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Where do pathogens come from? Microbes are all around us, but infectious diseases arise from a tiny fraction of these diverse organisms. Research in my lab is aimed at uncovering the origin stories of pathogenic bacteria: the where, when, how and why of infectious disease emergence. Bacteria occupy incredibly diverse niches and adapt by a multiplicity of mechanisms. Pathogen origin stories reflect this ecological and evolutionary diversity, with our work and others’ showing that there are numerous paths to virulence. This presentation focuses on the origin story of a pathogen I started working on by accident, Staphylococcus saprophyticus. S. saprophyticus, which infects humans and animals, is able to move fluidly among diverse environments. This bacterium illustrates the intertwined ecologies of humans, animals, and the natural and built environments we share. In this presentation, I will share what we have learned about how S. saprophyticus evolved to cause disease.