Research InterestsMy current research explores the use of bioinformatics, phylogenetics, immunology and molecular biology to study the basic mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions and to create improved vaccines against microbial diseases. My research program can be broken into two arms, vaccine antigen design and vaccine platform design. First, we are testing ancestral/centralized genes to determine if they are useful as universal vaccines in vivo. In addition we are exploring systems biology approaches to improve vaccine antigen design to improve the breadth and efficacy of the vaccine antigens. Second, vaccine platform design explores the use of alternative viral vectors as vaccines, as well as the development of safer more effective viral vaccine platforms.
2002 - 2005 NIH T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Duke University Medical Center, Human Vaccine Institute, Interdisciplinary Research Training Program in AIDS, “A Universal Env Immunogen for all HIV-1 Subtypes.” 5R21AI055386-02, Mentor: Feng Gao
2002 Ph.D. in Genetics, Texas A&M University
Thesis: “Phylogenetic Analysis of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and the Development of a Mucosal Prophylactic Vaccine” Mentor: Ellen Collisson
1997 M.S. in Virology/Immunology, Department of Biology, Texas State University. Thesis: “Synergistic Antiviral Inhibition of Newcastle Disease virus and Influenza A Virus” Mentor: Gary Aron
1995 B.S. in Microbiology, Department of Biology, Texas State University
2019 - Associate Professor
2012 - 2015 Associate Consultant, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Rochester
2007 - 2015 Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
2008 - 2012 Professional Associate in Research, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester
2005 - 2006 Research Associate, Baylor College of Medicine, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
Honors and Professional Affiliations
2020 Parent's Recognition Teaching Award, Division of Student Affairs, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Teaching Council and the UNL Parents Association.
2019 Parent's Recognition Teaching Award, Division of Student Affairs, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Teaching Council and the UNL Parents Association.
2019 Emerging Innovator of the Year 2019. NUTech Ventures. University of Nebraska
2018 Palacios Independent School District, Distinguished Alumni Award
2004 Travel Grant from the 2004 AIDS Vaccine Meeting Organizing Committee. Granted to support attendance of the 2004 AIDS Vaccine Meeting. Lausanne, Switzerland.
2003 Travel Grant from the 2003 AIDS Vaccine Meeting Organizing Committee. Granted t to support attendance of the 2003 AIDS Vaccine Meeting. New York, New York.
2002 NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship Award at the Human Vaccine Institute in the Department of Infectious Disease at the Duke University Center for AIDS Research.
2002 Fisher Institute Medical Research Award. Awarded to students doing exceptional research in cell biology and genetics. Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine.
1998 NSF Traineeship in Plant Genetics Purdue University
1997 W. E. (Henry) Norris Jr. Scholarship Award for achievements and future contributions to the graduate program in biology. Southwest Texas State University, Dept. of Biology.
1997 George H. Meyer Award in Microbiology for excellence in microbiology. Southwest Texas State University, Dept. of Biology.
1997 Academic Excellence Award. Awarded to graduate students with at least a 3.75 G. P. A. Southwest Texas State University, Dept. of Biology.
1997 Leadership Award. Southwest Texas State University, Dept. of Biology.
1997 Competitive graduate instructional assistantship for the 1997-98 academic year. Awarded by the Dept. of Biology. Southwest Texas State University