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.

Penny Amy

Dr. Penny Amy’s research interests are in Microbial Ecology and Applied Microbiology. She is interested in microorganisms in their natural environments. In the past she has worked with organisms in freshwater, marine and deep subsurface environments. She currently works with bacteriophages of a bacterium, Paenibacillus larvae, which infects the larvae of honeybees. She also has a biotechnology project investigating the use of microbes in hydroponics.

Her research is currently concentrated on two areas of microbiology:

the treatment of Paenibacillus larvae, a honeybee pathogen, which causes American Foulbrood Disease, using bacteriophage;
basic microbial ecology of oil formation microorganisms and surfactants produced by them.

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.