Growing up in rural Georgia, Ashton McKinnon had slim opportunities to conduct research and began his undergraduate career in French horn performance. However, while at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College he fell into a neurobiology lab and quickly gained a love for biosciences and benchwork. That experience influenced him to change majors and lean into his newfound scientific curiosity about the world around us.
McKinnon earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry in 2019. While at ABAC, he studied the effects of potential over-the-counter therapeutics for memory retention and Alzheimer’s disease. Continuing his research endeavors, he earned a master's degree in biomedical sciences from Mercer University in 2022. During his graduate work, he focused on the manipulation of host pathways by viral oncoproteins, and how this contributes to different malignancies. He then found his way to St. Jude, joining the lab of Dr. Elaine Tuomanen to study antibiotic tolerance in pneumococcus. As a PhD student, he is particularly interested in infectious disease pathogenesis and antibiotic resistance, understanding mechanistically what makes us ill and why some pathogens can be more difficult to treat.
Hometown: Douglas, GA
Garcia, P., Harrod, A., Jha, S., Jenkins, J., Barnhill, A., Lee, H., Thompson, M., Williams, J. P., Barefield, J., Mckinnon, A., Suarez, P., Lowrey, A. J., Bentz, G. L. 2021. Effects of targeting sumoylation processes during latent and induced Epstein-Barr virus infections using the small molecule inhibitor ML-792. Antiviral Research. 188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2021.105038.