Morgen E. Anyan

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

University of Notre Dame

(574) 631-2962 (Office)



Š      I am a Ph.D. candidate working for Dr. Joshua Shrout at the University of Notre Dame.

Š      I study the swarming motility of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Š      In my spare time I sing with the Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir.

Š      I am a proud alumna of Washington State University.  GO COUGS!!!!



My research focuses on factors that affect the swarming motility of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a ubiquitous (translation: it’s everywhere), Gram-negative bacterium.  Swarming is the coordinated group movement of cells across a semi-solid surface through a thin liquid layer, and is thought to aide P. aeruginosa's ability to form biofilms and colonize environmental niches. 


Swarming can be temperamental, meaning that even little changes in surface moisture, environmental conditions and nutrient sources can have large impacts on the overall growth and phenotype (a.k.a., pattern) of a swarm.  When preparing swarm assays you have to worry not just about how long you dry your plates, but also the room’s temperature and humidity, as well as the temperature and humidity of the incubator where you store the finished assays. 


Furthermore, assay preparation concerns are just the tip of the swarming iceberg.  Defects in or over expression of various cellular components, such as flagella, rhamnolipid and various genes, can result in marked differences in swarming motility.  One such area that I’m particularly interested in is the effect of type IV pili (TFP) on swarming motility.  Cells without TFP (∆pilA) produce less defined swarm tendrils and, at the single-cell level, are more aligned than TFP-producing wildtype cells (Figure 1).  My research endeavors to answer why this happens.


Figure 1.  TFP-deficient (∆pilA) swarms are less defined than wildtype swarms, and display greater cell-cell alignment.  A hyper-piliated strain, ∆pilU, in unable to retract its TFP and does not swarm.  The scale bars for ‘Swarm Assay’ and ‘Swarm Edge’ are 10mm and 10μm, respectfully.


I am also investigating the influence of the heavy metals cadmium (Cd) and nickel (Ni) on swarm motility, with my current focus being on the difference in heavy metal tolerance between swarming and planktonic cells.  Preliminary results strongly suggest that swarming cells are more resistanct to heavy metal toxicity than planktonic cells (Figure 2).  Further research will help determine how and why this happens.


Figure 2.  Planktonic cells (A) are less resistant to the Cd and Ni toxicity than swarming cells (B).  Growth assays were spiked with various masses of Cd and Ni, homogenized into the nutrient media, and cell growth was monitored for 24hr (planktonic) or 96hr (swarm).  Planktonic assays with no apparent cell growth were plated onto growth media and the resulting colony forming units (CFUs) counted to assess viable cells left in solution (A, inset).




Š      Du, H., Z. Xu, M. E. Anyan, O. Kim, W. M. Leevy, J. D. Shrout and M. Alber.  High density waves of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in propagating swarms result in efficient colonization of surfaces.  Biophysical Journal (2012) 103: 601-9.

Š      Anyan, M.E., A. Amiri, C. W. Harvey, G. Tierra Chica, N. Morales-Soto, C. M. Driscoll, M. Alber and J. D. Shrout.  Type IV Pili Promote Intercellular Association and Moderate Swarming of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (submitted to PNAS; acceptance pending).

Š      Morales-Soto, N., M. E. Anyan, A. E. Mattingly, C. S. Madukoma, Harvey, C. W., M. Alber, E. Déziel, D. B. Kearns and J. D. Shrout.  Preparation, Imaging, and Quantification of Bacterial Surface Motility Assays (submitted to Journal of Online Video Experiments; acceptance pending).




Š      “Cell-Cell Interactions and Dynamics During Swarming of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  American Society of Microbiology General Meeting, Denver, CO, May 18-21, 2013.

Š      “Optimization of Biological and Physical Factors by Pseudomonas aeruginosa During Swarming.”  Workshop on Cell Motility, Chicago, IL, March 4, 2013.

Š      “Imaging and Applications of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Swarming.”  Workshop on the Physics of Bacterial Communities, Chicago, IL, June 12, 2012.




Š      University of Notre Dame (2010-present)

-       Ph.D. candidate

-       CEST Bayer Pre-Doctoral Fellow (2012-2013 and 2014-2015)

Š      Washington State University (2006-2010)

-       Bachelor of Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering

-       Mathematics minor

-       Honors College graduate

     S. Town Stevenson award winner

-       WSU Distinguished Regents Scholar

-       Washington Scholar

-       President’s Honor Role

-       Engineers Without Boarders

     Secretary (2007-2008)




Š      Environmental intern (May-August, 2010)

-       BP Cherry Point Refinery, Blaine, WA

     Conducted EPA OLD MACT Subpart EEEE, and RICE MACT compliance surveys.

     Investigate correlation between plant operations and total sulfur emissions

     Compiled PI tag alarming data to cross-reference with agency permit emission limits.

Š      Undergraduate researcher (June-August, 2008 and 2009)

-       Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Washington State University

     Evaluated cadmium sorption to biogenic iron oxides.

     Investigated enhanced PAH degradation through salicylate addition.

     Performed ASE extractions, HPLC analysis and ICP-MS analysis

     Executed DNA extraction, real-time PCR analysis and light microscopy.




Š      Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir (Notre Dame, IN)

          President (2014-2015)

          Tour Director (2013-2014)

                Liturgical Commissioner (2012-2013)

Š      St. Thomas More Catholic Student Center (Pullman, WA)

                Morning mass choir director (2009-2010)

                Choir member (2006-2010)

                Lector (2006-2008)



When ESPN’s College Gameday came to Notre Dame I helped fly Ol’ Crimson, a fixture on Gameday since 2003, and the symbol of WSU’s Undefeated Fans.


The BP Cherry Point interns volunteering at the Bellingham Food Bank’s garden.


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While at Washington State I was a member of the Nuthouse Improv Comedy Troupe.