Dr. Linda Hensel

Professor of Biology

Dr. Linda HenselEducation

  • Ph.D., Genetics, University of Wisconsin
  • M.S., Genetics, University of Wisconsin
  • B.S., Microbiology and Immunology, University of Washington

Specialty

  • Molecular genetics in the mustard plant, Arabidopsis, SNP variance in coding and non-coding regions of genomes
  • Biofilm anti-microbials in pathogenic bacterial species
  • Developing CURES (course-based undergraduate research experiences)

Research Interest

Since 2015, Dr. Hensel’s research has focused on two projects that allow students to perform authentic research in undergraduate classrooms in lieu of the traditional “cookbook” laboratory protocols that are pervasive throughout a standard curriculum. The creation of these projects required that her undergraduate research team develop and beta test protocols for the classroom, create a database for classroom results, and expand on the findings of interest to produce publishable results.

One project is called the BOMM (an integrated biology, organic chemistry, and mathematical modeling experience). The goal of the project is to produce novel lead compounds that inhibit biofilm formation by competitively inhibiting the molecular signals received during quorum sensing. Small organic molecules are secreted by bacteria and when a certain density of bacteria (and signaling molecules) is reached, the quorum is sensed, and genes that produce virulence factors are expressed. One of those virulence factors is biofilms.

Biofilms are matrices of secreted organic polymers that protect bacteria from antibiotics, allow them to attach to substrates like catheters, etc. Most antibiotics target general aspects of bacterial cells, such as the cell wall or the prokaryotic ribosome. Since they have general targets, these antibiotics can harm the millions of normal flora that inhabit human bodies in commensal or mutualistic relationships. Thus, a new wave of antibiotics that are specific for virulence factor inhibition would be beneficial in health care.

This project has students synthesizing novel lead compounds in the organic chemistry portion of the course and testing the efficacy of these compounds in the biology portion of the course. Thus far, the BOMM team has offered the course for two consecutive years and tested over 350 novel lead compounds. It has found over a dozen candidates of interest. The candidate drugs are then resynthesized in larger and purer quantities for confirmation and additional tests. The team has learned that a majority of our compounds of interest that inhibit biofilm formation in one species, enhance biofilm formation in a second (and maybe third) species.

The second project that allows students to perform authentic research in an undergraduate classroom setting is designed for an upper division genetics course.

SoTL research

Collaborative efforts occurred from Dr. Hensel’s work in the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) program. First, she developed and regularized the BIO 361: Biology of Sex and Gender course after offering the WGS introductory course. The course covers three domains: the evolution of meiosis (sex) and sexual bodies, the development of the female-intersexual-male body (the continuum), and sexual behavior in animals (the non-reproductive pervasive behavior). Large sections of these domains are briefly covered, if at all, in core biology texts, and students are amazed that these topics have not become part of the core. Students have dubbed the subtitle for this course as “Everything you want to know about biological sex that is not in your regular textbooks.” Dr. Hensel uses three to five texts and supplemental articles for this course, and bias is still evident in much of these works. Her students have continued to ask her to produce a textbook for this course, so others can use it because they deem this course as one of the most important courses in their undergraduate career. The textbook for this course is a work in progress.

Dr. Hensel’s WGS work has also resulted in a collaborative effort with two other colleagues to create WGS 385: Fiber and Culture. We have added a laboratory component that includes raising silk works, dying fiber, spinning, weaving and knitting. The course has been fully enrolled and addresses the student learning outcomes for the creative expressions block in our general education program. A curriculum proposal has been submitted to include the course offering in general education. The originality of this course has resulted in a publication submitted to “The Feminist Teacher.”

Dr. Hensel’s research philosophy encompasses a wide array of projects, from working with undergraduates in a research setting to creating authentic research experiences in a classroom setting. Her passion for science and for teaching have resulted in her placing student learning at the forefront with an overarching goal of instilling a passion for learning about science within my students.

Recent Publications

  • David Goode, Christina Bure, Shawn Canavan, Caroline Jackson, Jennifer Goode, Jeffrey Denny, and Linda Hensel. An Integrated CURE for Biology and Organic Chemistry. JMBE (splitting and resubmitting as two papers)
  • Hensel, L. L. solicited book chapter titled “Student Success Differences in an Undergraduate Genetics Course” in Feather Boas, Black Hoodies, and John Deere Hats—discussion of diversity in K-12 and higher education. My chapter describes underrepresented student successes in STEM college classrooms. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2017).
  • Hensel, L.L., Mary Ann Drake, and Virginia Young (2017).The Fiber Arts in a Women’s Studies Curriculum—A Case Study. The Feminist Teacher. Vol. 28, No. 1 (2017), pp. 17-3.

