Principal Investigator

C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology

Director, Antimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens Program

Staphylococcus aureus, AMR pathogens, pathogenesis, immune response to infection, polymicrobial infections, system biology of host-pathogen interactions, in vivo models of infection, macrophages, neutrophils, pore-forming toxins, toxin-cell interaction, regulation of virulence factors


Hometown: Rincón, Puerto Rico

Fun Fact: I love the beach

Victor J. Torres




NIH-NIGMS: Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar

NSF-Summer Research Training Program (University of Iowa)

Hispanic Scholarship Fellow

American Society for Microbiology Corporate Partner Travel Grant Award

NIH-NIGMS: Individual Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship

Pre-doctoral Sidney P. Colowick Award (Outstanding research achievements in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)

NIH-NIAID: Individual Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship
2006 & 2008             

Collier Award for Outstanding Research at the Gordon Conference on Microbial Toxins and Pathogenicity (Proctor Academy in Andover, NH)

Post-doctoral Sidney P. Colowick Award (Outstanding research achievements in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)

Best Research Award at the Gordon Conference on Staphylococcal Diseases (Les Diablerets, Switzerland)

Levi Watkins Jr., Student Award for Contributions in fostering opportunities for under-represented minorities in education and research (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)

NIH-NIAID: Research scholar development award (K22)

American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant

Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases


The Dean’s List, recognition for exceptional research contributions to NYU Langone Medical center


NYU SoM NextGen Stars lecture


Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award


NYU Langone Outstanding Postdoc Mentor Award


C.V. Starr Endowed Professorship


Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology

MacArthur Fellow




Bachelor of Sciences: Concentration in Industrial Microbiology 

University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, Mayagüez, PR, U.S.A.

Mentor: Mildred Chaparro, Ph.D.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Microbiology and Immunology

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine,Nashville, TN, U.S.A. 

Mentor: Timothy L. Cover, M.D.



Postdoctoral Fellow: Division of Infectious Diseases

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, U.S.A.

Mentor: Timothy L. Cover, M.D.



Postdoctoral Fellow: Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, U.S.A.

Mentor: Eric P. Skaar, Ph.D.


2008: Assistant Professor of Microbiology

2014: Associate Professor of Microbiology

2019: C.V. Starr Associate Professor of Microbiology

2020: C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology

2021: DirectorAntimicrobial-Resistant Pathogens Program


    Exene Anderson

    Graduate Student

    Hometown: Tucson, AZ



    B.S. - Microbiology and Molecular and Cellular Biology - University of Arizona 

    Project: I'm studying the expression of S. aureus leukotoxins in various organs during infection and how those genes are regulated. 


    Fun Fact: I was named after a punk rock singer


      Ze Chen

      Research Associate

      Hometown: China


      B.S. - Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

      M.S. - New York University

      Project: My project involves using genomic data to better understand the interaction between S. aureus and the host.

      Fun Fact: I love soccer!

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      Ashley DuMont

      Senior Research Scientist

      Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA


      B.S. - Biology - Denison University 

      Ph.D. - Microbiology - New York University 

      Project:  I am working on developing a vaccine against S. aureus infections and I study the pathogenesis of multi-drug resistant  bacteria.

      Fun Fact: My artwork has been on the cover of Trends in Microbiology twice.

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        Juan Gago

        Graduate Student

        Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina



        M.D. - University of Buenos Aires

        M.P.H. - City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health


        Project: I am working on analyzing clinical and demographic characteristics of patients with COVID-19 and sepsis.


        Fun Fact: I traveled the Amazonian jungle by boat.


          Juliana Ilmain

          Graduate Student

          Hometown: San Ramon, CA



          B.S. - Biology - Purdue University

          Project: I am studying the structure-function relationship of LukAB toxin diversity.

          Fun Fact: My nails are always painted.

