Alison Criss, PhD — Professor
Alison received her PhD from Harvard Medical School on Salmonella infection of polarized epithelial cells. As a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, Alison investigated the process of gonococcal pilin antigenic variation and developed new approaches for studying gonococcal interactions with human neutrophils.
Alison co-directs the UVA Infectious Diseases and the UVA Global Biothreats Training Programs with Dr. William Petri, and is co-founder and Director of the UVA Global Infectious Diseases Institute (http://gidi.virginia.edu).
Aimee Potter, PhD — Postdoctoral Researcher
Aimee received her PhD from Vanderbilt University in the lab of Dr. Jim Cassat on how Staphylococcus aureus obtains nutrients from bone during osteomyelitis. In the Criss lab, she is conducting genome-wide investigation of bacterial gene products that confer resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to killing by immune cells.
Allie Palmer — Graduate Student
Allie received her BS in Biology from Allegheny College in 2014 and her MSc in Microbiology from Clemson University in 2016. She joined the Criss Lab in 2017. Allie’s research explores how opacity protein expression by Neisseria gonorrhoeae affects bacterial interactions with primary human neutrophils.
Jocelyn Ray — MSTP Student
Jocelyn received her undergraduate degree from William and Mary in 2014 and performed postbaccalaureate research at the National Institutes of Health before matriculating into the UVA MSTP in 2015. Jocelyn joined the Criss Lab in 2017. Her research investigates how Neisseria gonorrhoeae acquires essential metals from human metal-sequestering proteins to overcome nutritional immunity.
Lacie Werner — Graduate Student
Lacie earned her B.S. in Biology from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in 2017. She entered the BIMS program in 2017 and joined the Criss lab in 2018. Lacie is investigating how soluble components affect the ability of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to activate human neutrophils.
Amaris Cardenas — Graduate Student
Amaris graduated from the University of Dallas with a B.S. in Biology in 2017. She matriculated into the BIMS program after graduation and joined the Criss lab in 2018. Amaris is studying how modifications to gonococcal lipooligosaccharide modulate neutrophil antimicrobial responses and bacterial susceptibility to killing by neutrophils.
Ian Liyayi — Graduate Student
Ian received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Stevenson University, MD in 2018. He participated in the NIH Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of Georgia in the Avci lab until he enrolled in the BIMS program in the summer of 2019. He joined the Criss lab in the spring of 2020. Ian is investigating how Neisseria gonorrhoeae overcomes metal sequestration and nutritional immunity during infection.
Evan Lamb — MSTP Student
Evan graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with his B.S. in Microbiology and Human Physiology. He matriculated into UVA’s Medical Scientist Training Program in 2019 and joined the Criss Lab in 2021. Evan is investigating the effects of neutrophil transepithelial migration on neutrophil-gonococcal interactions.
Mary Gray – Lab Manager
Mary is leading the efforts in Core D of the Gonorrhea Vaccine Cooperative Research Center (NIH U19 AI144180) to identify vaccine antigens that elicit host-protective antibody responses against Neisseria gonorrhoeae. She also conducts experiments in support of ongoing research on the interactions between N. gonorrhoeae and host immune cells and molecules. As lab manager, Mary keeps the lab organized and in compliance with research requirements. Prior to joining the Criss Lab, Mary managed and performed research in the lab of Dr. Erik Hewlett (retired) in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, UVA Department of Medicine.
Keena Thomas – Research Specialist
Keena joined the Criss lab in 2021 after many years in Dr. Amy Bouton’s lab in the Department. Keena provides support for Criss lab research and is investigating how N. gonorrhoeae colonizes epithelial cells to stimulate inflammatory responses.
Former Lab Members
Asya Smirnov, PhD — Research Scientist
Asya Smirnov, DVM, PhD – Research Associate/Research Scientist, 2011-2020.
Current Position: Instructor, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.
Stephanie Ragland — Graduate Student, 2012-2018
Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Kagan Lab, Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital Boston
Jacqueline Stevens — Graduate Student, 2014-2018
Current Position: Resident, Dermatology, Harvard Medical School.
Urmila Bharathan — Undergraduate Fellow, 2015-2018
Current Position: Medical Student, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
Katie Hill — Undergraduate Fellow, 2016-2018
Current Position: PhD Student, George Washington University School of Public Health.
Rebecca Dunning — 2015-2016
Current Position: Senior Research Associate, Battelle, National Defense Institute.
Rhea Kapania — Undergraduate Fellow, 2017-2018
Current position: Medical Scribe, Bon Secours Hospital, Richmond.
Richard Juneau, PhD — Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2016
Current Position: Associate Professor of Biology, Virginia Western Community College.
Brittany Johnson, PhD — Graduate Student, 2009-2014
Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Jonathan Handing, PhD — Graduate Student, 2011-2016
Current Position: Senior Scientist, Process and Technical Development, Moderna Therapeutics.
Kylene Daily — Undergraduate Student, 2012-2015, Laboratory Specialist 2015-2016
Current Position: MD-PhD Student, The Ohio State University.
Louise Ball — Laboratory Specialist, 2009-2015
Current Position: Graduate Student, University of Florida.