University Faculty

  • Ahmed Attia, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar lab

    Originally from Egypt, Ahmed earned his B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Master's Degree in Microbiology and Immunology from Cairo University. Ahmed earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Hansen working on serum resistance of Moraxella catarrhalis. While in the Skaar Lab, Ahmed focused on studying a permease that is a part of an ABC transporter, which is required to protect S. aureus from heme toxicity. Ahmed is currently an assistant professor at Cairo University.

  • James E Cassat, MD, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor

    Former Clinical Fellow in Skaar lab

    Jim completed Pediatrics residency and a clinical fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt. During his postdoctoral studies in the Skaar Lab, Jim created new in vitro and in vivo models to study S. aureus osteomyelitis, with a focus on understanding host-pathogen interactions in the bone. Jim joined faculty at Vanderbilt in July 2014, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology. The focus of the Cassat Lab is on understanding host and pathogen responses during invasive staphylococcal infection, and how bacterial pathogens and inflammation modulate bone cell biology.

    1035 MRB-IV (Light Hall)

    Nashville 37232

  • Kathryn P Haley, Ph.D

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Kathryn graduated from Edinboro University in 2004 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in metalsmithing. She earned her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Skaar studying the intracellular degradation of heme by Staphylococcus aureus. Following her graduate studies, Kathryn worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Gaddy at Vanderbilt University.  Kathryn will be an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University.

  • Neal D Hammer, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    An Illinois native, Neal received a B.S in Cell and Structural Biology and M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan working on curli biogenesis with the world renowned Dr. Matthew Chapman. Neal’s his post doctoral training with Dr. Eric Skaar.  Neal is currently an Assistant Professor in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at Michigan State University.

  • Thomas Kehl-Fie, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Thomas received his B.S. in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph W. St Geme III, where he studied the pathogenicity of Kingella kingae. His work in the Skaar lab focused on understanding the role of metal availability in S. aureus growth and disease. He is now as Assistant Professor at University of Illinois.

  • Brittany L Mortensen, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Brittany is a Research Assistant Professor at Kansas State University working with Dr. Phillip Klebba. Her research focus is how bacterial pathogens acquire the nutrient metal iron, particularly in the iron-limited environment of the host during infection. Specifically she will be performing a high throughput screen for inhibitors of the TonB-dependent transporter FepA in Acinetobacter baumannii, which imports of siderophore-bound ferric iron across the outer membrane. She will be using a previously developed fluorescence spectroscopic assay. The assay monitors TonB-dependent uptake of FeEnt through FepA by modifying genetically-engineered Cys residues in the surface loops of FepA with fluorophores, and then observing the fluorescent probes during FeEnt uptake by living bacterial cells. In addition to A. baumannii, she will apply these approaches to Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

  • Michael J Noto, MD, Ph.D.

    Former Clinical Fellow in Skaar Lab

    Mike is originally from Long Island, New York. He moved south to Virginia where he obtained a BS in biology from James Madison University. He went on to complete his MD and PhD at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. He completed his doctoral work in Microbiology and Immunology in the laboratory of Gordon Archer, MD where he studied antibiotic resistance in S. aureus. He has since completed Residency in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is currently a clinical fellow. While in the Skaar laboratory, Mike focused on the innate immune response to Acinetobacter baumannii pneumonia.  Mike is currently an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Medicine.

    Medical Center North A5103

  • Michelle Reniere, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Michelle received her B.S. in Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As one of the first graduate students in the Skaar Lab her thesis focused on the role of heme degradation in S. aureus. During her post-doctoral fellowship in Dan Portnoy’s laboratory at UC Berkeley she studied the intricacies of virulence gene regulation in the intracellular pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Beginning in 2016 Michelle’s independent research program in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle will continue investigating how Listeria recognizes the host environment in order to activate its virulence program.

     

    renierelab.com

  • Devin Stauff, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Devin is from the great state of Pennsylvania. He received his B.S. degree in Biochemistry from Grove City College. While in the Skaar laboratory, Devin´s research focused on how Staphylococcus aureus acquires and responds to the nutrient iron source heme. In his spare time, Devin watched Walker: Texas Ranger reruns with his wife, Amy.  Devin is now an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at Grove City College

  • Victor Torres, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Victor received his B.S. in Industrial Microbiology from University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez campus and his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Vanderbilt University in the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Cover. Victor's current research focuses on understanding the staphylococcal pathways involved in responding to host molecules. In January 2009, Victor began a tenure-track appointment as Associate Professor of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine.

  • Catherine A Wakeman, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Catherine, a Louisiana native, received her B.S. in Biology from Louisiana Tech University in 2004. Shortly thereafter, she attended the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as a Ph.D. student where she studied metal-sensing regulatory RNAs under the tutelage of Dr. Wade Winkler. Catherine's project focused on understanding the metabolic pathways involved in heme toxicity and the study of potential small RNAs involved in heme and iron acquisition in S. aureus. Catherine is currently an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University.

