Graduate student awarded national fellowship to support scientific career

Logan Ott wearing a white lab coat, sitting next to a counter in a laboratory. A microscope and computer screen with an image on it are in the background.
Logan Ott, graduate student in the interdepartmental microbiology program, has received funding through a fellowship to continue researching microbial-host interactions.

AMES, Iowa - From computer science to microbiology, Logan Ott has found his calling in the research lab and recently received funding for his work to fight the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

Ott, graduate student in the interdepartmental microbiology program, was awarded a United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Predoctoral Fellowship.

Funding from the fellowship will allow Ott to further research he has been conducting in food science and human nutrition associate professor Melha Mellata’s laboratory since joining her team in the summer of 2018.

Ott’s work focuses on microbial-host interactions. He studies how disease-causing microbes (bacteria) interact differently in the guts of various hosts, such as chickens and mice. Antimicrobial resistance is one of the challenges he seeks to overcome.

“If we can identify how to prevent new bacteria from growing, we can prevent new strains from developing,” Ott said.

"I am very proud that Logan received this highly competitive fellowship; this indicates we can develop very strong students, and our research is very competitive,” Mellata said. “With this funding, Logan will develop a unique natural product to eliminate antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. It will be tested in chickens, a major food-producing animal in Iowa and the United States. Both the poultry industry and human health care will benefit from this research.”

Ott wasn’t always interested in the microbial sciences. He came to Iowa State to continue studying computer science after earning an associate degree from Iowa Central Community College. A presentation about host microbes he attended his first year at Iowa State caused him to shift focus from one area of science to another.

“The presentation was about host microbes and looked at the overuse and abuse of antimicrobials,” Ott said. “It was really fascinating, so much so that I ended up changing my major a week later.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Iowa State in 2018 and expects to complete his doctoral degree by May 2023. However, he may stay at Iowa State longer to complete his research since the fellowship provides funding for three years. His goal is to one day secure a faculty position at a research institute.

“Iowa State has done a great job in preparing me for graduate school through the rigorous coursework I did during my undergraduate studies,” Ott said. “Dr. Mellata’s leadership and strong research background has also helped me find success.”