My current position as Lecturer for MIC 301 and MIC 401 places me in charge of developing, planning, and preparing the laboratory components of those courses. My goal is to allow students to develop a comprehensive skill set of modern microbiology and immunology techniques that will serve them their entire careers, whether that is obtaining a nursing degree or a future Ph.D. in the biological sciences. I hope to engage students at all levels and backgrounds to help them understand how microbiology impacts both their chosen professions and everyday lives.
My past research experience focused on the relationship between bacterial biofilms and tolerance to antimicrobial agents. Biofilms are large communities of surface-associated bacteria growing together as complex three-dimensional structures. Typically these structures are surrounded by an extracellular polymeric matrix composed of proteins, sugars, and DNA. While growing as a biofilm, bacterial cells exhibit significantly increased tolerance to antimicrobial agents, becoming up to 1000-fold less susceptible than their free-swimming, planktonic counterparts. My research focused on a key transcriptional regulator in Pseudomonas aeruginosa responsible for turning on several important systems related to antibiotic resistance during biofilm growth. We found a direct role for this protein in regulating biofilm tolerance to several classed of antibiotics, including the antimicrobial peptide colistin, and elucidated the downstream components of these pathways, including the two-component regulatory system PhoPQ. In addition, we determined the resistance profile of dispersed cells, or bacterial cells that break free of biofilms and return to a planktonic state of growth. Importantly, our work helped characterize dispersed cells as a unique, transitory phenotype, that exhibited a susceptibility profile different from that of both planktonic and biofilm cells.