U1-Research 2F Microscope Lab-Grad-hero

Current Students in Microbiology & Immunology Progam

Alex Abel

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aabel@mcw.edu
Mentor: Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, Buena Vista University, IA, 2010; MS, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, 2012
Research Interest: Molecular mechanisms governing immune cell function

 

Rick Armstrong

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rarmstrong@mcw.edu
Mentor: Thomas Zahrt, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry, Alma College, Alma, MI, 2012
Research Interest: Lipid droplet production in Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Carlie Aurubin

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caurubin@mcw.edu
Mentor: Vera Tarakanova, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2015
Previous Education: BS, Biology, Oakwood University, Huntsville, Alabama, 2014
Research Interest: Molecular Studies of Viral Infection
"Our lab focuses on the interplay between gammaherpesviruses and the host. In particular, my research focuses on the effect of prenylation on viral pathogenesis."

Ismael Banla

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ibanla@mcw.edu
Mentor: Nita Salzman, MD, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN, 2012
Research Interest: Bacterial factors important for GI tract colonization

Rajruba Chakraborty

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rchakraborty@mcw.edu
Mentor: Nita Salzman, MD, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2011
Previous Education: MS, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bengal, India, 2008
Research Interest: Immune regulation of Enterococcus faecalis in the murine gastrointestinal tract

Yao Chen

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yachen@mcw.edu
Mentor: Weiguo Cui, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education:
BS, Beijing Sport University, Beijing, China, 2009-2013; MS, Beijing Sport University, Beijing, China, 2013-2016
Research Interest: Memory T Cell Biology
"I am interested in epigenetic regulation in memory T cell differentiation. Because transcriptional reprograms are essential for memory T cell fate commitment and subset-specific functions. Understanding these mechanisms may provide insight into the long-term immune protection provided by memory T cell which has the therapeutic potentials to treat or prevent disease and provide a new strategy for vaccine design."

Ashley Ciecko

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aciecko@mcw.edu
Mentor: Yi-Guang Chen, PhD 
Year Entered MCW: 2015
Previous Education: BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2011
Research Interest: Immunogenetics of Type I Diabetes
“I became interested in the immunogenetics of type I diabetes when I joined the laboratory of Dr. Yi-Guang Chen in the Max McGee National Research Center for Juvenile Diabetes as a research technologist in 2011. I really enjoyed researching type I diabetes and in 2015 I transitioned my role in Dr. Chen’s lab to graduate student. I am interested in identifying the role of interleukin 27 in the progression of type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is characterized by the T cell mediated destruction of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells. Human genome wide association studies have identified a region on chromosome 16 significantly linked to type I diabetes. Interleukin 27 is proposed to be the causal gene in this region. Interleukin 27 is a recently discovered cytokine with diverse context dependent activity. Elucidating the role of interleukin 27 in type I diabetes could reveal novel therapeutic targets for interrupting disease progression.”

Tiffany Claeys

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tclaeys@mcw.edu
Mentor: Richard Robinson, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2015
Previous Education: BS, Indiana University – South Bend, South Bend, IN, 2015
Research Interest: T cell response in pediatric nontuberculous mycobacterial disease.
“I am fascinated by the immense complexity of the human immune system, especially in the context of opportunistic bacterial pathogens.  The delicate interplay between our defense system and our environment never leaves a shortage of questions and allows me to examine ideas from several angles using a broad range of techniques.  My research on pediatric disease also affords me the opportunity to work with clinicians and identify areas where collaboration and communication can make a huge impact as well as allows me to see how my work contributes to the bigger picture.”

Michael Curtis

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mcurtis@mcw.edu
Mentor: Jenifer Coburn, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, North Central College, Naperville, IL, 2012
Research Interest: Borrelia burgdorferi – Host Interactions

Eric Darrah

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edarrah@mcw.edu
Mentor: Vera Tarakanova, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 2010
Research Interest: Virus-host interactions

Orlando “Landon” DeLeon

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odeleon@mcw.edu
Mentor: John Kirby, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2017
Previous Education: BA, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2010 
Research Interest: We have been examining the role of xenobiotics for their capacity to disrupt the gut microbiota with deleterious consequences on metabolism. Currently, we utilize the Illumina platform to obtain 16s rDNA sequence information and metagenomic (whole genome) information. We analyze those data using QIIME (Quantitative Insights into Microbial Ecology) and ANVI’O (An analysis and visualization platform for ‘omics data) open source software. We are employing the use of total calorimetry to assess metabolic defects in mice following perturbation with xenobiotics.

