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Karlyn Beer
PhD Candidate

Institute for Systems Biology

401 Terry Ave N.

Seattle, WA 98109

kbeer (at)




Research and Bio: 

In harsh hypersaline ecosystems, like the north Great Salt Lake (GSL), microbes have evolved in a chemically dynamic aquatic environment that walks the limit of salt solubility.  Extreme halophilic archaea dominate microbial communities here, and have evolved unique physiologies that allow for the maintenance of osmotic balance.  However, these cells experience complex changes in hypersaline chemistry (spatial and temporal gradients in ion composition as well as total salinity) and must adjust their physiology on appropriate time scales in order to thrive. In addition to the conceptual value of understanding microbial adaptation to complex EF, the practical consequences of adaptation in hypersaline environments are vast: 1) Agricultural and petroleum industrial waste is often hypersaline, and degradation of hydrocarbons by extreme halophiles is [NaCl]-dependent, and 2) Carbon mineralization after soil rehydration (the Birch Effect) has large implications for global carbon balances, and microbial osmotic stress responses have been implicated in this process.

   Broadly, I'm interested in combining systems biology with epidemiology and public health in order to reduce morbidity and mortality from infectious disease.  We can think of Infectious disease as an emergent property of a complex system that includes humans, microbes, animals and the built and natural environments; all of these factors must be considered when disease prevention strategies are designed and evaluated.  I want to understand and prevent infectious disease by taking a systems-level approach to public health.  I completed a MS in epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health in March 2010, and expect to finish my PhD in late 2013.



Beer KD, Hullar MH, Lampe JW, et al. 2012. Unique gut microbial communities are associated with fiber and starch intake in healthy premenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. Submitted.

Beer KD. 2012. What should be the role of national public health agencies in the implementation of Ecohealth strategies for infectious disease prevention? EcoHealth. Accepted.

Nguyen D, Joshi-Datar A, Lepine F, Bauerle E, Olakanmi O, Beer KD, Singh PK, et al. 2011. Active starvation responses mediate antibiotic tolerance in biofilms and nutrient limited-bacteria. Science. Nov 18. 334(6058): 982-986.

Brooks AN, Turkarslan S, Beer KD, Lo FY, Baliga NS. 2011. Adaptation of cells to new environments. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med.  Sept-Oct. 3(5): 544-561



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