Principal Investigator

  • Eric P Skaar, Ph.D., MPH

    Ernest W. Goodpasture Professor of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology
    Director, Division of Molecular Pathogenesis
    Director, Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation (VI4)
    Vice Chair for Basic Research, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology

    Eric earned his B.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, his Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis from Northwestern University, and his M.P.H. in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Northwestern University.

    Medical Center North A5102A
    1161 21st Ave South
    Nashville 37232
    (615) 343-0002

Research Staff

  • Dennis Horvath, Ph.D.

    Research Assistant III

    Dennis grew up on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, and received his B.S. in biology from John Carroll University. He earned his PhD from The Ohio State University in the laboratory of Dr. Sheryl Justice studying the microbial pathogenesis of urinary tract infections. Dennis performed his post-doctoral research on the immune response to H. pylori at Vanderbilt University in the laboratory of Dr. Holly Algood. In the Skaar lab, he is working on a project to develop new photoactivable antibiotics that disrupt heme homeostasis for the treatment of S. aureus infections.

    Medical Center North A5103

  • Nichole A Lobdell, M.S.

    Senior Research Specialist, PMI

    Originally from Ohio, she earned her B.S. from the University of Mount Union and her M.S. from the University of Cincinnati.

    Medical Center North A5104
    1161 21st Ave South
    Nashville 37232
    (615) 343-8492

  • Nichole Maloney, M.S.

    Research Assistant III

    Originally from Portland, Oregon, Nichole earned a B.S. and M.S. from University of Nevada, Reno. Her project in the lab will focus on the affects of altered dietary zinc on asthma.

    Medical Center North A5101

  • Jeanette Miller, B.S.

    Research Assistant I

    Jeanette grew up in Melbourne, Florida and earned her B.S. in Advertising from the University of Florida before going on to earn a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of South Florida. She joined the Skaar laboratory in 2018 to study how nutrient metals affect the immune system. 

  • Jocelyn Simpson, B.S.

    Research Assistant

    Jocelyn completed her Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology at the University of Tennessee and joined the Skaar lab in 2016. She is working on a project with the objective of testing cellular responses to bacterial toxins. 

Clinical Fellows


  • William Beavers, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Will grew up outside of Washington D.C. in Middleburg, VA, and received his B.S. in chemistry from Old Dominion University. After that he moved to Boston, MA, and worked in the Blais Proteomics Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute while completing an M.S. in chemistry from Northeastern University. His dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. Larry Marnett at Vanderbilt University used alkynyl polyunsaturated fatty acids to investigate the interactions of oxidized lipids and proteins during macrophage activation and the resulting cellular consequences.  After earning a Ph.D. in chemistry, he moved across campus and to the other side of the host-pathogen interaction. In the Skaar lab, Will studies how the competition for transition metals allows S. aureus to evade killing by neutrophil generated oxidative stress.

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Erin Green, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Erin grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA and earned her B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh. For her doctoral work, she studied in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Mecsas at Tufts University, where she used high-throughput genetic approaches to investigate mechanisms of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis survival in mammalian tissue sites. In the Skaar lab, Erin is characterizing ways in which Acinetobacter baumannii resists oxidative stress during pulmonary infection. 

  • Caroline Grunenwald, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Caroline originally hails from Merrill, Wisconsin. She earned her B.S. from the University of Dubuque in Biology and Environmental Science and a M.S. in Microbiology from Idaho State University. For her doctoral work she studied the eco-epidemiology of parasitic nematodes in wildlife with Dr. Chunlei Su and Dr. Richard Gerhold at the University of Tennessee. Her current project focuses on the competitive interactions between Staphylococcus aureus and the microbiome. 

    Medical Center North A5104

  • Christopher Lopez, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Chris grew up in Southern California before moving to Northern California to attend the University of California at Davis. He earned a B.S. in Animal Science, then continued at UC Davis for graduate school in microbiology working in the lab of Dr. Andreas Baumler. For his doctoral work, Chris explored how the intestinal pathogens Salmonella and Citrobacter manipulate the host to provide respiratory electron acceptors that allow the pathogens to grow in the gut. In the Skaar lab, Chris studies Clostridium difficile metal acquisition strategies.   

    Medical Center North A4320

  • Andrew Monteith, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Andrew grew up in the Chicagoland area, and he received a B.S. in Biology and Physics from Bradley University.  He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill in the laboratory of Barbara Vilen.  While at UNC, Andrew identified a novel signaling pathway connecting FcγR activation to lysosome acidification, and how dysregulation of this signaling cascade prevents lysosome maturation in lupus-prone macrophages upstream of disease pathologies.  His current research in the Skaar lab focuses on how dietary metals influence the immune response during infection.   

