I have been an assistant professor in Microbiology at UAB since January of 2016. My interests are focused on the molecular mechanisms by which bacteria sense and respond to changes in their environments. My lab is currently exploring how bacteria regulate inorganic polyphosphate synthesis in response to starvation and how pro-inflammatory enterobacteria use the RclA, RclB, and RclC proteins to resist the combination of reactive chlorine species and copper, an antimicrobial mix used by the innate immune system during inflammation.
Prior to starting my own lab, I was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Ursula Jakob at the University of Michigan, where I began my studies of bacterial responses to reactive chlorine stress and the role of the ancient biomolecule inorganic polyphosphate in stress response. I received my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, in the lab of Dr. Jorge Escalante, studying the synthesis and salvage of the lower ligand of vitamin B12 in bacteria, and my Master's degree at the University of California - Davis, in the lab of Dr. Valley Stewart. Between those degrees, I worked as a technician in Dr. Kathryn Boor's lab at Cornell University, which was also my undergraduate alma mater.
My research interests center on the molecular biology of how bacteria sense and respond to reactive chlorine species, which are antimicrobial oxidants produced by neutrophils during inflammation. I am particularly interested in understanding how gut microbes, both symbiotic and pathogenic, respond to inflammatory oxidants, and what role those responses play in colonization and disease. We have become very interested in the regulation of inorganic polyphosphate production, which is a key factor in the ability of bacteria to survive exposure to inflammatory oxidants, as well as other stressful environmental conditions (such as nutrient limitation).