Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences
Heather Bean is a bioanalytical chemist working to characterize the metabolomes of human, animal, plant, and environmental microbial consortia with two main purposes: 1) understanding how volatile and semi-volatile metabolites mediate microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions, and 2) development of novel biomarkers and diagnostics, with an emphasis on breath tests. As a Postdoctoral Fellow for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Bean pioneered the use of two-dimensional gas chromatography – time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) for the identification of volatile biomarkers for bacterial lung infection detection and characterization. At ASU, she and her research team are applying this analytical technique to identify the volatile metabolites found in many different types of samples, including human specimens (breath, sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, feces), animal infection models, soils, cell cultures, and genetically modified microbial strains.
The Bean research group is also working to advance the application of GC×GC-TOFMS to untargeted metabolomics, pushing the boundaries of existing data analysis tools and pipelines and developing new ones, as needed, to transform large metabolomics data sets into useful information for monitoring health and diagnosing disease.