Our Team

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Tatyana Sysoeva (a.k.a Tanya)

Principal Investigator

> BS, MS in Materials Chemistry, Moscow State University, Russia> PhD in Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, PA> PostDoc, Harvard University, MA> Duke K12 Scholar, Duke University, NC

Trained as a chemist in my BS/MS studies, I came to biological research to study how bacteria adapt to their changing environments and interact within microbial niches. During my PhD studies, I analyzed molecular mechanism of transcription regulation upon stress response in bacteria. In my first postdoctoral training I worked on functional analyses of the bacterial transport mechanisms, crucial for bacterial adaptation, such as protein secretion and DNA transport. These projects utilized the power of bacterial genetics, structural biology and biochemistry. After that I proceeded with my second postdoctoral and Duke KURe training where I gained expertise in working with clinical drug-resistant pathogens and commensal microbiome communities, next generation sequencing and computational approaches.

For the last couple of years, I analyzed potential for lateral spread of antibiotic resistance genes in clinical isolates of multidrug-resistant urinary pathogenic and commensal species. This focused my interests on trying to understand the mechanisms of spread of drug-resistance genes in microbial communities and this topic became the main focus of our team at theUniversity of Alabama in Huntsville.

Lauren Elam

JUMP (BS/MS) Biology student

I have had a longstanding interest in clinical science and technology and hope to bring my experience gained in the Sysoeva lab to industry. My thesis work examines clinical isolates of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. I've assembled sequences and performed in silico analysis to characterize the isolates and predict the ability of carbapenemase-producing genes on plasmids to be transmitted through conjugation. It is with this knowledge that I hope to find patterns among the sample population to gain insight into the transfer of carbapenem-resistance. I've also performed molecular experiments to confirm the sequence of pK100 and examine the plasmid composition of a simulated gut microbiome over time.

Rob Chappell

BS Biology student

Have you ever been frustrated with some of the introductory-level explanations for questions about complex processes? The answer is usually along the lines of: 'this is the input, magic happens, and this is the output.' While the reasons behind the lack of detail for the 'magic happens' component are generally sound at the time, the frustration of an unanswered question remains.

I have experienced this frustration numerous times on my way to getting a bachelor's in biology, forcing me to find the answers on my own time. I want to be involved in research, so I have come to accept that outside of the classroom, the frustration is even greater for those who seek the answer on their own. The 'magic happens' part is often actually unknown, not just skimmed over to save time. Thankfully curiosity is a powerful intrinsic motivator, insatiable yet rewarding upon temporary fulfilment.

Conjugation is one of the processes of HGT that has been studied for decades. The input and output are thought to be well understood, but the mechanism is still largely a mystery. Now I am helping to unravel the mechanism of conjugation by answering one question at a time, starting with: What is the minor pilin/adhesin at the tip of the conjugative pilus of F plasmid?

Brad Land

MS Biology student

I am a masters student working under the supervision of Dr. Tanya Sysoeva. The focus of my research is the study of the TraT protein, which is implicated in bacterial plasmid exclusion.

Katelyn (Katie) Lott

MS Biology student

My thesis research aims to investigate the relationship between the lipopolysaccharides on the surface of the conjugative recipient cell and the adhesins on the tip of the conjugative donor’s pilus.

Rebecca Sloan

MS Biology student


Ray Griffin

BS student


Antonio Bradley

Rotation MS student


Sebastian Doerfert

Visiting Microbiologist


Alumni and Friends

Quiana Vidal

Rotation PhD student, Fall 2018

Savanie Fernando

Ms. Savanie Fernando is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. She got her bachelors in Biology from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Currently she is pursuing her MS Degree in Biology in the group of Dr. Ahmed Lawan.

Shahid Khan

Rotation PhD student, Winter 2019

Yo-Ann Velez

Rotation PhD student, Winter 2019

Tamara Zaza

BS Biology student

I remember reading the novel "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston, and being in utter fascination with the world of microbiology. The impact that these microbes have on the lives of other organisms is crucial to understand, and the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer they use in their attempt to gain antibiotic resistance are notable of discovery. I am eager to contribute to the research that will aid in a deeper understanding of these mechanisms, eventually leading to an improvement in the current methods of combatting antibiotic resistance. I am a current junior at The University of Alabama in Huntsville pursuing a biology major and chemistry minor, following a pre-med track. I hope to one day be able to first-hand experience the usage of our results in the medical field, and to witness the impact it makes in an individual's life.

Vasudhasri (Vasu) Devarasetty

BS Biology student - Honors Capstone Project

Vasu's research interests in the microbiology field include antibiotic resistance, DNA uptake, and secretion in bacteria. She is currently involved in efficient protein secretion via sec, tat, and t7 pathways in Bacillus subtilis which is gram-positive and has natural competence. She wants to bring the process of secretion from E. coli to B. subtilis. Vasu is currently a junior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Business. She plans to pursue her MBA and aspires to be in the field of Health Administration!