Lab personel



Principal Investigator: Dr. Vincent P. Richards

images



    I have a broad interest in evolutionary genetics. During my graduate career, I focused primarily on population and evolutionary genetics, exploring topics such as coral reef connectivity and cryptic speciation. For my postdoctoral research, I switched to prokaryotes, focusing on the genomics of bacterial pathogens. Focusing primarily on Streptococcus species, I applied numerous techniques such as comparative genomics, transcriptomics, phylogenomics, and population genomics to better understand how these pathogens evolve and adapt. I'm now continuing this research focus in my lab at Clemson, with a particular emphasis on human and animal microbiomes we are utilizing metagenomic approaches to better understand how these complex communities relate to health.


Find me on Google Scholar

Find me on ResearchGate


Professional Experience

2014 - present   Assistant Professor, Clemson University

2013 - 2014      Research Associate, Cornell University

2010 - 2013      Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University

2009 - 2009      Adjunct Professor of Biology, Nova Southeastern University

2000 - 2010      Research Assistant, National Coral Reef Institute and Guy Harvey Research Institute


Professional Experience prior to Academia

Aviation industry (avionics) with British Aerospace

Served in the Royal Air Force (UK)


Education

2010    Ph.D. Marine Biology (Population Genetics), Nova Southeastern University

2006    M.Sc. Marine Biology (Population Genetics), Nova Southeastern University

2001    B.Sc. Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University





Lauren O'Connell

image

   I am interested in microbial pathogens and their impacts on human and environmental health. My Master's research was a baseline study examining shifts in the surface water microbiome of Port Everglades Inlet, a large commercial seaport in Broward County, FL using MiSeq DNA sequencing technology. Over the last year I've worked as a research assistant at University of Miami in their sequencing core in the genotyping department. I am a new PhD student in Dr. Richards' lab where I hope to further develop my bioinformatics processing skills and expand my knowledge of microbial genomics.



Ph.D. Disertation

Dynamics of the dental microbiome as it pertains to caries


Education

2015    M.Sc. Marine Biology, Nova Southeastern University

2015    M.Sc. Coastal Zone Management, Nova Southeastern University

2012    B.Sc. Marine Science with Biochemistry minor, Kutztown University




Laary Cushman

image

   I am a PhD student in Dr. Richards' Lab, studying plant genomics and speciation, with over 20 years of professional experience as a field botanist and wetland ecologist. My research involves the genome-wide genotyping of plant populations within the high mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm utilizing high-throughput sequencing methods (2b-Rad) to compare known populations of Micranthes petiolaris, an ice-age, alpine relict, to a newly discovered, low elevation population of Micranthes. I will use this study system to better understand how historic and future climate change will effect biographically disjunct populations of regional flora, and how future populations may experience segregation and possibly speciate. The project includes a comparative study of unreported genome sizes of 7 Saxifrages within the region, the abiotic environmental conditions shared between these genera, and the physiological trait differences between populations. My future research interests are how the genetic architecture of plants influence ecological specialization and distribution, how epigenetic responses to climate changes lead to variation and speciation, and developing an assessment model for identification of ecologically significant areas for conservation. Follow my research @ www.laaryjc.com



Ph.D. Disertation

Genotype by sequencing and life history of a southern Appalachian species pair (Hydatica necker ex. Gray 1821)


Education

2015    M.Sc. Plant & Environmental Sciences, Clemson University

2009    M.A. Theological Studies, Liberty University

1998    B.Sc. Biology & Technical Writing, University of South Carolina

 




Hayley Hassler

image

    As a sophomore microbiology major at Clemson University, I took part in Dr. Richard's "Introduction to Applied Genomics" class in the fall simply by request of Dr. Tamara McNealy (another microbiology professor at Clemson). Little did I know it would spark an interest and passion for all things related to the bioinformatics field. My research focus is the phylogenomics of bacterial pathogens.



M.Sc. Thesis

Phylogenomics of bacterial pathogens




Mary Mitchell

image

    I am currently a sophomore Microbiology major at Clemson University. Originally from York, South Carolina, I attended the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville, SC for high school, graduating in May 2015. While attending Clemson, I plan to explore my interests in genetics and pathology through pursuing a B.S in Microbiology.



Undergraduate Research

Transmission dynamics of the zoonotic pathogen Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP)

Changes in the human oral microbiome and its effect on the development of dental caries

Community dynamics of the microbiome associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease




Kaylin Young

image

    As a current sophomore Biological Science major at Clemson University, I became increasingly interested in Dr. Richard's lab after learning about his research on genomic diversity of probiotic bacteria that promotes oral health. I am currently pursuing acceptance into dental school after graduation and I am working in Dr. Richard's lab to expand my knowledge on oral health and ways to prevent cavities.



Undergraduate Research

Genomic diversity of candidate probiotic bacteria that moderate pH and antagonize pathogens to promote oral health




Robert Milholand

image

     I completed my first two years of school at Michigan State University and recently transferred to Clemson as a junior pursuing a B.S in Biological Sciences. I grew up in Midland, Michigan and am hoping to attend Dental School upon graduation. I am in the Air Force ROTC program here so I will continue to explore my interest's in lab biology and microbiology until I can practice dentistry in the US military.



