I am interested in the interaction of intracellular pathogens with host cells. I am particularly interested in the organisms known as "amoeba-resistant bacteria." Many of these bacteria are unculturable on laboratory media and thus often go undetected. However, many infect not only amoeba but human cells as well and may be responsible for pneumonia and other infectious diseases. These bacteria exist in both environmental and anthropogenic water sources, although many have not yet been described. The goal of the laboratory is to isolate and identify novel bacteria from amoeba and to characterize their interaction with both amoeba and human host cells utilizing techniques such as DNA sequencing, real-time quantitative PCR, and cellular staining and microscopy, including brightfield, fluorescent, confocal, and transmission electron microscopy techniques.
I am also involved in collaborative projects with faculty members in other departments. My interest in bacteria responsible for infectious disease has lead to collaboration with members of the Anthropology and Agriscience departments. We are studying the aerobic decomposition of animal s and my roles involve the prevention of environmental contamination with disease-causing microorganism as well as biodegradation of euthanizing chemicals. I have also collaborated with members of Chemistry and Mathematics departments to study the importance of various amino acids in enzyme activity. My role in this project was the mutagenesis of the DNA for bases encoding specific amino acids.