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Roads to Research Student Spotlight

Heather Hansen

Heather Hansen, URF recipient, 2018

Studying MRSA
Discussing research

Prevalence and Characterization of Staphylococcus Species, including MRSA, in a Home Environment

Heather Hansen

Faculty mentor and sponsor – Dr. Rodney E. Rohde

College of Health Professions, Clinical Laboratory Science Program


More people in the US now die from Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) infections than from HIV/AIDS. The World Health Organization has predicted that antibiotic resistance will have an economic impact of $100 trillion dollars and a human impact of 10 million deaths. The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of Staphylococcus, including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, in a home environment. This study will evaluate various Staphylococcus species found on different areas, utilities, and furniture using a point prevalence design with a longitudinal approach. A total of 360 swab samples will be collected from 10 areas over a span of 12 months from different home surfaces. This longitudinal approach will allow for the tracking of “high touch surfaces” and the environmental cleaning affect over time and will allow for tracking of colonization among single areas within the household. The findings of this study can indicate potential exposure risks from Staphylococcus in everyday home environments.


As a Clinical Laboratory Science student, one of the more pertinent topics that we discuss involve examining prevalent microbiological threats. Dr. Rohde’s primary research area and subject matter expertise is in the space of antibiotic resistant microbes, including healthcare associated infections such as MRSA. I am presently taking CLS 4321: Directed Study in CLS in which I have joined Dr. Rohde’s research laboratory to gain real-world experience in the identification and characterization of these microbes. These threats, particularly antibiotic resistant “superbugs”, have the potential to decimate populations and create a boundless epidemic. My motivation behind advancing the research of Staphylococcus stems from the goal of making these hidden creatures of destruction emerge into light with the purpose of strengthening global stewardship of antibiotics. To defeat these pathogens, it is imperative that our knowledge of these organisms out progresses their evolution. Research is a unique path that advances from our past, guides our present, and establishes our future.


For more information about the Texas State CLS Program, click here.


For more information about Dr. Rohde’s research, click here.