Undergraduate Research

Community dynamics of the microbiome associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease

 




Russ Smith

image

    I am a junior Biochemistry major at Clemson pursuing a career in dentistry. I became interested in genomics and bioinformatics after taking Dr. Richards' Introduction to Applied Genomics course. I have a specific interest in studying human microbiomes, especially the oral microbiome, and its application with respect to the improvement of dental health and healthcare, as well as the treatment and prevention of oral disease.



Undergraduate Research

Dynamics of the dental microbiome as it pertains to caries




Elizabeth Lawson

image

    I am a sophomore genetics major at Clemson pursuing a career in medicine after graduation. Genomics and bioinformatics peaked my interest this past summer working at Clemson's Pee Dee Recreation Center, and even more so after taking Dr. Richards' Introduction to Applied Genomics course. I am interested in learning about different programs in the genomics/bioinformatics field and how to apply knowledge from the lab into my undergraduate and future graduate work.



Undergraduate Research

Dynamics of the dental microbiome as it pertains to caries




Brett Probert

image

    As a Junior computer science major at Clemson, I have a strong interest in both computing and biology, which is why it's my minor. The big point where those two intersect is bioinformatics. I was fortunately brought to Dr. Richard's lab by a friend and hope to continue exploring interesting topics in the field and to further my understanding of them through research work as well as related courses.



Undergraduate Research

Phylogenomics of bacterial pathogens




Aaron Dunn

image

    I am currently a junior microbiology major with a minor in chemistry at Clemson University. I am from Cheraw, South Carolina and attended high school at The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I am interested in attending medical school where I have aspirations to specialize in infectious disease. I look forward to exploring the relationship between human health and the microorganisms that call our body home.



Undergraduate Research

Dynamics of the dental microbiome as it pertains to caries





Former Lab Members




Irina Velsko

Irina is now working on a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany

image

    I'm interested in how the microbiome promotes human health and disease, particularly how bacterial community interactions influence host response. My dissertation research used murine models to understand how communities of oral bacteria that cause periodontal disease (gum disease) also cause atherosclerosis (heart disease). As a postdoc I've looked at how mononuclear cells from patients with and without localized aggressive periodontitis respond uniquely to complex dental plaque-derived biofilms, as well as working in an ancient DNA/protein lab to characterize the microbial communities and associated host response in ancient dental calculus. Currently I'm working on identifying unique gene content in oral Streptococcus species that prevent growth of cavity-causing Streptococcus species, with the goal of identifying potential probiotic species for cavity prevention.



Postdoctoral Research Associate

Genomic diversity of candidate probiotic bacteria that moderate pH and antagonize pathogens to promote oral health

Demographics and transmission dynamics of the zoonotic pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae


Professional Experience

2016 - 2018       Postdoctoral Research Associate, Clemson University

2016                 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Oxford

2015                 Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Florida


Education

2014    Ph.D. University of Florida

2010    B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara




Abdullah (Arby) Abood

Arby is now working on his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia

image

    My story starts in Iraq during one of the most tumultuous times in its modern history. I was raised in Baghdad, took refuge in Jordan then embarked on a journey to the United States in 2008. I started my scientific career at George Mason University, where I earned a B.Sc in Biological Sciences. Soon after, I became a Laboratory Biologist in a medical pathology laboratory. Concurrently, I worked as a student advisor for a scholarship program in Washington DC. With that skill set, I made the decision to continue my career in teaching, research, and above all learning, which led me to the Richards' lab at Clemson University.



M.Sc. Thesis - graduated summer 2018

Whole genome metagenomics of the human oral microbiome and its role in early childhood caries


Education

2013    B.Sc. Biology, George Mason University




Emlyn Hammer

image

    I became interested in Microbiology after I took a Virology course in my undergrad years and I found out that microbes can do a lot of crazy, interesting things. So I am now pursuing my Masters in Microbiology in the Richards' lab. My research focuses on studying the community dynamics and comparative metagenomics of the microbiome within industrial water cooling towers to gain a better understanding of Legionnaires Disease outbreaks. With this knowledge, we can potentially propose new ideas to control and prevent outbreaks.



M.Sc. Thesis - graduated summer 2018

Community dynamics of the microbiome associated with outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease


Education

2016      B.A. Biology, St. Mary's College of Maryland




Ken Parker

Ken is now attending dental school at the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston

image

    I am currently a Biological Sciences and Science Teaching double major at Clemson University. I grew up in Lake City, South Carolina. My interests in biology were sparked by my experiences growing up in my mother's veterinary hospital. After graduation, I aspire to gain acceptance to an accredited United States Dental School. Due to the rapidly advancing revolution of personalized medicine, my goal is to gain first hand experience, under Dr. Richards, in oral microbiome research in order to better understand overall dental health.



