Naomi WardDepartment Head of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Dr. Ward is a Professor of Microbiology whose research focuses on evolutionary cell biology of bacteria, and microbiome studies. She has a particular interest in the unusual internal cellular membranes of planctomycete bacteria, how these features evolved within the planctomycete lineage, and their functional consequences for the biology of the cell. Her recent work has been on the spatial organization of gene expression, as well as structural and functional aspects of the membranes. Most of Dr. Ward’s microbiome work is conducted within the human gastrointestinal tract, examining the contribution of the gut microbiome to pediatric health and disease. Her primary focus is on Hirschsprung disease, a developmental defect of the enteric nervous system that often leads to enterocolitis, a serious inflammatory condition. A future goal is to apply an improved understanding of these processes to the development of more effective clinical interventions. In her newest project, Dr. Ward is working at the intersection between microbiology and archaeology, analyzing soil microbial community structure at archaeological sites in Wyoming. She is interested in determining how past and present environmental factors drive population structure, and whether these communities retain a signal of past climate. Answering these questions may allow us to use microbial data to inform future archaeological studies.