I am interested in understanding how bacteria adapt and persist during chronic infection. My work in the Whiteley Lab has centered on two main questions: 1) How do the environment (infection site) and the constituents (other co-inhabiting/co-infecting microbes) impact the S. aureus essential genome? 2) How does S. aureus respond to different environments and different constituents? I am working to answer these questions using next-generation sequencing techniques, such as RNA-seq and Tn-seq, models of infection, and bacterial genetics.
I am passionate about studying how interactions between organisms influence their evolution and their behavior. I believe that to truly understand microbial processes, including those involved in human health and disease, organisms must be studied in a community context. During my postdoc in the Whiteley Lab, I am studying microbe-microbe interactions within the oral cavity. I am interested in how these interactions influence the behavior and virulence of pathogens implicated in periodontitis (gum disease), especially Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa). I hope to dissect these medically-important polymicrobial infections using cutting-edge techniques such as Tn-seq and RNA-seq, as well as animal models and microbial genetics.
I am generally interested in understanding how bacteria interact with each other to direct their group behaviors. In the Whiteley lab, I use Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) as the model system to study bacteria behaviors in human infections. My current focus is to obtain a mechanistic understanding of Pagene expression signature during polymicrobial infections. I am also interested in using interdisciplinary approaches to dissect physiological heterogeneity of Pa community in the host environment.
After receiving my bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences in China, I joined the Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences graduate program at the University of Wyoming. I completed my PhD in Dr. Dan Wall's lab, where I studied an intriguing bacterial cell-cell communication system termed outer membrane exchange. I joined the Whiteley lab as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2019.