My research centers on bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria. Bacteriophages are found wherever bacteria are found: essentially anywhere there are living organisms. Beyond being fascinating organisms, bacteriophages and bacteriophage proteins are also being developed as substitutes for antibiotics because bacteriophages often kill the bacteria they infect. The use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections is described as phage therapy. In my research group students are isolating and characterizing bacteriophages that infect Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium that lives in healthy animals, including humans, but also causes opportunistic infections, especially in hospitals. We use these bacteriophages to study the infection process and as a source of new proteins that can be used to kill bacterial. Our long term goal is to better understand the evolution of bacteriophages, especially the evolution of how they gain access to new hosts, as well as the ways bacteria protect themselves from being infected and killed. The mechanisms of this evolution have implications for the use of bacteriophages in phage therapy.
PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Arizona
BA in Biochemistry, Northwestern University
Bio 100 – Human Biology
Bio 201 - Molecular and Cellular Basis of Life
Bio 240 – Nursing Microbiology
Bio 305 - Evolution
Bio 348 - Emerging Pathogens