My current research focuses on the bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, which is found in marine and estuarine waters and may cause gastroenteritis if ingested or necrotizing fasciitis if it enters wounds. The areas of research are to study regulation of pathogenic genes in the organism, to use these genes as markers for identification, to determine how environmental perturbations affect pathogenicity, and to use genes to identify V. vulnificus and to further taxonomically dissect this genus through metagenomics (in conjunction with Dr. Jeffrey Turner at TAMUCC). I am also involved with public awareness on exposure to Vibrio with use of recreational waters. I have given over 15 newspaper, radio, television, and internet media interviews over several years.
Regulation of genes in Vibrios
Regulation of DNA repair genes in Enteric bacteria
Health Disparities Epidemiology
Antibacterial activity of plants
The major project involves collaboration with Dr. Joanna Mott, in which we are monitoring Vibrio vulnificus in the coastal waters, and determining what genes are involved in facilitating the survival of this organism under hostile environmental conditions. The second project involves the gene nfi, which encodes a DNA repair enzyme, Endonuclease V. I am exploring how the gene is controlled in estuarine environments in E. coli, and in other members of Enterobacteriaceae and Vibrionaceae. The third project is in collaboration with Dr. Suzzette Chopin on the antibacterial properties of herbal plants; please refer to Dr. Chopin's research summary. I am also doing some health disparity research to determine if MRSA affect diabetics differently across ethnic groups; this work is in conjunction with local physicians in private practice and at Christus Spohn hospitals here in Corpus Christi.