Elizabeth Alm
Department of Biology
Institute for Great Lakes Research
Microbial Ecology and Environmental and Public Health Microbiology
Biosciences 3407

Dr. Alm is a professor of Biology at Central Michigan University


  • A.B., Randolph-Macon Woman's College, 1983
  • M.S., Ball State University, 1986
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992
  • Postdoc, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992-1996

Teaching Areas

  • Microbiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Conservation Medicine
  • Vaccine Science

Research Fields

Microbial Ecology and Environmental and Public Health Microbiology

Current Research Projects

Our lab applies microbiological and molecular techniques to the ecology of pathogenic microorganisms in the environment, especially aquatic environments. We want to understand sources and fates of pathogens in the environment. We have examined fecal indicator bacteria and antibiotic resistant bacteria at beaches, the ecology of E. coli in the extra-host environment, and avian influenza virus at migratory stopover sites. Current projects include investigations of the native microbial community of beach sand and adaptations of E. coli to extra-host environments.


  • Jordan DW, ME Kane, TM Gehring, RL Sokol, EW Alm. 2019. Exclusion of ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) from recreational beaches using canid harassment. The Condor: Ornithological Applications 121(1): duy002.
  • Lickfett TM, E Clark, TM Gehring, EW Alm. 2018. Detection of Influenza A viruses at migratory bird stopover sites in Michigan, USA. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology 8(1): 1474709.
  • Alm, EW, QR Daniels-Witt, DR Learman, H Ryu, DW Jordan, TM Gehring, J Santo Domingo. 2018. Potential for gulls to transport bacteria from human waste sites to beaches. Science of the Total Environment. 615: 123-130.
  • Cloutier, DD, EW Alm, and SL McLellan. 2015. Influence of land use, nutrients, and geography on microbial communities and fecal indicator abundance at Lake Michigan beaches. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 81(15): 4904-4913.
  • Alm, EW, D Zimbler, E Callahan, and E Plomaritis. 2014. Patterns and persistence of antibiotic resistance in fecal indicator bacteria from freshwater recreational beaches. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 117: 273-285.
  • Bauer, LM and EW Alm. 2012. Escherichia coli toxin and attachment genes in sand at Great Lakes recreational beaches. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 38(1): 129-133.
  • Alm EW, DM Gordon, and ST Walk. 2011. The ecological niche of E. coliIn: Bacterial Population Genetics: A Tribute to Thomas S. Whittam. ASM Press.  Washington, DC.
  • Walk, ST, EW Alm, DM Gordon, JL Ram, GA Toranzos, JM Tiedje, and TS Whittam. 2009. Cryptic lineages of the genus EscherichiaApplied and Environmental Microbiology. 75(20): 6534-6544.
  • Walk, ST, EW Alm, LM Calhoun, JM Mladonicky, and TS Whittam. 2007. Genetic diversity and population structure of Escherichia coli isolated from freshwater beaches. Environmental Microbiology 9(9): 2274-2288.
  • Alm, EW, J Burke, and E Hagan. 2006. Persistence and potential replication of the fecal indicator bacterium, Escherichia coli, in sand at Lake Huron. Journal of Great Lakes Research 32 (2): 401-405.
  • Alm, EW, J Burke, and A Spain. 2003. Fecal indicator bacteria are abundant in wet sand at freshwater beaches. Water Research. 37(16): 3978-3982. ​