Who we are

Christopher LaRock, PhD

Chris received a B.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the Lyman Briggs College of Michigan State University. He received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Washington in Seattle where he examined virulence mechanisms of Yersinia pestis, the cause of bubonic plague, with Drs. Carleen Collins and Brad Cookson. His postdoctoral work with Dr. Victor Nizet at the University of California, San Diego focused on the innate immune response to group A Streptococcus. Dr. LaRock joined the faculty of Emory University in 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He also is affiliated with the Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center, Emory Microbiome Research Center, and the IMP and MMG graduate programs.

Doris LaRock, PhD

Doris received a B.S. in Biology from Trinity College, Hartford, CT. She earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Washington in Seattle examining the molecular basis of how Salmonella resides intracellularly working with Drs. Carleen Collins and Sam Miller. After a brief postdoc at the TSRI Center for Structural Genomics with Dr. Scott Lesley, using structural biology screens to examine microbiota proteins, she joined Dr. Victor Nizet at UCSD and the Infectious Diseases Discovery Group of Roche pRED of Basel, Switzerland, to discover anti-infectives for treating multidrug-resistant bacteria. On relocation to Atlanta, Doris is collaborating with biotech to examine novel antimicrobials.

Shyra Wilde

Shyra received her B.S. in Health Sciences from Arizona State University in 2016. She then spent two years working in the lab of Kenneth Roland at the Biodesign Institute Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines, and Virotherapy. Her research focused on Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Typhimurium factors contributing to the invasion of epithelial and microfold cells, leading to improved vaccine strategies (Infection and Immunity), and on Salmonella-based and toxoid -based vectors to immunize poultry against Clostridium perfringens (bioRxiv; PLoS One; PeerJ). In 2017 Shyra started as a Ph.D. student in the Emory MMG program. Her research focuses on identifying virulence factors in GAS that contribute to pathogenicity and resistance to antibiotics and immunomodulatory drugs.

Anders Johnson

Anders received his B.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from the University of Vermont in 2018. As an undergrad, he worked in the lab of Dr. Eyal Amiel researching the role that glycogen plays in the activation process of B cells. He also worked with the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory to improve detection methods for Campylobacter jejuni and Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae. In 2018, he became a Ph.D. student in the MMG program at Emory University. His research examines the role that pyogenic exotoxins play in the pathogenesis of GAS during human infection

Anika Sinha

Anika is an undergraduate senior at Emory University. She is pursuing her B.S. in Biology with a minor in Global Health, Culture, and Society. Previously in her undergraduate career, she worked for the Goldberg lab where she investigated the interactions between Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Anika joined the lab in summer 2019 and is currently studying the activation of the immune defense proteins by the proteases ofStreptococcus pneumoniae.


Raedeen Russell, PhD

Raedeen received her B.S. in Biology from Saint Augustine’s University and M.S in Biology from Georgia State University. She was contracted as an ORISE fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct serological testing on HPV. She later continued her education at Morehouse School of Medicine where she pursued a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences and an M.S in Clinical Research. Her doctoral work was conducted under the tutelage of Dr. Francis Eko, where she explored the role of exosomes in chlamydial immunity (Microbiology; BMC Immunology). As a postdoctoral fellow she examined the immunopathogenesis of group A Strep infection and specific infections that occur in “pharmacological knockout” humans. In 2019 she returned to Morehouse School of Medicine for her M.D.

Jenna Sands

Jenna received her B.S. in Biology from Emory University in 2018. During her undergraduate career, she worked in the lab of Dr. Jacques Galipeau investigating the efficacy of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapies for treating liver fibrosis. She completed her undergraduate honors thesis in the lab of Dr. Anita Corbett investigating the mechanisms insulin regulates the RNA binding protein PABPN1 in C2C12 muscle cells to better understand the pathogenesis of oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD). In 2018, Jenna started as a research specialist. Her current projects examine immune regulation during infection by group A Streptococcus. In 2019 she started her M.D. at the Emory School of Medicine.

Laken Smothers

Laken graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. In the lab she examined immune activation by the proteases of Streptococcus pneumoniae. She is now earning her MPH in the Emory Rollins School of Public Health.

Aaron Scanlan

Aaron joined the lab as rotation student from the Emory MMG graduate program in 2018. His work examined the activation of IL-1 by Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to find new targets for therapeutics to treat antibiotic-resistant infections.

Danny (Jungmin) On

Danny received his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2016. He then spent a gap year in the Bordenstein Lab at Vanderbilt researching Wolbachia, an obligate intracellular bacteria that skews host reproduction (Nature). In collaboration with Yousuf Khalifa, MD of the Emory Eye Center, he researched the infection pattern of bacteria in the eye and developed an ex-vivo model of endophthalmitis over the summer of 2018. Danny will receive his M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia in 2021.

Katherine Leigh Olivares

KayLeigh joined the lab as a visiting student for a research experience over her summer break in 2018. She received her Bachelors of Science in Neurobiology and Physiology from Purdue University in 2017. Her project examined the immune response and virulence properties of group A Streptococcus infection under anti-IL-6 and anti-IL-1 immunotherapy. She will receive her M.D. from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2021.