Microbiome Network Coordinators
Dr. Jessica L. Metcalf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. She is a microbiome scientist who leads highly interdisciplinary, innovative research projects that span the fields of animal science, health, and forensics by combining experimental ecology, large genomic datasets, and bioinformatics tools. She studies the microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, etc) of the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrate animals with a focus on the effects of captivity and domestication on animal health. In a similar vein, she also studies the loss of microbial diversity in the human gastrointestinal tract associated with the industrialization/urbanization of human populations. Finally, she is a leader in developing microbiome tools for forensic science. Her work on decomposition microbial ecology is currently being applied to better understand and predict meat shelf life and spoilage.
One of my main research objectives is to understand the microbial community structure, its interactions and function and how this microbial community interacts with and affects its host, and affects and is affected by its surrounding environment. Another major objective of my research is to study the mechanisms of acquiring, transmitting and maintaining antibiotic resistance in bacteria and to study the mechanisms of adaptation of different microbes within their natural environment. My research also involves developing and applying computational tools for processing and analysis of the resulting high throughput sequence data, and the associated metadata, in addition to developing inferential and predictive models to facilitate our understanding of these complex biological systems.