Student Highlights

M&I Graduate Students Present at American Society for Microbiology Spring 2021 Research Meeting

The M&I Department was well represented at the KY/TN Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Spring 2021 Research Meeting on April 17. Kelley Cooper (Bagaitkar Lab), Trey Landers (Sokoloski Lab), Autumn LaPointe (Sokoloski Lab), Sarah Price (Lawrenz Lab), Carlos Rodriguez (Bagaitkar Lab), and Claire Westcott (Sokoloski Lab) were among 21 participants invited to give oral presentations on their research projects. Congratulations to Sarah, Autumn, and Carlos for receiving “Top Presentation Awards” at the meeting!

(From left to right: Kelley Cooper, Trey Landers, Autumn LaPointe, Sarah Price, Carlos Rodriguez, Claire Westcott)

M&I Student Publishes New Findings in mBio

 Bethany Vaughn, Microbiology and Immunology PhD Candidate in the lab of Dr. Yousef Abu Kwaik, recently published a paper in mBio. The paper, titled "An Indispensable Role for the MavE Effector of Legionella pneumophila in Lysosomal Evasion" can be found here.  Image: Bethany Vaughn 


M&I Student Publishes New Findings in Viruses

Trey LandersM&I Ph.D. Candidate, V “Trey” Landers (in the Sokoloski Lab) has recently published a paper regarding his dissertation research in the journal Viruses. The paper, titled “The Alphaviral Capsid Protein Inhibits IRAK1-Dependent TLR Signaling” reports the identification of a novel host / pathogen interaction, and can be found hereImage: Trey Landers 




M&I Students Publish New Findings in PLOS Pathogens 

Hannah Hanford

Current M&I Ph.D. student, Hannah Hanford (AbuKwaik lab) and M&I graduate Dr. Juanita von Dwingelo (AbuKwaik lab) have jointly published a paper in PLOS Pathogens. The paper, titled "Bacterial nucleomodulins: A coevolutionary adaptation to the eukaryotic command center" can be found here.   Image: Hannah Hanford




M&I Graduate Students Present at American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting

The M&I Department was well represented at the KY/TN Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Fall 2020 Research Meeting on December 5th. Trey Landers (Sokoloski Lab), Autumn LaPointe (Sokoloski Lab), Sarah Price (Lawrenz Lab), Drew Skidmore (Chung Lab), and Claire Westcott (Sokoloski Lab) were invited to give oral presentations on their thesis projects. Congratulations to Sarah and Trey for receiving the top awards at the meeting for their presentations!

 Trey Landers Autumn LaPointe Sarah Price Drew Skidmore Claire Westcott Jones

(From left to right: Trey Landers, Autumn LaPointe, Sarah Price, Drew Skidmore, Claire Westcott) 

M&I Graduate students win University doctoral awards

Dylan Johnson and Irina Miralda received University’s Guy Stevenson Award and the John Richard Binford Memorial Award, respectively.

Please click here to view Dylan Johnson's virtual Graduate School Graduation speech.

The Guy Stevenson Award recognizes an outstanding doctoral degree recipient who has demonstrated excellence in both scholarship and leadership within the discipline, and has made significant contributions to teaching and service. This award is the highest award given by the Graduate School and the winner carries the graduate school banner at both the Doctoral Hooding and Commencement Ceremonies, and provides remarks during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.  The Binford Award is presented to a doctoral degree recipient who excels in scholarship, and has contributed to other areas within the discipline such as leadership, teaching, or service.  The winner receives special recognition at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation ceremony.  Congratulations Dylan and Irina!

Autumn LaPointe wins presentation award at Viruses 2020 conference in Barcelona

Autumn LaPointe, PhD candidate, received the best oral presentation award, elected by the scientific committee and sponsored by the journal Microorganisms, for her talk entitled “Noncapped genomic RNA are critical for Alphaviral infection and pathogenicity”. LaPointe is a PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. KevinSokoloski. Read more at




M&I students receive 1st and 2nd place for doctoral dissertation at Research! Louisville

Congratulations to Autumn LaPointe on receiving 1st place and Samantha Morrissey on receiving 2nd place for the  2019 Research!Louisville Doctoral Basic Science award. Autumn is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski and Samantha is a doctoral candidate in the lab of Dr. Jun Yan. Read more at:



2019 T32 Awardees announced

The Inflammation and Pathogenesis T32 Training Grant is excited to announce its newest PhD graduate student fellows: Drew Skidmore, laboratory of Dr. Donghoon Chung, Trey Landers, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokoloski, and Sarah Price laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz. These students will join 2018 fellow Autumn LaPointe, laboratory of Dr. Kevin Sokolowski, in the program. 

 This year M&I’s summer high school program MISTRE merged with Louisville Science Pathways, which is the Science Policy and Outreach Group’s University-wide internship program. This merger expanded the opportunities to include weekly career seminars, and how to apply to two- and four-year colleges, with emphasis on careers in the biomedical field. Altogether, seventeen 10th and 11th graders experienced hands on research projects.  M&I provided stipends to two of the seventeen participants, Awa Koita from Central High, and Osazuwa Omoruyi from St. Francis; who were hosted in the labs of Drs. Venkatakrishna Jala and Sylvia Uriarte, respectively. During their internship, the students participated in mentored biomedical research, focused on the roles of microbial communities inhuman disease.

MISTRE is coordinated by Claire Jones, and Louisville Science Pathways is coordinated by Dylan Johnson and Sarah Price. Claire, Dylan and Sarah are all PhD candidates in the Department.

The Microbiology and2018 SLB Group Immunology Department was well represented by its graduate students at the 2018 Joint Meeting of the Society for Leukocyte Biology and International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society in October. Amanda Pulsifer (laboratory of Matthew Lawrenz) was one of three finalists for the SLB Presidential Award, which included the opportunity to present her research at a plenary session during the first day of the meeting. Katlin Stivers’ research (laboratory of Jay Hoying) was also highlighted and she was chosen to give a “Poster Flash Talk”. Irina Miralda (laboratory of Silvia Uriarte) won a SLB travel Award for her poster presentation. Finally, Hazel Ozuna (laboratory of Don Demuth) was selected to present her research at the Late Breaking Research Poster Session. Congratulations to all of the students!

Tiva Vancleave, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, has been awarded the 2018 University of Louisville School of Medicine Student Diversity Award.  This award acknowledged Tiva’s commitment to the educational and societal needs of underrepresented minorities through mentorship and service during her PhD career. Tiva was recognized for this award during the 2018 PhD Commencement Ceremony, where she also received a Dean’s Citation for her PhD research on the YapE protein of Yersinia pestis.


Hazel Ozuna, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Demuth, has been awarded a five year F31 Research Fellowship from the National Institiute of Dental & Craniofacial Research for her project entitled: "Exploitation of the host response by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans mediated by QseBC".



Katlin Stivers, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. James Hoying, has been awarded a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association for her project entitled "Regulation of Adipose Tissue Inflammation by Resident Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells". The two year award will fully support her research investigating the role of tissue resident, immunosuppressive myeloid cells in promoting immune homeostasis in healthy, lean adipose tissue and preventing the chronic inflammation that can lead to the development of obesity.

Earlier this year, Katlin also received a travel award to give an oral presentation on her current work "Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells in Adipose Tissue Homeostasis" as  part of the Kaley Lecture featured topic session, "The Complications of Diabetes and the Role of Inflammation: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Opportunities" at the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference, April 22-26, Chicago, IL.

Amanda Pulsifer was awarded a “Best Poster Presentation” prize at The Yin and Yang of Phagocytes: Regulators of Human Health and Disease Gordon Research Conference, June 11-16, Waterville Valley, NH for her work entitled “Exploitation of Host Rab GTPases by Yersinia pestis Facilitates Intracellular Survival”. Amanda is a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz.