Photo of smiling male undergraduate student Daniel Newton.
2021 Undergraduate Summer Research Program Participant

Home Department: Physics
Mentor: Kerwyn Casey Huang (Bioengineering and Microbiology & Immunology)

“Mathematical Modeling Microbial Community Response to Antibiotics”

Gut microbiota in healthy humans are extremely diverse, making them resilient against pathogenic invaders like C. difficile; however, antibiotics can decrease their diversity, rendering them invisible. Daniel is studying how microbial community richness changes in response to antibiotics by using computer simulations of the dynamical interactions of many different microbial species competing for resources. Daniel is also testing model predictions of microbial interactions by growing combinations of species against combinations of antibiotics. By comparing these simulations with experimental data of community diversity before and after antibiotics are applied, Daniel will quantify the accuracy of the lab’s models and predict how antibiotic treatment alters community richness.