People

Principal Investigator

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Jo Handelsman
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor
Vilas Research Professor
Director, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

Postdocs

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Amanda Hurley
Postdoc
I hope to conduct a genetic screen for mechanisms of community phenotypes. Once genetic determinants of synergistic community interactions are discovered, I will identify factors required for invasion of a bacterial species into a stable community. Therapeutic implications include improved probiotics or increased gut microbiome resilience.
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Marc Chevrette
Postdoc
My interests include the genomics and genetics of secondary metabolism, microbial chemical diversity, interspecies interactions, evolution, and computational biology, particularly towards the discovery of new antimicrobials and other therapeutics.My interests include the genomics and genetics of secondary metabolism, microbial chemical diversity, interspecies interactions, evolution, and computational biology, particularly towards the discovery of new antimicrobials and other therapeutics.
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Deepa Acharya
Postdoc
Julia Nepper
Postdoc
I will be studying the genetic regulation of bacterial community colonization of soil substrates. I also hope to study the role of lipid metabolism in community formation by soil bacteria.

Graduate Students

Shruthi Magesh
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Shruthi Magesh
Graduate Student
I aim to identify the genetic determinants important for F. johnsoniae to survive in the rhizosphere. Two important behaviors of a bacterium to succeed in the rhizosphere are 1) colonizing on a surface, such as soil particles or the root, and 2) interacting with nearby bacteria. To study these traits, I employ a high-throughput genetic screen using a mariner transposon mutant library of F. johnsoniae to identify the fitness of genes using INSeq technology.
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Austin Hall
Graduate student
My research involves finding microorganisms that can invade established biofilms. After finding invaders, I look at how the polymicrobial community responds to invasion, and at the genetics related to invasion. Understanding these mechanisms can shed light on what makes a microbiome resistant to change.

Post Baccalaureate Researchers

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Mara Beebe
Research Specialist
My research centers around the Gut-Brain axis and the idea that the bacteria in your gut, your gut microbiome, communicate with and affect your brain. The gut microbiome has been implicated in many disorders and diseases, both mental and physical. I look at how various interventions, such as being put on a selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor or taking a mindfulness-based stress reduction course, affect the type and amount of bacteria in a person's gut. I analyze the gut microbiome pre- and post-intervention and aim to find biomarkers of change that can be used for diagnosis or treatment in the future.
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Martel DenHartog
Research Intern
My research primarily focuses on advancing isolates in the Tiny Earth Chemistry Hub. To do this, I prepare genomic and metabolomic isolations from bacterial strains shown to produce antibiotic activity against ESKAPE relatives. I also work with every lab member to make sure their supply and equipment needs are met and help maintain organization in the lab. Outside of lab and administrative work, I enjoy writing feature science stories for the WID and Tiny Earth websites.
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Kayla Cohen
Research Intern
My research entails all things soil related - how it is formed, which nutrient cycles it performs, which ecosystem services it provides, as well as why it is eroding at unsustainable rates worldwide. As a researcher and writer, I aim to tell soil's story in a way that does justice to this remarkable, life-sustaining resource that we depend on for almost all of our food production.

Undergraduate Students

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Renee Engels
Undergraduate
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Josephine Putnam
Undergraduate
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Orli Jona
Undergraduate
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Connie Wang
Undergraduate

Administrative Staff

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Jennifer Heinritz
Tiny Earth Chemistry Hub Director
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Laura Langley
Executive Assistant

Alumni