Current Lab Members



<strong>Emily Fitzmeyer (Fitz)</strong>

Emily Fitzmeyer (Fitz)

Ph.D. Student

Fitz earned her BA in biology from Saint Anselm College where she studied bacteriophage as potential antibiotic alternatives. Upon receiving her degree she worked as a postbac at Rocky Mountain Laboratories studying the interactions between emerging flaviviruses and the innate immune response. She joined the Ebel lab in March 2020 where she currently works on SARS-CoV-2 surveillance efforts. She is interested in studying virus evolution, specifically what evolutionary factors govern virus emergence and pathogenicity.

<strong>Emily Gallichotte</strong>

Emily Gallichotte

Postdoctoral Fellow

Emily joined the Ebel lab in January 2019 to study viral determinants that allow for infection of mosquitoes. She earned her BA from Pitzer College in southern California, and her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For her dissertation work, Emily studied the human antibody response following DENV and ZIKV infection and vaccination. She is currently studying how naturally occurring viral mutations alter infectivity of and replication in mosquitoes, providing potential fitness advantages.

<strong>Bekah McMinn</strong>

Bekah McMinn

Ph.D. Student

Bekah earned her BS in molecular biology at University of California, Santa Cruz. Before coming to Fort Collins to pursue a PhD in Microbiology, she worked on projects pertaining to Coronavirus ecology at the NIH Rocky Mountain Labs in Montana. She joined the Ebel lab in the Spring of 2018 and is interested in studying population and disease dynamics of tick-borne flaviviruses.

<strong>Kendra Quicke</strong>

Kendra Quicke

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kendra joined the lab in October 2018 to determine the cellular tropisms that drive transmission of Zika virus and West Nile virus. She received her BS from the University of Arizona where she worked as an undergraduate evaluating genetically-induced mosquito vector control mechanisms. She earned her PhD from Emory University, where she worked on ZIKV cellular tropism and immune responses to ZIKV infection in human cells. She also investigated the molecular mechanisms governing the regulation of innate immune signaling. Her interests lie in virus-vector relationships and she is currently using microRNA sequencing and microRNA-restricted viruses to identify the cell populations within mosquitoes and vertebrate hosts that are required for ZIKV and WNV transmission.

<strong>Nicole Sexton</strong>

Nicole Sexton

Postdoctoral Fellow

Nicole joined the lab in November of 2017 to investigate the effects of genetic determinants in Flavivirus on viral population dynamics and multi-species transmission. She earned her AS from Santa Rosa Junior College and her BS from the University of California, Santa Cruz. While an undergraduate, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Graham Simmons at the Blood Systems Research Institute on projects investigating mechanisms of ebola and chikungunya virus cell entry and characterizing chikungunya antibodies. Nicole earned her PhD from Vanderbilt University working in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Denison, where her work focused on understanding how coronaviruses regulate the faithful replication of exceptionally large RNA genomes. Her current work focuses on how Flaviviruses encode for genomes that remain infectious across passage between diverse hosts and what viral genetic determinants contribute to differential outcomes between emergent strains.

<strong>M. Cole Spangler</strong>

M. Cole Spangler

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Cole studies microbiology at CSU and joined the lab in May of 2019. He is learning under the mentorship of Dr. Nicole Sexton, where he is assisting with the determination of how genetic mutations affect the viral competency of WNV and ZIKV. He also works in the insectary, where he rears and maintains Cx. quinquefasciatus, Cx. pipiens, and Ae. albopictus colonies.

<strong>Delaney Worthington</strong>

Delaney Worthington

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Delaney is a 4th year undergraduate student studying Biology. She has been working in the Ebel Lab since July 2019 under the mentorship of Bekah McMinn. She assists with a variety of virology lab techniques and is currently working on a Blood ID project to identify the sources of blood samples collected from field-caught mosquitoes.

<strong>Michael Young</strong>

Michael Young

Research Assistant & Lab Manager

Michael earned his B.S. in microbiology from CSU and worked previously as a research assistant for labs studying prion diseases and pediatric cancer. He joined the Ebel lab in August 2016 and acts as a lab manager and research technician. He assists with mosquito rearing and dissection, surveillance testing, media preparation, cell culture, hazardous waste disposal, and equipment repair. He helps prepare SARS-CoV-2 test kits for skilled nursing facilities across northern Colorado, and has collaborated with industry partners to test the vector competence of Ae. Aegypti for a novel dengue virus vaccine.

