My long-term goal is to provide the best training possible for students in my lab to help them achieve their career goals. This involves helping students understand how to design and implement projects, improve their technical writing skills, understand how the grant writing process works, and how to become effective overall scientists. Students in my laboratory are expected to be active participants in the science they perform, and help write grants to fund the research they perform, write papers on their results, and present their data at regional and national meetings.
I am fascinated by viruses. These tiny critters have caused problems for humans from time immemorial, and the virology field is now getting to the point where we can really understand how they work at a molecular level and use them to our own advantage. New strategies, including structure-based rational drug design and high-throughput screening, are now being used to develop new classes of antivirals effective against these viruses which have the potential for improving human health world wide. In addition to wanting to treat human disease caused by viruses, studying how these viruses replicate is unveiling just how elegant these molecular machines truly are and how diverse genomic replication mechanisms can be. For example, Flaviviruses are able to replicate their RNA genome primarily with two proteins (NS3 and NS5). These proteins encode all of the known enzymatic activities necessary to produce progeny genomes, as compared to prokaryotes and eukaryotes that require hundreds or thousands of proteins to replicate their genomes. I find it fascinating that an organism can do so much with so little. We strive to understand how these viruses replicate both to help keep people healthy and to admire these amazing molecular machines.
I attended the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) and earned a BS in Biology with an emphasis in Genetics in 1997. During my time at KU, I worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in a Hybridoma production lab, a C. elegans genetics lab, and in a B-cell immunology/Epstein-Barr virus lab. These experiences provided outstanding insights into what science and research is really like, and I strive to provide similar research experiences to undergraduates at CSU. I attended graduate school at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department through the Cell and Molecular Biology Program. I completed my PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Lynda Morrison and Dr. John Tavis in 2002. My dissertation work focused on developing novel vaccines against Herpes Simplex Viruses and examining the molecular biology of the HSV VP22 protein. I then worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Dr. Michael Diamond in the Department of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO), working on West Nile virus RNAi evasion and antiviral drug development. This was my first introduction into the wonderful world of Arbovirology. In 2005 I moved to Colorado State University to work in the Arthropod-Borne and Infectious Diseases Lab (AIDL) with Dr. Ken Olson as a Post-Doctoral Fellow focusing on developing novel Alphavirus transduction systems. In 2006 I was promoted to Research Scientist and have pursued developing antivirals against flavivirus infection as well as examining the structure and function of the flavivirus capping enzyme. These projects have been performed in collaboration with Dr. Susan Keenan (University of Northern Colorado), Dr. Olve Peersen (CSU), Dr. Martain Bisaillon (University of Sherbrooke, QC), and others. During this time I worked with Dr. Peersen, from who I learned quite a bit about biochemistry and structural biology that has helped my research tremendously. In 2010 I was promoted to Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology (and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department by courtesy) and established my laboratory in the Microbiology Building with much help from my amazing students and Research Associates. The rest, as they say, is history!
My interests outside of the work include spending quality time with my wife (Mary-Claire) and son (Owen), hiking in the beautiful mountains near Fort Collins, amateur astronomy, reading (mainly Sci-Fi, imagine that), playing guitar, and helping out at my son's school.