At Mississippi College, the faculty of the department of biological sciences are dedicated to research. Choose a faculty member below to learn about their specific area of research:
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 a 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.
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 Escherichia coli using the Biomérieux API 20E system. A new research interest is studying carbohydrate metabolism in previously identified urine culture E. coli bio types using the Biolog Microstation™. Last, determining the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus from environmental surfaces in the workplace is also a new research interest.
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 ecologies 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 interested in better understanding the role of these important virulence factors and how they interact with host immune responses.
Hanna Broome, Ph.D.
My research focus originated during my postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, when I studied an animal model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that primarily affects women. Autoimmune diseases, in general, are the result of a number of factors, including genetic and environmental. Environmental factors have been shown to cause modifications in the organization of DNA, otherwise known as epigenetic changes, which alters expression of specific genes. My research focus is on the various environmental conditions that can lead to significant changes in DNA methylation and activation/suppression of certain genes, specifically those involved in the activity of the B and T cells of the adaptive immune system, which are important in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases like SLE.
Erick Bourassa, Ph.D.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacterium responsible for gonorrhea infection, causes a reported 300,000 cases each year in the United States, although the actual incidence is likely closer to 750,000 cases per year. Until recently, a single dose of a penicillin or a macrolide antibiotic was curative. In recent years, a number of cases of untreatable gonorrhea have been reported and the CDC currently recommends only one drug for the treatment of gonorrhea due to antibiotic resistance. The mechanism(s) by which N. gonorrhoeae has developed this antibiotic resistance in recent years is unknown. My current research efforts are focused on understanding how N. gonorrhoeae has developed this antibiotic resistance and developing strategies to reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance in N. gonorrhoeae.