Predoctoral Trainees

Dr. Matt Collins, 2009. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Matt was an MD/PhD candidate, the first such student through a UGA/Medical College of Georgia (MCG) joint program. He did his Ph.D. work in Rick Tarleton’s laboratory, where he studied the regulation of CD8+ T cells in peripheral tissues during T. cruzi infection. He is not an Associate Professor at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Charles Rosenberg, 2011. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Charles did his Ph.D. work in Rick Tarleton’s laboratory, where he studied the role of immunodominant T cells in control of T. cruzi infection. After completing his Ph.D., he did his post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Max Cooper at Emory University School of Medicine.

Weinkopff image
Dr. Tiffany Weinkopff, 2010. Mentor: Pat Lammie

Tiffany studied the effect of filarial products on lymphatic endothelium in Dr. Pat Lammie’s laboratory which was located at the CDC. She is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Sharon Keller_square
Dr. Sharon Keller, 2013. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

Sharon was a graduate student in the laboratory of Silvia Moreno, graduated with a Ph.D. in Cellular Biology, August 2015. She worked on phospholipase C of Trypanosoma brucei. She is presently Assistant Professor of Biology at Georgia Gwinnett College

Dr. Jamie Winternitz. Mentor: Pejman Rohani

Jamie is currently a postdoctoral research scientist, Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

Dr. Ashley Hartley, 2013. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Ashley was a DVM/PhD student, the first such student through the College of Veterinary Medicine at UGA. She completed her Ph.D. in Rick Tarleton’s laboraty where she studied the generation of attenuated parasites as experimental vaccines against Chagas disease. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Jenna Oberstaller, 2012. Mentor: Jessica Kissinger

Jenna was a Department of Genetics graduate student in the lab of Jessica Kissinger. For her postdoctoral research, Jenna chose the laboratory of Dr. John Adams at the University of South Florida to study Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax.

Dr. Sarah Reiff, 2012. Mentor: Boris Striepen

Sarah was a Cellular Biology graduate student in the lab of Boris Striepen. Sarah had offers for postdoctoral appointments from a number of laboratories in Germany, the UK and the United States. From those, she chose Wallace Marshal at UCSF. Dr. Marshal a leading cell biologist and current director of the MBL Physiology course who uses eukaryotic microbes to understand the biology of basal bodies and centrosomes. Sarah is presently a curator at Harvard University.

Dr. Eldin Talundzic. Mentor: David Peterson

Eldin was a doctoral student in the lab of David Peterson where he explored and characterized DBL domain of the P. falciparum var2csa gene. Eldin and his family were refugees of the violent strife in his native Bosnia and he immigrated to the US via Germany. Eldin was awarded an ASM Fellowship and is currently a Molecular Biologists at the CDC working on malaria.

Dr. Hillary Danz, 2009-2016. Mentor: Don Harn

Hillary graduated with a Ph.D. in Infectious diseases. She was advised by Dr. Don Harn. Her project focused on the impact of helminth infection on influenza mediated disease pathology. She is a Virology Research Scientist at Sanofi Pasteur.

Dr. Briana Flaherty, 2009-2015. Mentor: David Peterson

Briana’s research project focused on how exposure to Plasmodium falciparum modifies the function of human trophoblast. She is currently a staff scientist at BioFire Diagnostics.

Angela Pack
Dr. Angela Pack. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Angela graduated with a Ph.D. in Microbiology. Her project was on CD8+ T cell responses during the chronic phase of T. cruzi infection. She is now a postdoc at Iowa State University. She joined the laboratory of Dr. Noah Butler, who works in immunology of malaria.

Dr. Whitney Bullard, 2014-2016. Mentor: Robert Sabatini

Whitney studied epigentic regulation in kinetoplastids. She graduated with a Ph.D., May 2016, and she completed a post-doc at the University of Florida, College of Medicine, with Scott Tibets, in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. She is currently a scientist at Arcturus Therapeutics.

