Lamar student to study ancient dental plaque

Kelli Creel's research will focus on studying microbes that are present within the dental tartar on skeletons from Rome. | Contributed photo

Kelli Creel, a Lamar University junior studying microbiology and pre-dentistry, will work with University of York researchers to discover ancient genetics associated with plaque, the school announced this week.

This research project is supported by the Beck Fellowship and a Mirabeau Scholarship. Research will focus on studying microbes that are present within the dental tartar on skeletons from Rome. Creel will be working with Camilla Speller, a specialist in ancient genetics and Matthew Collins, a specialist in proteins. Creel will also be working with dentists in the U.K. to experience dental practices and how they differ between those found in the U.S.

Creel has previously participated in research projects including the Tropical Biology Program. This allowed her to travel to Belize for biological research.

“I was already interested in microbiomes and the roles they play in different environments,” Creel said. “There are vast amounts of research going on which focus on the body's second-most diverse microbiome: the mouth, but ultimately, Camilla Speller's research was the one that most stood out to me. Hers was the only project I found which dealt with ancient entombed oral microbes, and it is also quite a large, multinational project.”

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