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.

    The Cassat Lab Website

  • 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 did 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. 

    The Hammer Lab Website 

  • 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.

    The Kehl-Fie Lab Website

  • 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.

    The Reniere Lab Website

  • 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.

    The Torres Lab Website

  • 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.

  • Brittany L Nairn, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    Brittany is currently a research scientist at the University of Minnesota in the School of Dentistry.  She will begin a new position as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Bethel University in August of 2018.

  • 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 is now an Assistant Professor at Grand Valley State University.

    The Haley Lab Website

  • 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.

    The Noto Lab Website

  • 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.

    The Wakeman Lab Website

  • Joseph Zackular, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in the Skaar Lab

    Joe is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  He is a native of North Reading, Massachusetts and he received his B.S. and M.S from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Dr. Patrick Schloss, where he studied the role of the gut microbiome in colorectal cancer. While a postdoctoral fellow in the Skaar lab, Joe's work focused on the impact of dietary metals on the gut microbiota and Clostridium difficile infection.

     

    The Zackular Lab Website

  • Christopher Lopez, Ph.D.

    Former Post Doctoral Researcher in the Skaar lab

    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 studied Clostridium difficile metal acquisition strategies.  Chris is now an Assistant Professor at California State University, Sacramento.

  • Lauren Palmer, Ph.D.

    Former Postdoctoral Researcher in Skaar Lab

    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.

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.

  • 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. Allison is currently a Scientist at Cytovance Biologics in Oklahoma City. 

  • 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.

  • Nikesh Dahal, B.A.

    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. 

  • Audra R. Fullen, M.S.

    Former Research Assistant in the Skaar Lab

    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.

  • Lunden Cunningham

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in the Skaar Lab

    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. 

  • Jocelyn Simpson, B.S.

    Former Research Assistant in the Skaar lab

    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. 

  • Dennis Horvath, Ph.D.

    Former Research Assistant in the Skaar Lab

    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 worked on a project to develop new photoactivable antibiotics that disrupt heme homeostasis for the treatment of S. aureus infections. Dennis is currently a home educator. 

  • Claire Weinstein

    Former Undergraduate Researcher in Skaar lab

    Claire is from Dayton, OH and graduated from Vanderbilt in 2019 with a B.S. in biology and cognitive studies. Her project focused on bacteriophage infections of A. baumannii. She is currently doing in internship at the CDC.

  • Monique Bennett, Ph.D.

    Research Instructor

    Former Graduate Student

    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.

  • 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 former project in the Skaar lab focused on the competitive interactions between Staphylococcus aureus and the microbiome. In 2019, Caroline moved to the University of Wisconsin to continue her research. 

  • William Perry, Ph.D.

    William grew up in Fayetteville, TN and received a B.S. in Chemistry: Biochemistry from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. William’s current work focuses on integrations and applications of Imaging Mass Spectrometry technologies to molecularly investigate infectious diseases and the host-pathogen interface.

  • 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.

  • Amber Petoletti

    Undergraduate Researcher

    Amber is originally from Cedar Rapids Iowa. She joined the USN from 2013-2017. Then she completed her freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh before moving to Nashville. Now she is majoring in biology / minoring in chemistry at Belmont University. She is working on an independent project while she completes her degree. 

Postdocs

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Lisa J Lojek

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Lisa, a native New Yorker, received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Ohio University. In the Skaar lab, Lisa investigated metal regulation in Staphylococcus aureus and heme degredation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.  Lisa is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Massachusetts in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Sassetti.

  • Jacob Choby

    Former Ph.D. Student in Skaar Lab

    Jake, a Pittsburgh native, earned his B.S. in Molecular Biology from Grove City College. He joined the lab in 2014 and studied heme homeostasis in S. aureus. Jake graduated in 2019 and is currently at Emory University as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. David Weiss.

  • Reece Knippel

    Former 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 focused on the role of metals in Clostridium difficile infection and pathogenicity. Reece is joining Dr. Cynthia Sear's lab at John Hopkins University School of Medicine for his postdoctoral training.

  • Zachery Lonergan, Ph.D.

    Former 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 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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 .

  • 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. Billy is now in Dental School at the University of Iowa.

  • 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. Ashley is currently pursuing her PhD in Microbiology at NYU in the laboratory of Dr. Heran Darwn.

  • 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. 

  • Lillian J Juttukonda, M.D., Ph.D.

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

    Lillian, a professional fantasy gymnastics manager, completed her undergraduate studies in Violin Performance and Chemistry at Vanderbilt in 2011 and her Medical Scientist Training Program in 2019. In the Skaar lab, Lillian studied the role of transition metals in Acinetobacter baumannii  and Staphylococcus aureus infections.  Lillian is currently in her residency at Boston Children's Hospital.

  • 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.