Faculty Research Areas
Bill Stark, Ph.D.
My research interests include the systematics, phylogeny and morphology of insects, particularly the aquatic insects such as stoneflies. Much of his research involves comparative study of insect structures with scanning electron microscopy.
Stephanie Carmicle, Ph.D.
Protein ubiquitination plays an important role in regulating the intracellular trafficking and turnover of cellular proteins within the cell. Defects have been implicated in both autoimmune diseases and cancer. E3 ligases are particularly important in this process because they recruit substrates to the ubiquitination machinery within the cell. Although many exist, our understanding of the different E3s and which cellular processes they can influence is limited. My research interests include characterizing the role of E3 ligases in cellular processes and understanding the contribution of E3 ligases to both autoimmunity and cancer.
Angela Reiken, Ph.D.
My research involves bridging gaps between behavior and cellular and molecular events occurring within the human brain. Her primary interests include utilizing neurochemical research methods to relate expression of specific proteins in the human brain to the pathology of psychiatric illness including Major Depressive Disorder and alcoholism.
Elizabeth Brandon, Ph.D.
In the laboratory, we are studying the links between obesity and cancer incidence. There is a strong, positive correlation between obesity and the occurrence of certain cancers, although the reasons for this are unknown. One hypothesis is that the metabolic and hormonal profile in obese individuals creates an optimum environment in which tumors can grow, with plenty of glucose and angiogenic factors to supply rapidly dividing tumor cells. I am using in vivo and molecular approaches to identify factors unique to obesity that contribute to enhanced tumor growth with the goal that this may help to identify strategies for slowing tumor growth.
Video of Dr. Brandon's Cancer Research
Ted Snazelle, Ph.D.
My research interests include investigating the biodiversity of gram-negative bacilli in both surface water and soil utilizing both the Biomérieux API 20E system and the Biolog Microstation™. A second research interest is biotyping urine culture isolates of Esherichia coli using the Biomérieux API 20E system. A new research interest is studying carbohydrate metabolism in previously identified urine culture E. coli biotypes using the Biolog Microstation™. Last, determining the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus from environmental surfaces in the workplace is also a new research interest.
Bob Sample, Ph.D.
Amphibian decline has become more pervasive over the last 20 years. This decline has been sparked by a number of extrinsic factors ranging from habit destruction to emerging pathogens. Ranaviruses are a group of these pathogens responsible for triggering a number of die-offs amongst native and aquacultured fish and amphibian populations. Our primary focus is the elucidation of virus gene function facilitated by antisense technologies in an attempt to further understand the molecular mechanisms involved in replication, virulence, and pathogenesis. By understanding these events we hope to provide the foundations needed to slow and possibly abrogate future ranavirus associated mass mortalities among already threatened amphibian populations.
Trey Howell, Ph.D.
Analysis of recent epidemiological data has determined there is a strong correlation between serum concentrations of bioaccumulative organochlorine pesticide metabolites and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. The goal of my current research is to delineate the mechanism(s) by which these compounds may elicit or exacerbate insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Currently, I am utilizing both in vitro and in vivo studies to determine if exposure to these compounds promotes the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes. This line of investigation is of particular importance given that the origins of type 2 diabetes remain an enigma.
Frank Hensley, Ph.D.
My research focus is on vertebrates that are difficult to study due to low population density or cryptic habits. This includes not only endangered species, but also common species such as bats and snakes. I am interested in activity patterns, particularly habitat use and spatial ecology such as movement and migration patterns. I am also particularly interested in how amphibian and reptile populations are influenced by invasive species of plants and animals.
Jerry Reagan, PH.D
I have a long-standing interest in intracellular cholesterol metabolism that dates back to my days as a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine (Molecular and Cellular Pathobiology) and Dartmouth Medical School (Biochemistry), respectively. Several years ago my laboratory showed (J Biol Chem 2000;275:38104-10) that accumulation of cholesterol in lysosomes down-regulates an enzyme (acid sphingomyelinase) that appears to play an important role in apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. The ability of cells to undergo apoptosis at appropriate times is crucial in the developmental process and the elimination of potentially cancerous cells. Therefore, my laboratory is currently conducting studies aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for the cholesterol-mediated regulation of lysosomal enzymes involved in apoptosis. In addition, we are also actively developing cell culture and animal models that will allow us to identify potentially novel proteins that play pivotal roles in the regulation and execution of cell death pathways. The overarching goal of these studies is to expand our knowledge and understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that link intracellular cholesterol metabolism with programmed cell death and thereby aid in the development of potentially novel therapeutics for the treatment and/or prevention of diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Erin norcross, ph.D.
Streptococcus pneumoniae, pneumococcus, is an important worldwide pathogen. It is responsible for a variety of diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, bacteremia, and otitis media. Additionally, it is a key ocular pathogen capable of causing endophthalmitis, keratitis, and conjunctivitis. Traditionally, pneumococcal infections affect primarily elderly individuals or young children due to their weakened immune system; however, pneumococcal eye disease can affect people of all ages. S. pneumoniae possesses a variety of virulence factors including a polysaccharide capsule, pneumolysin (PLY), and neuraminidases (Nan) that enable this pathogen to cause disease. I am interesting in better understanding the role of these important virulence factors and how they interact with host immune responses.