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          Anna O'Keeffe

          Research Associate

          Hometown: Dublin, Ireland



          B.S. - Pharmacology - University College Dublin

          Project: I am working on developing new vaccines against S. aureus infections.

          Fun Fact: I love open-water swimming. 

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          Andrew Perault

          Postdoctoral Fellow

          Hometown: Big Sur, CA / Ann Arbor, MI



          B.S. - Microbiology - University of Michigan

          MPH - Hospital and Molecular Epidemiology - University of Michigan

          Ph.D. - Microbiology and Immunology - University of North Carolina

          Project: I am studying virulence mechanisms used by the multi-drug resistant pathogen Enterobacter cloacae.


          Fun Fact: When I was a kid, the Dalai Lama gave me a stress ball as a gift (should I read into that?). 

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          Rachel Prescott

          Graduate Student

          Hometown: Hampden, ME



          B.S. - Biochemistry - Worcester Polytechnic Institute


          Project: I study the interactions between Staphylococcus bacteria and Influenza viruses in a co-infection model.

          Fun Fact: I played the tuba in the WPI Marching Band! Go Tech! 


            Amelia St John

            Research Associate 

            Hometown: Scarborough, ME



            B.S. - Microbiology - University of Maine


            Project: I am studying virulence mechanisms used by the multi-drug resistant pathogen Enterobacter cloacae.

            Fun Fact: I was on an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.

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            Xuhui Zheng

            Graduate Student

            Hometown: Beijing, China



            B.S. - Biological Sciences - Peking University 


            Project: Secretion and bacteria association of LukAB toxin.

            Fun Fact: My favorite symbol is the Sun not only because I was born during sunrise, my zodiac is related to sun, and my name means sunshine, but also because I have a passion for everything!


              Erin Zwack

              Postdoctoral Fellow

              Hometown: Oxford, CT



              B.S. - Biology with a concentration in Genomics - Davidson College 

              Ph.D. - Cellular and Molecular Biology - University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine 


              Project: Defining the toxin-dependent and toxin-independent S. aureus response of primary human phagocytes.


              Fun Fact: Completed an 8-day, 100-mile hike in the Adirondacks.


                Daiane Boff

                Postdoctoral Fellow

                Hometown: Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil



                B.S. - Biomedicine - IESA

                M.S. - Biochemistry and immunology - Federal university of Minas Gerais

                PhD - Immunology - Federal University of Minas Gerais

                PhD - Microbiology and immunology - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

                Project: I am studying how S. aureus leukotoxins can target endothelial cells during infection.


                Fun Fact: I love American football


                  Krystal Ching

                  Graduate Student

                  Hometown: Alameda, CA


                  B.A. - Molecular and Cellular Biology, Immunology - University of California, Berkeley

                  Project: Mechanisms of exosome secretion in response to infection.

                  Fun Fact: I love playing ultimate frisbee!


                    Sophie Dyzenhaus

                    Graduate Student

                    Hometown: Toronto, Canada



                    B.S. - Immunology - University of Toronto


                    Project: I work on virulence mechanisms of contemporary S. aureus clinical isolates from bloodstream infections.


                    Fun Fact: My family moved a lot when I was younger, and by the time I was 8 I had lived on 4 different continents.


                      Sandra Gonzalaz

                      Assistant Research Scientist

                      Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia



                      B.S. Microbiology - Universidad De Los Andes - Bogotá, Colombia

                      M.S. Microbiology - Universidad De Los Andes - Bogotá, Colombia

                      Project: I work on the host-pathogen interactions occurring during nosocomial MRSA pneumonia infections.


                      Fun Fact: I like to dance salsa and cumbia.

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                      Keenan Lacey

                      Postdoctoral Fellow

                      Hometown: Dublin, Ireland



                      B.A. - Microbiology - Trinity College Dublin.

                      Ph.D. - Immunology - Trinity College Dublin.

                      Project: I work on the host-pathogen interactions occurring during nosocomial MRSA pneumonia infections.


