Congratulations go out to Dr. E. Kaity Allen on the successful defense of her PhD dissertation! Dr. Allen’s dissertation presentation held April 7th, was entitled “Honing in on genetic risk of chronic otitis media with effusion and/or recurrent otitis media.” The aim of her research was to find novel risk factors that increase OM susceptibility by looking at both host genetics and bacterial communities during upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). This research showed the complex nature of the microbiome of the nasopharynx during URTI and identified novel regions and genes involved in susceptibility to OM. Moreover, functional assays support the participation of previously unsuspected mechanisms in OM pathogenesis. In summary, this research has provided insights into OM susceptibility from both host and bacterial perspectives. Committee members for Allen’s dissertation defense were David Wotton (Chair), Michele Sale (Advisor), Jason Papin (Dean’s Representative), Stefan Bekiranov, Keith Keene, and Ani Manichaikul.