I am interested in the interaction of host immune cells called macrophages with intracellular pathogens. I am particularly interested in the interaction of macrophages with organisms known as "amoeba-resistant bacteria" . Because many of these organisms are unculturable by traditional methods, many of these microbes have remained undiscovered yet may play a role in upto 50% of pneumonias of unknown cause. The laboratory's research objective is to isolate and identify novel bacteria from amoeba and to characterize their interaction with both amoeba and human macrophage cell lines utilizing techniques such as DNA sequencing, real-time quantitative PCR, and cellular staining and microscopy, including brightfield, fluorescent, confocal, and transmission electron microscopy techniques.
My interest in disease-causing microbes has lead to collaboration with members of the Anthropology, Agriscience, Math, and Chemistry departments. I am studying possible pathogens in the runoff from the aerobic decomposition of animals with Anthropology and Agriscience. I am also collaborating with members of the Chemistry and Mathematics departments to use molecular modeling to characterize important amino acid residues in a nucleoside hydrolase active site of E. coli. Our Math, Chemistry, and Biology Biodynamics Group has currently begun work to utilize high level computational methods to model bacterial chemotaxis on medical devices.