Lab Alumni
<strong>Alex Byas</strong>

Alex Byas

Ph.D. Candidate

Alex earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The University of Georgia in 2015, where she worked on avian influenza surveillance in waterfowl. She entered Colorado State University’s combined Anatomic Pathology residency and PhD program in Fall 2015. She joined the Ebel lab in Fall of 2016 to model West Nile virus in varying permutations of the mosquito-bird host system and to assess the effects of those permutations on viral fitness and genotypes.

<strong>Parker Cline</strong>

Parker Cline

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Parker joined the Ebel lab in September 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Nicole Sexton and assisted in determining the composition of ZIKV infectious particles. He was also instrumental to an important collaboration involving the Nextstrain open source project. He also worked with Reyes Murrieta and looked at the competition fitness of various strains of ZIKV.

<strong>Reyes Murrieta</strong>

Reyes Murrieta

Former Ph.D. Candidate

While earning his PhD, Reyes worked to characterize temperature impacts on arbovirus population diversity. He also performed local field surveillance for WNV, designed several bioinformatic pipelines for the lab, generated gene expression profiles for the classification of Culex midgut cells, and used NGS to characterize bat influenza virus (H18N11) cell culture adaptations.

<strong>Dalit Talmi-Frank</strong>

Dalit Talmi-Frank

Former Postdoctoral Fellow

Dalit joined the lab in August 2016 to work on bird antiviral immune responses. She received her DVM and her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, were she worked on the epidemiology and host-parasite interactions of Leishmaniasis in mammalian wild hosts. Dalit did her postdoctoral fellowship at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel where she studied the viral-host interactions of influenza and Streptococcus pneumonaie in mouse models. She is interested in host immunology and its involvement as a viremia determinant and host competence factor during the infection course. During her time at the Ebel lab, she worked on the influence of different cell populations on infection outcomes.

<strong>Claudia Rückert</strong>

Claudia Rückert

Former Postdoctoral Fellow

Claudia joined the lab in January 2015 to work on mosquito antiviral responses. She received her BS and MS from the University of Heidelberg and her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she studied tick cell antiviral responses. She examined how different antiviral small RNA pathways affect vector competence in Culex mosquitoes, as well as how co-infection with ZIKV, CHIKV and DENV affects vector competence of Aedes mosquitoes.

<strong>Lexi Robison</strong>

Lexi Robison

Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lexi joined the lab in January of 2016. She studied CHIKV replication and transmission dynamics under the mentorship of Dr. Claudia Rückert. She maintained the Ebel lab’s Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens colonies and has worked on generating CRISPR/Cas9 constructs to knock out specific genes in mosquitoes.

<strong>Demetri Samaras</strong>

Demetri Samaras

Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Demetri joined the lab in 2016 to assist with the collection of wild ticks and mosquitoes for use in testing and surveillance. He graduated in the spring of 2019 after successfully constructing several chimeric viruses from Flavivirus infectious clones.

<strong>Nic Furlong</strong>

Nic Furlong

Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nic joined the lab in 2018 to assist with cell culture and maintaining the group's Aedes aegypti colonies. Nic graduated with a B.S. in microbiology in the spring of 2019.

<strong>Eric Bellis</strong>

Eric Bellis

Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Eric joined the Ebel lab in December of 2017. During his time with the lab, he researched the vector competence of various Zika virus strains in Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. He also researched the genetic variation of Zika virus within a single plaque forming unit.

<strong>Christine Purba</strong>

Christine Purba

Former Graduate Research Assistant

While working toward her master's degree, Christine helped with a project investigating whether dengue virus vaccine strains are able to be taken up and transmitted in Ae. aegypti mosquitoes.

