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Alison Kanak, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor
Phone: 706-867-3069

Office: Health and Natural Sciences, 406, Dahlonega
Areas of Expertise: Microbiology, Virology, Molecular Genetics, Environmental Microbiology , Microbial Bioremediation

Courses Taught

  • BIOL 1101/L Introductory Biology: A Human Perspective
  • BIOL 1107 Principles of Biology I
  • BIOL 2500 Microbiology for Allied Health Professions
  • BIOL 2900 Honors Phage Discovery Lab and Bioinformatics
  • BIOL 3220 Genetics
  • BIOL 4626 Virology


  • Ph.D., Biology, Georgia State University, Georgia, 2014
  • M.S., Biology, Georgia State University, Georgia, 2008
  • B.S., Applied Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology , 2005

Research/Special Interests

Dr. Kanak’s research interests focus on microbiology and specifically gene regulation within microbes. Her first biological love was viruses and so her background began with investigation of the apoptotic effects of infection with Rubella virus. This work lead to the discovery that this virus inhibits progression of the cell cycle until full assembled, at which point apoptosis is initiated. Further studies included identifying and characterizing genetic pathways involved in the degradation toxic aromatic compounds by anaerobic bacteria. Geobacter dalontii was the first anaerobic bacterium found capable of degrading benzene in anaerobic conditions. Details of the pathway were investigated using a combination of bioinformatics tools and traditional microbiology along with the role of sigma 54 in the regulation of the pathway.

Currently Dr. Kanak is working on identifying and characterizing novel bacteriophage from environmental samples that infect bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. Students working on this project will employ a combination of bioinformatics and molecular biology techniques to analyze/annotate the genomes of these novel phage and test the functionality of the genes in vivo. Future studies will include characterization of phage proteins towards the goal of therapeutic applications and preservation of consumable ethanol products.

Work Experience

  • Part-Time Instructor, Georgia State University, 2014-2015

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