Dr. Thibault Stalder

Research Support Scientist

As an environmental microbiologist, Thibault is interested in the ecology and evolution of bacteria in their natural habitat. His research focuses on the role of horizontal gene transfer in bacterial adaptation to antibiotics at human-animal-environment interfaces. Thibault joined the Top Lab in 2013 for a postdoctoral experience to study plasmid-host evolution in the context of biofilms. Since then, he has continued research initiated during his Ph.D., consisting of determining anthropogenic impacts on the environmental spread of antibiotic resistance. In 2018 he became the lab’s research support scientist and is co-leading a project aimed at tracking the spread of antibiotic resistance genes and plasmids in agricultural soils. He is also co-teaching the Prokaryotic Molecular Microbiology class (BIOL485/585) with Dr. Top and continuing investigations on plasmid biology and evolution. Thibault enjoys tackling projects in the light of multi-disciplinary framework and has found the University of Idaho to provide great opportunities to develop such interactions.

Clint Elg

PhD student Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Clint is a PhD student in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program and received an NSF graduate research fellowship for 2019-2023. Previously he completed his Bachelor of Science (Cellular & Molecular Biology) at Central Washington University. His interests in multi-drug resistance plasmids stem from prior experiences as a medic dealing with infections secondary to penetrating trauma. Currently, Clint is focused on mechanisms that influence the maintenance of a plasmid in a population over time, particularly DNA methylation via plasmid encoded methyltransferases. He wrote correlogy, a software package that predicts the functional grouping of horizontally transferred genes by calculating the co-occurrence of homologous genes across the bacterial domain.

Salvador (Chava) Castaneda

PhD student Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

Chava is a PhD student in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program. He completed his undergraduate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of California Merced. Working at a dairy during his time as an undergraduate peaked his interest in studying the impact of dairy and agriculture on the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment. His main research now focuses on investigating the impact of manure use in agricultures on the spread of multi-drug resistance plasmids in soil.

Dr. Erin Mack

Lab Manager

Erin is our new lab manager.  She is a broadly-trained molecular biologist and STEM education enthusiast. She comes to us from the University of Florida, where she coordinated and instructed biomedical education programs for the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training. Before that, Erin worked at Skidmore College as a STEM learning associate and chemistry lab instructor.

Erin received her PhD in Immunology & Microbiology from the University of Florida. Her dissertation research focused on finding the molecular mechanisms driving antigenic variation in the protozoan parasite Babesia bovis. She is looking forward to participating in some of the exciting plasmid biology research taking place in the Top lab.

Jack Millstein

Lab Technician

Jack is a part-time lab technician with a BS degree in Microbiology. He helps people out on various projects, takes care of equipment purchase, maintenance and repair, and various other critical jobs.

Solana Narum

Lab Technician

Solana is a lab technician with her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Idaho. She is studying the mechanisms of plasmid persistence in Pseudomonas bacteria, especially the co-evolution of the host and the plasmid. Solana is also involved in the SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring project for the City of Moscow. In her free time Solana enjoys skiing, rock climbing and hiking.

Undergraduate students

Bella Wimmer

Bella is an undergraduate student researcher from St. Louis, Missouri. She is studying biology at Columbia College and is here at the University of Idaho to participate in the 2021 Biology REU. Bella is working with Dr. Erin Mack to better understand the co-evolution between hospital-isolated Serratia marcescens and its 5 plasmids. In particular, Bella and Erin are looking to characterize the evolution of the KPC-2 transposon, which allows Serratia marcescens to grow in the presence of antibiotics like meropenem. Bella is looking forward to a fun and educational summer in the Top Lab!

Lauren Saucedo

Lauren is a senior majoring in microbiology with a minor in Spanish. She plans to attend medical school after undergraduate school in the hopes of becoming a pediatrician. She is also a diversity program scholar and is the new president of the Women in Science Society!