About The Lab

            In my laboratory, we investigate the enormous biodiversity of bacterial life present in a number of wide-ranging habitats. Although we employ molecular techniques to study microorganisms, we also appreciate the traditional skills of the microbiologist. It is only in the seamless use of both traditional microbiological and modern molecular techniques that we can begin to understand the complex interrelationships of organisms. We are interested not only in the vast array of microorganisms and the habits they frequent but also in the shifts in population structures occurring due to changes in environmental conditions or particular stresses placed upon a particular ecosystem and the interplay of microorganisms within the biosphere.

            Systematics, a fundamental discipline underpins the science of microbiology, provides a framework allowing for the classification, nomenclature and identification of strains. My expertise is in microbial systematics spanning a 35-year period and I have been responsible or associated with the naming or re-classification of over 140 bacteria that includes 2 families, 40 genera and almost 100 species. The focus of much of my work is with the gastrointestinal tract of both humans and animals. I have made and continue to make significant contributions to the taxonomy of several economic and complex groups that include Clostridium and Lactobacillus. I am now consulted on a regular basis for my opinion or invited for collaboration on a wide range of organisms. This includes multiple book chapters (24) to some of the preeminent resources for microbial identification and taxonomy that includes Bergey’s Manual of Systematic Bacteriology, The Prokaryotes, and Biodiversity and Taxonomy of the Lactic Acid Bacteria. Through these associations I collaborate on a regular basis with many recognized leaders in gut microbiology.

            Furthermore, I have extensive links with individuals recognized as leaders in chemotaxonomy. My achievements are recognized with invitations to several prestigious committees such as the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes Clostridium and Related Taxa Sub Committee and the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes: -Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Related Organisms. In addition, I am involved with two important publications pertaining to microbial systematics, I serve on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology as an Associate Editor and Editor-in-chief of the Bergey’s International Society for Microbial Systematics Bulletin.

Research Focus

            We have many interests and side projects and at first sight this may seen a disparate array of organisms and subject matters; however the overriding theme is molecular systematics using traditional microbiological and modern molecular genetic methods.

1. Human Gut Microbiome
2. Microbial Taxonomy
3. Isolation and characterization of novel microorganisms from a wide range of habitats

Previous Research Projects Have Focused On

1. Biofuel
2. Biocorrosion
3. Investigations into microbial populations in swine manure and slurry
4. Investigations to into microbial assemblages associated with hot springs


2013-Present: Professor, University of Oklahoma
Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology

2009-2013: Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma
Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology

2005-2009: Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology

1999-2005: Senior Research Fellow-University of Reading
School of Food Biosciences, Molecular Systematics Group. Head of Lab: M. David Collins, D.Sc.

1991-1999: Senior Postdoctoral Research Scientist. BBSRC Institute of Food Research
Department of Microbiology, Reading, UK. Mentor: M. David Collins, PhD, D.Sc.

1989-1991: Research Assistant, London Hospital Medical College
Department of Oral Microbiology. Head of Lab: Haroun Shah.

1987-1989: Scientific Officer, Imperial Cancer Research Fund
Directors’ Laboratory, London, UK. Head of Lab: Sir Walter Bodmer.

1986-1987: Research Assistant, Microbial Resources Ltd
Microbial Enzymes, Reading, UK. Head of Lab Duncan Clark

1985-1986: Microbiology Scientific Officer. Medical Research Council
Dental Research Unit, Periodontal Diseases Programme, London Hospital Medical College, London, UK.


1993: PhD. The London Hospital Medical College
University of London, UK.  Department of Oral Microbiology. Mentors: Haroun Shah / Duncan Clark

1985: Graduate Fellowship Induction Course in Medical Microbiology
Paddington College, London, UK.

1981-1984 B.Sc. (Hons), Special Biochemistry
Department of Biochemistry, Royal Holloway College, University of London, UK.

Complete List of Published Work (>150)


Dr. Paul A. Lawson, Professor
Editor-in-Chief Bergey’s International Society for Microbial Systematics Bulletin
Fellow of the Australasian College of Biomedical Sciences
Associate Editor International Journal of Systematic & Evolutionary Microbiology

University of Oklahoma | Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology
George Lynn Cross Hall-Room 813
770 Van Vleet Oval | Norman, OK 73019-4110
Phone: 405-325-4426 | Fax: 405-325-7619