Bio Chem Building 160G
Postdoctoral Fellow Yale University School of Medicine | PhD University of Connecticut | BS Stonehill College
Host-microbe interaction, beneficial symbiosis, pathogenesis, circadian rhythms, innate immunity
My first opportunity to conduct research was during my time as an undergraduate at Stonehill College in the laboratory of Roger Denome, Ph.D. My undergraduate research focused on attempting to isolate DNA and genotype microsatellites from coyote feces as a non-invasive means of tracking Cape Cod coyote populations. Stonehill College provided me with the opportunity to conduct research, which was paramount to my future success as a researcher and why I am such an advocate for undergraduate research.
As a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, I studied the beneficial symbiosis between the bacterium Aeromonas veronii and the medicinal leech in the laboratory of Joerg Graf, Ph.D. My doctoral research focused on the identification of A. veronii genes that are required to colonize the leech digestive tract.
Upon completion of my Ph.D., I was awarded an NIH fellowship in Immunobiology to investigate the existence of circadian oscillations in innate immune recognition mechanisms of microbial infection and their relevance for immunopathogenesis in the laboratory of Erol Fikrig, M.D. at the Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to studying the circadian regulation of the innate immune system, I also investigated the role of the innate immune system in controlling Treponema pallidum infection, the causative agent of syphilis.
The two areas of my current research are extensions of my graduate and postdoctoral work:
The digestive-tract microbiota of animals can provide nutrients, aid in digestion, stimulate the immune response, and prevent pathogenic bacteria from colonizing. Despite the recent advances in understanding beneficial digestive-tract associations, little is known regarding the molecular interactions between microbe and host, largely due to the complexity of the microbiota and an inability to culture much of the microbial consortium. I utilize a simple model system, the Aeromonas veronii-medicinal leech model, to study digestive-tract associations, which allows for the investigation into the molecular mechanisms that drive the symbiosis. This in turn will provide insight into more complex digestive-tract associations (e.g., the human gut).
The daily light-dark cycle has been one of the steadiest environmental factors influencing evolution. From bacteria to mammals, nearly all organisms have adapted their physiology and behavior to a daily rhythm. Circadian rhythms refer to physiologic processes that oscillate with a period of approximately 24 hours, providing a temporal frame that allows organisms to efficiently program their physiologic tasks and optimize survival. Circadian rhythms influence a multitude of physiologic tasks, from gene expression to behavior. My research investigates the circadian regulation of the innate immune system, which represents the first line of defense against infection, and determining how these rhythms influence our susceptibility to infection as well as the potential to maximize vaccine responsiveness in a time-dependent manner.
A constantly updated list can be found at Google Scholar.