Current Lab Members

Principal Investigator

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

Postdoctoral Researchers

Margaret Thairu
Postdoc
I am interested in understanding how the formation and maintenance of symbiotic relationships shape and influence the evolution lineages. I focus on microbial symbioses, and by using both genomic and experimental techniques to I hope to understand factors that drive and shape these relationships.
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Julia Nepper
Postdoc
I use techniques like transcriptomics to investigate the role of secondary metabolites in THOR biofilm formation and other community behaviors. I also work with the Tiny Earth Chemistry Hub to discover and characterize new antibiotic molecules from soil bacteria.
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Chris Thomas
Postdoc
Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics workflows for antibiotic discovery.

Graduate Students

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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.
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Natalia Rosario-Meléndez
Graduate Student

Research Staff

Yin-Chun (Stacy) Lin
Project Assistant
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Martel DenHartog
Tiny Earth Research Specialist
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 inhibition against ESKAPE relatives. My role with the Chemistry Hub extends beyond WID to the Tiny Earth network, where I communicate with TE Partner Instructors about the research happening in our lab. 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.
Trang Tran
Outreach Specialist

Undergraduate Students

Kyle Lee
Undergraduate
Cole Bielby
Undergraduate
Hollie Wierschke
Undergraduate
Kiley Harju
Undergraduate
Austin Duellman
Undergraduate
Grace Pausma
Grace Pausma
Undergraduate

Administrative Staff

Sarah Miller
Executive Director of Tiny Earth
As the Executive Director of Tiny Earth at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sarah oversees Tiny Earth's international network of over 700 instructors that teach more than 14,000 students per year.
Manny Turrubiartes
Executive Assistant to the Director