Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Bergy's Manual
Name: Bob C.
Status: Other
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001

How can I acquire a Bergy's Manual and more information about anthrax, small pox and other potential terrorist bio-warfare and chemical-warfare weapons. I would also be interested in getting a reliable resource, such as the Journal of Bacteriology, that will reacquaint me with the subjects of Microbiology and Chemistry.

I have a B.S. degree in Microbiology and the information I am getting on the Internet lacks the details I would like to know about these organisms and chemicals. I would also like to get back into the lab, but I've been out of it for about six years. Is there a test I can take that would sufficiently impress potential employers that I haven't forgotten my chemistry and bacteriology and am staying in the loop so to speak?

Hi Bob,

I don't know about tests to prove your qualifications, but if you want to get up-to-date with your reading, browsing through abstracts of scientific papers in PubMed would be a good start. These are publicly available on-line. The journals published by ASM also make all articles older than 1 year available on-line.

That is a good resource.

Go to

and search with keywords. The abstracts are listed from most recent to past.

Good luck,
Trudy Wassenaar

I suggest you go to a good university library (one that has a microbiology dept) and read some of the standard good texts on infectious disease. I have quite a few in my personal library. My favorite , although a little dated is Microbiology, by Dulbecco, Eisen, Wood and a bunch of others...Great book! I do not trust the Internet for this sort of information...on ANY web site. Bergy's manual would not be my first choice...its more for growth, isolation and identification.

Peter Faletra Ph.D.
Assistant Director
Office of Science
Department of Energy

You pose several questions. I have feedback on only some of them. I am not sure exactly what details you are looking for, but I did a quick search of the terms: microbiology "______" and biochemistry "______" where "______" means one of the diseases mentioned using the search engine: and found an overwhelming number of "hits" and "links".

Regarding a "competency test" to show perspective employers, you might take the subject tests from the SAT standardized test, or from the GRE. If you don't like the outcome you don't have to tell anyone. You might also contact the American Chemical Society. Possibly they would have some recommendations all the lines you seek. Since your interests are focused on water treatment, you might consider contacting the American Water Works Association (AWWA). You can find their web page and address by searching "American Water Works Association" on The may have the type of information you want.

Vince Calder

Dear Bob:

I don't really know about any type of quick & easy "recertification" that would carry much weight, short of going back school for a Master's or Med Tech type degree. You might want to consider joining the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to start off, though:

There you get access to special pricing on the Journal of Bacteriology & other educational texts, updates on meetings, and an employment service. They do not have Bergey's Manual available, though, but you can get either the 4 Vol. "Systematic" version or the paperback "Determinative" version , depending on your budget, through Barnes & Noble:

Finally, I am not sure that being out of the lab for six years is necessarily a deal breaker for getting back into it. If you have some previous experience & make a diligent effort to get yourself reasonably up to speed, you should be able to come up with some sort of entry level position, as long as you are not too picky.

Best of luck to you,

Jeff Buzby, Ph.D.

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory