- The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
- Doctor of Philosophy, Major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Earlham College, Richmond, IN, USA
- Bachelor of Arts, Major in Chemistry, Minor in Biology
I teach Cell Biology, Cell Biology Laboratory, Molecular Biology, Introductory Biology, Senior Seminar, First Year Seminar, and Cancer Biology.
My lab has an ongoing project identifying and characterizing novel bacteriophages (phages). These viruses can be found anywhere their host bacteria are found: in our bodies, in our backyards, in the ocean, and even in hot springs or polar regions. Several students have contributed at many levels to this ongoing project. Students in introductory biology courses may participate in a "phagehunting" lab where they bring water samples in to class and we search for phages that infect the lab bacteria we are interested in, Caulobacter crescentus. This bacteria is a ubiquitous, non-pathogenic water bacteria, so is safe for use in the classroom.
The information we learn about phages that infect C. crescentus may give us important insights into phage biology and into potential therapeutic applications. After students identify a new phage, they may come to work in my research lab to purify and characterize their phage, including discovering how it infects bacteria, what it looks like by electron microscopy, and determining its genome size and sequence. Many students have presented their progress on this project at campus, statewide, and national scientific meetings.
Current research students and I are working to annotate the genomes of several novel Caulobacter phages, which involves interpreting and comparing the genome sequence information in order to learn more about phage function and evolution. We also continue to isolate and characterize additional new Caulobacter phages.