Dr. Phil Yao, 2015-2016. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Phil was an M.D./Ph.D. student and graduated Spring 2017 with a Ph.D. and continued with his medical training at the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University. He became an M.D., Ph.D. in 2018 and he is a resident of Anesthesiology at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Heather Bishop Kudyba, 2015-2017. Mentor: Vasant Muralidharan

Heather defended her dissertation, “The role of ER chaperones in the asexual and sexual development of the human malaria parasite, P. falciparum“, on March 7th, 2019, and graduated May 10th, 2019. She is presently a postdoc with Dr. Joel Vega-Rodriguez, at NIH where she will continue working with sexual stages of malaria parasites.

Dr. Anthony Szempruch, 2015-2016. Mentor: Stephen Hajduk

Tony was not supported directly by the T32 but was awarded one of the OVPR fellowship from the Office of the Vice President. Tony graduated Summer of 2016. Tony was the 2016 recipient of the American Society for Cell Biology’s Kaluza Prize, which is awarded in collaboration with Beckman Coulter Life Sciences. Tony won the award based on his Ph.D. work with African trypanosomes. He is currently a Senior Scientist at Pfizer.

Dr. A. J. Stasic, 2015-2017. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

A.J.’s fellowship was one of the OVPR fellowships and he was funded for two years. He graduated in May 2019 with a Ph.D. in Microbiology. A.J. is presently a Staff Scientist at the Food and Drug Administration with an 80% research position and he is working on identifying new targets for antimalarial therapy.

Dr. Catherine Morffy Smith, 2016-2018. Mentor: Julie Moore

Catherine defended her thesis, “The Role of Syncytiotrophoblastic Autophagy in the Pathogenesis of Placental Malaria”, on July 20th, 2018, and graduated at the end of the summer of 2018 with a Ph.D in Infectious Diseases. She is presently a postdoc at Washington University, St.  Louis with Dr. David Rosen in the Department of Pediatrics.

Ruby Harrison, 2017-2019. Mentor: Michael Strand and Mark Brown

Ruby graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Entomology. She conducted fieldwork in French-speaking Gabon, Africa. She selected UGA for her Ph.D. training because she wanted to pursue advanced studies in medical entomology, mosquito biology, and animal-microbial interactions. She is still working on her project on the role of mosquito microbiome in deterring pathogen infection.

Dr. Manuel Fierro, 2017-2019. Mentor: Vasant Muralidharan

Manuel was supported one year by the OVPR fellowship and the T32 for his second year. He is originally from Ecuador but grew up in Georgia. Manuel obtained his B.S. degree in Cellular Biology from UGA and joined the graduate program Fall 2015. He studies how calcium is regulated in the endoplasmic reticulum of Plasmodium falciparum. He graduated May 2020 and he is now a post-doc fellow with Josh Beck at Iowa State University.

Molly Bunkofse, 2017-2019. Mentor: Rick Tarleton

Molly was supported one year by the OVPR fellowship and her second year by the T32. Molly obtained a BA in Biology from Augustana College, Rock Island, IL. She is completing her Ph.D. in Rick Tarleton’s laboratory where she works on the host CD8+ T cell response that is generated against flagellar proteins from the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Dr. Karla Marquez-Nogueras, 2016-2018. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

Karla was from Puerto Rico and she graduated in November 2020 with a Ph.D. in Microbiology and is now a post-doc fellow at Loyola Medical School in Chicago.

Dr. David Cobb, 2016-2018. Mentor: Vasant Muralidharan

David graduated in October 2020 with a Ph.D. in Cellular Biology. His project focused on genetic and chemical approaches to reveal the function and druggability of chaperones in the Plasmodium falciparum. He is now a post-doc fellow at Columbia University in New York.

2-19-18 Stephen_square
Dr. Stephen Vella, 2018-2020. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

During his first year at UGA, Stephen was awarded an Excellence in Graduate Recruitment fellowship. Stephen completed his Ph.D. training in November 2020. He worked on the role of host cell Ca2+ involved in parasite egress and how Ca2+ oscillations are decoded into different types of parasite motility. He has taken a position as Medical Affairs Advisor at Qiagen.