                      Fun Fact: My grandfather was also a microbiologist and worked at the Guinness factory.


                        Miranda Pawline

                        Research Associate

                        Hometown: Delanco, NJ



                        B.S. - Biology and Chemistry - Florida Gulf Coast University  

                        M.S. - Biology - New York University


                        Project: Currently studying CA-MRSA colonization of the gastrointestinal tract and assisting in infectious disease hospital surveillance.


                        Fun Fact:  I’ve had my boaters license since age 14 and can outfish my dad!

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                        Sofya Perelman

                        Postdoctoral Fellow

                        Hometown: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia



                        M.S. - Biophysics and Bioengineering -Lomonosov Moscow State University  

                        Ph.D. - Cell and Molecular Biology - UT Southwestern Medical Center

                        Project: I am investigating the role of leukocidin AB (LukAB) diversity in S. aureus pathogenesis.


                        Fun Fact: Polo is my favorite sport to both watch and play.


                          Avital Savin

                          Master's Student

                          Hometown: Athens, OH



                          B.S. - Biological Sciences - Ohio University


                          Project: : I am studying regulation of virulence factors, specifically leukotoxins, in S. aureus. 

                          Fun Fact: I really love to travel. So far I have visited 17 countries and I can't wait to visit more.

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                          Robert Ulrich

                          Instructor, Department of Medicine

                          Hometown: Commerce Twp, MI



                          B.S. - Human Biology, Health and Society - Cornell University

                          M.D. - Medicine - NYU School of Medicine

                          Project: I am studying the mechanisms of prophage-mediated virulence driving community-acquired MRSA contagion.


                          Fun Fact: I briefly toured as a drummer in an indie rock band. 


                            Chunyi Zhou

                            Postdoctoral Fellow

                            Hometown:  Xinyang, Henan, China



                            M.D. - Clinical Medicine - Xinxiang Medical University

                            Ph.D. - Microbiology - University of Nebraska Medical Center

                            Project: I am working on the study of gastrointestinal tract colonization of CA-MRSA.


                            Fun Fact: My hometown is famous for Xinyang Maojian tea.

                            Past Lab Members

                            Joseph Cooper Devlin, PhD - Graduate Student (2018-2021)

                            Matthew Keller, PhD - Graduate Student (2014-2020)

                            Will Sause, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2020)

                            Leena Kader - Research Associate (2018-2020)

                            Christa Emanuel - Administrative Assistant (2017-2020)

                            Kayan Tam, PhD - Graduate Student (2013-2020)

                            Kristina Boguslawski, PhD - MSTP student (2015-2019)

                            Irnov Irnov, PhD - Associate Research Scientist (2017-2019)

                            Rita Chan - Research Associate (2013-2019)

                            Marilyn Vasquez - SURP 2015, Research Associate (2016-2019)

                            Bianca Dunn - Research Associate (2017-2019)

                            Michael Lesser, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2018)

                            Ashira Lubkin, PhD - MSTP student (2014-2019); Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-2021)

                            Alexis Sommerfield - Research Associate (2015-2018)

                            Evelien Berends, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2018)

                            Lamia Harper, PhD - Graduate Student (2014-2018)

                            Aidan O'Malley - Research Associate (2013-2017)

                            David James, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2017)

                            Divya Balasubramanian, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2017)

                            Pauline Yoong, PhD - Associate Research Scientist (2011- 2015)

                            Elizabeth Ohneck, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015)

                            Tamara Reyes-Robles, PhD - Graduate Student (2011-2015)

                            Francis Alonzo, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2014)

                            Ashley DuMont, PhD - Graduate Student (2009-2013)

                            Meredith Benson, PhD - Graduate Student (2009-2013)

                            Amanda Smith - Research Associate (2009-2011)

                            Sarit Lilo, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2010)

                            Kevin Fabrizio, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2010)