Areas of Expertise
I joined the Westminster department of Biology in 2018. I earned my doctorate at The George Washington University specializing in Molecular Evolution and Bioinformatics. My graduate work was a project in veterinary forensics focused on establishing a national DNA database for the domestic dog. I then completed a two-year postdoctoral experience at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) where I used Next Generation Sequence (NGS) and bioinformatics to analyze the genome of the parasitic nematode Trichinella spiralis, a known parasite of pork. As a professor, I have contined to work on projects in veterinary forensics and have also expanded into bacterial genomics.
Grant, J.C., González-Beiras, C., Amick, K.M., Fortney, K.R., Gangaiah, D., Humphreys, T., Mitjà, O., Abecasis, A., Spinola, S.M. Multiple class I and class II Haemophilus ducreyi strains cause cutaneous ulcers in children on an endemic island. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2018 Nov 13;67(11): 1768-1774.
*Arcieri, M., *Agostinelli G., *Gray, Z., *Spadaro A., Lyons L.A., Webb, K.M. 2016. Establishing a database of Canadian feline mitotypes for forensic use. Forensic Science International: Genetics 22: 169-174.
*Spadaro, A., *Ream, K., *Braham, C., and Webb, K.M. 2015. Local mitochondrial DNA haplotype databases needed for domestic dog populations that have experienced founder effect. Forensic Science International: 248:113-118.
Holch, A+., Webb, K+., Lukjancenko, O., Ussery, D.W., Rosenthal, B. and Gram, L. 2013. Genome sequencing identifies two nearly unchanged strains of persistent Listeria monocytogenes isolated in two different fish processing plants sampled six years apart. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 79(9):2944-2951 +These authors contributed equally to the study.
*indicates undergraduate student co-authors
My current areas of research are in veterinary forensics and microbial genetics.
In veterinary forensics, there are two types of on-going projects. The first is generating mitochondrial DNA sequence databases that can be used by crime scene investigators to help identify biological material left behind by animals/pets involved in the crime. The second is looking for heteroplasmy (two nucleotides in the same position of a genome within an individual) in dog and cat littermates.
My research students and I have recently started projects in microbial genetics. Here projects include looking at bacterial species diversity and abundance is a variety of unique locations as well as full genome sequencing and annotation of antibiotic resistant bacterial isolates to better understand how they are achieving this characteristic.
I’m open to exploring other projects related to the genetic diversity of a species or population. Past students have studied genetic diversity of viruses, bacteria, plants, insects, fish, and various mammals.