IM Ph.D. Student
Third year student in the Ph.D. program
Immunology and Microbiology
Advisor: Dr. Jeffrey Withey
B.S. Biology: Biomedical Sciences, May 2013
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, MO
8255 Scott Hall
My research interests include deciphering mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, particularly those which disproportionately affect poverty-stricken regions of the world. Such bacterial pathogens are often found in communities with poor infrastructure, inadequate sanitation, and lack of government support.
My doctoral research concentrates on using the zebrafish as a model to study Vibrio cholerae infection in a natural host. My major project seeks to characterize the colonization phase of infection by identifying the genes required for colonization by both environmental and human pathogenic strains of V. cholerae. Deciphering how this bacterium colonizes the fish intestine will help advance understanding of potential natural disease reservoirs and can provide insight to human pathogenesis as well. The ongoing cholera pandemic (1961 – present) has been attributed to a newly emerged V. cholerae biotype, El Tor, which has replaced its predecessor, Classical, in causing pandemic cholera. The El Tor biotype has been shown to cause prolonged disease in human patients compared to that caused by the Classical biotype. In addition to identifying colonization factors shared among V. cholerae strains, I am also investigating the genetic mechanisms that allow the El Tor biotype to colonize the intestine for a longer time period than the Classical biotype. The results of this research are critical for understanding the pathogenesis of V. cholerae, identifying potential disease reservoirs, and mitigating the disease impacts on vulnerable populations around the world.