Microbes rarely live alone. In the ocean, the soil, and the human body, microbes live within complex, multi-species communities. Yet, due to their complexity, it is often extremely difficult to understand how these communities work. To address this challenge, our lab uses simplified microbial communities as model systems. Our model system of choice is cheese. The microbial communities of cheese are relatively simple, easily culturable, rich in species interactions, and undergo reproducible dynamics of community assembly. Our previous work has focused on establishing an experimental system for building, manipulating, and studying these communities in the lab. We are now working to capitalize on this experimental system to identify molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the formation of a microbial community, and to better understand what happens when this process goes wrong.

Awards and Achievements

  • Pew Biomedical Scholar