Heather Hopkins

Heather Hopkins

Heather Hopkins

Research Scientist

346 Eberhart Building


M.S., UNC Greensboro


My research involves examining the coincidental evolution hypothesis (CEH), which posits that virulence is maintained in opportunistic pathogens due to selective pressure from predators. Opportunistic pathogens are found in multiple environments–where they are preyed on by eukaryotic microorganisms–and so evolve defense mechanisms that aid in survival. These mechanisms “coincidentally” act as virulence factors, contributing to pathogenicity during host infection. I experimentally evolved the opportunistic pathogen Serratia marcescens in the presence or absence of a protist predator, Tetrahymena thermophila, to determine predation’s effects on virulence in honey bee hosts as well as investigate what genes are responsible for virulence in opportunistic pathogens. My research includes hands-on work with bees and beekeeping, and comprises molecular biology, microbial evolution, and genomics. Currently, I am a research associate in Dr. Kasie Raymann’s microbial ecology and evolution lab at UNCG, where I continue my research on the CEH, as well as train PhD students, mentor undergrads, and act as a lab technician and beekeeper.

Recent Publications

  1. Hopkins HA, Raymann K. 2022. Opportunistic pathogen virulence is maintained by the presence of predators. bioRxiv https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.06.17.496625.