Arabidopsis Publications

  • Yawn, Gary and L. Hensel (2004). A Novel Reverse Genetic Approach to Undergraduate Research: TILLING the AtCys Gene. Georgia Journal of Science 62:35.
  • Chipley, John, Natalie Moss, and L. L. Hensel (2000) Analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana Cytokinin Levels in Transgenic and Mutant Proliferous Lines. Georgia Journal of Science 58:45.
  • Bleecker, T., LaChiana Zeigler, Aric Aldridge, and L. Hensel (1995). Proliferous, an Arabidopsis Mutant that lacks the Global Arrest of Inflorescence Meristems. Supplement to Plant Physiology 108:81.
  • Hensel, L.L., M. Nelson, T. Richmond, and A.B. Bleecker (1994). The Fate of Inflorescence Meristems is Controlled by Developing Fruits in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 106:863-876.
  • Hensel, L.L., V. Grbic, D.B. Baumgarten, and A.B. Bleecker. (1993). Developmental and age-related processes that influence the longevity and senescence of photosynthetic tissues in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 5:553-564.
  • Hensel, L.L. and A.B. Bleecker (1993). Arabidopsis as a model system for analysis of leaf senescence and inflorescence-meristem longevity. 1992 “Cellular Communication in Plants–proceedings from the 21st Steenbock Symposium (Plenum Publishing Corporation: New York), pp. 123-130.

