Panelist Laurie Caslake is a professor of biology at Lafayette College in Easton Pennsylvania. She received her degrees in biology from Arizona State University (B.S.) and Pennsylvania State University (M.S. and Ph.D.). Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Georgia, she began teaching at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia WA. Several teaching positions later, in North Carolina and New York, she joined the faculty at Lafayette in 1999.
She has taught courses in microbiology, molecular biology, plagues, as well as introductory biology. Most recently, she has co-developed and co-taught a course on data literacy designed to engage students from the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Her main research interests are in microbial stress responses – how do bacteria live in environments that seem hostile? From metal contaminated sites to desert environments with little water, bacteria live and thrive. Over the past dozen years, she has engaged in an interdisciplinary research project studying how to improve the engineering properties of soils using bacteria that are naturally present in these soils. She has co-authored fourteen publications and served as principal or co-principal investigator on five grants from the National Science Foundation. She was a member of the American Society for Microbiology Biology Scholars Research Residency program from 2011-2016 and served as Chair of the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program Review Committee from 2007-2013.