B.S. in Biology
|M.S. in Biology
University of Nebraska at Lincoln, 1978
|Ph.D. in Microbiology
University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1992
Areas of interest:
Courses taught: Microbiology, Bacteriology, Environmental Microbiology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Genetics, Culture of Food and Drink (Interterm), Senior Research 495, 496.
Research interests: I am interested in wetland microbiology and geomicrobiology, particularly that of saline wetlands. Two types of saline wetlands are found in Nebraska, the eastern saline wetlands and salt flats that featured prominently in the pioneers' overland migration in the 1850's, and the western (Sand Hills) saline alkaline wetlands, which provide a much more extreme environment for microbial life. These wetlands have been coined "biogeochemical reactors" and are highly likely to contain new and novel organisms that could have new and interesting genes. We visit both of these sites in the Wetland Biology course.
A second research interest is the quorum sensing mechanism by which many bacteria "talk" to each other, in the environment as well as in laboratory culture. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common soil organism that forms biofilms both in the environment and the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. Like many other quorum sensing microbes, when a threshold concentration is reached the cells begin to behave differently, and "turn on" new sets of genes. Many of these genes produce substances that are toxic to surrounding cells, and in human tissue can cause cell damage. I would like to explore ways of preventing this signaling mechanism from occurring.
American Society for Microbiology
Recent Professional Development:
Year-long sabbatical at Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany, 2005-2006.
Recent projects my students have been involved in:
-Microarray analysis of quorum sensing gene expression in P. aeruginosa during stress.
-Development of an antibody to the acyl-homoserine lactone molecule that is the signaling molecule of P. aeruginosa
-comparison of the microbial diversity of a pristine vs. an altered rainwater basin wetland southeastern Nebraska
-presence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in long term nursing facilities