Alison Criss, PhD — Associate Professor
Alison received her PhD from Harvard Medical School on Salmonella infection of polarized epithelial cells. As a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, she investigated the process of gonococcal pilin antigenic variation and developed new approaches for studying gonococcal interactions with human neutrophils. Her lab investigates the mechanisms underlying survival of gonococci to neutrophils, which allow the bacteria to evade innate immune-mediated clearance.
Alison is the co-founder and Director of the UVA Global Infectious Diseases Institute, a pan-University entity (http://gidi.virginia.edu).
Asya Smirnov, PhD — Research Scientist
Asya received her PhD in Animal Sciences from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Israel. As a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University, she studied the mechanisms of C. trachomatis interaction with host cells. In the Criss lab, Asya has examined how N. gonorrhoeae suppresses neutrophil ROS production. She developed an imaging flow cytometry protocol for measuring bacterial phagocytosis and is using it to discover how N. gonorrhoeae is engulfed by neutrophils.
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 bioactive compounds released during infection modulate neutrophil responses to Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Mary Gray – Lab Manager
Prior to joining the Mary joined the Criss Lab in October 2017. In addition to overall management of the lab, Mary is investigating the factors that mediate neutrophilic inflammation and bacterial survival after Neisseria gonorrhoeae encounters neutrophils. Prior to joining the Criss Lab, Mary managed and performed research in the lab of Dr. Erik Hewlett in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health in the UVA Department of Medicine.
Former Lab Members
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: Medical Student in the UVA Medical Scientist Training Program.
Urmila Bharathan — Undergraduate Fellow, 2015-2018
Current Position: Medical Student, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
Katie Hill — Undergraduate Fellow, 2016-2018
Current Position: Healthcare Associate, Guidepoint, Boston.
Rhea Kapania — Undergraduate Fellow, 2017-2018
Current position: Undergraduate Capstone Fellow in the Snyder lab, UVA nanoSTAR.
Richard Juneau, PhD — Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2016
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Biology, Virginia Western Community College.
Brittany Johnson, PhD — Graduate Student, 2009-2014
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Research, University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
Jonathan Handing, PhD — Graduate Student, 2011-2016
Current Position: Scientist, DNA Technical Development, Moderna Therapeutics.
Kylene Daily — Undergraduate Student, 2012-2015, Laboratory Specialist 2015-2016
Current Position: MD-PhD Program, The Ohio State University.
Louise Ball — Laboratory Specialist, 2009-2015
Current Position: Graduate Student, University of Florida.