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Think and Do The Extraordinary
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Erin McKenney

Assistant Professor

Director – Undergraduate Programs

DCL 126



Ph.D., Duke University
M.S., North Carolina State University

Teaching Statement

Download Erin’s philosophy here.

Research Interests

My research incorporates microbial ecology, nutrition, and comparative gut morphology to investigate novel questions using perfect, unusual systems. For over a decade I have investigated evolutionary adaptation across scales and species, between non-human primates and rogue (herbivorous) carnivores and their gut microbes.  More recently, I have engaged the public, particularly students, to study the microbes in sourdough starters and other fermented foods.

In the classroom, I cultivate critical thinking through active learning. Millennial students are not limited by access to content; I focus, instead, on practicing current techniques to collect and analyze novel datasets. By designing my courses around authentic research experiences, I encourage student autonomy and foster practicing scientists. 

Selected Publications

Greene, L.K., McKenney, E.A. The inside tract: the appendicular, cecal, and colonic microbiome of captive aye-ayes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23481. [PDF]

McKenney, E.A., Koelle, K., Dunn, R.R., Yoder, A.D. (2018). The ecosystem services of animal microbiomes. Molecular Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/mec.14532. [PDF]

McKenney, E. A., O’Connell, T. M., Rodrigo, A., & Yoder, A. D. (2017). Feeding strategy shapes gut metagenomic enrichment and functional specialization in captive lemurs. Gut microbes. DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1408762. [PDF] >> press release <<

McKenney, E. A., Maslanka, M., Rodrigo, A., & Yoder, A. D. (2017). Bamboo Specialists from Two Mammalian Orders (Primates, Carnivora) Share a High Number of Low-Abundance Gut Microbes. Microbial ecology, 1-13. Doi: 10.1007/s00248-017-1114-8 [PDF] >> press release <<

McKenney, E. A., Greene, L. K., Drea, C. M., & Yoder, A. D. (2017). Down for the count: Cryptosporidium infection depletes the gut microbiome in Coquerel’s sifakas. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 28(1), 1335165. [PDF] >> press release <<

McKenney, E., Flythe, T., Millis, C., Stalls, J., Urban, J. M., Dunn, R. R., & Stevens, J. L. (2016). Symbiosis in the Soil: Citizen Microbiology in Middle and High School Classrooms. Journal of microbiology & biology education, 17(1), 60. [PDF]

McKenney, E. A., Rodrigo, A., & Yoder, A. D. (2015). Patterns of gut bacterial colonization in three primate species. PloS one, 10(5), e0124618. [PDF]

McKenney, E. A., Williamson, L., Yoder, A. D., Rawls, J. F., Bilbo, S. D., & Parker, W. (2015). Alteration of the rat cecal microbiome during colonization with the helminth Hymenolepis diminuta. Gut microbes, 6(3), 182-193. [PDF]


View Curriculum Vitae