“My thesis is on the xenobiotic risperidone and its ability to alter both the bacterial and viral components of the microbiome. We use this drug to model how xenobiotics can have adverse consequences, including dysbiosis, or an ‘unhealthy’ microbiome. I examine how phages (bacterial viruses) can mediate community changes in the gut, both in the gene content and composition of the microbiome. Much of my work focuses on de novo viral genome assemblies (virus hunting), bacterial genome assemblies, and network analysis of gene pathways, all of which are applied to a community-based perspective. I also work on developing in vitro models to study this phage-bacterial dynamic shift due to risperidone treatment. When not in the lab, I’m likely eating sushi or ramen.”

Aaron Dirck

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adirck@mcw.edu
Mentor: Amy Hudson, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: BA, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, 2012
Research Interest: Study of Human herpesvirus 6 and 7 encoded protein U21 and the rerouting of MHC class I from the cellular surface to evade the immune system

Kate Dixon

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kdixon@mcw.edu
Mentor: Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: BS, Biology/Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2013
Research Interest: The role of NK cell activation via TLR agonist, and NK cells dynamic communications with other innate and adaptive immune cells

Alex Gardner

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agardner@mcw.edu 
Mentor: Joseph Barbieri, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: BS, Chemistry, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 2015
Research Interest: “I am currently researching the anterograde trafficking and localization of Botulinum neurotoxin. I became interested in Academia when I had the opportunity to partake in undergraduate research, studying the structure and function of (F4FBR8). I was also a teaching assistant for the Department of Chemistry at UW-Milwaukee where I really enjoyed teaching introductory chemistry to students. I joined the Barbieri lab because I find great interest in how toxins interact with host cells.”

Zachary Gerbec

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zgerbec@mcw.edu
Mentor: Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: BS, University of Madison-Wisconsin, 2010
Research Interest: The role of metabolism in NK cell effector functions

Kaitlin Johnson

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kschmitz@mcw.edu
Mentor: Vera Tarakanova, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2015
Previous Education: BS, Biology, St. Norbert College, De Pere, WI, 2015
Research Interest: My research area focuses on virus/host interactions in the context of gammaherpesvirus infection.
“I joined the Tarakanova lab because I enjoy studying virus/host interactions and immunology. I am interested in studying the host factors that affect gammaherpesvirus pathogenesis. In particular, my research focuses on the host factor Shp1, a phosphatase that is expressed primarily in immune cells. I address the questions of how deficiencies in Shp1 within B and T cells alter the chronic infection of the virus in our mouse model system, and the mechanism by which Shp1 is functioning.”

Achia Khatun

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akhatun@mcw.edu
Mentor: Weiguo Cui, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Year 2012
MS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Year 2014
Research Interest: “As a graduate student in Dr. Cui’s lab, I am interested in studying the origin and clonal selection of CD8 memory T cells based on T cell receptor (TCR) at the single cell level, following acute infection. By doing this, we will be able to know the selection of high affinity CD8 memory T cell clones which can mount more robust immune response in recall infection and can be a potential candidate for vaccination.”

Benjamin Labbe

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blabbe@mcw.edu
Mentor: Christopher Kristich, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, Genetic and Molecular Genomics, Michigan State University, 2012
Research Interest: Intrinsic antibiotic resistance pathways

Philip Lange

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plange@mcw.edu
Mentor: Vera Tarakanova, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2014
Previous Education: BS, Microbiology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 2011
Research Interest: The role of the sterol metabolic network in the context of gammaherpesvirus infection

Valery Lozada-Fernández

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vlozada@mcw.edu
Mentor: John Kirby, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2017
Previous Education: BS, Industrial Microbiology - University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, Mayagüez, PR, 2014
Research Interest: Xenobiotic metabolism by gut microbiome.
"As a graduate student in Dr. John Kirby’s lab, I am interested in studying how the xenobiotic nicotinamide riboside, a vitamin B3 derivative and NAD+ precursor, is metabolized by the gut microbiome. This interdisciplinary research allows me to combine different approaches, such as bioinformatics, basic microbiology and a mouse model, to better understand what is happening in the gut."

