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Douda Bensasson featured by UGA Research magazine

Douda Bensasson

Douda Bensasson, Associate Professor in Plant Biology, was featured in the UGA Research magazine for both her research and her efforts to foster diversity in the department.  

The article explains Bensasson’s research journey from mountain grasshoppers to yeast, her current study organism. Yeast is an ideal organism to study the effects of climate change on population survival, including yeast pathogens. The Bensasson lab manipulates yeast growing conditions to determine which yeast species will survive as weather patterns and growing conditions change and become more extreme.  

Bensasson was awarded a Creative Research Medal in 2022 for her discovery of a common and lethal yeast pathogen Candida albicans living on oak trees.  Until then C. albicans was only known to live in warm-blooded animals, however the Bensasson lab was the first to show that the presence of C. albicans on samples from oak trees was not due to human contamination, and that oaks trees were indeed hosts for the fungus. Bensasson explains that while both humans and oak trees can be reservoirs of C. albicans, there is little chance of humans becoming infected by trees. More than half of the human population will host C. albicans during their lifetime, while most will not be affected by the pathogen, the few that are infected may contract a serious blood infection. C. albicans is the most common cause of hospitalization (and death) among all fungal pathogens. Bensasson also sequenced genomes for three strains of the C. albicans, these genome sequences can be used to understand how the species is such a successful pathogen and occupies such different hosts.  

Douda Bensasson has also made a commitment to fostering diversity in the sciences. She works to make her lab an inclusive environment for all and shares her practices with the Plant Biology department.  She was awarded a Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to educate others and implement practices of diversity and inclusion in the department. 

You can read the full article by UGA Research here


Associate Professor, Plant Biology; Institute of Bioinformatics

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