Research Experience

Assistant Professor
Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology
University of Texas Medical Branch
May 2017- Present

Laboratory of Dr. Ralph S. Baric
Dept. of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Post-doctoral fellow                                                                                                                        
August 2010- May 2017

Once described to me as the "wild wild west",  the Baric lab operates at the cutting edge science with research on coronaviruses (SARS and MERS-CoV), influenza viruses, noroviruses, and dengue viruses.  While its claim to fame is generation of reverse genetic systems for CoVs, the lab employs a number of strategies to better understand viral infection and the host immune response including examination of host genetic diversity through the collaborative cross, comparative systems biology, and generation of chimeric particles to induce long lasting antibody responses. The lab is an excellent environment to foster new ideas and build a career; you can't go wrong working for "the big cheese."    

Laboratory of Dr. David Leib
Dept. of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis
Graduate Student                                                                                                                
May 2005- May 2010

David's lab studies Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) exploring the interface between host immunity and viral antagonism with specific focus on the virion host shutoff protein, innate immunity, and autophagy. He runs a small and very productive lab now at Dartmouth Medical School.  I can't remember exactly how David used to phrase it, but he either gave his trainees "just enough" or "not enough" rope to hang themselves.  In other words, he gave us some freedom to explore and learn, keeping us reigned in with DWD (data with David) and ISHAT (informal show and tell).  It may not have been the quickest route to a Ph.D., but it was exceptional training environment that has served me well.  

Laboratory of Dr. Timothy Sparer
Microbiology Dept., University of Tennessee- Knoxville
Research Technician
June 2003 – August 2003

Tim's lab examines the role of chemokines (both viral mimics and host) on human cytomegalovirus pathogenesis and the development of cancer.  I was one of the first workers in Tim's lab in 2003.  I had been out hunting for a research job and emailed every biology/microbiology professor at the University of Tennessee (tailored, individual emails to something like 80 people).  I got one response back, from Tim, who gave me a shot.  From him I learned critical baseline skill in research and important lessons like "pour  aggressively."  I am truly indebted to him for giving me a shot and providing the strong foundation for my research career.  


Washington University in Saint Louis   May 2010 
Doctorate of Philosophy in Biological Sciences, concentration in Immunology                 

Clemson University  May 2004
Bachelors of Science in Microbiology, Minor in Business Administration                             

Research Support

Ongoing Support    

Texas Rising STAR Award (PI: Menachery)
May 2017- June 2017
Faculty Science & Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) Program, University of Texas System
Award recognizes promise of junior faculty member; funds for purchase equipment to begin independent research career.
Role: PI

R00 AG049092-01A1 (PI: Menachery)                                                                          
July 2017- June 2020
Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institute of Aging                             
Title: Systems Based Analysis of Host Factors that Contribute to Aging Pathogenesis           
This grant utilizes systems biology and the SARS-CoV mouse model to identify target host pathways that contribute to differential disease outcomes in the aged host compared to young.

Role: PI

Completed Research Support

1K99AG049092-01A1 (PI-Menachery)                                                                  
June 2015- May 2017
Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00), National Institute of Aging                         
Title: Systems Based Analysis of Host Factors that Contribute to Aging Pathogenesis     

5F32AI102561-02-09 (PI- Menachery)                                                                        
January 2013- May 2015
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH
Title: Evaluation of SARS-CoV 2'O Methyltransferase Mutants

Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence (PI- Menachery)                     
September 2014-August 2015
Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

T32EY013360-09 (PI- Beebe)                                                                                 
September 2008- May 2010
National Eye Institute Research Training Grant in Visual Science
Title: The Impact of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 on the Immune Response to HSV-1 Infection

Awards & Honors

Seymour & Vivian Milstein Young Investigator Award, International Cytokine and Interferon Society
Texas Rising STAR Award, University of Texas System (2016-2019)
Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00, National Institute of Aging) (2015-2020)
American Society of Virology Travel Award
Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence, University of North Carolina (2014)
Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32, NIAID)
Milstein Travel Award, International Society of Interferon and Cytokine Research
American Society of Virology Travel Award
Selection to 4th Annual NIH National Graduate Student Research Festival
American Society of Virology Travel Award
National Eye Institute Research Training Grant in Visual Sciences (2008-2010)
Magna Cum Laude, Clemson University
Campbell Young Leader Scholar, Clemson University (2000-2002)
Prince Alumni Scholar, Clemson University (2000-2004)

Professional Development

Virus and Cell Gordon Conference (2013, 2015)
American Society of Virology Annual Meeting (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
NIH Systems Biology U19 Annual Meeting (2015)
Omics Systems Biology Program Meeting (2015)
13th International Nidovirus Symposium (2014)
Responsible Conduct & Human Subjects Research Training, Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (2014)
Pathogenesis of Respiratory Viruses, Keystone Symposia (2014)
Reviewer for Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Viral Research, Virology journals (2014-present)
Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium Committee (2014)
Systems Immunogenetics Bi-Annual Meeting, Chapel Hill, NC (2013, 2014)
Systems Genetics Workshop, Chapel Hill, NC (2013)
North Carolina State 2nd Annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium (2013)
Microbiology and Immunology Reunion, University of North Carolina (2013)
Annual Oliver Smithies Nobel Symposium (2013, 2014)
Virology in Progress, UNC (2011- Present)
3rd Annual Systems Biology Programmatic and Systems Biology Working Group Meeting (2011)
Systems Biology Approaches to Virus-Host Interaction Conference, Chapel Hill (2011, 2012)
University of North Carolina Virology Colloquium (2010, 2011, 2012)
Responsible Conduct of Research Training (2010)
Triangle Immunology Interest Group (2010- Present)
Work In Progress (2004- 2009)
Virology Group Meeting (2005- 2009)
Virology Journal Club (2005 – 2008)
Immunology Journal Club (2004- 2009)
Immunology Program Retreat (2004 – 2008)
International Herpes Workshop (2007)
American Society for Microbiology (2003-2004)