Francislon spent a year in the lab (April 2017-2018) working on the earliest stages of our microbiomeDB project. Even though only in the lab for a short time, his work was critical in building the core Shiny apps that are still used on our site for visualizing microbiome datasets. His work led to the first publication describing our database resource.
Ana was the first postdoc to join the lab and was instrumental in helping us gain momentum in our research endeavors and build a center that also supported research broadly across PennVet. She set up our sequencing operation, and worked closely with colleagues at PennVet and PennMed to kickstart many collaborations that would run for years. Ana was awarded a Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship, and her research focused on genome sequencing and comparative genomics of Staphyloccous species from animals and humans. Her work was the first to overturn the widely held view that Staphylococci used the mevalonate pathway for isoprenoid biosynthesis (an essential pathway for all of life), showing that this was only true for S. aureus, and that most – if not all – Staph associated with companion, agricultural and wildlife animals used a separate pathway to make isoprenoids. Her ‘One-health’ project paved the way for drug development for veterinary Staph species and highlighted a unique evolutionary aspect of Staphylococcus.
Jenn (PennVet class of ‘20) spent the summer of 2017 in the lab as a NIH-BI research fellow. She was the first person in the lab to begin using our Biomeme platform for portable QPCR detection of veterinary pathogens. Working with our colleagues at the Pennsylvania Diagnostic Lab Services (PADLS) at our large animal hospital, she optimized portable assays for important avian disease, including infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and Mycobacterium gallinarium and septicum (Mg/Ms).
Elaine joined the lab as a visiting faculty member from Universidade de São Paulo in 2017. Over the course of about 7 months, Elaine set-up our slow-turning lateral vessel (STLV) bioreactor for creating a 3D culture system that would allow us to model host-bacterial interactions in vitro. She then used cultures generated in these STLVs to optimize immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy assays to study intestinal ‘organotypic’ cultures. When she wasn’t working on this project, Elaine also made important contributions to advancing our shotgun metagenomics work, contributing to this publication.
Grace was a wonderful lab manager from 2015 to 2016, and she was instrumental in coordinating and organizing our stool biobank as several critical studies were gaining momentum in the lab. She left our lab to start veterinary school at Virginia Tech.