Josh Butler, 2018-2020. Mentor: Belen Cassera

Josh is being supported by one of the OVPR fellowships. In Belen Cassera’s laboratory, he works on antimalarial natural products as tools to discover novel drug targets in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Josh will graduate in Fall 2020 with a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.

Postdoctoral Trainees

Dr. Aparna Telang, 2005 – 2006. Mentor: Mark Brown

Dr. Telang was a post-doctoral trainee in Dr. Mark Brown’s laboratory where she studied the effects of starvation on metamorphosis of mosquitoes. After completing her training at UGA, she accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Richmond. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Biology Program at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee.

Dr. Carla Black, 2009. Mentor: Dan Colley

Dr. Black obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and her MSc in Epidemiology from Emory University. She worked or human schistosomiasis in the laboratory of Dr. Dan Colley while at the CTEGD. Upon completing her postdoctoral training Carla was successful in obtaining a permanent position at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducting surveillance for vaccine coverage for seasonal and H1N1 influenza. In this position, she conducts studies to assess risk factors for non-vaccination, provides technical assistance in regard to vaccination coverage assessments to state health departments and has recently been promoted to a GS14 position with supervisory roles assessing the coverage of vaccines for multiple diseases.

Dr. Douglas Pace, 2007 – 2009. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

Dr. Pace started his research career at UCSC in Los Angeles as a marine biologist who used molecular tools to study the physiological impact of ecological change in sea urchins. He joined Silvia Moreno’s group to bring this background in physiology to the study of the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Dr. Pace was recently promoted to Associate Professor at California State University in Long Beach and the director of the ecophysiology laboratory at the molecular life sciences center where he studies the role of Apicomplexan parasites in the marine environment.

Dr. John Harrington, 2007 – 2014. Mentor: Stephen Hajduk

John Harrington was recruited to the Hajduk laboratory following completion of his PhD at the University of California Davis. His training was largely in the area of membrane biophysics. He is presently a Senior Scientist at Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.

Dr. Michael Cipriano. Mentor: Boris Striepen

Michael was a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Boris Striepen where he studied Giardia lambia. He is currently completing his post-doctoral work in Stephen Hajduk’s laboratory.

Dr. Mattie Pawlowic, 2015-2017. Mentor: Boris Striepen

Before coming to UGA, Mattie worked under the advice of Dr. Kai Zhang, Texas Tech University. Her project was about lipid metabolism of Leishmania parasites. When joining the laboratory of Boris Striepen she started working with Crypstoporidium and she formed part of the team that created the first system to genetically modify C. parvum and propagate stable transgenics in animals. Mattie is presently at the University of Dundee, Scotland, where she is Principal Investigator/Lecturer in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Drug Development, and a member of the new Wellcome Trust Centre for Anti-Infectives. She started her new Faculty position in November 2017 and she was awarded the British Society for Parasitology President’s Medal in 2019. In addition, she recently received 1.5 million GBP in funding from Wellcome Trust.

Msano Mandalasi
Dr. Msano Mandalasi, 2017-2019. Mentor: Christopher West

Msano obtained her B.Sc with Honors from the University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi. Her Ph.D. training was from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD in Marine Science. Her project in Chris West’s laboratory focused on the role of prolyl hydroxylation and glycosylation of E3 ubiquitin ligase on Toxoplasma growth. Msano’s dream is to run her own research program and she might find that niche as an independent PI.

Dr. Evgeniy Potapenko, 2018-2019. Mentor: Roberto Docampo

Evgeniy was originally from Kiev, Ukraine. He obtained an M.S. in Medicine from the National University in Kiev, Ukraine, and a Ph.D. in physiology from the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Kiev. He brought to the field of parasitology an almost untapped aspect of physiology that will generate an enormous amount of novel information plus the discovery of novel chemotherapeutic targets. There are only a few electrophysiological studies of recombinant transporters and channels from unicellular eukaryotes. Evgeniy is presently a Senior Research Scientist at the Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Platform, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. He is directing a facility for performing electrophysiological analysis for a diversity of projects.