Michelle Olson is a fourth year Ph.D. student under the advisement of Dr. Arul Jayaraman and Dr. Katy Kao. Her research focuses on studying microbial communities of the gut microbiota. Specifically, she is interested in biofilm formation of polymicrobial populations of Candida species Candida albicans and Candida glabrata. Since the gut microbiota and infections in the human body are often polymicrobial in nature, it is of clinical importance and relevance to study interactions between many different microbes. What has been discovered thus far in Michelle’s research is that Candida biofilm formation – a major cause of infection – is dependent on the relative abundances of Candida species (Olson et al., AEM 2018). Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of biofilm formation in polymicrobial cultures in order to better understand infection dynamics. This research will lead to increased information for further development of more potent therapeutics and antimicrobial drugs.
Prior to joining the ChemE doctoral program at Texas A&M University, Michelle received her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. During her time in Boston, Michelle had three co-op experiences where she learned hands on experience in Research and Development with different processes such as pharmaceutical production at Genzyme and drug delivery at Arsenal Medical. After her B.S. completion, she joined Texas A&M University for her M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering under the advisement of Dr. Katy Kao. In her M.S. thesis, Michelle optimized bioreactor performance for carotenoid production in an evolved strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During her doctoral studies, Michelle has been an active participant in the department – presenting several times at the AIChE National Conference and aiding in recruiting events such as those at the AIChE National Conferences and undergraduate visits. Additionally, she is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the department. As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, Michelle has been involved in course development and teaching for two undergraduate courses over the last year. Outside of the department and as a part of the University, Michelle is involved in WE: Women in Engineering as a WE Ambassador. Through this organization, WE Ambassadors take part in outreach to the community in Texas and around the country to encourage more women to get involved in Science and Engineering.
Michelle will graduate in December 2018 and pursue a career in industry. Further details can be found at linkedin.com/in/michelle-olson.