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Kathleen Cusick

Kathleen Cusick

Assistant Professor

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences 324


Postdoc US Naval Research Laboratory, Chemistry Division 2016

Postdoc University of Tennessee 2013

Ph D University of Tennessee 2009

MS Florida Institute of Technology/Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute 2000

BS Dickinson College 1997


I have a Master's in Marine Biology and PhD in Microbiology. Combining these backgrounds, I use molecular tools to study the microbial ecology of coastal marine systems, with a special emphasis on harmful algal bloom ecology and evolution. My research is interdisciplinary in nature and spans the fields of microbial (including algal) genetics and genomics; molecular biology; environmental microbiology; ecotoxicology; and transcriptomics.

Research Interests

ecology and evolution of harmful algal blooms; bioluminescence and toxin production in HABs; marine microbial ecology; marine biofilms; copper and antibiotic resistance in marine bacteria

Teaching Interests

Microbiology; climate change; harmful algal blooms

Selected Classes

  • Spring 2019 BIOL 275 – Microbiology
  • BIOL 602 – Intro Lab/Field Research
  • Fall 2018 BIOL 739 – Res Sem in Molecular Biology
  • Spring 2018 BIOL 739 – Res Seminar in Molecular Biology

Contracts, Fellowships, Grants, and Sponsored Research

Cusick, Kathleen. “Early Career Travel Grant,” Grant (Funded). Sponsored By: Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. Feb 28, 2011).

Cusick, Kathleen. “Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid,” Grant (Funded). Sponsored By: Sigma Xi. (Jan 1, 1998 – Dec 31, 1999).

Cusick, Kathleen. “NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program Fellowship,” Fellowship (Funded). Sponsored By: NASA. (Aug 1, 2005 – Aug 31, 2008).

Cusick, Kathleen. “National Academies Post-doctoral Fellowship,” Fellowship (Funded). Sponsored By: National Academies/National Research Council. (Nov 1, 2013 – Nov 30, 2016).

Cusick, Kathleen. “Summer Research Faculty Fellowship,” Fellowship (Funded). Sponsored By: UMBC Office of the Vice President for Research. (Jun 1, 2018 – Aug 31, 2018).

Intellectual Contributions

Cusick, Kathleen, Widder, Edith A. (2020). . 98 101850 Harmful Algae.

Cusick, Kathleen, Polson, Shawn W., Duran, Gabriel, Hill, Russell T. (2020). . 86 e01831-19. Appl. Environ. Microbiol..

Gaston, Joel D., Bischel, Lauren L., Fitzgerald, Lisa A., Cusick, Kathleen, Ringeisen, Bradley R., Pirlo, Russell K. (2017). Gene Expression Changes in Long-Term In Vitro Human Blood-Brain Barrier Models and Their Dependence on a Transwell Scaffold Material. JOURNAL OF HEALTHCARE ENGINEERING.

Cusick, Kathleen, Dale, Jason R., Fitzgerald, Lisa A., Little, Brenda J., Biffinger, Justin C. (2017). Adaptation to copper stress influences biofilm formation in Alteromonas macleodii. 6. 33 505-519 BIOFOULING.

Cusick, Kathleen, Duran, Gabriel. SxtA4+ and sxtA4- Genotypes Occur Together within Natural Pyrodinium bahamense Sub-populations from the Western Atlantic. Microorganisms.

Research In Progress

Cusick, Kathleen, Greenawalt, Wendy, Wolf, Julia B., Gardner, Jeffrey G. “Development of a genetic system for Alteromonas,” Scholarly (On-Going). Sep 1, 2017

Cusick, Kathleen, Erill, Ivan. “Intracellular Signaling in Alteromonas,” Scholarly (On-Going). Nov 1, 2017

Cusick, Kathleen, Hunsucker, Kelli, Price, Amelia, Gautam, Pratima. “Horizontal gene transfer as a driver of copper resistance in marine bacteria,” Scholarly (On-Going). Mar 1, 2018

Cusick, Kathleen, Boyer, Greg, Widder, Edith, Place, Allen. “Exploring the Link between Toxicity and Bioluminescence in HABs,” (On-Going). Aug 1, 2019


Cusick, Kathleen, Whitis, Maureen M (Author). Gordon Research Conference on Phycotoxins and Mycotoxins. Poster. "The Effects of Copper on Growth and Saxitoxin Production in the Harmful Algal Bloom Dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense," Gordon Research Conference. (Jun 1, 2019).

Cusick, Kathleen, Gautam, Pratima (Author). ASM Microbe. Poster. "Novel Mechanisms of Copper Tolerance in the Marine Bacterium Alteromonas macleodii," American Society for Microbiology. (Jun 1, 2019).

Cusick, Kathleen, Price, Amelia (Author), Biffinger, Justin (Author). 6th American Society for Microbiology Conference on Cell-Cell Communication in Bacteria. Poster. "Comparative genomics of cyclic di-GMP signaling in strains of the globally-distributed marine bacterium Alteromonas macleodii," ASM. (Oct 1, 2017).

Cusick, Kathleen, Little, Brenda (Author), Biffinger, Justin (Author). 2nd American Society for Microbiology Conference on Experimental Microbial Evolution. Poster. "Adaptation and evolution of a marine microbe following long-term exposure to elevated copper," ASM. (Aug 1, 2016).

Cusick, Kathleen, Dale, Jason (Author), Little, Brenda (Author), Cockrell, Allison (Author), Biffinger, Justin (Author). Ocean Sciences Meeting. Poster. "Genomic and transcriptomic analyses to identify pathways involved in nanoparticle generation in the ubiquitous marine bacterium Alteromonas macleodii under elevated copper conditions," ASLO. (Feb 1, 2016).

Cusick, Kathleen, Dale, Jason (Author), Little, Brenda (Author), Biffinger, Justin (Author). 7th American Society for Microbiology Conference on Biofilms. Poster. "Adaptation to copper stress promotes biofilm formation in Alteromonas macleodii," ASM. (Oct 1, 2015).

Cusick, Kathleen, Cockrell, Allison (Author), Fitzgerald, Lisa (Author), Dale, Jason, Baldwin, Jeffrey, Biffinger, Justin (Author). 115th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. Oral Presentation. "Molecular mechanisms associated with anaerobic metal reduction in a thermophilic bacterium (Thermus sp.)," ASM. (Jun 1, 2015).