Morgan Layne Davis

Morgan Layne Davis has always been fascinated with the world of microbiology and how microscopic agents wreak havoc on the human body and impact public health. Her passion is fueled by the desire to uncover the mysteries of the unseen world, understand how viruses and bacteria function, evolve, interact with their hosts, and use this knowledge to develop innovative approaches to combat emerging infectious diseases. 

Morgan earned two Bachelor of Science degrees (Biological Sciences and Microbiology) from Mississippi State University. She went on to complete a Master of Science under Dr. Janet Donaldson with the thesis entitled, “The effect of oxygen on bile resistance in Listeria monocytogenes.” Following her Master’s, Morgan began research in Dr. Steven Ricke’s lab at the University of Arkansas during which time she was inducted into the American Society for Applied Sciences and published her first book entitled, “Microbial Transposon Mutagenesis: Protocols and Applications” with Springer. With a desire to perform application-based research for clinical microbiology, she trained as a Medical Laboratory Scientist board certified by the American Society of Pathologists. Prior to pursuing a PhD at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biological Sciences, she served on the COVID-19 Emergency Response Taskforce at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) where she developed the long-read sequencing protocol for COVID-19 surveillance currently still being used today. While performing research at the CDC and serving on the COVID-19 Taskforce within the Emerging Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases division, she realized that acquiring a PhD in Biomedical Sciences would allow her more capability to combat public health threats and emerging infectious diseases. 

Hometown: Greenville, MS


Ricke, SC, SH Park, and ML Davis. Microbial Transposon Mutagenesis: Protocols and Applications. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 2016. Published August 4, 2019.  

Book Chapters 
Saldivar J, ML Davis, MG Johnson, and SC Ricke. Food and Feed Safety Systems Analysis. Chapter 13 – Listeria monocytogenes Adaptation and Growth at Low Temperatures: Mechanisms and Implications for Foodborne Disease. 2018. p227-248. 

Journal Publications  
Lacek KA, Rambo-Martin BL, Batra D, Zheng XY, Hassell N, Sakaguchi H, Peacock T, Groves N, Keller M, Wilson MM, Sheth M, Davis ML, Borroughs M, Gerhart J, Shepard SS, Cook PW, Lee J, Wentworth DE, Barnes JR, Kondor R, Paden CR. SARS-CoV-2 Delta-Omicron Recombinant Viruses, United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 2022 Jul;28(7):1442-1445. doi: 10.3201/eid2807.220526. Epub 2022 May 12. PMID: 35551714; PMCID: PMC9239886. 

Lambrou AS, Shirk P, et al… A, Unoarumhi Y, Bentz ML, Burgin A, Burroughs M, Davis ML, Keller MW, Keong LM, Le SS, Lee JS, Madden Jr JC, Nobles S, Owuor DC, Padilla J, Sheth M, Wilson MM; Strain Surveillance and Emerging Variants Bioinformatic Working Group; Strain Surveillance and Emerging Variants NS3 Working Group. Genomic Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 Variants: Predominance of the Delta (B.1.617.2) and Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variants - United States, June 2021-January 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Feb 11;71(6):206-211. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7106a4. Erratum in: MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2022 Apr 08;71(14):528. PMID: 35143464; PMCID: PMC8830620.  

Anastasia S. Lambrou, PhD*1,2; Philip Shirk, PhD*1,3; Molly K. Steele, PhD1, et al ….Morgan L. Davis MS; et al. “Genomic Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 Variants in the United States, June–December 2021: Predominance of the Delta (B.1.617.2) and Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variants” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:206–211. DOI:  

Chakravarty D, G Sahukhal, M Arick, ML Davis, JR Donaldson. Transcriptomic analysis of Listeria monocytogenes in response to bile under aerobic and anaerobic conditions

Davis ML, SC Ricke, and JR Donaldson. Establishment of Listeria monocytogenes in the Gastrointestinal Tract, Microorganisms 2019; 7(3), 75.  

Rothrock MJ, ML Davis, A Bodie, TG McIntosh, JR Donaldson, and SC Ricke. Listeria Occurrence in Poultry Flocks: Detection and Potential Implications. Front. Vet. Sci. 2017 11(4):125. 

Dawoud TM, ML Davis, SH Park, SA Kim, YM Kwon, N Jarvis, CA O’Bryan, Z Shi, PG Crandall, and SC Ricke. 2017. The potential link between thermal resistance and virulence in Salmonella: A review. Front. Vet. Sci. 14(4):93  

Dawoud, TM, A Khatiwara, SH Park, ML Davis, CA Baker, SC Ricke, and YM Kwon. 2016. Heat survival and phenotype microarray profiling of Salmonella Typhimurium mutants. Curr Micro. 74(2): 257-267. 

Wright ML, K Pendarvis, B Nanduri, M Edelman, HN Jenkins, J Reddy, H Jenkins, JG,    Wilson, JA Ding, MG Ammari, O Paul, B Roberts, and JR Donaldson.  “The effect of oxygen on bile resistance in Listeria monocytogenes.”  J Proteomics Bioinform. 2016. 9(4): 107-119.