"I began the Primate Microbiome Project knowing full well that the greatest scientific discoveries happen when individuals from diverse backgrounds come together and share ideas about problems and their potential solutions." - Jonathan Clayton
My name is Jonathan Brent Clayton, and I am currently preparing to become a successful member of the scientific community by pursuing a PhD in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences along with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota.
My research combines primate behavior and sampling fieldwork with functional genomics laboratory research to discern an evolutionary understanding of feeding ecology in primates. This work addresses critical knowledge gaps about the relationship between gut microbial communities and health, including the relationship between primate gut microbial communities and nutrient utilization in species with evolutionarily specialized diets. An understanding of the evolution of these communities is essential to elucidate the role of gut microbiota in primate evolution. The red-shanked douc, an Old World monkey and member of the subfamily Colobinae, serves as a model system to examine the relationship between dietary composition and gut microbial community structure. The long-term goal of this project is to better understand the microbial communities in the varied gastrointestinal systems of nonhuman primates. Such knowledge is critical to a better understanding of human evolution, and to understanding the sustainability of endangered nonhuman primates.
My ultimate career goal is to acquire an academic position where I can use my knowledge of molecular biology to study primate evolution, health and physiology from a non-traditional perspective. The combined DVM/PhD program contributes to my career goals by allowing me to integrate primate medicine with molecular biology to address hypothesis-driven research questions. Being trained both in the clinic and in the lab will provide a multifaceted perspective in my research.
It is my belief that the greatest scientific discoveries happen when individuals from diverse backgrounds come together and share ideas about problems and their potential solutions. Thus, it is my sincere hope that with continued development, the Primate Microbiome Project will serve as a platform to begin my professional career, which I foresee as being highly interdisciplinary in nature.