Skip to main content

Robert K. Ernst, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

University of Maryland School of Dentistry

Secondary Appointment(s):

Microbiology and Immunology

Additional Title:

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, School of Dentistry


School of Dentistry, 9205

Phone (Primary):


Phone (Secondary):




Education and Training

Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1997-2002, Department of Medicine and Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Advisor: Dr. Samuel I. Miller

Postdoctoral Fellowship. 1996-1997, Myles H. Thaler Center for Retrovirus Research. Miles H. Thaler Post-Doctoral Fellow. Department of Microbiology.  University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Advisor: Drs. Marie-Louise Hammarskjöld and David Rekosh

Ph.D., 1996, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Advisor: Dr. Marie-Louise Hammarskjöld. Major - Microbiology

M.A., 1988, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York. Advisor: Dr. Joseph M. Merrick. Major - Microbiology

B.S., State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, New York. Major –Microbiology/Chemistry


Robert (Bob) K. Ernst, Ph.D., is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis in the School of Dentistry and an Adjunct Professor the Department of Microbiology & Immunology in the School of Medicine. In the fall of 2008, I moved my laboratory from the University of Washington, Seattle, where I was a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a principal investigator with the Northwest Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research (NWRCE) to the University of Maryland. I received my B.S. from the State University of New York at Oswego (biology and chemistry), an M.A. from SUNY Buffalo (Microbiology), and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (Microbiology) studying retroviral RNA transport, where I was also a fellow in the Myles H. Thaler Center for Retrovirus Research. Subsequently, I was a senior fellow at University of Washington in the laboratory of Samuel I. Miller (Allergy and Infectious Diseases) from 1997 – 2002 before joining the faculty in 2002. 


Highlighted Publications

Sorensen M, Chandler CE, Gardner FM, Ramadan, Knot PD, Leung LM, Farrance CE, Goodlett DR, Ernst RK, Nilsson E (2020) Rapid microbial identification and colistin resistance detection via MALDI‐TOF MS using a novel on‐target extraction of membrane lipids. Scientific Reports. Accepted for publication 11/2020

Liang T, Leung LM, Opene B, Fondrie WE, Lee YI, Chandler CE, Yoon SH, Doi Y, Ernst RK, Goodlett DR. (2019) Rapid microbial identification and antibiotic resistance detection by mass spectrometric analysis of membrane lipids. Anal Chem. 2018 Dec 20. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02611. PMID: 30571097

Fondrie WE, Liang T, Oyler BL, Leung LM, Ernst RK, Strickland DK, Goodlett DR. (2018) Pathogen Identification Direct From Polymicrobial Specimens Using Membrane Glycolipids.Sci Rep. 8(1):15857. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33681-8. PMID: 30367087

Leung LM, Fondrie WE, Doi Y, Johnson JK, Strickland DK, Ernst RK, Goodlett DR (2017) Identification of the ESKAPE pathogens by mass spectrometric analysis of microbial membrane glycolipids. Sci Rep. 7(1):6403. PMID: 28743946

Awards and Affiliations

2020                       Dr. Paul and Mrs. Jean Corcoran Endowed Professorship

2019                       Entrepreneur of the Year, University of Maryland - Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

2018                       Dr. Mark E Shirtliff PhD Student Mentor Award, University of Maryland - Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

2017                       Researcher of the Year, University of Maryland - Baltimore, Baltimore, MD

2016                       Maryland Department of Commerce Life Award –UMB-JHU Pataigin – Lipid-based microbial diagnostic                                     platform

2016                       UMB-JHU Alliance Ventures award – Anti-sepsis therapeutics

2014                       UMB-JHU Alliance Ventures award – Lipid-based bacterial diagnostic platform

2014                       Exploratory Measurement Science Group, Scottish Instrumentation and Resource Centre for Advanced                                     Mass Spectrometry Research Award

2006                       Philip and Helen Fialkow Scholar Award, Outstanding Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, University                                   of Washington

2002                       Cited paper in Science Now (March 28, 2002), "Clue to cystic fibrosis lung infection"

1998-2001               Research Fellowship, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Grants and Contracts

2010-2014              Dental and Craniofacial Research Workforce T32 training grant, UM-SOD

2008-present           Immunity and Infection T32 training grant, UM-SOD/SOM

2012-present           Innate Immunity T32 training grant, UM-SOM

2020-present           Vaccine T32 training grant, UM-SOM CVD