University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Sarah Lucas

Thesis Advisor: Ryan Hunter

Year entered: 2014

Degrees received:
B.S., Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 2010

Honors and Awards:

  • Telluride Science Research Center Peter Salamon Award for Young Scientists, 2015
  • MinnCResT T32 Training Grant, 2016-present
  • Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching Assistants, Honorable Mention, 2017
  • Marine Biological Laboratory Intensive Summer Course, "Strategies and Techniques for Analyzing Microbial Population Structures" (STAMPS), Summer 2017


Approximately five percent of adults in the U.S. that seek medical treatment are diagnosed with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), a broadly defined clinical syndrome characterized by inflammation of the mucosa of the paranasal sinuses. Despite the prevalence of CRS very little is understood about the etiology or pathogenesis of this complex disease, though host-microbe interactions form the basis of current research. Recent culture-independent studies by our lab and others have revealed that CRS is characterized by bacterial community members that are found in both healthy and diseased sinuses. These studies have confounded the link between microbe-host pathogenesis, but have also contributed to the formation of new hypotheses considering how the sinus microenvironment controls microbial metabolism, potentially linking microbial metabolites to disease state. Using both bioinformatics, and bacterial physiology, my research will directly investigate how microbial community structure and metabolic activity is associated with chronic disease in the human sinuses.