Principle 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

    Medical Center North A5303B
    1161 21st Ave South

    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.

Research Staff

  • Nichole A Lobdell, M.S.

    Senior Research Specialist


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

  • Nichole Maloney, M.S.

    Laboratory Manager

    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.

  • Sydney Drury, B.S.

    Research Assistant I

    Sydney is from Hague, Virginia and earned her B.S. in Biochemistry at Virginia Tech. She joined the Skaar laboratory in 2018 to study light killing and photodynamic therapies against S. aureus and P. acnes.

  • Anderson Miller, B.S.

    Research Assistant I

    Born and raised in Donelson, TN, Anderson earned his B.A. in Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University. He joined the lab in 2018 and his project focuses on the increased photosensitization of S. aureus and its use in pharmaceutical development.

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.

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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.   

  • Andy Weiss, Ph.D.

    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, Ph.D.

    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.

  • Hualiang Pi, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Hualiang grew up in Hunan, China, and received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Cornell University. Her dissertation work in the laboratory of Dr. John Helmann focuses on iron homeostatic systems and stress responses in Bacillus subtilis. In the Skaar lab, Hualiang studies two-component signaling systems (TCSs) in Bacillus anthracis.

  • Valeria Reyes Ruiz, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Valeria was born and raised in Puerto Rico and received her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. After graduating, she moved to Philadelphia where she earned her PhD with Dr. Sunny Shin at the University of Pennsylvania. For her doctoral work, she investigated immune detection of bacterial components by the human NAIP/NLRC4 inflammasome.  Her current project focuses on understanding how S. aureus responds to manganese in the heart and defining bacterial and host factors affecting susceptibility to infection.

  • Caitlin Murdoch, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Researcher

    Caitlin grew up on Merritt Island, a barrier island on Florida’s Space Coast. After receiving her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Florida, she moved to Durham, NC to pursue graduate studies at Duke University. There, she earned her PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the lab of Dr. John Rawls. For her dissertation, she used zebrafish to study mechanisms by which the microbiota shape the development of the innate immune system. In the Skaar lab, Caitlin continues to use gnotobiotic zebrafish as a model to investigate the impact of metals on shaping inter-bacterial interactions in the intestine.  

  • Dillon Kunkle, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    Dillon grew up in western Pennsylvania and earned his B.S in biology from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa. He stayed in Pittsburgh for his doctoral work, where he earned his Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh in Dr. James Bina’s lab, where he studied the link between Vibrio cholerae RND multidrug efflux pumps and bacterial adaptive responses. In the Skaar lab Dillon studies the struggle for nutrient metals at the Acinetobacter baumannii host-pathogen interface.

Graduate Students

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • Benjamin Fowler

    Graduate Student

    Ben is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and graduated from Penn State University in 2016 with B.S. in Immunology & Infectious Disease and B.S. in Toxicology. He joined the Vanderbilt MSTP in 2016 and transitioned from medical school to graduate school in fall 2018. His research focuses on determining the role of humoral immunity in the pathogenesis of gram negative pathogens, such as Acinetobacter baumannii, and Propionibacterium acnes. He is co-mentored with Dr. James E. Crowe.

  • Jeanette Miller, B.S.

    Graduate Student

    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. In 2019 she joins the laboratory as a Graduate student.

  • Emma Guiberson

    Graduate Student

    Emma grew up all over the country, but calls Colorado Springs, CO home. She graduated with her B.S. in Chemistry and Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 2018. Emma began working with the Skaar lab in 2019, studying the role of small molecules and nutrient metals in Clostridioides difficile infection using imaging mass spectrometry.

  • Emilio Rivera, B.S.

    Emilio is from Las Cruces, New Mexico and received his B.S. in biochemistry from New Mexico State University. Since starting graduate school in 2018, Emilio has been working on developing technologies for MALDI imaging mass spectrometry in infectious disease.

  • Matthew Munneke

    Graduate Student

    Matt hails from Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, and earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Carroll University. Following graduation, Matt entered Vanderbilt’s IGP in 2019 and joined the Skaar laboratory in 2020. His research focuses on using analytical biochemistry to study how pathogens acquire, prioritize, and distribute metals to proteins during infection.

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Tess McNeely

    Tess grew up in Hohenwald, TN. She is an honors student at Belmont University, working toward a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to attend medical school. Under the mentorship of Aaron Wexler, Ph.D., she is studying the utilization of nutrient metals by C. difficile and the intestinal microbiota.