Respected researcher

Gonzales helps ward off tough bacteria

Patrick Gonzales, recipient of the Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award this fall and currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

Thanks to the research of Patrick Gonzales, resistance to some bacteria is no longer a problem.

The 2005 master’s graduate studied the evolution of antibiotic resistance while earning a doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis. Gonzales and fellow researchers worked on dangerous pathogens, including the infamous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, that is resistant to known antibiotics. They showed MRSA infections could be killed by using a regimen of three separate, inexpensive antibiotics at specific dosages.

“This paper, which listed Patrick as first author, was picked up by the media and spread throughout the popular press like wildfire,” says UWL Biology associate professor Anne Galbraith, one of Gonzales’ former instructors. “I heard word of the discovery from many directions, and when I finally had time to read these press releases, I was tickled to see that one of our former students was primarily involved.”

Gonzales, who will receive the Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award this fall, is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He and his colleagues have applied for a patent of the drug combination that treats MRSA infections.

The Patrick Gonzales file

  • High-impact, peer-reviewed researcher in microbial genetics and genomics, addressing problem of antibiotic resistance.
  • Researcher at University of Alabama, Birmingham; Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; Washington University, St. Louis.
  • Taught at Washington University, 2010-11, 2014; and UWL, 2003-05.
  • Community involvement in Boy Scouts of America, March of Dimes, Craig Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization.
  • Doctor of Philosophy – molecular genetics and genomics, Washington University in St. Louis, 2015.
  • Master’s in biology – cellular and molecular biology concentration from UWL, 2005.
  • Bachelor’s in biology from University of California-Los Angeles, 1994.

The 6 receiving distinguished alumni awards

Alumni being honored for distinguished service and successful careers return to campus in fall. They will speak with students and participate in a panel at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in the Great Hall, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. An Alumni Awards Brunch and Ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Get ticket information.

Awards and honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

  • Shelmina Abji, ’85

Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

  • Hollie Nyseth Brehm, ’08
  • Patrick Gonzales, ’05

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed greatly to improve multiracial culture and understanding on campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

  • Jessica Rae McMunn ’05

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

  • Lisa Koenecke, ’91
  • Christopher Gleason, ’02

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles recognizing alumni receiving distinguished service awards in September 2017.