Xinxian (Abigail) Shao


B.S. in Physics from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)

Graduate student in Physics department at Emory University since 2010

I’m a Physics student in Ilya Nemenman’s “Lab” at Emory University.  I’m interested in the population and antibiotic pharmacodynamics of bacteria growing as colonies in physically structured habitats. Of particular concern is to what extent are bacteria in colonies are more or less refractory to antibiotics than planktonic cells in well-agitated liquid culture, and the relative contributions of the structure of the colonies and the densities and physiological state of the bacteria to their susceptibility to antibiotics of different classes.  To address these issues, we grow bacteria in soft agar or on membrane filters and expose them to different concentrations of resources and antibiotics of different classes.  I am also working on mathematical models and computer simulations of bacteria growing as colonies.  Since bacterial cells in the real world frequently live as colonies on or in physically structured habitats like biofilms, this project will provide better understanding of how to more effectively treat physically structured bacterial infections, such as those on the skin or heart valves (endocarditis).