Principal Investigator

C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology

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: Rincon, 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




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

    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!

        Joseph Cooper Devlin

        Graduate Student

        Hometown: Winter Park, FL


        B.S. - Microbiology - University of Florida 

        Project: I work on the multi-omic integration of immune profiling data.


        Fun Fact: I played travel volleyball for 10 years. 

          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.

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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! 

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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.

                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!

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                  Ashley DuMont

                  Sr. 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 Gram-negative bacteria.

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

                    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.

                        Ashira Lubkin

                        Postdoctoral Fellow

                        Hometown: Rochester, NY



                        B.A. - Biological Studies - Columbia University

                        Ph.D. - Immunology - New York University

                        M.D. - Medicine - New York University

                        Project: I am working to charachterize the virulence phenotypes of S. aureus and Candida ssp. isolates from patients with COVID.

                        Fun Fact: I can sing really high.


                          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.

                            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.

                              Past Lab Members

                              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)

                              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)