Throughout my education and career I have been fascinated with DNA and bacteria, and in due course, the evolution of pathogenic bacteria and the genetics concomitant with the infectious diseases they cause. After receiving a BSc from Colorado State University, I took up a Research Training Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases studying Yersinia pestis and Francisella tularensis populations using genetic and molecular diagnostic tools. After four years I took a small detour away from the public health and joined the FBI as a Forensic Biologist in 1999, where I used my public health and genetics experience extensively over six years.
I returned to full time research in 2005 when I took a two-year sabbatical from forensic work to follow another fascination of mine, Egyptology and ancient DNA. I transferred my forensic experience, genetics expertise and public health background to the study ancient DNA, and in particular, Plasmodium falciparum, in Ancient Egyptian mummies. After completing my MSc with Honours, at the University of Manchester, I left the FBI and took up a Postgraduate Research Assistant post in 2008 with the Maiden Lab studying Neisseria meningitidis; and in 2015, I received my D.Phil. I have contributed to the development of the gene-by-gene whole genome sequence analysis to annotate genes at a population level. The approach is used to elucidate the genetic basis underlying the population structure and the evolution of lineages; and how hyperinvasive strains emerge in the context of the more abundant asymptomatic strains.
molecular evolution, population biology and bacterial pathogen genomics, population-level genomic structure
Hertford College: http://www.hertford.ox.ac.uk/