Dr. Laura Weyrich
Postdoctoral Researcher at Australian Center for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide, Australia
Dr. Weyrich obtained a PhD from The Penn State University in 2012, after receiving a National Science Foundation PDRA Fellowship to understand how commensal microorganisms contribute to infectious diseases. In addition to immunological and medical research, she also developed a Dual-PhD program for biological scientists to learn and practice Bioethics. In 2012, she began a post-doctoral research appointment at the University of Adelaide, in the Australian Center for Ancient DNA. Using her medical expertise, she helped establish calcified dental plaque (calculus) as the only fossil record of human microbiota in existence, and linked ancient and historic changes in human microbial communities to large shifts in health and disease. She has since reconstructed the microbiome from Neandertals, and was the first person to reconstruct a microbiome from an extinct species. In 2015, Dr. Weyrich obtained a prestigious Australian Research Council DECRA fellowship, aimed at reconstructing the diversity of human microbiota around the world and its links to disease, especially in Indigenous people. For her research, she has received over 15 awards for research excellence, collected dental calculus samples from five continents, and given over 40 guest lectures on the topic. Her research has been featured by the BBC, NPR, USA Today, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, New Scientist, and National Geographic, and has been highlighted on TV and in a documentary entitled “Life on Us.” Her research has even had a Buzz Feed quiz written about it. Her commitment to understanding how commensal microorganisms contribute to disease, and how they shape the world around us, is changing how we view human health today.