As a youngster growing up in southern Indiana, I aspired to be a zoo veterinarian and appear regularly with my animals on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Along the way, however, I was given the opportunity in my senior year of college to be a laboratory assistant for a freshman biology course at the University of Evansville where I received my B.S. degree in biology. It was then that I knew that I wanted to be a professor and teach. I moved to Chicago and attended a Masters program in Immunology at Loyola University Chicago studying T cell leukemia. This experience confirmed my interest in research and prepared me well to receive my Ph.D. in Microbial Pathogenesis from Northwestern University in Chicago. I spent an additional year at Northwestern as a postdoctoral fellow prior to joining the biology faculty of Belmont in the fall of 2000.
One of my current research interests stems from my time at Northwestern where I focused on human papillomaviruses (HPVs), the causative agent of warts in both genital and non-genital sites. Specifically, I am interested in the association of HPV infection with cervical cancer incidence in women. My students at Belmont have examined HPVs' role in cancer progression including metastasis, angiogenesis, telomerase activation, and drug resistance. In addition to these HPV studies, my students have examined the incidence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in community settings as well as characterization of these isolates. With no compromise in my love of viruses and bacteria, I have also had the pleasure of supervising molecular research with students studying "outdoorsy" organisms such as plants and ticks.
Since arriving at Belmont, I have developed courses in Microbiology, Immunology, Cancer Biology, Genetics, and Molecular Biology, as well as introductory biology courses for majors and non-majors. I am actively involved in the research sequence for our majors, especially the Biology 4710 Senior Seminar course. In addition, I participate in the Honors Program where I serve as a tutor and research advisor for students and am the coordinator for the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program.
My time away from school is spent with my husband, Scott, and our three young children, Gwen, Grantham and Claire. When not playing at the park, coloring, or playing with baby dolls and cars, I like to garden, work on the house, read, travel, and figure out a way to get on the Tonight Show.
I would like to contact Dr. Thomas.