JFRawlsJohn F. Rawls, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and the Department of Medicine. He also serves as the Director of the Duke Center for Genomics of Microbial Systems (GeMS). After completing his undergraduate education at Emory University (1992-1996), he received a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology from Washington University under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Johnson (1996-2001). He then trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon at the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University (2001-2006). Prior to joining Duke, he was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006-2013).


Research Interest:

Animal physiology is directed by complex interactions between factors encoded in the animal’s genome and those encountered in its environment. The impact of these interactions on animal health is most evident in the intestine, where digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients occur in the presence of complex communities of microorganisms (microbiota). Interactions between diet, microbiota, and animal hosts regulate immune and metabolic homeostasis and also contribute to a spectrum of human diseases, including the inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, and malnutrition.

Research in Rawls laboratory is focused on understanding how environmental factors such as the intestinal microbiota and diet interact with host genome-encoded processes to influence host physiology and pathophysiology. The lab is using the zebrafish as a vertebrate model system for this research. The small size and optical transparency of the zebrafish facilitate high-resolution in vivo imaging as well as genetic and chemical manipulations that complement the technical limitations of mammalian models. Extensive anatomic, physiologic, and genomic homologies between zebrafish and mammals permit translation of insights gained in zebrafish into advances in human medicine. To facilitate the research, Rawls lab has developed methods for rearing zebrafish under germ-free conditions and for introducing selected microbial communities into germ-free fish. They are currently using zebrafish and mouse models to investigate how microbial communities are assembled in the intestine and how microbes and dietary nutrients regulate host metabolism and immunity. They have also established methods for in vivo analysis of adipose tissues in zebrafish, and they are using that experimental platform to elucidate the mechanisms underlying adipose tissue physiology and obesity-associated metabolic disease. The overall objective of Rawls lab work is to improve our understanding of vertebrate physiology as a complex and dynamic integration of genome-encoded and environmental factors, which is expected to yield new strategies for promoting health in humans and other animals.



u12352_0Amy K. Schmid , Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Center for Systems Biology at Duke University since 2009. She obtained her B.S. in Biology from Marquette University in 1997, a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from University of Washington in 2004.





132911_grunwald001Ron Grunwald, Ph.D. is an associate dean in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Support. He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a B.S. in zoology and chemistry from Duke.








Anna Li is a junior at Duke from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is very passionate about cystic fibrosis research and has worked in a research lab at the UNC Cystic Fibrosis center for three years as a lab tech in human cell and tissue culture. She hopes to expand cell therapy as a treatment option for cystic fibrosis in her independent studies. Anna also loves animals and volunteers at the Colony Park Animal Hospital in her free time. She has one dog, Kidd, who knows how to do math among various other tricks, and one cat, Kitty, who is completely untrainable and enjoys knocking things off tables.



JOE ASMJoe Kreitz is a junior at Duke originally from Rosemount, Minnesota. His academic interests primarily involve cell and molecular biology, and he currently researches genetic influences on complex colony morphology and flocculation within colonies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae with the hopes of elucidating the biological causes of biofilm formation. Joe finds Duke ASM an effective outlet for finding new and interesting opportunities in research and for meeting cool people with similar academic interests!

Finally, Joe is also a volunteer at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and is considering a career in either academic medicine or tenure-track research.





Duke-ACE-Stephen-DiMaria-168x300Stephen DiMaria is currently an undergraduate sophomore from Yorktown Heights, NY majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry and theater studies. He hopes to become a medical doctor in the future while simultaneously conducting medical research in molecular and genetic biology. His past research involves working with different ACL reconstruction medical procedures and research in chronic myeloid leukemia. With the opportunities at Duke and through Duke ASM, he will be able to pursue his research interests on a larger scale and continue to learn about molecular and genetic biology.






