Chris grew up in Michigan and 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 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 Antabio to assess small molecule inhibitors of a Pseudomonas virulence factor.

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 (published in Infection and Immunity), and a Salmonella-based vector to deliver antigens to protect against Clostridium perfringens infections in poultry (bioRxiv). 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 in throat infection and in the presence of antibiotics and IL-1 inhibitors.

 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 factors that alter group A Streptococcus pharyngeal colonization and the efficacy of immunomodulation for treating infections.

Raedeen Russell, PhD

Raedeen received her B.S. in Biology from Saint Augustine’s University and M.S in Biology with a concentration in Applied and Environmental Microbiology 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. Her interest in host-microbe interaction led her to her current position as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University. In this role she will assess the immunopathogenesis of group A Strep infection and identify specific infections that occur in “pharmacological knockout” humans.


Laken Smothers

Laken is an undergraduate senior at Emory University. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. Previously, she worked as a lab assistant for the Hunter lab at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Laken joined the lab in 2018 and is examining immune activation by the proteases of Streptococcus pneumoniae.



Katherine Leigh Olivares

KayLeigh joined the lab as a visiting student for a research experience over her summer break.  She received her Bachelors of Science in Neurobiology and Physiology from Purdue University in 2017 and is projected to receive her Doctorate of Medicine from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2021. Her project examines the immune response and virulence properties of group A Streptococcus infection under anti-IL-6 and anti-IL-1 immunotherapy. 
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. The focus of his research was to genetically recapitulate the effects of cytoplasmic incompatibility, a phenomenon in which infection of the father kills all offsprings before they are able to hatch (published in Nature, 2017). Danny is currently a second year medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, and is projected to receive his M.D. in 2021. In collaboration with Yousuf Khalifa, MD of the Emory Eye Center, he is researching the infection pattern of bacteria in the eye and developing an ex-vivo model of endophthalmitis.