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Carolyn Ibberson, PhD

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Carolyn Ibberson, PhD

Assistant Professor of Microbiology

516 George Lynn Cross Hall
770 Van Vleet Oval
Norman, OK 73019
Twitter: @CBIbberson
Ibberson Lab


B.S., Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010
Ph.D., Microbiology, University of Iowa, 2015
Postdoc, University of Texas at Austin, 2015-2017; Georgia Institute of Technology, 2017-2021


Research Areas:

Microbiology; Infectious Disease; Microbial Ecology and Physiology; Polymicrobial Infections; Genomics; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Research interests:

Chronic infections place a significant burden on healthcare systems, requiring over $20 billion in treatment annually in the United States alone. Notably, chronic infections are frequently polymicrobial and are often recalcitrant to antibiotic treatment. Despite this clinical importance, many key features of bacterial physiology in chronic infections, including the molecular mechanisms and impacts of microbe-microbe interactions, remain understudied. My research interests center around understanding bacterial physiology and behavior in situ during human infection, with a focus on elucidating the mechanistic links between co-infecting microbes and disease severity. Work in my lab is at the cutting edge of assessing bacterial physiology in human infection and leverages classic microbiological techniques in combination with -omics approaches to ask foundational questions about how the prominent pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, causes disease and persists in human infection. Central questions in my lab are:

1)    What mechanisms allow S. aureus to establish and persist in chronic infection?
2)    How do other community members impact S. aureus physiology in polymicrobial infection?
3)    What is the role of spatial structure in mediating interactions between microbes in chronic infection?

To address these questions, our research uses next-generation sequencing, microscopy, computational pipelines, deep learning approaches, and microbial genetics.

Relevant Publications:

A full list of publications can be found here:

Ibberson CB and Whiteley M. The social life of microbes in chronic infection. 2020. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 53(Feb. 2020):44-50.

Ibberson CB and Whiteley M. The Staphylococcus aureus transcriptome in cystic fibrosis lung infection. 2019. mBio. 10(6):e02774-19.

Peek CT, Ibberson CB, Cassat JE. Identification of virulence determinants during host-pathogen interaction using Tn-seq technology. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) protocols. Humana, 2020. 155-175.

Cornforth D, Dees JL, Ibberson CB, Huse HK, Mathiesen IHM, Kirketerp-Moller K, Wolcott R, Rumbaugh KP, Bjarnsholt T, Whiteley M. Pseudomonas aeruginosa transcriptome during human infection. 2018. PNAS. 115(22):E5125-E5134.

Ibberson CB, Stacy A, Fleming D, Dees JL, Rumbaugh KP, Gilmore MS, Whiteley M. Co-infecting microorganisms dramatically alter pathogen gene essentiality during infection. Nature Microbiology. 2017. 2:17079.

Darch SE*, Ibberson CB*, Whiteley M. Evolution of Bacterial “Frenemies”. mBio. 2017. 8(3):e00675-17. *Authors contributed equally

Ibberson CB, Parlet CP, Kwiecinski J, Crosby HA, Meyerholz DK, Horswill AR. Hyaluronan modulation impacts Staphylococcus aureus biofilm infection. Infect. Immun. 2016. 84(6):1917-1929.

Ibberson CB, Jones CL, Singh S, Wise MC, Zurawski DV, Horswill AR. The Staphylococcus aureus hyaluronate lyase is a CodY-regulated virulence factor. Infect. Immun. 2014, 82(10):4253-4264.

Rosenthal CB, Mootz JM, and Horswill AR. Staphylococcus aureus Biofilm Formation and Inhibition. Antibiofilm Agents. Springer, 2014. 233-255.