AbenaAbena Ansah-Yeboah is a junior at Duke University, hailing from the city of Dumfries in Northern Virginia. Her interests lay in the physical sciences, and she plans to major in Chemistry with a concentration in Pharmacology. Her past experience at the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) as a part of the Malaria Program peaked her interest in research, specifically in the study of the spread of pathogens in relation to infectious disease. With the extensive opportunities provided at Duke, she intends to explore her passion in research through involvement a diverse array of laboratories in hopes of pursuing a profession in the medical sciences.  The goals of the American Society of Microbiology align precisely with her academic and professional ambitions, and she hopes to utilize the tools and interactive elements of the organization to expand her expertise in seeking research opportunities and developing laboratory skills.



Jackie Lin – TBU





Allison Chang is a sophomore from Charlotte, North Carolina, pursuing a major in biology and/or neuroscience. She has interests in both research and medicine and ultimately hopes to pursue a M.D. She has previously worked in a microbiology lab at East Carolina University researching the HTLV virus. For the past year, she has worked in the Wang lab in Duke’s neurobiology department, studying the effects of motor learning and memory on the mice brain using in-vivo imaging and confocal microscopy. She hopes that through Duke ASM, she can explore her research interests and help other undergraduates pursue theirs as well. When she’s not in class or studying, she can be found jogging on the trails around Duke’s campus, playing tennis, backpacking, or binge watching Game of Thrones.

Alvin Han – TBU

Ashley Zhou – TBU



Andy Chen [picture currently unavailable] is a sophomore from NW Indiana, with an interest in the natural sciences, and pursuing a major in chemistry with the hopes of pursuing and M.D. or an M.D.-Ph.D. later on. He’s had a bit of prior research experience (specifically with mitochondria) from high school, but he hopes to pursue it further as an undergraduate, especially with the resources that ASM can offer. His past-times include table tennis, pool, and all things related to surfing the internet.



XQuang Nguyen was the founder of Duke ASM and had served as the president of the organization until May 2012. After his graduation from Duke, he continued his involvement with Duke ASM as an advisor for organizational outreach, funding, and program development.

Quang Nguyen majored in Biology with concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology. Since his immigration in 2008 from Vietnam, he has cultivated his passion for research in several different areas, including plant genetics, and genetics of taste. Most recently, he has joined the investigation of HIV/SIV immunology and infectious diseases with an emphasis on development of vaccine against postnatal mother-to-child transmission of HIV. With his goal is to become an HIV/AIDS immunologist and a researcher, Quang has continually participated in various programs as a researcher and a mentor. Besides scientific research, he is also interested in helping low-income families and historically underrepresented high school students in achieving higher education and a fulfilling citizenship through an organization called Duke ACE (

Founded Duke ASM, Quang, along with other Duke students, hoped to enhance scientific research interest among his peers and others especially in the field of Microbiology by developing practical programs that will help to nurture ethical inquiry and scientific creativity for the next generation of research scientists.


Grace LimGrace Lim was the former treasurer. As a Biology major, she is interested in understanding the mechanisms behind genetic regulation of specific cellular processes. She is currently studying novel genes involved in cell invasion using C. elegans as a model organism. After graduating from Duke, Grace hopes to move on to graduate school and pursue a career in research.




Zalika Profile PhotoZalika Sankara was the former public and ASM relation chair. She majored in Psychology and minored in Economics. In the past, she has done research on MRSA, a contagious bacterial infection. She also conducted research on learning and memory within ADHD patients via operant conditioning of adult zebrafish using drugs claimed to induce learning and memory, such as nicotine and caffeine. Currently, she is writing a proposal on obesity prevention within middle school students. The American Society of Microbiology aligns with her interests in pursuing research as well as helping other individuals to find meaningful research experiences. Apart from her academic interests, she is a HIV counselor who conducts OraQuick tests to Duke students to unveil their HIV status. Through Duke Ace, she connects her passion for high school students and immigrants. She is also a chemistry outreach demonstrator and a Duke Splash teacher.




AshleyAshley Blawas was the former Technology & Marketing Chief. She plans to major in Biomedical Engineering while also pursuing her interests in Environmental Science and Policy. Her past experience includes research conducted with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences learning about the relationship between endocrine disrupting chemicals and neurodevelopment. At Duke she hopes to further explore the overlap of engineering and environmental health. Ashley is excited to join ASM to meet other Duke students who are interested in research and learn about new opportunities on campus for undergraduates to be involved in academic research.

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