Kristi Whitehead


Contact Information

142 Long Hall
Phone: 864-656-4146
Fax: 864-656-0435


  • Ph.D., Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, 2009
  • B.S., Biology, Furman University, 2003

Research Interests

A tremendous amount of current research is focused on understanding the diversity and function of bacteria within the gastrointestinal tracts of humans.  In particular, the specifics of how these bacteria impact our development and health is of interest.  My research interests focus on how two very different gastrointestinal microbes, Lactobacillus reuteri and Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, impact human health.  Specifically, we are interested in how beneficial microbes survive and respond to the stresses faced in the gastrointestinal tract.  We are also focused on understanding how manipulation of the gastrointestinal microbiota may play a role in the development and/or exacerbation of certain human diseases such as diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2) and obesity.

      Selected Publications

      • Whitehead, K., J. Versalovic, S. Roos, and R. Britton. 2008. Genomic and genetic characterization of the bile stress response of probiotic Lactobacillusreuteri. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74: 1812-1819.
      • Jones, S.*, K. Whitehead*, D. Saulnier, C. M. Thomas, J. Versalovic, and R. A.Britton. 2011. Cyclopropane fatty acid synthase mutants of probiotic human derived Lactobacillus reuteri are defective in TNF inhibition. Gut Microbes 2: 69-79. *These two authors contributed equally to this work.

      Recent Courses

      • MICRO 305 – General Microbiology
      • MICRO 400/H400/600 – Public Health Microbiology
      • MICRO 401/H401/601 – Microbial Diversity and Ecology
      • MICRO 405 – Advanced Microbial Ecology of Humans
      • MICRO 493 – Senior Seminar

          Professional Affiliations

            • American Society for Microbiology