Elliott Welker

Position: Research Assistant
Lab: Van Es 114
Office: Van Es 193
Program: Bioinformatics and Genomics, PhD
Advisor: Dr. Fisher

Graduate Student Profile

Education:
BS in Biotechnology and Microbiology from North Dakota State University
MS in Microbiology from North Dakota State University

Research Focus:
Our laboratory focuses on the characterization of virulence mechanisms of several Gram-negative opportunistic pathogens, including Stenotrophomonas, Francisella, and Burkholderia. So far, little research into these organisms has been conducted. However, recent advances in functional genomic technologies have allowed us to more deeply investigate each organism’s pathogenicity. We utilize a number of experimental approaches including amoeba and insects as a type of assay or model. These approaches allow us to perform studies at a scale that is compatible in throughput with next-generation sequencing-based functional genomics. The long-term goal of our lab is to gain an understanding of how these bacteria cause disease and how those diseases progress. We eventually hope to exploit discovered weaknesses in their mechanisms for therapeutic intervention.

My primary focus is establishing a Blaptica dubia cockroach model/assay. Initially I plan to further establish the dubia model as a viable method to investigate biofilm formation on I.V. catheters using several nosocomial isolates, including Stenotrophomonas, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus. I would also like to investigate the physiology of in vitro biofilms compared to that to in vivo biofilms in the dubia roach. And finally, I will investigate the expression of a number of putative virulence genes that play a role in biofilm formation in the in vivo model.

Departmental Involvement:
Grad Student Association, NDSU General Grad Student Association, Biotechnology & Microbiology Club