Rotations in the Time of COVID-19 (Pt. 3)

The Smith Lab concluded a year of excellent rotations by hosting Margaret Gaggioli as a rotation student this spring.

Originally from southeastern Wisconsin, Margaret moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 2015 for her undergraduate education. TB research was not new to her, as she spent 2.5 years in Dr. Christina Stallings’ lab as an undergraduate and post-baccalaureate researcher studying the host myeloid cell response to Mycobacteria tuberculosis infection. During her time at Duke, Margaret is interested in continuing to investigate the pathogenesis of infectious diseases, focusing on host-pathogen interactions.

Margaret took a new angle on her rotation project and made her mark on the direction of investigation. Margaret studied host genetic determinants of tuberculosis tolerance among Collaborative Cross mice and began to ask questions about inflammatory signaling and cachexia during M. tuberculosis infection. After completing her training in the BSL-3 laboratory, she cultured spleens to quantify bacterial burden and conduct QTL mapping to identify causal host genes. After her rotation, Margaret will be joining the Ko lab, and we look forward to all of the things she will accomplish during her time at Duke!

OPEN Postdoctoral Positions: host-pathogen interactions

Calling all current/recent grad students thinking about a postdoc – the Smith Lab at Duke have an open postdoctoral position in our newly established lab within the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at Duke.

Whether you are a mammalian or bacterial geneticist, this is a great opportunity to combine genetically diverse mouse models with cutting edge bacterial genetic technologies to understand tuberculosis pathogenesis and protective immunity. Check out our recent bioRxiv paper to get an idea of the scope of potential projects on both the host and Mycobacterial perspectives.

Interested applicants should apply online, complete with a CV and cover letter explaining your scientific interests, your specific interests in our work, career goals, along with names and contact info of three references. Specific email enquires welcome and check out this link for further details and how to apply

Rotations in the Time of COVID-19 (Pt. 2)

The Smith Lab enjoyed hosting Emily Engeman as a rotation student this spring.

A local to the area, Emily attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh for her undergraduate education, where she studied biology and minored in business administration. After graduating in 2017, Emily moved to Washington, D.C. to research HIV in Dr. Sodsai Tovanabutra’s lab at the Walter Reed Army Institute for Research (WRAIR). Her primary research focuses involved investigating HIV mutations and coreceptor usage. In 2019, Emily accepted an ORISE fellowship at WRAIR to work with Dr. Anna Jacobs. In Emily’s fellowship program, she worked to develop a robotic biofilm assay and researched phage antibiotic synergy in vitro and in a mouse wound model. Now pursuing her Ph.D. at Duke, Emily is excited to study host pathogen interactions and investigate potential therapeutics.

How can a host with very low levels of infection look and act like a host with severe TB? This is a question Emily set out to answer in her rotation, which centered on host genetic determinants of tuberculosis tolerance in the Collaborative Cross panel. Throughout her rotation, she studied the immunological dynamics and mechanisms of disease tolerance in mammalian hosts while completing her training in the BSL-3 laboratory. We look forward to seeing the awesome scientific questions she’ll pursue throughout her graduate studies at Duke!

New Collaborative MGM Papers!

In this first year while getting our Mycobacterial and mouse work up and going, we are thrilled to have been a part of some cool work with our MGM friends, including a new SARS-CoV2 BioRxiv preprint with the awesome Heaton Lab and co.

Also check out a beautiful Trends in Microbiology review led by Jeff Bourgeois from the Ko Lab, where we dive into current trends in defining host-bacterial interactions at the genome-wide level, including screens that harness CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and natural genetic variation. So whether you are into viral or bacterial pathogenesis or host resistance, these MGM collabs have you covered. Check them out!



Rotations in the Time of COVID-19

The Smith Lab was excited to host Aruna Menon as a rotation student this fall.

Aruna received her B.S. in Microbiology from UC Berkeley in 2018. During this time, she fell in love with the diversity of microbes as well as the tools used to understand microbial communities. Through her undergraduate education and years as a lab tech, she solidified her love of science and research.  As she begins her Ph.D. at Duke, she is excited to learn more about how chemistry, genetics, and bacterial physiology intersect to play a role in infectious disease.

Aruna’s joint rotation between the Smith Lab and the Tobin Lab down the hall allowed her to study of tuberculosis in both mouse and zebrafish models. Throughout her rotation, she studied macrophage recruitment and the ESX secretion system in mycobacteria. We look forward to seeing all that she will accomplish during her time at Duke!

Erin Flash-Talks It Up

In this year’s pandemic virtual edition of the MGM retreat, we heard from the latest department research effort on COVID19, fantastic trainee talks, the annual Joklik Distinguished Lecture from Dr. Susan Weiss, alumni career panels and a fabulous talk from Dr. Gustavo Silva to close the conference. Instead of the traditional posters, trainees had the challenge of 1 min flash-talks to showcase their work. A big congrats to Smith Lab grad student Erin Curtis who received one of the awards for Best Flash Talk!

Not quite how we imagined the Smith Lab would launch, but Fionn, Scout, Ashe, and Ember have thoroughly enjoyed learning QTL mapping & TnSeq analysis in Collaborative Cross and BXD mouse panels at home over the last few weeks.

Rachel Meade, Mask

Rach with her cockatiels, Fionn (left) & Scout (right)

Erin, Mask

Erin with her cats, Ashe (left) & Ember (right)

TAGC 2020 Online

Smith Lab is tuning in during the very first online broadcast of The Allied Genetics Conference! Clare enjoyed moderating the session on “Modeling Human Diseases in Diverse Systems.”

We are so thankful to the Genetics Society of America and other organizers for converting the talks and posters to the virtual format at such a fast pace, setting the standard for science accessibility in the future!

Clare's TAGC 2020 Session