Microbiology and Molecular Biology of Extremophiles
Department of Biology
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Here are a few of our current projects....
Antibiotic Resistance, Pathogenicity and Survival
A walk on the wild side
Severe climate events, such as the recent massive floods associated with hurricanes and unprecedented snow packs, create environments that bring together bacteria that normally do not interact with each other. Since bacteria can and do readily exchange genetic material even across species, these events have the potential to create novel genetic combinations with increased human disease potential.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
We recently became part of a larger project with Sandia National Lab, looking at ways to use phage to specifically target certain human pathogenic bacteria. Photo of phages infecting Pseudomonas aeruginosa courtesy of Kasandra Velarde.
Radiation Survival Mechanisms
Some like it hot
Mechanisms of extreme radiation resistance remain elusive. We have created some of the most radiation resistant organisms known, and are investigating their unique characteristics. Photo of Halobacterium salinarum colony courtesy of Matt Ford (used with permission).
What's a shedder?
The goal of this project is to develop a safe, cost-effective portable field system for sensitive, interference-free latent fingerprint identification and DNA extraction. The system will be based on near infrared (NIR)-to-NIR upconversion luminescence from optimized nanoparticles (UCNPs) and be capable of capturing highly resolved fingerprint images under full ambient lighting, even on highly fluorescent surfaces. This is an interdisciplinary project, headed by researchers from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of South Dakota. Image of cells on fingerprint courtesy of Amit Chowdhury, USD.
Meet the gang:
Associate Professor of Biology and Director of Biomedical Sciences
New Mexico Tech
Ph.D. University of Virginia, Microbiology, 1984
B.S. University of California, Berkeley, Genetics, 1979
Wellesley College, 1976-77
Ashley was born and raised in New Mexico. She has been a microbiologist and virologist since she was 16, starting off collecting phages from the Rio Grande and culturing bacteria from plants. She received her BS in Biology from NMT and is currently an MS graduate student at NMT. Her project is in collaboration with Sandia National Labs, focusing of phage therapy, developing a phage cocktail that works against antibiotic resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She also has experience with soil, cannabis, and algal microbiology and phage work. She plans on working in government or industry after graduation. Outside of lab she has two dogs, plays guitar, and collects plants. You know when Ashley is working because heavy metal is blasting. Fun fact: Ashley broke her arm in a mosh pit last summer.
Kimberly is a dually-enrolled BS/MS student from Colorado Springs. When she began working towards her degree, she was uncertain of which specific field of biology she wanted focus on. However, after having the opportunity to participate in drug discovery research, she found her passion in microbiology and pathology. She has since transitioned from testing the effects of novel compounds on bacteria and fungi to examining how the environment influences the spread of antibiotic resistant microbes. Kimberly will be completing her BS in May of 2019 and continuing to work on her MS the following semester, hoping to graduate in 2020.
Heather is the youngest child of a military family. She grew up all over Germany and spent school vacations exploring Europe. She hopes her future career will allow her the opportunity to go back. In May of 2020, Heather will earn her B.S. in Biology at New Mexico Tech, and plans to continue her education by attending graduate school. Her primary interests include: soil microbes, genetics, and forensic science. She started research her sophomore year with Dr. Benjamin Duval on a project which examines the relationship between the soil microbial communities of invasive and native NM shrubs, with a paper soon to be published! Her project with Dr. DeVeaux has applications in the field of forensics. Heather is testing whether or not specially-engineered nanoparticles for fingerprint analysis affect the ability to extract viable DNA from those fingerprints. Heather loves sharks and if she can she'd love to be involved in shark conservation later in life.
Kasandra Velarde started research in the department in Spring of 2019. She has worked on various organisms, including Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Pseudomonas syringae. She recently interned at the University of Georgia in the Plant Pathology Department working in plant immunology, summer of 2018. Currently she is working in conjunction with Ms. Chavez on phage therapy. She is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and intends to pursue a Master’s in Microbiology. Outside of work she stays active in clubs and sports.
BUT REMINDER: It’s time to B. cereus about getting this degree!
Raymond began working in the lab his freshman year in the fall of 2018, gaining experience and learning new things from his fellow peers. He is currently working on his Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences and plans to graduate (he hopes) in 2022. When he’s not in the lab or working on papers for his classes, Raymond enjoys playing piano and guitar as well as participating in the Council for Climate Change Club and Techie Stand Up here at New Mexico Tech. Additionally, Raymond probably owns too many Metallica shirts for his own good.
In order to achieve his goals, Zumruck is currently pursuing a B.S. in Biology with the hopes that he can become a graduate student and study either microbiology or the medical sciences. By being part of this team he hopes to experience different fields and gain a better understanding of the dynamics that surround contributing to both research and a lab. His free time is spent engaged in club activities such as with the Engineers Without Borders club and their Guatemala Project as well as learning new recipes to cook. Though sadly he still has much to learn as evident by the burnt French toast he made the other day.
Incoming Ph.D. student
Completing her baccalaureate in computer engineering in 1986, Faye Schilkey's career spanned programming assembly line controllers for the automotive industry to real-time autopilot and guidance missile systems to IT, databases and bioinformatics software. For approximately the last 12 years Ms. Schilkey has specialized in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics technologies and leads multidisciplinary teams in productive research collaborations. She has worked at the National Center for Genome Resources since 1996 and has been the Director of the New Mexico IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (NIH NIGMS 2P20GM103451) Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core since 2007.
Evans, J.J., A. Bost, K.H. Muci-Kuchler, and L.C. DeVeaux, 2018. Factors affecting use of ballistics gelatin in laboratory studies of bacterial contamination in projectile wounds, Military Medical Research 5:16. doi.org/10.1186/s40779-018-0164-7.
Evans, J.J., P.E. Gygli, J. McCaskill and L.C. DeVeaux, 2018. Role of RPA homologs in radiation survival of the model archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. Genes 9, 223. Special Issue entitled “Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles”. doi:10.3390/genes9040223.
Lee, B.D., W.A. Apel, P.P. Sheridan and L.C. DeVeaux , 2018. Glycoside Hydrolase Gene Transcription by Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius During Growth on Wheat Arabinoxylan and Monosaccharides: A Proposed Xylan Hydrolysis Mechanism. Biotechnology for Biofuels 11, 110. doi.org/10.1186/s13068-018-1110-3
Lee, B., W. Apel, L.C. DeVeaux and P.P. Sheridan, 2017. Concurrent metabolism of pentose and hexose sugars by the polyextremophile Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 44, 1443-1458. doi.org/10.1007/s10295-017-1968-2
Smith, S. J.N. Benardini, D. Anderl, M. Ford, E. Wear, M. Schrader, W. Schubert, L.C. DeVeaux, A.Paszczynski, and S.E. Childers, 2017. Identiﬁcation and Characterization of Early Mission Phase Microorganisms Residing on the Mars Science Laboratory and Assessment of Their Potential to Survive Mars-like Conditions. Astrobiology 17. doi: 10.1089/ast.2015.1417.
Upadhyaha, B., L.C. DeVeaux, and L.P. Christopher, 2014. Metabolic engineering as a tool for enhanced lactic acid production. Trends in Biotechnology 32, 637-644. doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.10.005
Christopher, L.P., V. Kapatral, B. Vaisvil, G. Emel and L.C. DeVeaux, 2014. Draft Genome Sequence of a New Homofermentative, Lactic Acid-Producing Enterococcus faecalis Isolate, CBRD01. Genome Announcements 2, e00147-14. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00147-14
Gygli, P.E. and L.C. DeVeaux, 2014. Adaptation of the Halobacterium salinarum ssp. NRC-1 gene deletion system for modification of chromosomal loci. Journal of Microbiology Methods 99, 22-26. doi.org/10.1016/j.mimet.2014.01.012
Lockhart, J.S. and L.C. DeVeaux, 2013. The Essential Role of the Deinococcus radiodurans ssb Gene in Cell Survival and Radiation Tolerance. PLoS One 8, e71651. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071651
Mestari, M.A., D. P. Wells, L.C. DeVeaux, and S. F. Naeem. 2008. Real-Time Dosimetry System for Radiobiology Experiments Using a 25 MeV LINAC, CAARI 2008: 20th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry Conference Proceedings, 3-6. doi.org/10.1063/1.3120062
Gygli, P., S. Prajapati, M.A. Mestari, and L.C. DeVeaux, 2008. Resistance of an extreme Halophile to multiple stresses, CAARI 2008: 20th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry Conference Proceedings, 993-996. doi.org/10.1063/1.3120210
DeVeaux, L.C., J. R. Smith, S. Hobdey, E. C. Spindler, D.P. Wells, C. Frandsen, T. Webb, M.A. Mestari, V. Dimitrov, and W. Beezhold, 2007. Effect of Electron Beam Dose Rate on Microbial Survival. Proceedings of the Eighth International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Applications and Utilization of Accelerators, 388-393.
DeVeaux, L.C., J.A. Müller, J.R. Smith, D.P. Wells, J.E. Petrisko, S. DasSarma, 2007. Extremely radiation-resistant mutants of a halophilic archaeon with increased single-stranded DNA binding protein (RPA) gene expression, Radiation Research 168 (4) 507-514. https://doi.org/10.1667/RR0935.1
Munford, R.S., J.E. Cronan, Jr., L.C. DeVeaux, P.D. Rick., 1992. Biosynthetic radiolabeling of bacterial lipopolysaccharide to high specific activity. J. Immunol. Methods, 148, 115-20.
DeVeaux, L.C., N.A. Hoagland, G.R. Smith, 1992. Seventeen complementation groups of mutations decreasing meiotic recombination in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Genetics 130, 251-262.
Naggert, J. M.L. Narasimhan, L. DeVeaux, H. Cho, Z.I. Randhawa, J.E. Cronan, Jr., B.N. Green, S. Smith, 1991. Cloning, sequencing and characterization of Escherichia coli Thioesterase II. J. Biol. Chem. 266, 11044-11050.
Oden, K.L., L.C. DeVeaux, C.R.T. Vibat, J.E. Cronan, Jr., R.B. Gennis, 1990. Genomic replacement in Escherichia coli K-12 using covalently closed circular plasmid DNA. Gene 96, 29-36.
DeVeaux, L.C., J.E. Cronan, Jr., T.L. Smith, 1989. Genetic and biochemical characterization of a mutation (fatA) that allows trans unsaturated fatty acids to replace the essential cis unsaturated fatty acids of Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. 171, 1562-1568.
Lundrigan, M.D., L.C. DeVeaux, B.J. Mann, R.J. Kadner, 1987. Separate regulatory systems for the repression of metE and btuB by vitamin B12 in Escherichia coli. Mol. Gen. Genet. 206, 401-407.
DeVeaux, L.C., D.S. Clevenson, C. Bradbeer, R.J. Kadner, 1986. Identification of the BtuCED polypeptides and evidence for their role in vitamin B12 transport in Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. 167, 920-927.
Friedrich, M.J., L.C. DeVeaux, R.J. Kadner, 1986. Nucleotide sequence of the btuCED genes involved in vitamin B12 transport in Escherichia coli and homology with components of periplasmic-binding-protein-dependent transport systems. J. Bacteriol. 167, 928-934.
DeVeaux, L.C., R.J. Kadner, 1985. Transport of vitamin B12 in Escherichia coli: Cloning of the btuCD region. J. Bacteriol. 152, 888-896.
Former lab members
See what our graduates are up to...
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2019
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2018
Jessie is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Idaho Veteran's Research and Education Foundation. The focus of her research is Staphylococcus aureus and other drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, and improving our understanding of how bacteria regulate the expression of virulence factors, including exotoxins. The aim of these studies is to define networks that can be exploited for improved diagnostics and innovative intervention strategies to reduce disease incidence and provide protection against lethal and disabling infections.
M.S., Biomedical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2017
Since 2017, Libbey is an instructor for the school of natural sciences at Black Hills State University at their Rapid City, SD, campus. She teaches biology courses for both majors and non majors as well as anatomy labs.
Ph.D., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2015
Brady is a Senior Staff Scientist in the Energy and Environment Directorate at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. His research involves applying microbiological and molecular techniques for understanding microbial function and interactions related to environmental, bioenergy and national security programs.
Ph.D., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012
Since his post-doc at the Ohio State University, Pat has been taking a hiatus from laboratory work to focus on other important matters.
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012
Julienne is currently a Lab Manager at AgroPur, where she has 30 employees. They run quality, analytical and organoleptic testing on their cheeses and powdered whey products. She has been in the food industry for over 6 years. Julienne currently lives in beautiful Twin Falls, Idaho where she enjoys shooting, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, camping, hiking and mountain biking with her husband and 2 dogs.
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012
J. Scott Lockhart
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University. 2012
M.S., Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Idaho State University, 2009
Christina Kavran, D.O.
M.S., Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Idaho State University, 2008
Mohammed Amine Mestari
M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2007
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2006
Lynn is an Instructor Evaluator in Administration for BYU-Idaho's Online Learning Department. He is in the final stages of completing his dissertation for an Ed.D in Higher Education Administration at Idaho State University.
M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2006
Nino is a Radiation Safety Officer at Fermi National Laboratory.
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2006
M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2005
M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2005
M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2005