnological potential, specialized assays are being developed and reformatted to perform culture-based high-throughput screening of the growing Microbe Repository. Current research is being focused on identifying the microbes that could have industrial applications; such as those that are able to produce omega-3 fatty acids, break down macroalgal cell walls, or produce pigments. Pairing those results with full genome sequencing is providing indispensable insights into the diversity of marine microorganisms, their biosynthetic pathways, and their genetic organization.

Research Profile Links

Research Projects


Major, S.R., Harke, M.J., Cruz-Flores, R., Dhar, A.K., Bodnar, A.G. and SA Wanamaker. (2023) Rapid detection of DNA and RNA shrimp viruses using CRISPR-based diagnostics. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 0:e02151-02122.

Singh, Shailendra Kumar, S.R. Major, H. Cai, F. Chen, R.T. Hill, Y. Li.  2018.  Draft Genome Sequences of Cloacibacterium normanense IMET F, a Microalgal Growth-Promoting Bacterium, and Aeromonas jandaei IMET J, a Microalgal Growth-Inhibiting Bacterium. Genome Announcements. 6(24): e00503-18. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00503-18 

Niazi, M.K.K., N. Dhulekar, D. Schmidt, S. Major, R. Cooper, C. Abeijon, D.M. Gatti. 2015.  Lung necrosis and neutrophils reflect common pathways of susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis in genetically diverse, immune-competent mice. Disease Models & Mechanisms. 8(9): 1141-1153. doi: 10.1242/dmm.020867

Beamer, G., S. Major, B. Das, A. Campos-Neto. 2014. Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells provide an antibiotic-protective niche for persistent viable Mycobacterium tuberculosis that survive antibiotic treatment. The American Journal of Pathology. 184(12): 3170-3175. doi:

Harrison, D.E., C.M. Astle, M.K.K. Niazi, S. Major, G.L. Beamer. 2014. Genetically diverse mice are novel and valuable models of age-associated susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Immunity & Ageing. 11(1): 24. doi:

Major, S., J. Turner, G. Beamer. 2013.  Tuberculosis in CBA/J mice. Veterinary Pathology. 50(6): 1016-1021. doi: