Picture of Laura Vaughan

Laura "Kelly" Vaughan

Title:

Chair & Assistant Professor of Biology

School:

College of Arts and Sciences

Office Location:

Bristol Campus: White Hall 215A

Office Phone:

423-652-6468

Email:




The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.   John Locke

Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. Stephen Hawking

Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done. Robert A. Heinlein

Biography

I grew up on a farm that has been in our family since the 1700's in Holston Valley, right outside of Bristol. I have always been a science nerd and growing up on the farm gave me both a foundation in how nature works, but also an awe in the amazing complexity of our world and a drive to ask 'why?'. I attended Berry College in Rome, GA where I obtained a BS in Biochemistry and Animal Science (I was going to Vet school until I decided that 1) I didnt like cows that much and 2) I enjoyed research). I then went on to Texas A&M to earn a PhD in Biochemistry (because, in my naiveté, it was the broadest field and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life). I then spent 10 years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, first as a postdoctoral fellow and then Research Assistant Professor in the Biostatistics Department. During that time I reinvented myself twice- first moving from bench work to Statistical Genetics and then to Bioinformatics- where I think I may finally have found my niche.

Although I had built a successful research career, I felt something was missing. I had always known that I wanted to return to my roots, both in terms of returning to the area and teaching at a liberal arts school. As much as I love the challenge of research, I missed the dynamics of the classroom and the interactions with students. Family is an important part of my life, and I could not pass up the opportunity to return home and join the King community. Teaching has pushed me to become a better scientist, which in turn makes me a better teacher.

In the spring of 2015, my second semester at King, I was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer (non-functional neuroendocrine carcinoma). As of summer 2015, I am cancer free after undergoing chemotherapy and surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Throughout the whirlwind of the few months between diagnosis and surgery, the support I received from my King family was an important part of my recovery. As I have said may times over, there are too many coincidences to be coincidence, the Hand of Divine Providence is most apparent. Between my eclectic academic background and my personal journey, I hope to serve as both an example and mentor to my students as they find their way to their own vocation.

I am committed to providing students with undergraduate research experience and have begun to build a research lab where students can gain valuable experiences and skills. I have, and will continue, to take students to local, regional and national research conferences so that they can begin to build their scientific community. I am also passionate about Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and mentoring young women.

I am blessed with a wonderful husband, a precocious daughter, fantastic friends and an amazing family. In my free time you can find me on the farm where I grew up, riding horses, spending time with my family and living life to the fullest.



Education

Research Assistant Professor Department of Biostatistics, Section on Statistical Genetics, The University of Alabama at Birmingham   

Post-Doctoral Fellow Department of Biostatistics, Section on Statistical Genetics, The University of Alabama at Birmingham   

Ph.D. Biochemistry. Department of Biochemistry, Texas A&M University.         

B.S. Biochemistry major, Animal Science minor. Berry College.


Recent Publications and Presentations

Peer Reviewed Publications

See my Google Scholar Profile for an up to date listing of pubs.

Talks

Vaughan, LK. October 2013. Pathways toward a systems view of complex genetics. King University, Bristol, TN. Department of Biology Seminar Series. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. October 2013. Pathways toward a systems view of complex genetics. University of North Dakota Foundations of Biomedical Sciences Seminar. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2013. Gene Set & Pathway Analysis. Molecular Epidemiology (EPI 788) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Elizabeth Brown, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Spring 2013. Introduction to Statistical Genetics. General Biomedical Sciences Bioinformatics (GBS 722) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Chiquito Crasto, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2012. Pathway Analysis: Functional Statistical Genetics & Bioinformatics. 2nd Annual NIGMS Short Course on Statistical Genetics and Genomics. Birmingham, AL. Invited Speaker.  http://www.soph.uab.edu/ssg/nigmsstatgen/second

Vaughan, LK. Spring 2012. Introduction to Statistical Genetics. General Biomedical Sciences Bioinformatics (GBS 722) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Chiquito Crasto, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2011. Gene Set & Pathway Analysis. Molecular Epidemiology (EPI 788) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Elizabeth Brown, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2011. Introduction to Statistical Genetics. General Biomedical Sciences Biostatistics (GBS 701) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Stacey Cofield, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2011. Pathway Analysis Software: Functional Statistical Genetics & Bioinformatics. 1st Annual NIGMS Short Course on Statistical Genetics and Genomics. Birmingham, AL. Invited Speaker. http://www.soph.uab.edu/ssg/nigmsstatgen/first

Vaughan, LK. Spring 2011. Gene Set & Pathway Analysis. Genetic Epidemiology (EPI 731) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Sadeep Shrestha, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Spring 2011. Pathway Analysis for High Dimensional Biology & Next Generation Sequencing. Special Topics in Statistical Genomics (Next Gen Sequencing, BST 695), University of Alabama at Birmingham Dequi Zhi Instructor Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Spring 2011. Introduction to Statistical Genetics 1 & 2. General Biomedical Sciences Bioinformatics (GBS 722) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Chiquito Crasto, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Summer 2010. Introduction to Statistical Genetics. General Biomedical Sciences Biostatistics (GBS 701) University of Alabama at Birmingham, Stacey Cofield, Instructor. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK & T Mehta. 2010. Effect of reference selection on enrichment analysis of gene lists. Talk presented at the Midsouth Computational Biology & Bioinformatics Society (MCBIOS) meeting, Stuttgart, MS. (also served as judge for student research competition).

Vaughan, LK. 2009. Pathway Analysis: Functional Statistical Genetics & Bioinformatics. Statistical Methods in Genetic Analysis II (BST 776) School of Public Health UAB, Hemant Tiwari, Instructor.  Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. 2009. Pathway and Network Based Analysis of High Dimensional Data. Molecular Epidemiology Course School of Public Health UAB, Elizabeth Brown, Instructor.  Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK & DB Allison. 2009. Pathway Analysis: Functional Statistical Genetics & Bioinformatics. 2nd Annual NSF Short Course on Statistical Genetics and Genomics. Honolulu, HI. Invited speaker. http://www.soph.uab.edu/ssg/nsfstatgen/nsfsecondannual

Vaughan, LK. Pathway Analysis Software Demonstration. 2nd Annual NSF Short Course on Statistical Genetics and Genomics. Honolulu, HI. Invited speaker.

Shriner, D & LK Vaughan. 2009. Powerful, Flexible, and Efficient Multilocus Genome-wide Association Testing Reveals Pathways Involved in Parkinson Disease. Talk presented at AMIA Translational Bioinformatics Meeting, San Francisco, CA.

Vaughan, LK & DB Allison. 2009. Data Mining - Functional statistical genetics & bioinformatics. Workshop on Statistical Genetics and Genomics, Southern Regional Meeting. New Orleans, LA. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK. Tutorial on Pathway Analysis with Ingenuity IPA. 2008 NSF Short Course on Statistical Genetics and Statistical Genomics, UAB. Birmingham, AL. Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK, J Divers, M Padilla, HK Tiwari, DT Redden & DB Allison. 2007. Evaluating admixture estimation and mapping techniques through plasmodes. Joint Statistical Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Vaughan, LK. 2006. Evaluating admixture estimation and mapping techniques through plasmodes. PROGENI meeting. Birmingham, AL.

Vaughan, LK, J Divers, M Padilla, HK Tiwari, DT Redden & DB Allison. 2006. Evaluating admixture estimation and mapping techniques through plasmodes. ENAR Meeting, Tampa, FL.

Vaughan, LK, BV Ottis, G Walker, M Chandler & WD Park. Classification of red rice with microsatellite markers. 2001. Workshop on Molecular Markers for Rice Quality and Disease Resistance. USDA-ARS Rice Research Unit and Texas A&M Agricultural Experiment Station, Beaumont, TX.  Invited Speaker.

Vaughan, LK, BV Ottis, M Chandler & WD Park. 2000. Red Rice (Oryza sativa) population structure. 28th Rice Technical Working Group, Biloxi, Mississippi.

Poster Abstracts

S Sudenga, J Kravchenko, I Akushevich, LK Vaughan, CM Wilson, J Tang, S Shrestha. 2012. Immune-related Genes Influence Clearance of HPV 16 and Genetically Related Types in HIV Co-infected Adolescents. Oral presented by S. Sudenga (PhD student) at HPV Conference, 2012.

LK Vaughan & Vinodh Srinivasasainagendra. 2011. Reproducible Research & Genome Geography. Poster presented at International Human Genetics Congres/ American Society Human Genetics. Montreal, Canada.

S Sudenga, J Kravchenko, I Akushevich, LK Vaughan, CM Wilson, J Tang, S Shrestha. 2011. Immune response genes and pathways involved in HIV pathogenesis influence HPV 12/12-like infection. Poster presented by S. Sudenga (PhD student) at HPV Conference, 2011.

LK Vaughan & Vinodh Srinivasasainagendra. 2010. Reproducible Research & Genome Geography. Poster presented at Nature Genetics & Welcome Trust Genomics of Common Disease Conference. Houston, TX.

LK Vaughan. 2010. Effect of gene reference selection on enrichment analysis of gene lists. Poster presented at ENAR meeting, New Orleans, LA.

LK Vaughan, A. Patki, K. Zhang, H. K. Tiwari, U. Broeckel, D. K. Arnett. Characteristics of the Affymetrix 500K GeneChip in African Americans. Poster presented at the 2008 ASHG meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Shriner, D & LK Vaughan. Genome-wide Association Analysis Reveals Multiple Pathways Involved in Parkinson Disease. Poster presented at 2008 NIH GEI workshop, Bethesda, MD.

Vaughan, LK, J Divers, M Padilla, HK Tiwari, DT Redden & DB Allison. Of mice and men: Using mouse datasets to evaluate admixture estimation and mapping techniques. Poster presented at the 2006 Genetic Society of America- Model Organisms Meeting, San Diego, CA.

Vaughan, LK, BV Ottis, AM Prazak-Havey, CA Bormans, C Sneller, JM Chandler & WD Park. 2001. Is all red rice found in commercial rice fields really Oryza sativa? The use of SSLP markers for red rice classification. Poster presented at 2001 Plant & Animal Genomic IX Conference, San Diego, CA.

Ottis, BV, Vaughan, LK, AM Prazak-Havey, CA Bormans, C Sneller, JM Chandler & WD Park. 2001. Is all red rice found in commercial rice fields really Oryza sativa? Poster presented by BV Ottis at 2001 Southern Weed Science Society Meeting, Biloxi, MS.

Ottis, BV, LK Vaughan, JM Chandler & WD Park. 2001. Classification of red rice based on SSLP markers. Talk given by B.V. Ottis at the Weed Science Society of America Meeting. 


Current research

Genes do not act in isolation, yet current statistical methods often assume that not only genes, but single markers are independent. At the same time, we are beginning to realize that individual variants often have small effects on disease status and will not be identified using current methodologies. Pathway based analysis methods aim to utilize biological annotations to capture knowledge of the relationship among genes and identify groups of genes that work together to lead to an outcome, but would not be identified individually. I apply these methods to an array of genomics data (association, expression, epigenetic, etc) to not only integrate biological knowledge, but also different types of data to gain a more holistic view of the genetics of common traits. In addition to focusing on the relationship between genes, a growing part of my research focuses on capturing and utilizing information about non-genic regions of the genome. This is accomplished through database mining of resources related to genome annotation such as the ENCODE project. I also have a strong interest in the application of reproducible research principles to genomics. 

 

Current Funding

Genome Geography: A tool for connecting genes and other genomic features (R03). 1R03DK096071. PI- Dr. Laura Kelly Vaughan                                    

Past funding

Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01) Cluster Based Selection of Candidate Genes in Genome Wide Association Studies 1 K01 DK080188-02. PI- Dr. Laura Kelly Vaughan.

2009 Charles Barkley Health Disparities Research Pilot Grant Award for Health Disparities Research in the Hispanic/Latino Population. Bad genes or genes behaving badly: Are Hispanic-American children predisposed to "thriftiness" resulting in increased fat accumulation at the expense of bone mass? PI- Drs. Laura Kelly Vaughan & Krista Casazza.

Postdoctoral Training Fellowship- Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grants (T32). 5 T32 AR07450 & 1 T32 NS054584. PI- Dr. Robert Kimberly & Dr. Gary Cutter respectively.


Courses recently taught

BIOL 2110 LAB General Biology I Lab
BIOL 2110 LAB General Biology Lab
BIOL 2110 LECT General Biology
BIOL 2110 LECT General Biology I
BIOL 3150 LAB Genetics Lab
BIOL 3150 LECT Genetics
BIOL 3250 LAB Bioinformatics Lab
BIOL 3250 LECT Bioinformatics
BIOL 3450 LAB Bioinformatics Lab
BIOL 3450 LECT Bioinformatics
BIOL 3700 LAB Biochemistry Lab
BIOL 3700 LECT Biochemistry
BIOL 3750 LAB Research Methods in Biology Lab
BIOL 3750 LECT Research Methods in Biology
BIOL 3760 LAB Genetics Lab
BIOL 3760 LECT Genetics
BIOL 4690 LECT Systems Biology
BIOL 4910 LECT Senior Thesis Research in Biology
BIOL 4920 LECT Senior Thesis Research in Biology