Abstracts and Meeting Presentations

  • Kaimari, Abdulraheem, Linda Hensel, David Goode, Natalie Yaeger, Dontavious Jones, Novel Lead Compounds demonstrating anti-biofilm properties in S. aureus may act as Nor-A efflux pump inhibitors,” SURF (SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum), Spartanburg, SC, October 2021. Also SEMSS (Southeastern Medical Science Symposium), Vanderbilt Virtual, January 29, 2022.
  • Evan Floyd, Natalie Yaeger, David Goode, Linda Hensel, “Patent Pending HEFY Assay: The Quantification of Biofilm Inhibition in Bacillus subtilis,” SURF (SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum), Spartanburg, SC, October 2021. Also SEMSS (Southeastern Medical Science Symposium), Vanderbilt Virtual, January 29, 2022—second place at SEMSS for best presentation.
  • Mendoza, Daniel, Sophia Guo, Brenton Puckett, and Kathryn Howe. SEMSS (Southeastern Medical Science Symposium), Vanderbilt Virtual, January 29, 2022.
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Goode, David Ryan (Facilitator), Kaimari, Abdul (invited Presenter), Hebron University, Palestine, “Small novel compounds that resemble signaling molecules may act as competitive inhibitors of proteins in bacterial communication systems like receptors or efflux pumps.” After this presentation, Abdul was invited to give an updated talk at the IPCLM-11 international conference in Palestine. July, 2021.
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Goode, David Ryan (Facilitator)—Association Southeastern Biology Virtual Meeting March 2021. One undergraduate talk (1) and 3 posters (2-4):
    1. Yaeger, Natalie, and Jeff John presented “Biofilm Inhibition via the Application of Novel Lead Compounds — An exploration of bacterial and fungal biofilms within species Cryptococcus neoformans, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterobacter aerogenes, Candida parapsilosis, Candida albicans, Vibrio fischeri, and Proteus mirabilis.”
    2. Mudireddy, Gautham, and Arnith Eechampati “Efficacy Testing of Various Salts on Streptococcus mutans Biofilm Production.”
    3. Longway, Gabby, and Vy Nguyen. “Genetic Analysis of Biofilm Production Pathways in Streptococcus mutans Inhibited by Novel Lead Compounds.”
    4. Longway, Gabby, and Vy Nguyen. Database Analysis of Novel, Lead Compounds that Inhibit Biofilm Production in Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus mutans. 2nd place poster award.
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Goode, David Ryan (Facilitator), Jones, Luke (Presenter), Crumbly, Katelyn (Presenter), Longway, Gabby (Presenter), Nguyen, Vy “Ava” (Presenter), SEMSS (Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium) 2020, “Genetic analysis of Staphylococcus aureus biofilm production pathways inhibited by novel lead compounds,” Emory University organizers, Virtual. (November 2020). Awarded 2nd place in poster presentations.
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Longway, Gabriella “Gabby” (Presenter), Nguyen, Vy “Ava” (Presenter), Jones, Luke (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan, Posters At the Capitol, “Novel lead compounds demonstrating anti-biofilm properties in B. subtilis , S. aureus , and S. mutans,” Atlanta, GA, United States. (February 25, 2020).
  • Goode, David Ryan, Hensel, Linda L, Rozeboom, Bethany (Presenter), Baker, Nnamdi, Loving, Danielle, Southeastern Medical Scientist Symposium, “Structure-activity relationship of a novel Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation inhibitor,” American Physician Scientists Association, Birmingham, AL, United States. (October 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L, Jones, Luke (Presenter), Nguyen, Vy “Ava” (Presenter), Longway, Gabriella (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan, SEMSS (Southeastern Medical Scientists Symposium), “Novel lead compounds demonstrating anti-biofilm properties in B. subtilis , S. aureus , and S. mutans,” UAB Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, United States. (October 13, 2019). Awarded 3rd place for poster presentations.
  • Hensel, Linda L (Presenter), SABER, “BOMM: An Interdisciplinary CURE for Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Mathematical Modeling,” REIL, Minneapolis, MN, United States. (July 25, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan, Denny, Jeffrey K, Goode, Jennifer Evans, Jurkiewicz, Melissa Ann, ASM Microbe 2019, “BOMM: An Interdisciplinary CURE for Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Mathematical Modeling,” American Society Microbiology (ASM), San Francisco, CA, United States. (June 21, 2019).
  • Goode, David Ryan (Presenter), Hensel, Linda L (Presenter), Shah, Ashna (Presenter), Baker, Nnamdi (Presenter), Loving, Danielle (Presenter), Experimental Biology 2019, “Structure-activity relationship of a novel Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation inhibitor,” ASBMB, Orlando, FL, United States. (April 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L, Goode, David Ryan, Meyer, Peri (Presenter), Bear Day 2019, “Growing, Quantifying, Synthesizing Drugs and Inhibiting BiofilmFormation,” Mercer, Macon, GA, United States. (April 6, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Scarboro, Sutton (Presenter), Nguyen, Vy “Ava” (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan (Facilitator), Bear Day 2019, “Efficacy Testing of Novel nti-Biofilm Lead Compounds Synthesizedin A Course-Based Undergraduate Research (CURE) Setting,” Mercer, Macon, GA, United States. (April 6, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L, Goode, David Ryan, Dorsey, Brittany (Presenter), Farrell, Elisa (Presenter), Shinholster, Lamonica (Presenter), Bear Day 2019, “Synthesizing and Testing Biofilm Inhibitors: AnAlternative to Current Antibiotics,” Mercer, Macon, GA, United States. (April 6, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L (Moderator), Patel, Payal (Presenter), Jones, Luke (Presenter), Patel, Anjali (Presenter), Eechampati, Arnith (Presenter), Patel, Jay (Presenter), Mudireddy, Gautham (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan (Facilitator), Bear Day 2019, “Synthesis of Novel, Anti-biofilm Antibiotics Part A, Part B, Part C,” Mercer, Macon, GA, United States. (April 5, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Christian, Hailey (Presenter), Copeland, Mackenzie (Presenter), Dickerson, Synda (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan, Bear Day 2019, “Combating antibiotic Resistant Bacteria,” Mercer, Macon, GA, United States. (April 5, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L (Facilitator), Nguyen, Vy “Ava,” Tirado, Brian (Presenter), Goode, David Ryan, ASB (Association of Southeastern Biologists), “Efficacy Testing of Novel Anti-Biofilm Lead Compounds in Staphylococcus aureus,” Memphis, TN, United States. (April 5, 2019).
  • Hensel, Linda L, Goode, David Ryan, Scarboro, Sutton (Presenter), Nguyen, Vy “Ava” (Presenter), Bear Day, “Efficacy Testing of Novel Anti-Biofilm Lead Compounds Synthesized in A Course-Based Undergraduate Research (CURE) Setting,” Georgia Sewing Guild, Macon. (April 4, 2019).
    Hensel, Linda (Presenter), Georgia Sewing Guild Monthly Meeting, “Chemistry of Colorwork–Dying Silk Scarves,” Georgia Sewing Guild, Macon, GA, United States. (February 9, 2019).
  • David Goode, John Stanga, and Linda Hensel (November 9-11, 2017). Synthesis of novel lead compounds and determining their efficacy in biofilm inhibition in Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. National Association Biology Teachers (NABT). St. Louis, MO.
  • David Goode, Christina Bure, Shawn Canavan, Caroline Jackson, and Linda Hensel (Dec 11-14, 2016). Synthesis and Efficacy Testing of Novel Anti-Biofilm Lead Compounds—Authentic Research in an Undergraduate Classroom. American Society of Microbiology Conference on Antimicrobial Development. Washington, D.C.
  • David Goode, Christina Bure, Shawn Canavan, Caroline Jackson, and Linda Hensel (Dec 11-14, 2016). Efficacy Testing of Novel Anti-Biofilm Lead Compounds. American Society of Microbiology Conference on Antimicrobial Development. Washington, D.C.
  • Drace, KM, Lambert, L, Northcutt, KV, Hensel, LL, and Young, VA (2015). Save the Bears: Report on the Action Plan of Mercer University’s Biology Department. Association of Southeastern Biologists (ASB), Chattanooga, TN.

Mercer undergraduates have been noted in bold.

Contact Dr. Linda Hensel


(478) 301-2707
hensel_ll@mercer.edu