Research

Post-Doctorate Projects 

(UC Davis):

I am excited to announce that at the end of summer 2021 I will be joining the labs of Dr. Jonathan Eisen, Dr. Jay Stachowicz, and Dr. Maggie Sogin to work on the microbiome of seagrass!

(NC State University): 

In a joint lab effort with Dr. David Rasmussen and Dr. Angela Harris, my second postdoc focuses on optimizing protocols to detect and sequence SARS-CoV-2 variants from waste water samples in the Research Triangle area. 

For my first postdoc at NCSU, in Dr. Christine Hawkes' lab, I expanded my bioinformatic skills analyzing RNAseq data of Panicum hallii under different fungal treatments in both well-watered and drought conditions. I also designed and ran experiments focusing on fungal diversity as well as community member arrival order and how this affected the plant host response during drought. 

Ph.D. Dissertation Projects
(University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Kristen DeAngelis' Lab):

My dissertation thesis is broken into three major projects encompassing anaerobic bacterial biotransformation of lignin. What I loved about these projects was that each of the three allowed me to work on a set of skills, such as molecular techniques, programming, as well as biochemistry. If you want to take a look at the whole dissertation, you can find it published as ScholarWorks through UMass here.  

Anaerobic Mechanisms of Lignin Biotransformation

Tolumonas lignolytica BRL6-1 is a novel, facultative anaerobic bacterium that was isolated from tropical forest soils on lignin as sole carbon source. This makes BRL6-1 a great candidate to study how bacteria interact with lignin when oxygen is not available and how the biopolymer is being modified. Using proteomics, metabolomics, growth assays, colorimetric assays, and other biochemistry techniques, I hypothesized that BRL6-1 may be secreting a protein that acts as both a redox molecule and iron chelator. 

To learn more check out our publication: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233823

This project was in collaboration with Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), Joint BioEnergy Institute (DOE JBEI), and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (DOE EMSL). 

Uncovering Novel Species with Lignolytic Activity

Switching from tropical soils to temperate - in 2014, I collected soil samples from Harvard Forest, Petersham, MA, and cultured the microbial communities with lignin as a sole carbon source under anoxic conditions. After two years of transfers, I (along with very dedicated undergraduates) isolated the community members and began characterizing them.

One organism of interest that we isolated was Serratia quinivorans strain 124R. This is a facultative anaerobe that was found to be positive for lignin depolymerization capabilities after seeing a clearing form on R2A plates that contained lignin-mimicking dyes, malachite green and Congo red. It's genome announcement can be found published in Microbiology Resource Announcements (DOI: 10.1128/MRA.00409-19). This whole-genome shotgun project has been deposited in GenBank under accession no. NZ_SHMO00000000 (SRA accession no. SRX5216996).

Another isolate we discovered was novel species, Sodalis lignotolerans 159R. This work is currently in prep but if you are interested in 159R, you can order a culture through DSMZ or ATCC (=DSM 110549, =ATCC TSD-177). In addition the whole-genome shotgun project has been deposited in GenBank under accession no. NZ_SJOI00000000 (SRA accession no. SRX5645793 and SRX5645794).

This project was supported by the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA STAR) Fellowship as well as the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI).

For more details of how this project got started, please visit my EPA STAR project summary.

Phylogenetic Distribution of Anaerobic Aromatic Metabolism 

Last, but certainly not least, is my project investigating whether or not the trait of anaerobic aromatic metabolism is vertically transferred or randomly distributed across bacteria. This information can be used in understanding the ecological role bacteria have on recalcitrant carbon trapped in soil and the C cycle. We are hoping to have this published by winter 2021! 

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