Barrick Lab :: Team


Principal Investigator

Prof. Jeffrey E. Barrick 🐋

Associate Professor of Molecular Biosciences, Fellow of the Lorene Morrow Kelley Professorship in Microbiology (01/2011–present)
B.S. Chemistry, Caltech
Ph.D. Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
Postdoc, Michigan State University
Twitter: @barricklab

Prof. Barrick has a longstanding interest in fundamental and applied studies of molecular and microbial evolution. He is currently interested in intersections between those topics, synthetic biology, and entomology. He is an avid if plodding swimmer and enjoys the "classics" of literature, including a certain 19th century American novel involving a monomaniacal fascination with an albino cetacean.

Lab Manager

Sarah Bialik 🐒

Lab Manager (03/2019–present)
B.S. Biology and Environmental Studies, Centre College
M.S. Population and Conservation Biology, Texas State University

Sarah loves pop gen and conservation. It started with collecting marine invertebrates from the English Channel which led to running around mountains catching butterflies. In the Barrick lab, she has transitioned to studying plant virus evolution and leafhoppers. If she is not in lab making sure everything (and everyone) is functioning properly, you can find her in the local yarn shop knitting up a storm or doing yoga, hiking or climbing like a monkey on some rock outside with her well-behaved crag puppy, Telo.

Senior Researchers

Prof. Dennis Mishler ⚔

Assistant Professor of Practice and Research Educator for the Freshman Research Initiative (04/2013–present)
B.S. Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego
Ph.D. Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University
Postdoc Emory University

Dr. Mishler leads the "Microbe Hackers" undergraduate research lab and co-advises the UT Austin iGEM team with Professor Barrick. The Microbe Hackers most recent research has focused on "Caffeinated Coli", including a 2019 publication in AEM, among other projects. He is super proud of all of his students, but wants to give a shout out to the 2019 iGEM team members who were recognized with a Best Measurement award this past fall. Prior to coming to UT Austin, he worked in the fields of pre-mRNA splicing and synthetic riboswitches. He is an avid gamer and can be found regularly playing games throughout Austin. He annually attends the World Boardgaming Championships, where his main games include Here I Stand and Sekigahara

Dr. Daniel Deatherage ✅

Research Associate (09/2011–present)
B.S. Biochemistry, University of Evansville
Ph.D. Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology, The Ohio State University

Dan’s exposure to Illumina sequencing data in his graduate work on ovarian cancer has morphed into an interest in using next generation sequencing data to answer questions about evolution and synthetic biology in microbes. Dan is always exploring ways of using non-standard library preparation techniques to get extra data from NGS data to do such things as lower error rates and limits of variant detection, increase coverage of variant regions, and replace laborious assays with NGS workflows. Recently published work on selecting for microbes with lower-than-natural mutation rates has encompassed many of these methods. He looks forward to publishing another such study involving tracking evolution at low frequencies soon. In his spare time Dan wonders if his listening to audiobooks counts as having “read” 100s of books per year, or reading zero books per year.

Elizabeth Robinson 🐺

Research Associate (06/2021–present)
B.S. Honors Biology, University of Texas at Austin
B.A. Humanities Honors, The University of Texas at Austin
Twitter: @EBCRobinson

Elizabeth is broadly interested in what genes make living things function and using that information to help society. She is currently investigating dsRNA expression in bees, symbionts in leafhoppers, and brochosomes as antimicrobials. When she isn't in lab, she's teaching creative writing classes, worldbuilding, reading, looking up random anthropology/psychology/philosophy topics, or singing way too loudly.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Isaac Gifford 🐴

Postdoctoral Fellow (01/2020–present)
B.S. Microbiology, University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. Microbiology, University of California Davis

Isaac’s primary research interests are the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer and its role in genome evolution. He currently works with Acinetobacter baylyi ADP1 while his graduate work focused on molecular genetics of Frankia nitrogen-fixing symbioses. Isaac’s personal interests include game design and 21st century sequential art.

Dr. Patrick (PJ) Lariviere 🦉

Postdoctoral Fellow (08/2021–present)
B.A. Biochemistry, Bowdoin College
Ph.D. Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

As a molecular microbiologist with industry experience, PJ is broadly interested in both studying and engineering biological systems involving bacteria. He is currently developing molecular tools for use in engineering symbionts of honey bees. Ultimately, PJ hopes these tools would be beneficial both in basic science research and real world applications, allowing for more robust study of bee genetics and protection against pathogens. PJ is also interested in studying the interaction between honey bees and their bacterial symbionts at a molecular scale. Outside of lab, PJ enjoys running, biking, playing/listening to music, and playing with his dog Duncan.

Graduate Students

Kate Elston 🐿

Microbiology Graduate Student (05/2017-present)
B.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology, Texas A&M University
Email: kelston18ATutexasDOTedu

Kate's main focus is on how we can use synthetic biology tools to manipulate the relationships between the bacteria and their host insects. Currently, she works with aphids and their gut symbiont and thinks about ways to change their impact on food security. In her free time you can find her two-stepping, obsessively completing crossword puzzles, and pursuing artistic endeavors.

Matt McGuffie 🦗

Microbiology Graduate Student (05/2018-present)
B.S. Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Michigan
M.S. Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan
Twitter: @matt_mcguffie

Matt is broadly interested in synthetic biology, basic bacteriology, and data science/visualization. Previously, Matt studied bacterial biofilms and phages, and he is currently examining the evolutionary failure of genetic devices. In his time outside of lab, he likes to obsessively accumulate hobbies including, but not limited to: guitar, rock climbing, gardening, mushroom farming, insect rearing, scuba diving, and backpacking.

Cameron Roots 🦊

Biochemistry Graduate Student (05/2020–present)
B.S. Biochemistry; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Washington
Post-baccalaureate Certificate, National Institutes of Health
Twitter: @_croots

Behold, for I am Cameron, Slayer of Glassware, Keeper of The Flock. Synthetic Biology is my domain, my exposition in engineering E. coli enders is my claim to fame! Known in the state of Maryland for the end of many dungeon delvers and dragon slayers, runner of the hills, wielder of the stringed axe, with the tongue of the vikings.

Victor Li 🐖

Microbiology Graduate Student (05/2021–present)
B.S. Human Biology; University of California San Diego
Email: livictorATutexasDOTedu

Victor is interested in synthetic biology and evolution. His previous work was in phage evolution and ecology. His current work is on evolution and genetic stability in phage and bee gut symbionts. Victor is taking up cooking but still ends up ordering take out far too often.

Undergraduate Students

Joseph Reitman 🐕

Undergraduate Researcher (01/2020-present)
B.S. Biochemistry, UT Austin (in-progress)
Certificate in Scientific Computation, UT Austin (in-progress)

Joseph is interested in synthetic biology, evolution, and statistics. He is developing computational methods to detect structural variation in E. coli genomes. Outside of the lab, you can find him rock climbing, playing chess, singing in a choir, or debating Jewish Law.

Dean Parenteau 🌶

Undergraduate Researcher (01/2021-present)
B.S. Cell and Molecular Biology, UT Austin (in-progress)

Dean’s primary research interest is using and modifying A. baylyi ADP1’s genome to see its potential for expressing recombinant proteins of interest. As of right now, he is working on the relationship between expression of recombinant proteins and the endogenous H-NS protein in A. baylyi. Outside of research, Dean enjoys reading about foreign policy, weightlifting, and cooking.

Braydin McReynolds 🦡

Undergraduate Researcher (05/2021-present)
A.A.S. Biotechnology, Austin Community College
B.S. Computational Biology, UT Austin (in-progress)

Braydin’s current research involves symbionts of leafhoppers and using those symbionts as a means of engineering their hosts. When he’s not wrangling leafhoppers Braydin is heavily involved in esports, and enjoys books of all kinds and trying to write them.

Aneesa Bhakta 🐢

Undergraduate Researcher (09/2021-present)
B.S. Biochemistry, UT Austin (in-progress)

Aneesa is interested in synthetic biology and bacteriophages. Her current research involves surfactant proteins and click chemistry with phages. Outside of the Barrick lab, she’s involved in the Caffeinated Coli project in the Microbe Hackers FRI stream. After graduating she hopes to pursue an MD/PhD. Outside of lab, she likes researching Marvel easter eggs, swimming, reading, writing, drawing, and tiny legos.

Laurel Miller 🦇

Undergraduate Researcher (10/2021-present)
B.S. Biology, UT Austin (in-progress)

Laurel is interested in application of synthetic biology concepts in eukaryotic models. She is currently working on engineering gut microbes of honeybees and bumblebees. Outside the Barrick lab, Laurel enjoys tending to her army of houseplants, arguing with her iguana, and collecting tree leaves.
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Contributors to this topic Edit topic JeffreyBarrick, SarahBialik, KateElston, AustinMeyer, MichaelHammerling, CraigBarnhart, AurkoDasgupta, CameronRoots, JuliePerreau, SeanLeonard, IsaacGifford, GabrielSuarez, AlvaroRodriguez, ColinBrown, DennisMishler, SimonDAlton, ElizabethRobinson, GeoffColburn, VictorLi, DaciaLeon, LindseyWolf, JordanMonk, DanielDeatherage, PengGeng
Topic revision: r227 - 2021-12-01 - 14:48:21 - Main.SarahBialik
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