The Shields Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Arkansas State University investigates Streptococcus mutans physiology using functional genomics techniques (Tn-seq, CRISPRi, etc). Streptococcus mutans infections are a significant problem in dental health, as they help cause tooth decay. The end goal is to develop novel antimicrobials to kill Streptococcus mutans.

Latest Publication(s)/Preprint(s)

Effect of peanut stilbenoids, arachidin-1 and arachidin-3, on Streptococcus mutans growth and acid production

Construction of an arrayed CRISPRi library as a resource for essential gene function studies in Streptococcus mutans

Activation of TnSmu1, an integrative and conjugative element, by an ImmR-like transcriptional regulator in Streptococcus mutans

Recent News


November 2023

November was a busy month…

We attended the ASM-SCB meeting in Little Rock with the Alam lab.

Sangam and Andrew attended the annual Arkansas INBRE meeting in Fayettville.

October 2023

Andrew Goode, who is completing his senior honors thesis project in the lab, presented his data at the Arkansas Biosciences Institute Annual Symposium held at the Jack Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institue, UAMS, Little Rock.

August 2023

Jayson Smith (Nettleton High School) gained valuable hands-on research experience this summer as part of ACS Project SEED. Jayson worked with Beatrice to ‘knock out’ three genes in S. mutans - which was a success!

August 2023



We’ve made a lot of progress organizing and equipping our lab space, as can be seen above.

June 2023

Rob was awarded a seed grant from the Arkansas Biosciences Institue at A-State. This $70,000 grant will fund our research on TnSmu1 for the next two years - thank you ABI!

April 2023



Courtney, Hansa, Andrew and Karen all presented at Create@STATE with Andrew and Karen winning the Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Poster Presentation College of Sciences and Mathematics!

December 2022



Great way to finish the year - with some food at Mai Pai. Successful year with a few pubs, grants, Beatrice starting her PhD, Shawn learning all the assays and Courtney completing her honors thesis. 2023 is going to be even bigger!

October 2022

We recently attended the annual meeting of the South Central branch of the American Society for Microbiology. Lots of interesting and excellent microbiology research and Shawn was able to present his work on the S. mutans ICE TnSmu1.

August 2022

Rob has been awarded a grant from Arkansas INBRE. It is a Research Development Grant that will fund our research investigating important genes that have no known functions in bacteria. The grant will start in January 2023 and run until May 2025.

May 2022

Updated look at the lab below, we have made a lot of progress setting it up for our needs. Also check out two new preprints, with the links posted above! Spring semester was busy…Shawn King joined as a lab manager/research tech, I presented at AR-BIC, submitted a grant to Arkansas INBRE and submitted two papers.

October 2021

Making good progress in getting the lab up and running. We’ve even started collecting our first data! Shawn King, an undergraduate researcher, is testing compounds made by Dr. Alam’s group in the Chemistry & Physics Department for inhibitory activity against S. mutans. He has a lot of compounds to test but we already have active ones…

September 2021

The Shields Lab is open and slowly becoming more organized/equipped. Below is a picture showing the progress we have made in one month!

May 2021

Rob has been awarded a grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). It is an R03 (Small Grant Program for New Investigators) and will fund our project looking at the biology of an integrative conjugative element - an interesting region of mobile DNA.

April 2021

Rob has accepted a tenure track position at Arkansas State University and will be starting in August 2021. Can’t wait to see the great science that comes out of the lab!

September 2020

Rob’s collaborator Dr. Kelly Rice was awarded a new grant from NASA entitled “Assessing the impact of Agr Quorum Sensing on Staphylococcus aureus Physiology in the Space Flight Environment”. See here for a link to the award announcement. We will be helping with Tn-seq, using Staph aureus Tn-seq libraries that will be sent to the International Space Station!

March 2020

Rob was one of five junior faculty to be awarded a Colgate Award for Research Excellence (CARE). The CARE award provides $30,000 of support for 1 year.

“The CARE Program fosters the development of junior faculty by providing seed research funding to emerging leaders in academia at a time in their career path when it is most needed,” said Maria Ryan, vice president and chief dental officer, global technology at Colgate. “Every year, we look forward to meeting and supporting talented researchers in the early stages of their careers. We are pleased to fund innovative projects that promise to advance industry knowledge and perhaps even revolutionize the field of dentistry. On behalf of Colgate, sincere congratulations to the winners of this year’s grant awards.”

Thanks for the support Colgate and congratulations to the other awardees!