Seth Bordenstein, Ph.D., Primary Investigator
Dr. Bordenstein is an evolutionary geneticist and microbiologist in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. He is the founding director of The Vanderbilt Microbiome Initiative and the worldwide HHMI-initiated science education program Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project. He is also Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation. His laboratory endeavors to understand the evolutionary and genetic principles that shape symbiotic interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses and the major applications of these interactions to human health. Towards these goals, the lab employs hypothesis-driven approaches to study intimate symbioses between arthropods and obligate intracellular bacteria that modify sexual reproduction and facultative symbioses between animals and gut microbes that impact animal health, fitness, and evolution. He is the recipient of the 2014 Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Research, and 2018 Chancellor Faculty Fellow Award from Vanderbilt University.
Email: s.bordenstein(at)vanderbilt.edu / Phone: 615.322.9087
Sarah Bordenstein, M.S., Senior Research Specialist
Sarah co-leads the Bordenstein lab and is the Director of Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project) in which she develops and disseminates worldwide educational resources related to symbiosis and biotechnology. She is an expert in microbial ecology, genomics, and science education. In her experimental work, she is using quantitative and computational genomic analyses to study phage WO and plasmid biology in Wolbachia.
Email: sarah.bordenstein(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter @srbordenstein
Brittany Leigh, Ph.D., Postdoc
Dr. Leigh (Website) joined the lab in September of 2017 to study the genetic and molecular bases of animal-bacteria-bacteriophage interactions, specifically cytoplasmic incompatibility caused by Wolbachia prophage WO genes in Drosophila melanogaster. CI is at the forefront of mosquito control efforts to curb the transmission of dengue and Zika viruses and is also a speciation mechanism between various arthropod species.
Email: brittany.a.leigh(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter: @Britt_3Phage
Teddy van Opstal, M.S., Ph.D., Postdoc
Teddy first joined the lab in 2014 as a graduate student to study the the evolution of animal-microbe interactions, namely (i) if gut microbial communities are consequential to host function and (ii) which genes regulate maternal transmission of bacteria. Teddy is passionate about science outreach and policy and serves in several leadership positions.
Email: evanopstal87(at)gmail.com | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter: @teddy1387
Junhui Li, Ph.D., Postdoc
Karissa Cross, Ph.D., Postdoc
Karissa obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and she joined the lab in June of 2019 to study the evolutionary and functional genetic basis of host-microbe and host-microbiota interactions. Her primary project examines what are the number and types of animal genes that regulate densities and maternal transmission of endosymbiotic bacteria (Wolbachia).
Email: karissa.cross(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter: @Krisss_Crosss
Jessie Perlmutter, Graduate Student
Jessie (Website) joined the lab in 2015 to study the molecular genetics and mechanisms of how Wolbachia infections hijack animal reproduction. Her work centers on the genetic basis of male killing.
Email: jessamyn.i.perlmutter(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone 615.322.9094 | Twitter @JIPerlmutter
Dylan Shropshire, Graduate Student
Dylan (Website) joined the lab in 2015 to study the microbial genetic basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI is at the forefront of mosquito control efforts to curb the transmission of dengue and Zika viruses. CI is also a speciation mechanism that assists the splitting of one species into two. Dylan also holds the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
Email: dylan.shropshire(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone 615.322.9094 | Twitter @JediShropshire
Caitlin Sprowls, M.S., Research Assistant
Caitlin started in the lab in February of 2018. Caitlin is responsible for laboratory safety, upkeep, insect husbandry, and stock supplies. She comes to Nashville from Galveston, TX.
Email: caitlin.sprowls(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter: @caitowls
Emily Layton, Undergraduate Student
Emily (Class of 2020) joined the lab in 2016 under the guidance of Dylan Shropshire to study the microbial genetic basis and penetrance of cytoplasmic incompatibility. In December 2017, she was awarded a SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research Fellowship that supports her research in the lab.
Email: emily.m.layton(at)vanderbilt.edu | Phone: 615.322.9094 | Twitter: @emilymlayton
Jane Myers, Undergraduate Student
Jane (Class of 2020) started in the lab in May of 2018 under the guidance of Jessie Perlmutter to study the genetic basis of male killing.
Email: jane.meyers(at)vanderbilt.edu / Phone: 615.322.9094
Mahip Kalra, Undergraduate Student
Mahip (Class of 2022) started in the lab in September of 2018 under the guidance of Dylan Shropshire to study the microbial genetic basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI).
Email: mahip.kalra(at)vanderbilt.edu / Phone: 615.322.9094
Asia Miller, Undergraduate Student
Asia (Class of 2022) started in the lab in September of 2018 under the guidance of Teddy van Opstal to study the transmission of gut bacteria in Nasonia. In December 2018, she was awarded a SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research Fellowship that supports her research in the lab.
Email: asia.k.miller(at)vanderbilt.edu / Phone: 615.322.9094
Rachel Rosenberg, Undergraduate Student
Rachel (Class of 2022) started in the lab in November of 2018 as an undergraduate lab assistant. In the summer of 2019, she began independent research on the genetic basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility under the mentorship of Dylan Shropshire. Rachel assists with maintenance of the fly room, which is the site for cultivation of large Sarcophaga bullata flesh flies that are the hosts for Nasonia parasitoid wasps.
Email: rachel.a.rosenberg(at)vanderbilt.edu / Phone: 615.322.9094