Photo of smiling female undergraduate student Caroline Van.
2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: undeclared
Mentor: Benjamin Good (Applied Physics)

“Strain-Level Dynamics during Fecal Microbiota Transplantation”

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) shows great promise for treating a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. However, little is known about how these transplanted strains evolve after engrafting in their new host. Caroline is analyzing existing sequence data from human gut microbiomes sampled before and after FMT to track genetic variants that occur within individual species. She will then use population genetic modeling to quantify the rates of mutation accumulation and horizontal gene transfer in native and transplanted strains. These evolutionary mechanisms have important implications for engineering gut microbiota to improve and optimize human health.