Department of Biology
Biology Faculty Profile
Meleah Hickman
Assistant Professor
meleah.hickman@emory.edu
Office Phone: 404-727-6491 | Lab Phone: 404-727-6552
Office Room: Rollins 1027
Office Address: Emory University, Department of Biology, O. Wayne Rollins Research Center, 1510 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta , GA 30322
Lab Room: Rollins 1083
Lab Website

Research Area:
Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Population Biology, Evolution, and Ecology

Graduate Program Affiliation:
Genetics and Molecular Biology
Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution

Degree:

B.A./B.S., The Evergreen State College, 2003
Ph.D., Duke University, 2010

Understanding how eukaryotic pathogens generate genetic and phenotypic variation at both the cellular and population levels as a response to antifungal drugs and environmental stresses and has meaningful clinical and evolutionary implications. We investigate the genome plasticity and acquisition of antifungal drug resistance in the yeast Candida albicans, a commensal that primarily resides in human gastrointestinal tracts and causes superficial infection in healthy individuals and serious infection in immunocompromised individuals. In particular, we examine how shifts in ploidy, mediated by both conventional sexual cycles as well as asexual mechanisms promote genetic diversity within a population of cells. These ploidy transitions facilitate large-scale mutations including recombination, aneuploidy and homozygosis of whole chromosomes within a single cell division and fuel rapid adaptation. The Hickman lab employs traditional genetics, experimental evolution, molecular and cellular biology approaches along with high throughput tools to analyze individual cells within a population under a variety of environmental conditions. We also utilize experimental comparative genetics by using well-established model and non-model yeasts that display a wide-range of sexual, morphological, ecological and pathogenic lifestyles, yet maintain high levels of genome conservation in order to understand microbial population dynamics as well as the molecular mechanisms by which genome changes arise and their subsequent consequences on fitness.


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