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Palmer, Gregory

Gregory C Palmer





Research Educator for the Antibiotics Freshman Research Initiative stream, where students isolate antibiotic-producing soil bacteria

Dr. Gregory Palmer is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. He received a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology and Political Science from the University of Michigan in 2007 and a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. Since completing his Ph.D. he has taught Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Peer Mentoring courses at UT-Austin. In the spring of 2013 he began the Antibiotics: Discovery and Function Freshman Research Initiative stream in the UT-Austin College of Natural Sciences, and has continued to serve as the stream’s Research Educator. Dr. Palmer is passionate about Science Olympiad, which is a middle and high school STEM competition. He has served as Tournament Director for 5 competitions held at UT-Austin, as Event Supervisor for Biology and Chemistry events at the State and National level, and as a member of the National Science Olympiad Life Sciences Rules Committee. Dr. Palmer is also a faculty advisor to the Longhorn Science Olympiad Alumni Association and American Society for Microbiology student organizations. 

The numbers of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are rising, and over 20,000 genes that promote antibiotic resistance across a range of pathogens have been described. It is critical that researchers identify novel antibiotics in order to combat these resistant bugs. Approximately 60% of drugs developed in the last 20 years are derived from natural products, and nearly every antibiotic that we currently use was first discovered in a microorganism. Among these microorganisms is a genus of bacteria called Streptomyces that produces several antibiotics including streptomycin, which is the basis of several antibiotics used in hospitals and clinics today. While the ability of these bacteria to produce antibiotics is useful to humans seeking new therapeutics, the role these organisms play in the soil community and the reasons for their production of antibiotics remain unclear.

Students in the Antibiotics FRI stream isolate bacteria from the soil on campus. They identify the bacteria by amplifying and sequecing their 16S rRNA gene, and determine whether the isoaltes produce antibiotics using Kirby-Bauer disc assays. At that point, the students decide what other research questions thy want to answer with their bacteria, incuding what anitbiotics they produce, what conditions influence anitbiotic produciton, how does the presence of other bacteria affect antibiotic production, and what genes do the bacteria possess that are involved in antibiotics produciton. 

Leander M, Heimonen J, Brocke T, Rasmussen M, Bass C, Palmer G, Egle J, Mispelon M, Berry K, Nichols R. 2016. The 5-amino acid N-terminal extension of non-sulfated drosulfakinin II is a unique target to generate novel agonists. Peptides. 83:49-56.

Turner, K. H., Wessel, A. K., Palmer, G. C., Murray, J. L., Whiteley, M. 2015. Essential genome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis sputum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 112:4110-4115.

Palmer, G. C. and Whiteley, M. 2015. Specific Nutritional Cues in Sputum Impact the Production of Factors Responsible for Host Colonization and Virulence. In: Metabolism and Bacterial Pathogenesis. ASM Press, Washington, DC.

Palmer, G. C., Jorth, P. A., and Whiteley, M. 2013. The role of two Pseudomonas aeruginosa anthranilate synthases in tryptophan and quorum signal production. Microbiology. 159:959-969.

Wessel, A. K.*, Palmer, G. C.*, and Whiteley, M. 2012. Regulation of vesicle formation. In: Regulation of Bacterial Virulence. ASM Press, Washington, DC.

Palmer, G. C., Schertzer, J. W., Mashburn-Warren, L., and Whiteley, M. 2011. Quantifying Pseudomonas aeruginosa quinolones and examining their interactions with lipids. Methods in Molecular Biology. 692:207-217.

Ng, D. W., Zhang, C., Miller, M., Palmer, G., Whiteley, M., Tholl, D., and Chen, Z.J. 2011. cis- and trans-Regulation of miR163 and target genes confers natural variation of secondary metabolites in two Arabidopsis species and their allopolyploids. Plant Cell. 23:1729-1740.

Palmer, G. C.*, Palmer, K. L.*, Jorth, P. A., and Whiteley, M. 2010. Characterization of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa transcriptional response to phenylalanine and tyrosine. The Journal of Bacteriology. 192: 2722-2728.

Nichols, R., Egle, J. P., Langan, N. R., and Palmer, G. C. 2008. The different effects of structurally related sulfakinins on Drosophila melanogaster odor preference and locomotion suggest involvement of distinct mechanisms. Peptides. 29:2128-2135.

Palmer, G. C., Tran, T., Duttlinger, A., Nichols, R. 2007. The drosulfakinin 0 (DSK 0) peptide encoded in the conserved Dsk gene affects adult Drosophila melanogaster crop contractions. Journal of Insect Physiology. 53:1125-1133.

ASM Branch Meeting Texas Branch, Dallas, Texas, November 11-13, 2016

Talk title: The University of Texas at Austin Freshman Research Initiative: Antibiotics Discovery and Function Stream

National Academies Special Topics Summer Institute on Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences, Austin, Texas, June 26-June 30, 2016

Summer Institute Organizing Committee member, Facilitator for session on “Next Steps” in planning research based courses

Freshman Research Initiative Conference, Austin, Texas March 2-4, 2016

Organizing Committee Member, Facilitator for session on student assessment in FRI courses  

National Academies Special Topics Summer Institute on Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences, Austin, Texas, June 28-July 2, 2015

Summer Institute Organizing Committee member, Facilitator for session on assessing student progress research based courses

ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators, Austin, Texas, May 28-31, 2015

Microbrew talk title: Research proposals as tools to develop first year undergraduate’s research projects.

Freshman Research Initiative Conference, Austin, Texas March 26-28, 2014

Panel Discussion Participant: The Research Educator: A Vehicle for Professional Development, Inspiring Undergraduates to Effectively Communicate Science, STEM Outreach

ASM Branch Meeting Texas Branch, San Marcos, Texas, October 28-30, 2010

Talk title: Characterization of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa response to aromatic amino acids.

Wind River Conference on Prokaryotic Biology, Estes Park, Colorado, June 3-7, 2009

Talk title: Phenylalanine ammonia lyase: a nutritional approach to therapeutic development

ASM Branch Meeting Texas/South Central Branches, Austin, Texas, November 9-11, 2008

Poster title: Phenylalanine ammonia lyase: a nutritional approach to therapeutic development

FRI courses: NSC 109, BIO 206L/377, CH 204/369K

Science Olypiad Near Peer Mentoring: NSC 209