After receiving his Ph. D. from the University of Sussex, in England studying nitrogen regulation in bacteria, Dr. Edwards moved to the United States to continue his studies. He worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, understanding how a leading cause of traveler’s diarrhea (E. coli causes disease). Dr. Edwards then moved to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign to study another food-borne pathogen, Salmonella. These studies merged the nascent area of genomics with traditional microbial genetics to investigate how a particular type of Salmonella became the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States.
From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Edwards was an Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, TN. Here, Dr. Edwards continued his studies on pathogenic bacteria, notably Salmonella and the bioterrorism weapon Francisella. Dr. Edwards received FBI clearance to work on these bacteria, and was invited to the NIH to comment on the use of Select Agents at basic research laboratories.
In 2004, Dr. Edwards moved to the non-profit Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes to work at the interface of biologists and computer scientists, and worked with their team at Argonne National Laboratory. He remains an active software developer for Argonne and the Fellowship, developing open source software such as the PERL modules for biological analysis and parallel computing that are used by scientists worldwide. Using breakout technologies, like pyrosequencing, Ion Torrent sequencing, and high throughput bioinformatics analysis, Dr. Edwards’ studies are pushing the forefront of both sequencing technology and bioinformatics. This work was highlighted in three independent publications in Nature at the start of 2008.
Dr. Edwards returned to academia in 2007, taking a research and teaching position in the Departments of Computer Science and Biology at San Diego State University where he is now an Associate Professor. Here he is continuing to work at the interface of biology and computing. The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the USGS, and private donors currently fund Dr. Edwards’ research. Edwards’ research is leading to breakthroughs in our understanding of how viruses interact with their hosts, and how viruses samples from around the world carry important genetic information.
Committed to teaching, Dr. Edwards received the graduate student award for outstanding educator at the University of Tennessee, the teacher-scholar award (2008) and outstanding faculty award (2009 and 2012) at San Diego State University. He travels extensively to share his passion for bioinformatics and has taught bioinformatics classes around the US, and in China, Europe, Mexico, and South America. Dr. Edwards holds a visiting professor position at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and teaches bioinformatics classes in Rio every year.
In addition to science and teaching Dr. Edwards is also an advanced scientific SCUBA diver having led teams to study Coral Reefs all over the world. In his spare time, he is an avid international yachtsman, competing in long-distance offshore races.