Rebekah Mokry

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rmokry@mcw.edu
Mentor: Scott Terhune, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: BS, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI, 2016; BA, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI, 2016
Research Interest: Human cytomegalovirus manipulation of cellular processes.
"I became interested in virology during my rotation in the Terhune Laboratory. After I began to understand the complex cellular pathways manipulated by human cytomegalovirus during infection, I began to appreciate how identifying key players in these pathways can lead to the production of therapies to combat the virus. Our lab focuses on identifying molecular mechanisms of viral infection. Currently, I am interested in examining viral protein post translation modifications and the downstream effects of these modifications within the cell."

Natasha Moussouras

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nmoussouras@mcw.edu
Mentor:  Michael Dwinell, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: BA, Chemistry, BA, Spanish, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 2012
Research Interest: Structure and function of CCL21, CCL19, and CCR7

Adam Pickrum

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apickrum@mcw.edu
Mentor: Dara Frank, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: BS, Microbiology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI, 2012
Research Interest: Bacterial pathogens of the cystic fibrosis lung.
“As a member of the Frank lab, I study the pathogenesis of Gram-negative bacteria including their Type III secreted effectors. This research allows me to utilize techniques from a wide range of disciplines.  I have always been interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial colonization and infection. Here at MCW, I have the opportunity to pursue my interests in a highly collaborative environment.”

Clinton Piper

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cpiper@mcw.edu
Mentor: William Drobyski, MD
Year Entered MCW: 2014
Previous Education: BS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2014
Research Interest: The Role of T cell-derived Granulocyte-Monocyte Colony Stimulating Factor in the Pathogenesis of Acute GVHD.
“As a graduate student in Dr. Drobyski's lab, I am interested in researching new therapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of acute graft-versus host disease. GHVD occurs in about half of recipients of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) and can be debilitating for patients, limiting the usefulness of HSCT as therapy for hematologic malignancies.  Much about the pathogenesis of GVHD is poorly understood, and we seek to uncover the immunological mechanisms that exacerbate and regulate disease through the use of well-characterized murine transplant models.”

Fatima Saravia

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fsaravia@mcw.edu
Mentor: John Kirby, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2017
Previous Education: BS, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY, 2016
Research Interest: Gut Microbiome
“I am interested in exploring the gut phage-bacterial networks that mediate weight gain in response to xenobiotics. Work in the lab will also involve exploring the link between the gut phage-bacterial networks and hypertension. Examination of the gut phage-bacterial networks will provide insights into the mechanisms by which phage influence the gut microbiome composition.”

David Schauder

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dschauder@mcw.edu
Mentor: Weiguo Cui, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 2010
Research Interest: Transcriptional regulation of CD8 T cell differentiation

Jason Siebert

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jsiebert@mcw.edu 
Mentor: Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD 
Year Entered MCW: 2013 
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 2012 
Research Interest: The role of CARMA1 in the NFkB pathway and the resulting influence on cytotoxic and cytokine production

Grace Sundeen

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gsundeen@mcw.edu
Mentor: Joseph Barbieri, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2014
Previous Education: BA, Biology, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, 2010
Research Interest: Protein receptor of Tetanus toxin

 

Maxx Tessmer

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mtessmer@mcw.edu
Mentor: Dara Frank, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: BS, Microbiology, Mathematics, University of WI - Milwaukee, 2012
Research Interest: Pseudomonas aeruginosa Type III secretion effector ExoU

Peter Volberding

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pvolberding@mcw.edu
Mentor: Weiguo Cui, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2015
Previous Education: BS, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA, 2009
Research Interest: Biology of T cells during chronic viral infections.
“I am studying how T cells adapt their metabolism to the challenges of controlling a chronic viral infection. Understanding the factors that underlie T cell function will be instrumental to the design of strategies to combat a variety of public health issues including HCV, HIV, and cancer.”

