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Biological Sciences Profiles

Kristi Whitehead

Senior Lecturer
Biological Sciences Department

Office: 140 Long Hall
Phone: 864-656-4146


 Educational Background

Ph.D. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Michigan state University 2009

B.S. Biology
Furman University 2003

 Courses Taught

General Biology I (Biol 1030)
Essential Skills for Microbiology (Micro 3000)
General Microbiology (Micro 3050)
Public Health Microbiology (Micro 4000/H4000/6000)
Microbial Diversity and Ecology (Micro 4010/H4010/6010)
Advanced Microbial Ecology of Humans (Micro 4050/H4050/6050)
Pathogenic Bacteriology (Micro 4110/H4110/6110)
Introductory Virology (Micro 4160/H4160/6160)
Advanced Lab III (Micro 4520)
Microbiology Senior Seminar (Micro 4930)

 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 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. My lab also focuses on a variety of smaller projects ranging from testing and improving new antimicrobial compounds to exploring the impact of pathogens present in the environment.


Santilli AD., Dawson EM, Whitehead KJ, and Whitehead DC. 2018. Nonmicrobicidal small molecule inhibition of polysaccharide metabolism in human gut microbes: a potential therapeutic avenue. ACS Chemical Biology. DOI:10.1021/acschembio.8b00309.

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.

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.