The Doctoral Program in Microbiology provides advanced training and education for students with the desire and ability to thrive in a stimulating, research-oriented graduate program leading to careers in science in the academic, governmental, or private sectors.
Morgan Brown, PhD student, Horswill Lab
The Horswill lab is interested in understanding the pathogenesis and physiology of Staphylococcus aureus. Morgan’s project focuses on how commensal staphylococci on the skin protect the host from S. aureus colonization or opportunistic infection. Morgan’s early work in the lab characterized a rare skin commensal, Staphylococcus simulans, and the small peptides that strains of S. simulans make that block S. aureus quorum sensing on skin. She found that these peptides are potent quorum sensing inhibitors that protect skin from S. aureus-associated damage and recently published this work in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapies (Brown et al. 2020). Currently, Morgan has shifted her focus to the more prevalent commensal Staphylococcus hominis, and is working to better understand how S. hominis contributes to skin barrier protection.
Morgan has presented her work at many conferences and seminars, including the Society of Investigative Dermatology conference and the Gordon Conference on Bacterial Adhesion and Signal Transduction. She’s also been part of the Molecular Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease T32 pre-doctoral training program for the last two years. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with her family and going on as many outdoor adventures as possible. Morgan’s best piece of advice to new graduate students: be prepared to embrace a little serendipity. We scientists (literally) try to control for everything, but sometimes the best opportunities or discoveries are the ones you’re not prepared for but come to you anyways.