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Kathleen M. Morrow
Kathleen Morrow, Term Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Auburn University
M.S. California State University Northridge
Research Focus: Microbial Ecology, Coral Reef Ecology, Marine Science, Molecular Ecology
Office: DK 3032
Personal Website: http://kmorrow12.wixsite.com/kathleenmorrow
Dr. Morrow’s research has focused on coral reef ecosystems for over a decade, with multi-disciplinary collaborations across the U.S. and Australia. Her present research utilizes modern genomic techniques to examine tropical coral- and sponge-associated microbial communities. She is particularly interested in using metagenetics and metagenomics coupled with network analyses to move beyond descriptive studies and begin to understand the functional roles microbes play in host health. She was awarded her PhD in Dec 2011 (Auburn University, AL USA) and moved to Townsville, QLD Australia to begin an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Super Science postdoctoral fellowship within the Healthy and Resilient Great Barrier Reef (GBR) program at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) working with Dr. David Bourne. Prior to coming to George Mason University in the Fall of 2017, she completed a second postdoctoral appointment at the University of New Hampshire working with Dr. Michael Lesser where she continued her research into the coral microbiome with a focus on nitrogen cycling diazotrophs within the holobiont. She comes to GMU with a National Science Foundation Dimensions of Biodiversity grant (NSF-DOB Award:1638296) to examine the co-evolution of sponges with their microbiomes in the Caribbean basin.
Currently, Dr. Morrow teaches courses in Environmental Microbiology at the undergraduate level (EVPP305/306) in addition to cross-listed courses in Microbial Ecology and Molecular Environmental Biology for undergraduates and graduate students. She also retains affiliate faculty status at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Morrow has experience working in tropical and temperate marine systems and hopes to continue research and graduate student advising under three main research themes: 1) Environmental drivers, how and why shifts occur in microbial symbioses from healthy mutualistic relationships to a more detrimental or pathogenic state; 2) Microbial community stability, and why some host-microbial relationships may be inherently more stable than others; 3) Microbial community assembly, and how microbial relationship during early life stages may impact the long-term stability and health of the host organism.