Faculty News

August 30, 2012

Dr. Melinda Faulkner joined the biology faculty at Bradley University in the fall of 2011. Dr.
Faulkner earned her undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Brenda Wilson studying bacterial
protein toxins. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Harvard University under the
guidance of Dr. Jon Beckwith, a well-known bacterial geneticist responsible for leading the
research group that in 1969 isolated the first gene. After earning her Ph.D., she conducted her
postdoctoral work at Cornell University with Dr. John Helmann. Studies in Dr. Beckwith’s and
Dr. Helmann’s laboratories have shaped the current direction of Dr. Faulkner’s research.
 
Dr. Faulkner is trained as a bacterial geneticist and is interested in understanding how bacteria
sense and respond to environmental stresses. Previous research by Dr. Faulkner has focused on the antioxidant pathways of the bacterial species Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. Research in her laboratory focuses on the response of the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis to metals such as iron and manganese and chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide. One current project in her lab aims to understand why the bacterium contains two virtually identical enzymes for detoxifying peroxide chemicals. It is crucial to remove excess peroxides from cells, as peroxides can damage DNA, proteins, and other cellular components; however, it is not clear why Bacillus subtilis requires two apparently identical mechanisms for detoxification. These enzymes of focus are also found in many non-bacterial species including humans; therefore, the knowledge gained through these studies can be extended beyond that for bacteria.
 
Dr. Faulkner is teaching microbiology, along with other general biology and molecular biology courses to the students at Bradley.