Liz Karr, Ph.D. – University of Oklahoma
Associate Dean of the Graduate College
Associate Professor of Microbiology
Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology
Stephenson Research and Technology Center
Lab: 2150; Office 2021
101 David L. Boren Blvd.
Norman, OK 73019
|2020-present:||Associate Dean, OU Graduate College and Office of Postdoctoral Affairs||
|2014-present:||Associate Professor, Microbiology, University of Oklahoma|
|2017-2020:||Graduate Liaison and Graduate Program Director, Microbiology and Plant Biology|
|2014- present:||Associate Director, Price Family Foundation Institute of Structural Biology|
|2007-2014:||Assistant Professor, Microbiology, University of Oklahoma|
Education & Training
|2003-2007:||NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Ohio State University, Department of Microbiology|
|2003:||Ph.D. Southern Illinois University, Department of Microbiology|
|1999:||Bachelor of Science, Murray State University, Department of Biology|
|1997:||Associate in Science, Paducah Community College|
Welcome to the Karr Lab
My research program focuses on understanding the mechanisms of gene expression and energy conservation in anaerobic microorganisms. In my lab, we’ve focused on methanoarchaea, syntrophic bacteria, and the human pathogen Clostridioides difficile. The commonality is their role in the decomposition of organic material in anaerobic environments. Anaerobic decomposition is a complex biological process involving a diverse and interacting microbial community. Diverse fermentative bacteria hydrolyze natural polymers such as polysaccharides, proteins, and lipids and ferment the hydrolysis products to acetate and longer chain fatty acids, aromatic acids, CO2, formate, and H2. Next, syntrophic metabolizers degrade fatty and aromatic acids, alcohols, and some amino acids to the methanogenic substrates: H2, formate, and acetate. Lastly, the hydrogenotrophic and acetoclastic methanogens complete the process by converting acetate, formate, and hydrogen to methane and carbon dioxide.
My research group investigates questions around response to environmental change and understanding life under thermodynamic constraints in members of life’s bacterial and archaeal domains using molecular, biochemical, biophysical, genetic, structural, physiological, and traditional microbiological tools. I am interested in key microorganisms involved in methane generation from an environmental perspective, including methanoarchaea and syntrophic bacteria. I am also interested in how the regulation of gene expression contributes to hypervirulence in select strains of the medically important pathogen Clostridiodes difficile.