Undergraduate Research (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)

Changes in the human oral microbiome and its effect on the development of dental caries




Carson Moore

image

    I am a Junior Microbiology major with a minor in Genetics. I took Dr. Richards' Introduction to Applied Genomics course this past fall and Hayley asked me to assist with her project, and I never knew how much I would enjoy the bioinformatic work that I do. My current research examines 16S rRNA gene recombination in Staphylococcus species.

 



Undergraduate Research (Spring 2016 - Spring 2018)

Phylogenomics of bacterial pathogens




Mackenzie Hagood

Mackenzie is now attending dental school at the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston

image

    I am currently a junior Microbiology undergraduate student at Clemson University aspiring to become a pediatric dentist. I am from Orlando, Florida where I became interested in pediatric dentistry after volunteering in my former pediatric dentist' office. I am thrilled to be working in Dr. Richards' lab on a project to understand how oral bacteria can actually prevent cavities.



Undergraduate Research (Spring 2016 - Spring 2018)

Genomic diversity of candidate probiotic bacteria that moderate pH and antagonize pathogens to promote oral health




Megan Perez

image

    Despite coming from a small college in Longview, Texas called LeTourneau University, I have been fortunate enough to have had quite a bit of research experience with bacteriophages. As a biology major, I have learned how to purify, enrich, amplify, and annotate bacteriophages. My passion is genetics, particularly behavioral genetics, and I hope to do research in mental health in the future. For right now, though, I am seeking to hone in my skills, learn new ones, and expand my knowledge of genetics as I am blessed to be an intern at Dr. Richard's lab through the Clemson REU program. I can't really describe what I'm doing in one sentence, but if I was forced to sum it all up in a few words I'd say that I'm aiding in exploring the vast uses of comparative genomics.



Undergraduate Research

NSF REU summer intern 2018




Yirui Chen

Yirui is now working on her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech

image

    After achieving a Bachelors Degree at Nanjing Agriculture University in China, Yirui moved to Clemson in 2014 to pursue further studies in the Biosystems Engineer M.S. Program. She learned Computational Biology in the Richards' lab where she successfully pursued a M.Sc degree in Biology with a concentration in Microbial Genomics.



M.Sc. Thesis - graduated spring 2017

Comparative and population genomics of the zoonotic pathogen Streptococcus agalactiae


Education

2017    M.Sc. Biology, Clemson University

2014    B.Sc. Biotechnology, Nanjing Agriculture University, China




Tauqeer Alam

Tauqeer is now working as a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

image

    I received my Ph.D in Molecular Parasitology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India where I studied Plasmodium vivax tryptophan-rich antigen gene family and their potential as a malaria vaccine candidate. Soon after graduating I received an American Society for Microbiology (ASM)-Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta. At CDC, my research was focused on investigating the origins and evolution of drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite responsible for more than 600,000 deaths worldwide. After completing my project at CDC I joined the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Read at the Emory University School of Medicine to work on bacterial genomics. I used whole genome sequencing, bioinformatics and comparative genomics approaches to study the evolution of antibiotic resistance in Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial pathogen responsible for a variety of hospital and community-associated infections.



Research Associate

Population genomics of Streptococcus agalactiae from infected bovine and fish sources


Professional Experience

2015 - 2016       Research Associate, Clemson University

2012 - 2015       Postdoctoral Associate, Emory University

2008 - 2010       Postdoctoral Associate, Center for Diasease Control, Atlanta


Education

2008    Ph.D. Molecular Biology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India

2002    M.Sc. Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India

1999    B.Sc. Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India




Molly Bedenbaugh

Molly is now attending the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville

image

     Molly was senior biological sciences major with a minor in psychology at Clemson. In the Richards' lab she studied changes in the human oral microbiome and how it effects overall oral health.



Undergraduate Research (Summer 2015 - Fall 2015)

Changes in the human oral microbiome and its effect on the development of dental caries



Kimberly Acevedo

image

    As a biology major at Dominican College of Blauvelt in New York, I have already have had the opportunity to be involved in many research activities. One of which was the microbial enrichment lab. In the microbial enrichment the class grew a medium with specific and known qualities that favors the growth of a particular microorganism. Environment was well thought of, for it would have supported the growth of a selected microorganism, while inhibiting the growth of others. In addition for the remainder of the REU program (3 weeks) in Clemson University in South Carolina, I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Vince Richards. We are focusing on understanding what in a cow’s diet had allowed for the dramatic decrease of fat yield in milk production.



Undergraduate Research

NSF REU summer intern 2016

The association between the bovine rumen microbiome and milk fat production.



Kristopher Dennis

image

    Accepted to Clemson University majoring in the pre–med program, I soon switched to pursue a Biological Sciences BS degree. I have always had a passion for technology, and I explore the world of open source software as a hobby. I've focused much of my non–major coursework on mathematics and computer science. I discovered the union of computers, mathematics and biology in the quantitative biology course offered at Clemson. Soon after, when I became aware of the world of applied genomics, I was excited to learn about the topic and enrolled in Dr. Richards newly offered course. Applying the power of modern computational systems to solve once impossible problems was, and is, such an exciting prospect.



Undergraduate Research

Changes in the human oral microbiome and its effect on the development of dental caries



image

Department of Biological Sciences, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634

-

-