    Medical Center North A5104

  • Yaofang Zhang, Ph.D.

    Former Research Scientist in Skaar Lab

    Yaofang received her B.S. in Applied Chemistry in 2002 and then obtained M.S in Green Chemical Technology with a concentration in metal-organic chemistry in 2005 from University of Shantou, China. She received her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from University of Cincinnati under the direction of Dr. Joseph A. Caruso. Her thesis focused on investigating metalloid and metal containing species in various biological systems including virus, cerebrospinal fluid and cells, by using comprehensive metallomics techniques. In January 2012, she joined the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University as a Staff Scientist to help establish the elemental imaging and analysis with laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) at the Mass Spectrometry Research Center (MSRC). Yaofang brings expertise in elemental spatial imaging, elemental speciation profiling and qualitative /quantitative elemental analysis.

Secondary Education

  • Keith Adams

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    In May 2008, Keith earned his B.S. in Biology, and B.A. in Spanish from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. His area of research was focused on generating and verifying transposon mutants of Staphylococcus aureus. Keith is currently teaching high school in Chicago.

  • Amanda McCoy

    Former ​Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Amanda received her B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Her research focused on the mechanism of heme degradation by Gram positive pathogens. Amanda is currently teaching high school in Nashville.

Science and Research

  • Brian Corbin, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Brian received his B.S. in Microbiology and Master's Degree in Biology from Texas State University. Brian earned his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. William Margolin at The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston studying E. coli cell division. Currently Brian’s research here focused on elucidating the mechanisms used by S. aureus to protect itself against neutrophil-mediated killing. Brian Corbin is a Scientist at Vybion, Inc.

  • Lunden Cunningham

    Lunden is from San Diego, California and her project focused on interactions between species in the gut microbiota.  Lunden will graduate from Vanderbilt University in 2018 with a Bachelors degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. 

  • Nikesh Dahal, B.A.

    Research Assistant

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Nikesh came to the U.S. from Kathmandu, Nepal in the fall of 2011 and graduated with a B.A. Biology from Colby-Sawyer College in May 2015. In the Skaar lab, worked on a project that aims to test the responses of cells to bacterial toxins.  Nikesh will be starting graduate school at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2017. 

    Medical Center North A4323

  • Allison J Farrand, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Allison is originally from Oklahoma where she earned her B.S. in Microbiology from Oklahoma State University. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in the lab of Dr. Rod Tweten, where she studied the cholesterol recognition mechanism of bacterial toxins known as the cholesterol-dependent cytolysins. Allison’s work in the Skaar lab was focused on studying the interaction of S. aureus with hemoglobin in infection. In 2015, Allison is a Staff Scientist with Rod Tweten at OUHSC. 

  • Audra R. Fullen, M.S.

    Research Assistant

    Audra completed her BS in Biology at Trevecca Nazarene University in 2014, and her MS in Biomolecular Science at Lipscomb University in 2015. She is working on a project involving the effect of small molecules on heme biosynthesis in S. aureus.  Audra is currently working on her Ph.D. at the University of Ohio State.

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Amanda Hirsch

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Illinois, Amanda entered Vanderbilt as an undergraduate in 2009 majoring in Chemistry. While in the Skaar lab Amanda studied pathways that support metabolic flexibility in S. aureus. Amanda graduated in 2013 and is now back in Chicago continuing to study the pathogenesis of S. aureus at the University of Chicago under the direction of Dominique Missiakas and Olaf Scheneewind.

  • Matthew Reynolds

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Matt grew up in Connecticut and will graduate from Vanderbilt in the fall of 2015 with a B.S. in Medicine, Health and Society. He began working in the lab in 2014 and his project focused on a the heme biosynthesis pathway in S. aureus.

  • Marc Singleton

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Marc, originally from Marietta, GA, earned a B.A. in Chemistry and Applied Mathematics at Vanderbilt University. Under the direction of Cathy Wakeman and Jessica Moore, his undergraduate research focused on the development of rapid methods of detecting methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus for use in clinical diagnostics. In fall 2016, he intends to apply to graduate programs in chemical biology while working in the drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics group at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences as a member of the NIH Postbaccalaureate IRTA program.

Postdocs

  • Brendan Dutter, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

     

    Brendan is from upstate New York and received a B.A. in Plant Biology from Cornell University and a M.S. in Organic Chemistry from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He entered Vanderbilt University in 2010 and joined the laboratory of Dr. Gary Sulikowski. Working on small molecule synthesis in the Sulikowski lab, he collaborated with the Skaar lab studying molecules that activate the heme stress response in S. aureus.  Brendan is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. C. David Weaver at Vanderbilt University.

