How it all began
I have always had a love for science and originally wanted to major in astronomy. However, I was told that I would really need a PhD to get a job in that field and I said "Forget that, why would I want to go to school that long". Funny how life turns out sometimes.
So, I started my undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the chemical engineering program. However, during my junior year I accidentally stumbled upon the word Microbiology in the college newspaper. I changed majors to Bacteriology and fell in love with the topic during my first class, amazed at the microbial world that existed under my nose that I didn't even really ever think about. I was fortunate to get an undergraduate research job in the Dept. of Food Microbiology and Toxicology under the direction of Dr. Charles Kaspar and visiting scientist Dr. Jeffery Byrd from St. Mary's College of Maryland studying the bacterium Escherichia coli. I ended up staying in Dr. Kaspar's lab to get a Master's degree.
I left my motherland of Wisconsin in 2002 to pursue a PhD in Microbiology at the University of Georgia. I was fortunate to do my PhD studies in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Stabb working on Vibrio fischeri bioluminescence, quorum sensing, and the colonization of the V. fischeri host Euprymna scolopes. The training I received in genetics and bacteria-host interactions during this time has had a profound effect on my career.
I conducted my post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Bayles in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It was at this time that I started the studies of Staphylococcus aureus that I continue today.