<strong>Joseph Fauver</strong>

Joseph Fauver

Former Ph.D. Candidate

Joseph was with the Ebel Lab from 2014 to 2017. His research involved a variety of projects involving mosquitoes and disease surveillance. During his time in the lab, he worked with local mosquito control organizations and the city of Fort Collins in order to better define WNV transmission in Northern Colorado, and he was the primary researcher for our xenosurveillance project, which used the bloodfeeding behavior of arthropods, in our case Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, to sample blood from vertebrates and screen that blood for “genetic signatures” of various pathogens. Joseph also used next-generation sequencing technologies to search for RNA in bloodfed, wild-caught mosquitoes from Liberia, West Africa, and to help characterize insect specific viruses from wild caught mosquitoes.

<strong>James Weger-Lucarelli</strong>

James Weger-Lucarelli

Former Postdoctoral Fellow

James received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. His research in the Ebel lab focused on molecular virology related to arboviruses such as Zika (ZIKV), chikungunya and West Nile viruses. He also worked on other projects such as vector competence of ZIKV in American mosquitoes and ZIKV infectious clones in collaboration with the CDC. James also helped develop next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques for analyzing population structure of ZIKV in mosquitoes and clinical samples.

<strong>Selene Marysol Garcia Luna</strong>

Selene Marysol Garcia Luna

Former Ph.D. Candidate

Selene researched the evolution of dengue viruses in refractory and susceptible Ae. aegypti from Mexico.

<strong>Alex Gendernalik</strong>

Alex Gendernalik

Former Research Assistant

Alex joined the lab as a research assistant in 2014. He took care of our mosquito colonies and cell cultures, helped with projects, and generally helped keep the lab running. Alex also provided valuable and much-appreciated assistance with insectary duties for experiments being conducted by the Kading and Ebel labs. He has a broad background that combines entomology, field work and engineering. He has been valuable to many of the ongoing studies at AIDL that require an in-depth knowledge of insects, the willingness to work under difficult conditions in the field, and the ability to troubleshoot mechanical problems on the fly. While with the Ebel lab, he published a paper that looked at the ability of local Aedes mosquitoes to transmit Zika virus.

<strong>Abhishek (Abhi) Prasad</strong>

Abhishek (Abhi) Prasad

Former Ph.D. Candidate

During his time as a PhD student in the Ebel laboratory, Abhi worked on understanding small RNA mechanisms in mosquitoes in the context of antiviral response to arbovirus infection. Specifically, he focused on profiling products of the small-interfering RNA (siRNA) and PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) pathways in response to West Nile virus, Western equine encephalitis virus, and Sindbis virus infection in Culex sp. mosquitoes. Abhi is now a Senior Scientist in Dr. Thomas Geisbert’s laboratory at UTMB, which works on development and testing of vaccines and therapeutics to filoviruses, as well as other highly pathogenic viruses such as Nipah, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and Lassa viruses.

<strong>Doug E. Brackney</strong>

Doug E. Brackney

Former Postdoctoral Fellow

While in the Ebel Laboratory, Doug worked on a number of projects including understanding West Nile virus populations within vector mosquitoes and birds, developing a novel surveillance strategy (xenosurveillance) which harnesses the blood-feeding habits of mosquitoes, and examining the role of autophagy during virus infection of mosquitoes. He is currently an Assistant Scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. His research looks at the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating virus–vector interactions and how these influence virus evolution. His team seeks to better characterize the interactions between the virus, vector, and host in hopes of improving existing control measures and developing novel interventions in order to reduce the disease burden associated with arthropod-borne pathogens.

<strong>Nathan Grubaugh</strong>

Nathan Grubaugh

Former Ph.D. Candidate

Nate was a PhD student in the Ebel lab from 2012-2016 studying West Nile virus evolution, specifically how different avian hosts and mosquito vectors impacted virus genetic diversity. For this, he helped to develop laboratory methods to collect virus populations during different phases of the transmission cycle and implemented population genetics tools to analyze how the viruses changed. Following his PhD from CSU, Nate went on to do a postdoc at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA using genomic epidemiology to investigate the recent Zika epidemic. He is now an Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Public Health where his lab uses experimental approaches from his Ebel lab days and epidemiological approaches from his postdoc to study how mosquito- and tick-borne viruses, like Zika, West Nile, dengue, and Powassan, emerge into new areas, cause disease, and adapt to novel environments.