Cheryl P. Andam
Research in our lab focuses on microbial genomics and evolution as they apply to infectious diseases and public health. We ask the question: Why aren’t members of a species the same? They may be clonal, but microbial populations are often composed of multiple co-circulating lineages distinguished by large phenotypic and genetic differences. Understanding the origins of genomic variation between strains is fundamental to questions critical to society and public health, such as "Are emerging diseases new species, or variants of existing ones?", “What makes a resistant strain successful?”, and "How will a pathogen respond to selective pressures?". We are particularly interested in the evolution and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, including resistance due to horizontally acquired genes and chromosomal mutations.
To explore these questions, we use whole genome sequencing of closely related strains to understand the evolutionary, ecological and epidemiological dynamics of bacterial pathogens, which will inform effective, more targeted public health interventions. Current work focuses on different species of bacterial pathogens (e.g., Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella) and antibiotic-producers (e.g., Streptomyces). Students will be trained in population genomics, phylogenetics, molecular evolution and genomic epidemiology.