Dr. Joy Caughron


Associate Professor
Office: 278 Center for the Sciences
Lab: 268 Center for the Sciences
Box 6931, Radford University
Radford, VA 24142
Tel: (540) 831-6486
E-mail: jcaughron2@radford.edu



Courses Taught

BIOL 103: Environmental Biology
BIOL 104: Human Biology
BIOL 105: Biology for Health Sciences
BIOL 160: Introductory Seminar in Biology
BIOL 334: Microbiology
BIOL 407: Microbial Ecology
BIOL 408: Principles of Microbiology
BIOL 419: Introduction to Molecular Bioinformatics (HHMI SEA-PHAGES)
BIOL 450: Molecular Biology
BIOL 460: Advanced Seminar in Biology (multiple topics)
BIOL 491: Directed Study and Research
RARE 400: Radford Amazon Research Expedition Pre-departure Seminar
RARE 410: Radford Amazon Research Expedition Study Abroad


While working on my Ph.D., I investigated the role of aerobic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract using a variety of techniques including:  fMRI, mathematical modeling, constructing chromosomal mutants of Escherichia coli, a commensal gastrointestinal microorganism, and 16S rRNA PCR and pyrosequencing of the microbial population of the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract.  As a visiting scholar at Virginia Tech, I worked on cloning and determining the structure of several membrane proteins in Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens as they relate to mechanisms of disease.  I hope to expand this research to include an in situ investigation of horizontal gene transfer of tcdE, which produces a putative phage holin protein thought to be involved in toxin release.  My current area of collaborative research is exploring the interaction between alcohol consumption, inflammation, and the gastrointestinal microbiome via the gut-brain/HPA axis.  This is a really fun and productive collaboration with Dr. Dayna Hayes in the Department of Psychology and the BACoN lab group coordinated by Dr. Pamela Jackson. 

As a professor at Radford University, I have supported a variety of independent undergraduate research microbiology projects, for example:

  • antimicrobial properties of Amazonian medicinal plants on Staphylococcus aureus as compared to commercially available products
  • ant gastrointestinal microbiome and colony identity
  • cloning the honey bee royalactin protein into Eshcerichia coli for mass production and use in invertebrate research
  • developing a reliable, nanoscale bacterial killing assay to interrogate avian immune responses
  • comparing the antibacterial activity of Lactobacillus spp. bacteriocins to commercial antibiotics
  • determining growth characteristics and survival of probiotic bacterial species with the intent to develop an therapeutic inoculum

In the future, I would like to to continue my investigation of the microbial ecology of the gastrointestinal tract with molecular tools designed to explore the function of various microorganisms in this dynamic ecosystem.  The Human Microbiome Project has provided a wealth of new information to springboard exciting new research on the incredibly dynamic relationship between humans and our commensal microbiota.  I invite students to contact me if you'd like to engage in this area of scholarship or anything else microbiology related.

I am also a part of the RARE (Radford Amazonian Research Expedition) program and am passionate about supporting student work abroad.