Associate Professor of Biology
Joanna Klein joined the Department of Biology & Biochemistry in 2003. Her training and primary interest is in bacterial genetics. After receiving her doctorate in genetics studying the Salmonella pathogenesis, she did three years of post-doctoral research at the University of Minnesota studying intron splicing in the gram-positive bacterium Lactococcus lactis. She continues to work on this project with undergraduate students at Northwestern. Her other research projects include collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute to annotate the genome of the marine bacterium Cellulophaga lytica and monitoring the levels of E. coli bacteria in Lake Johanna. A distinctive of her teaching philosophy is to incorporate original research projects into the course she teaches. Thus, students in her Microbiology and Genetics courses all receive valuable training and experience in scientific research. Additional scholarly interests include developing and evaluating effective teaching methods in biology education.
Courses I Teach
I have three primary research interests focused on different areas of microbiology and bacterial genetics. The study of bacterial genetics is a critical component of both basic and applied research. For example, bacteria associated with the human body number in the trillions, with varying levels of consequence. While the relationship between human and microbe is largely mutualistic, a seemingly simplistic single-cell organism such as a bacterium does have the power to overcome its host. Ultimately, this ability is encoded within the genetic information, the DNA, of the bacteria. In addition to understanding the workings of a particular bacterium, the study of bacterial genetics often increases our understanding of basic biological principles found in complex organisms, thus serving as a model organism.
Project 1 – Genetic Analysis of Intron Splicing in Lactococcus lactis
Project 2 – Genome annotation of Cellulophaga lytica
Project 3 – Monitoring E. coli levels in freshwater lakes
Klein, J.R. (2011). Investigation of Escherichia coli in Freshwater Sources Using Membrane Filtration and Rep-PCR DNA Fingerprinting with Introductory Biology Students. Pages 104-116, in Tested Studies for Laboratory Teaching, Volume 32 (K. McMahon, Editor). Proceedings of the 32nd Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), 445 pages.
Klein, J.R. (2007). Career Exploration Finds a Place in the Classroom. Focus on Microbiology Education. Vol. 13, No. 3.
Klein, J.R., Y. Chen, D.A. Manias, J. Zhou, L. Zhou, C.L. Peebles, G.M. Dunny. (2004) A Conjugation-Based System for Genetic Analysis of Group II Intron Splicing in Lactococcus lactis. J. Bacteriol. 186:1991-1998.
Select Poster Presentations
Klein, J.R. Is it E. coli O157:H7? Using Bioinformatics to Develop and Test Hypotheses. Poster Presentation at the American Society for Microbiology Conference for Undergraduate Educators. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, June, 2011.
Elizabeth Karlen, Michele C. Kieke, Joanna R. Klein. The Science Research Institute: Partnering High School and College Students in Research and Service. National Association of Biology Teachers Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN, November 2010.
Office Location: Nazareth Hall 3048
Ph.D., University of Iowa, Genetics