  • Laura A Mike, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Pittsburgh, Laura received her B.S. in Chemistry and Pharmacology from Duke University in 2008. She earned her Ph.D. in the Skaar lab using small molecules to probe how S. aureus and B. anthracis sense and respond to heme. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan under the direction of Dr. Harry Mobley and Dr. David Sherman.

  • Jessica Moore

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Jessica received a B.S. in Chemistry and Vocal Music Performance from Murray State University in Kentucky. She remained to receive a M.S. in Analytical Chemistry studying microfluidic devices. Jessica's current work focuses on integrating Imaging Mass Spectrometry technologies into the study of infectious disease and the pathogen-host interaction. Jessica is now a postdoc with Dr. Richard Caprioli.

    9152 Medical Research Building III

  • Gleb Pishchany, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Gleb received his Bachelor of Science degree in biology from David Lipscomb University in 2005. He earned his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Skaar studying heme acquisition as an iron source by Staphylococcus aureus. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Roberto Kolter’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School.

Medical Training and Healthcare

  • Olusegun Aranmolate

    ​Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Olusegun "Sheg" graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with a minor degree in Psychology in 2005 and his master's degree in Applied Molecular Biology in 2006 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Sheg’s research project involved identifying the staphylococcal and host proteins that do battle during infection. He is currently a medical student at the University of Tennessee.

  • Danielle Bagaley

    Former ​Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Danielle received her B.S. in Microbiology with a minor in Chemistry from Louisiana State University. Following college, Danielle obtained her M.S. in Biological Sciences (specializing in Molecular Biology and Bacteriology) from Louisiana State University focusing on bacterial diversity in hyper-arid environments. Danielle worked on small molecule transport in S. aureus. She is currently a Physician Assistant in New Orleans, LA.

  • William Burns, B.S.

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Billy earned his B.S. in Neuroscience from Duke University in May of 2014. He performed research examining responses to bacterial toxins in eukaryotic cell lines.

  • Susan Dickey

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Susan entered Vanderbilt University as an undergraduate in 2006, where she majored in math and biological sciences. While in the Skaar lab, her research was focused on the Isd system of heme transport. She is currently in Pharmacy School.

  • Indriati Hood-Pishchany, M.D., Ph.D.

    Former MSTP Student in Skaar Lab

    Indriati's work in the Skaar lab focused on Acinetobacter baumannii antibiotic resistance and pathogenesis. She completed her Ph.D. in May 2012.  Indriati is currently a resident and clinical fellow at Boston Children's hospital. 

  • Ashley Jordan, B.S.

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Ashley earned her Bachelor's degree from Ohio University in 2013. She joined the lab to work on a program that will test cellular response to bacterial toxins. She is currently enrolled at NYU.

  • Jeff Mason, M.D.

    Former Clinical Fellow in Skaar Lab

    Jeff received his B.S in Zoology from the University of Arkansas. He earned his Master´s degree in the laboratory of Dr. Timothy Kral, Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas studying Archaea. He received his M.D. with honors from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and performed research with Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D. developing a multiplex PCR protocol for the diagnosis of staphylococcal infections. He completed his internal medicine residency training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2006 . Jeff worked on the development of a murine staphylococcal pneumonia model and understanding the pathophysiology behind iron utilization in this environment. Jeff is now an Infectious Disease Specialist in Memphis with a private practice including St. Francis Hospital, Baptist East Hospital and Germantown Methodist Hospital.

  • Lorenzo Olive

    ​Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Mississippi, Lorenzo received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Middle Tennessee State University in 2010. His work in the lab was focused on elucidating a novel two-component system in B. anthraces. He is currently a student ETSU James H. Quillen College of Medicine.

  • Brad Sabatini

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Brad obtained his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University in Neuroscience. His past projects in the lab included using TMBZ staining to look for novel heme-binding proteins and creating S. aureus mutants to find possible antimicrobial targets. He is currently attending Medical School.

  • Matthew C Surdel, Ph.D.

    Former Ph.D. Student (MSTP) in Skaar Lab

    Matthew, originally from Minnesota, received his B.S. in Biochemistry and Music from Davidson College in 2010. He joined the Vanderbilt Medical Scientist Training Program and earned his PhD in microbiology. He studied the responses of S. aureus and B. anthracis to heme. Matt is currently finishing up his medical training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

  • Melissa Watts

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Melissa received her B.A. from Lipscomb University in 2003. In this lab she studied the relationships between heme transport systems in S. aureus pathogenesis. She is currently attending Medical School .

  • Julie M Lemen

    Former Research Assistant in Skaar Lab

    Originally from Atlanta, Julie earned her B.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Georgia in 2012. Her projects in the Skaar Lab target revertant mutants of the ISD system in S. aureus as well as optimization of hemoglobin-based growth assays. She is now attending Emory University.