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Lauren Palmer, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Lauren grew up near Seattle and earned her B.S. from the University of Washington in Biology (Cell, Molecular and Developmental) with a minor in Microbiology. For her doctoral work, she studied metabolic integration of thiamine biosynthetic enzymes with Diana Downs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Georgia. Her project focuses on characterizing how differences in transition metal nutrition affect susceptibility to infection.

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Jessica Sheldon, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Jess is a Canadian expat, having obtained an HBSc and a MSc in Biology from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where she investigated both genetic and environmental factors influencing biofilm formation by pathogenic Escherichia coli. From there, she completed her PhD research with Dr. David Heinrichs at the University of Western Ontario in London, looking at the role of iron acquisition systems on the survival and virulence of Staphylococcus aureus.  Jess’ current research in the Skaar Lab focuses on exploring how the host innate immune response shapes the pathogenesis of Acinetobacter baumannii during infections of the lung. 

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Andy Weiss, PhD

    Postdoctoral fellow

    Andy was born and raised in Germany and received his Diplom, the German M.S. degree, from Dresden University of Technology. His work there focused on transcriptional regulation in the symbiotic bacterium Bradyrhizobium janponicum under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Göttfert. Andy then crossed the Atlantic and started his Ph.D. at the University of South Florida. In the group of Dr. Lindsey Shaw he investigated small accessory RNA polymerase subunits and small regulatory RNAs in Staphylococcus aureus. In the Skaar Lab, Andy is exploring the competition for essential metals between S. aureus and the human host during infection.

  • Aaron Wexler

    Postdoctoral fellow

    Aaron grew up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. While earning his B.S. in Biology from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, he joined the lab of Alan Collmer and conducted research on the plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. After graduating, he returned to Pennsylvania to join the lab of Hanspeter Waldner at the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, where he conducted research on the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. Aaron went on to earn his Ph.D. at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he joined the lab of Andrew Goodman to conduct research identifying molecular mechanisms mediating microbial colonization of the mammalian gut. Upon graduating, Aaron joined the lab of Eric Skaar as a postdoc to study nutrient metal utilization by the gut microbiota.

    A4320 Medical Center North

Graduate Students

  • Monique Bennett

    Graduate Student, IGP

    Monique Bennett obtained her masters in Cellular and Molecular Biology from The College of William and Mary while studying two-component signaling in H. pylori. She entered Vanderbilt as part of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP) in 2014. Currently her research involves isolating and characterizing human monoclonal antibodies against S. aureus and C. difficile. She is co-mentored with Dr. James E. Crowe.

    A5101 Medical Center North

  • Jacob Choby

    Graduate Student - IGP

    Jake, a Pittsburgh native, earned his B.S. in Molecular Biology from Grove City College. He joined the lab in 2014 and studies heme homeostasis in S. aureus.

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Laura Hesse

    Graduate Student - IGP

    Laura is from southern Indiana and graduated from Michigan State University in 2017 with her
    B.S. in Microbiology. She joined the Skaar Lab the following year, where she studies nutrient metal
    homeostasis in Acinetobacter baumannii.

  • Reece Knippel

    Graduate Student - QCB

    Reece is originally from Idaho and received a B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Boise State University. He joined the lab in 2015 and is focusing on the role of metals in Clostridium difficile infection and pathogenicity.

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Clare Laut

    Graduate Student - IGP

    Clare grew up outside of Detroit, MI, and earned her B.S. in Microbiology and Genetics from Michigan State University. She joined the lab in 2017 and her research focuses on heme-activated two component signaling in S. aureus and B. anthracis. 

    Medical Center North A5102

  • Catherine Leasure

    Graduate Student - IGP

    Catherine grew up in Clover, SC and earned her B.S. in Genetics from Texas A&M University (Whoop!). She joined the lab in 2018 to study heme homeostasis in S. aureus.

  • Zachery Lonergan

    Graduate Student - IGP

    Zach is from West Virginia and received his B.S. in Biology from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 2014. His work focuses on transition metal acquisition systems and pathogenesis of Acinetobacter baumannii.

    Medical Center North A5102

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Claire Weinstein

    Claire is from Dayton, OH and will graduate from Vanderbilt in 2019 with a B.S. in biology and cognitive studies. Her project focuses on bacteriophage infections of A. baumannii.