• Kevin W Graepel, MD, PhD

    MSTP Student/PhD Candidate
    Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

    Kevin earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Hamilton College in 2011. As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. Nicole Snyder to design and synthesize unnatural carbohydrate structures for biological and medical applications. He then served as a postbaccalaureate fellow under Dr. Barney Graham at the Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, NIH on several projects related to vaccine development for respiratory syncytial virus. He matriculated into the Vanderbilt MSTP in 2013 and joined the Denison Lab in 2015. He is interested in how coronaviruses regulate their replication fidelity and the consequences of altered fidelity on viral diversity and fitness. He successfully defended his dissertation in March 2019.

    Kevin has returned to medical school at Vanderbilt University.

  • Thayer Taft

    Undergraduate Student

    Thayer is an undergraduate studying molecular & cellular biology. He joined the Denison lab in 2017. Thayer is interested in the effect of variations in the coronavirus helicase on phenotype and fitness.

  • Brett Case, PhD

    Graduate Student
    Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

    Brett graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2010 with a B.S. in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. He then worked as a research assistant in the lab of Peggy Kendall studying Type I Diabetes. He then joined the Vanderbilt IGP and subsequently the Denison lab in 2013 where he studies coronavirus N7 methylation and IFN sensitivity. He successfully defended his dissertation in May of 2018.

    Brett is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, in Mike Diamond's lab.

  • Nicole R Sexton, PhD

    Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

    Nicole earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2010. While an undergraduate, she was selected for a summer internship at Blood Systems Research Institute in the laboratory of Dr. Graham Simmons, where she returned after graduation as a research assistant. In Dr. Simmons’s lab she worked on projects investigating mechanisms of ebola and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) cell entry and characterizing CHIKV antibodies. She joined the Vanderbilt IGP and subsequently, the Denison lab in 2012. Her work in the Denison lab focuses on understanding how coronaviruses regulate replicative fidelity through interactions with the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. She successfully defended her dissertation in March of 2017.

    Nicole is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at Colorado State University.

  • Litton Whitaker

    Research Assistant

    Litton graduated from Sewanee—The University of the South in 2016 with a BS in Biology. As an undergraduate, she gained research experience from working in the Early Social Cognition Laboratory and Toddler Developmental Disabilities Clinic at the Yale Child Study Center (New Haven, CT) and the DeLozier Cosmetic Surgery Center (Nashville, TN). She joined the Denison lab in August and is working on various projects studying coronavirus inhibition and resistance.

    Litton is now a medical student at Wake Forest.

  • Erica Andres

    Research Assistant

    Erica graduated from Wheaton College (IL) in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. As an undergraduate she spent time in Greg Vanden Heuvel¹s lab studying the role of the homeodomain protein Cux1 in the development of Polycystic Kidney Disease.  She joined the Denison lab in 2014 where she studied the evolution and inhibition of coronaviruses.

    Erica is now a medical student at East Tennessee State University.

  • Clint Smith, PhD

    Clint obtained his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in 2006. While at UCA he was engaged in undergraduate research on topics ranging from Tritonia diomedea (sea slug) movement to vitamin A metabolism. Clint then joined the laboratory of Dr. Rebecca Dutch at the University of Kentucky (UK) where he studied paramyxovirus membrane fusion. After obtaining his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 2011, Clint joined the Denison lab as a postdoctoral fellow. The primary focus of his research was to understand how coronaviruses use their diverse repertoire of nonstructural proteins to maintain the fidelity of their large RNA genomes. 

    Clint is now Assistant Professor of Biology at The University of the South, Sewanee.

  • Michelle Becker, PhD

    Research Assistant Professor
  • Megan Culler Freeman, MD, PhD

    MSTP Student

    Megan graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a B.S. in Agricultural Biotechnology, where she also spent time working in Becky Dutch's lab studying Paramyxoviruses. She then joined the Vanderbilt MSTP, and subsequently the Denison lab in 2010 where she studied the cell biology of Coronaviruses.

    Megan is currently a Pediatric Resident at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburg.

  • Selene van der Walt

    Undergraduate Student

    Selene received her Bachelor of Engineering degree from Vanderbilt. She joined the Denison Lab in January 2013 and worked on various projects exploring the evolution and inhibition of coronaviruses. 

    Selene is now Applications Engineer at National Instruments in Austin, TX.



  • Dia Beachboard, PhD

    Graduate Student

    ​Dia graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2006 with a B.S. in Microbiology. She then worked as a research assistant in the lab of Pamela Small studying Mycobacterium ulcerans. She then joined the Vanderbilt IGP and subsequently the Denison lab in 2010 where she studied how coronaviruses modify host cytoplasmic membranes for RNA replication. 

    Dia is now a Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University working with Stacy Horner.

  • Lindsay Maxwell, MS

    Graduate Student

    Lindsay graduated from Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) in 2012 with a B.S. in Chemistry, where she worked in Dr. David Kingston's lab synthesizing Taxane derivatives. She also spent time working in the labs of Dr. David Horita and Dr. April Ronca at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center studying perinatal asphyxia. She came to Vanderbilt through the QCB program and subsequently joined the Denison lab in 2013 where she studied the main protease of Coronaviruses.

    Lindsay is now a dental student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

  • Chris Stobart, PhD

    Graduate Student

    Chris is now Assistant Professor of Biology at Butler University.

  • Wayne Hsieh, MS

    Graduate Student

    Wayne is now Research Associate at Monogram Biosciences.

  • Rachel Graham, PhD

    Graduate Student

    Rachel is now Research Assistant Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Mark Gadlage, PhD

    Graduate Student

    Mark is now Research Scientist at DuPont Pioneer.

  • Sarah McDonald, PhD

    Graduate Student

    Sara is now Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

  • Erik Prentice, PhD

    Graduate Student

    Erik is now Senior Vice President at Proactive Worldwide.

  • Jennifer Sparks, PhD

    Jennifer is now Biologist at TASC, Inc.