Emily Vonderhaar

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evonderhaar@mcw.edu
Mentor: Michael Dwinell, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2014
Previous Education: BS, Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 2014; BS, Nutritional Science, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 2014, Minor: Spanish
Research Interest: CXCL12-CXCR4 signaling in pancreatic cancer.
“I am studying the role that chemokine CXCL12 as a dimer, which signals distinctly from its monomeric form, plays in the progression of pancreatic cancer. Specifically, I want to understand how this protein affects the pancreatic tumor microenvironment with respect to anti-tumor immunity.”  

Kristin Westdorp

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knwestdorp@mcw.edu
Mentor: Scott Terhune, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2011
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry, Alma College, Alma, MI 2012
Research Interest: Virus-host interactions

Erin Wesley

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ewesley@mcw.edu
Mentor: Matthew Riese, MD, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2012
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, University of Minnesota, Moorhead, MN, 2012
Research Interest: T cell responses to tumors

Melissa Whyte

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mwhyte@mcw.edu
Mentor: Amy Hudson, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: BS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 2014; MS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, 2016
Research Interest: Mechanisms of viral immune evasion by human herpesvirus-6 and -7.
“I am interested in pathogen-host interactions. In Dr. Hudson's lab, we study mechanisms by which human herpesvirus-6 and -7 interfere with normal cellular processes in order to evade detection by the host immune system. Our work focuses on the viral protein U21, which reroutes class I MHC to lysosomes, preventing the presentation of viral antigens to cytotoxic T lymphocytes. We are currently investigating potential U21-interacting partners as well as the trafficking pattern of U21 within host cells.”

Christa Winslow

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cwinslow@mcw.edu 
Mentor: Jenifer Coburn, PhD 
Year Entered MCW: 2016 
Previous Education: BS, Biochemistry, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, WI, 2016 
Research Interest: Borrelia burgdorferi - Survival in a mammalian host. 
“Coming into the IDP program, I had only vague ideas of what research interests or laboratories would be the best fit for me. Although most of my past research experiences lie elsewhere (primarily plant genetics and marine biology), microbiology in general and Borrelia burgdorferi in particular, captured my imagination and interest. Borrelia burgdorferi is the causative agent of Lyme disease, and because two of my closest family members have had Lyme disease, I jumped at the opportunity to research this microbe. The lab is a great fit and I'm excited to (probably) research an outer membrane porin in Borrelia burgdorferi to better understand its essential role in infectivity.” 

Chao Yang

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chaoyang@mcw.edu
Mentor: Subramaniam Malarkannan, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2014
Previous Education: BS, Pharmacy, University of Xiamen, Fujian, China, 2013
Research Interest: The role of IQGAP1 and KSR1 in NK cell effective function

Cheng-Yin Yuan

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cyuan@mcw.edu
Mentor: William Drobyski, MD
Year Entered MCW: 2013
Previous Education: Master of Science, Graduate Institute of Natural Products, Chang Gung University, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan 2013
Research Interest: Transplant immunology, Hematologic malignancies

Wen Zhu

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wezhu@mcw.edu
Mentor: Demin Wang, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2016
Previous Education: MD (7-year medical program), Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, 2007-2014
Research Interest: Molecular and cellular mechanism of heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).
“I became interested in immunology since I was a medical student. I was trained as a hematologist in medical school, and I took basic and advance courses on immunology since a lot of blood disorders are closely related to the immune system. When I performed my internship, I focused on B cell malignancies as well as antibody mediated autoimmune disease. Therefore, I chose Dr. Wang's lab focusing on B cell biology. My project in the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanism of an antibody-mediated thrombocytopenia (heparin induced thrombocytopenia).”

Madison Zuverink

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mezuverink@mcw.edu
Mentor: Joseph Barbieri, PhD
Year Entered MCW: 2011
Previous Education: BS, Molecular Biology, Loyola University, Chicago, IL 2011
Research Interest: Translocation of tetanus toxin light chain

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