Candace Williams, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Candace Williams serves San Diego Zoo Global as a Postdoctoral Associate in Reproductive Sciences.  Her major research interest is the interplay of gut microbial communities of herbivores and their hosts, specifically the role these communities play in fiber digestion, reproduction, immune function, and overall animal health. Her other interests include the application of cutting edge techniques to endangered species through the use of next-generation sequencing and biocomputing.

Candace’s main research focus is microbial ecology of the white rhinoceros, in which she is currently studying gastrointestinal tract microbiota and the potential role of microbial communities in phytoestrogen-induced infertility. Her work includes elucidating gut microbiomes of wild and captive-born rhinos using next-generation sequencing technology, comparing estrogenicity and quantifying phytoestrogens and their metabolites in diets and microbial metabolism end products through molecular endocrinology and analytical chemistry.

Candace earned her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Mississippi State University, where she also received her master’s degree in Biochemistry and her doctorate in Molecular Biology with a minor in Statistics.  Her graduate work in Dr. Ashli Brown’s Applied Biotechnology Laboratory focused on the microbial ecology of the obligate bamboo foragers, the giant and red panda, through both anaerobic bacteriology and high-throughput parallel sequencing.  Investigating the relationship between pandas’ bamboo diet and their gut microbiota, Candace determined factors that shape the gut microbiome of these threatened species.  She continues her collaboration with Mississippi State University, where she serves as an affiliate of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology.