Congratulations to M&I 2013-2014 Graduates! (Part 1 of 3)

23 M&I graduate students completed their PhD work during this past academic year and are eligible to participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony at the Dean Smith Center on May 10. Below are short summaries of their doctoral work and current activities/plans.

Melissa Anderson (Cotter lab) successfully defended her dissertation in August 2013. She showed that Burkholderia thailandensis uses Two Partner Secretion (TPS) proteins to mediate a form of interbacterial competition called Contact Dependent Growth Inhibition (CDI). Melissa also demonstrated that B. thailandensis can use its CDI system proteins for kind recognition and competitive exclusion during biofilm community development. Melissa is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Gurol Suel at the University of California, San Diego.

Kirston Barton (Margolis lab) completed her dissertation in August 2013. Kirston explored mechanisms that recruit repressive histone deacetylase (HDAC) enzymes to the integrated genome of the human immunodeficiency virus, and she defined which HDAC isoforms are the most important for shutdown of HIV within human CD4 T cells. The work further defines precise targets for therapeutic attack to disrupt latent HIV infection. Kirston has taken a postdoctoral research position in the laboratory of Sarah Palmer at the Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research in Sydney to pursue studies of persistent HIV infection.

Myra dela Pena (Abel lab) studied infant CD4 T cell development and the role of CD4+ T cells in pediatric infectious diseases. Myra will continue as postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Abel’s laboratory to further define how cytokine and TCR signaling differ between infant and adult CD4 T cells.

Raquel Burger Calderon (Webster-Cyriaque lab) successfully defended her dissertation in April 2014. Raquel's research focused on understanding the pathogenesis of the DNA tumor virus BKV in HIV-associated salivary gland disease. Raquel is interested in pursuing a translational career and will soon begin working toward a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at UNC.

Morgan Chateau (Garcia lab) completed her PhD in May 2014. She studied mucosal HIV transmission and its prevention using humanized BLT mice. In addition, she also investigated the role of the microbiome on the development of the human immune system and on HIV transmission. She will be joining the laboratory of Dr. Paula Cannon at the University of Southern California as a postdoctoral fellow.

Martha Clark (Cerami-Meshnick lab) completed her PhD in March 2013. Martha studied the relationship between iron deficiency, iron supplementation, and erythrocytic stage Plasmodium falciparum infection. Her work will be continued in a clinical study being conducted in the Gambia this summer. Martha will join the laboratory of Dr. Manoj Duraisingh at the Harvard School of Public Health this June.

Kari Debbink (Baric lab) completed her doctoral research in April 2014. Kari identified the evolutionary mechanisms governing norovirus pandemic disease cycles in human populations. In parallel, her work pioneered new strategies for norovirus vaccine design. Kari will continue her postdoctoral studies in RNA virus evolution at the University of Michigan.

Megan Deming (Baric lab) completed her doctoral research in August 2013. Megan studied the neutralization properties of human monoclonal antibodies and vaccines as therapeutics against SARS-CoV and other emerging coronavirus infections in aged immunosenescent populations. Megan is currently completing her third year of medical school at UNC.