Steve Frese

Dr. Frese’s research is centered on the human gut microbiome and its inhabitants. Our work at the University of Nevada, Reno examines how diet, food science, and biotechnology can be leveraged to meaningfully improve human health and nutrition.

Chad Cross

Dr. Cross is trained as a multidisciplinary scientist. He received is PhD in Ecological Sciences (focus in Quantitative Ecology and Statistics) from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia. He additionally holds several master’s degrees: Computational & Applied Mathematics/Statistics (Old Dominion University), Medical Entomology & Nematology (University of Florida), and Counseling (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). His undergraduate training was at Purdue University, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in biological sciences and the other in wildlife science. Dr. Cross has several active areas of research. These include: (1) Public Health: Investigations in population health related to chronic and infectious diseases, with special emphasis on quantitative methodology and use of large databases; (2) Epidemiology & Biostatistics: Applications of statistics and epidemiological principles to problems in the health sciences – for example clinical trials, multivariate models, and population sampling strategies; (3) Medical Entomology & Parasitology: Applied research and field work in arthropod-borne and parasitic diseases, including population-based estimation of disease burden and the intersection of medical entomology and forensic science; (4) Quantitative Ecology: Applications of statistics to problems in the environmental and ecological sciences – for example Bayesian models for estimating avian fatality around wind turbines and mark-recapture sampling; and (5) Psychometrics: Applications of statistics to problems in the psychological sciences – for example randomized controlled trials for interventions and pattern recognition for finding clusters of patients with shared pathology.

Aude Picard

Dr. Aude Picard’s research investigates microbe-mineral interactions in the context of microbial physiology, biogeochemistry and astrobiology. The focus is on interactions between sulfate-reducing microorganisms (SRM), which are ubiquitous in anoxic sedimentary environments, and iron sulfide minerals. Microscopy and spectroscopy are used to 1) understand the properties and transformation pathways of iron sulfide minerals in anoxic environments and at the oxic-anoxic interface; 2) evaluate if the composition, morphology and mineralogy of biominerals is unique enough to serve as biosignatures for the search of life on other planets; and 3) assess the role of minerals on microbial activity and survival.

Helen J. Wing

Helen J. Wing is an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 1997, where she studied transcriptional gene regulation in Escherichia coli. She worked with both Prof. Stephen J.W. Busby and Prof. John R. Guest in her first post-doctoral position, where she employed biochemical approaches to study transcription. In 2000, Helen moved to the U.S. to take a post-doctoral position with Marcia B. Goldberg M.D. at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. It was here that she became interested in the transcriptional regulation of Shigella virulence genes and antimicrobial peptides. She joined the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2005.
The primary focus of my research laboratory is virulence gene expression in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri, the causal agent of bacillary dysentery, which is estimated to kill over 1 million people each year. All four species of Shigella harbor a large virulence plasmid, which carries most of the genes required to cause disease in the human host, including those required for invasion, type III secretion and actin-based motility, a process that allows bacteria to spread from one human cell to another. We are interested in the environmental cues, the timing and the molecular events that trigger the expression of virulence genes. We are particularly interested in the complex interplay between nucleoid structuring proteins, proteins that facilitate the packaging of DNA into tiny cells, and the transcriptional regulators of virulence in Shigella VirF and VirB.

Eduardo Robleto

Dr. Eduardo Robleto’s laboratory focuses on the study of mutagenesis in cells under conditions of no-growth or under nutritional stress. They use Bacillus subtilis as a model to elucidate novel mechanisms that produce genetic diversity in conditions of stress. Particularly, we are interested in mutagenesis that is mediated by the process of transcription. These processes are influenced by universally conserved factors, provide novel views of the evolutionary process and apply to the formation of mutations in all organisms.

His research focuses on identifying novel mechanisms of mutation. He is particularly interested in elucidating cellular processes that generate mutations in non-replicating cells. These processes are important in evolution and apply to the acquisition of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens and to the formation of tumors in differentiated tissue.

Henry Sun

Henry Sun is an Assistant Research Professor Microbiology, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas campus. His research areas of interest and expertise is life in extreme environments; endolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic dry valleys, the Atacama Desert, and Death Valley; mineral formations in microbial environments; biological rock weathering, iron isotopic fractionation, and survival and adaptation in endolithic communities; new approaches to planetary life detection; and microbiology of compost tea making and its use as an alternative to fungicide in agriculture and viticulture.

Joseph Grzyzmski

Dr. Grzymski is the Senior Director of the Applied Innovation Center and an Associate Research Professor of microbiology and computational biology. He holds adjunct positions in molecular biosciences and hydrology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is co-founder of the companies Evozym Biologics, Inc and EMS Genomics, LLC.  His academic research focuses on adaptations in microbes to extreme environments using methods from biophysics, molecular biology, informatics and microbiology. Joe received his BA in philosophy and biology from Bowdoin College. He was a Fulbright Scholar before attending Rutgers University where he received a Ph.D in Oceanography. In his spare time, Joe plays tennis, runs, cooks and enjoys spending time with his family. He has been at DRI and lived in Nevada for 12 years. He is passionate about improving Nevada’s economy through the promotion of DRI’s incredible science.