Lark L. Coffey, Ph.D., the Principal Investigator, obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch. Before joining UC Davis in 2013, she worked at Institut Pasteur, Paris and the Blood Systems Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.

Hongwei Liu, M.S., Staff Research Associate, received her M.Sc in Genetics from China. She has been working in the field of molecular biology, virology, and immunology for the past 20 years. Her main current focus is to develop an effective live-attenuated vaccine against chikungunya virus infection. Hongwei recently celebrated her 10 year anniversary working at UCD!

Anil Singapuri, M.S., Staff Research Associate, has a Master’s degree from UC Davis in immunology and wrote his thesis on the use of degenerate peptides as vaccines to prevent antigenic escape common in HIV and SIV.  He is currently testing samples from rhesus macaques infected with Zika virus.  Anil is particularly interested Zika virus neurotropism and the potential for the virus to persist in some infected individuals.

Danilo Lemos, DVM, UC Davis Ph.D student, obtained his veterinary degree from the Universidade Federal de Campina Grande in Brazil. Danilo is interested in viruses in general. His dissertation is focused on understanding the viral molecular determinants of fetal disease caused by Zika virus rhesus macaques.

Kasen Riemersma, DVM, UC Davis Ph.D student,  became interested in vector-borne diseases and the complex host-pathogen-environment interactions in veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin. His work with tick-borne Heartland virus at CDC cemented his enthusiasm. His dissertation focuses on how intra-host chikungunya virus diversity affects disease and transmission. His  research interests include arbovirus evolution and emergence, host-virus interactions, and vaccine development.

Christopher Weiss, Ph.D., received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh where he studied the molecular basis of alphavirus restriction by an interferon-inducible exonuclease. Chris is interested in rational vaccine design against emerging pathogens and is currently evaluating high-fidelity viral polymerase mutations as a means of improving the safety and efficacy of the live attenuated chikungunya virus vaccine.

Jackson Stuart graduated from UC Davis in 2017 with a major in Global Disease Biology.  He is interested in how cultural, historical, and socioeconomic backgrounds of regions influence disease prevalence and interventions. His research focuses on understanding which viral mutations affect chikungunya and Zika virus disease.

Will Louie recently obtained his B.S. in Microbial Biology from UC Berkeley where he studied microbial communities in oil reservoirs. He brought that theme of community dynamics with him to UCD. He is interested in investigating how variation in mosquito vector competence for  arboviruses is influenced by mosquito genetics and microbiota at different life stages.

Daniele Swetnam obtained her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2018. Daniele has a broad background in molecular virology and emerging zoonotic diseases, including flaviviruses, poxviruses, filoviruses, and arenaviruses. Her focus is in virus evolution and pathogen ecology. Her primary goals are to elucidate the mechanisms that facilitate cross-species transmission and drive the geographic expansion of insect-borne diseases.

Erin Ball, DVM, DACVP, UC Davis PhD student, is a board-certified veterinary pathologist who trained at the DoD Joint Pathology Center and received her DVM from the University of Florida. Her research interests include arbovirus emergence, host-virus interactions and pathogenesis and vaccine development. She is investigating Zika virus pathogenesis in pregnancy.

Katherine Young is an undergraduate Research Scholar in Insect Biology at UC Davis obtaining a B.S. in Global Disease Biology. She is interested in the micro-level interactions between mosquitoborne viruses and their hosts.

Joie Lin , B.S., recently graduated from UC Berkeley as a Molecular Environmental Biology major and Art minor. She is a first year UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine student interested in global health, zoonoses, and bio-inspired applications for improving health.

Past Team Members

Kaitlin Xa obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Davis in 2017. She is interested in food microbial safety and hopes to enter a food science graduate program in the future. Kaitlin was a student lab assistant. She now works in the Bay Area in the field of food microbial safety.

Jay Nicholson, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Queensland, Australia.  He then served as a Laboratory Manager focused on medical entomology and public health related to arbovirus surveillance in Western Australia. In 2017, Jay investigated the vector competence of North American mosquitoes for Zika virus. He returned to Australia in early 2018.


Radhika Iyer is a senior undergraduate majoring in Microbiology and minoring in Global Disease Biology at UC Davis. Radhika is interested in pursuing graduate school in virology or infectious disease in the future. She recently worked as an undergraduate research assistant and helps with Zika virus projects.

Brad Main, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, has a background in arthropod genomics and transcriptomics. He is passionate about understanding adaptation and speciation and the genetic basis of  insecticide resistance, host preference, and vector competence in mosquitoes. Brad spent 2017 exploring whether and why distinct genetic populations of Aedes aegypti vary in their ability to become infected by and transmit Zika virus. He is still working with the larger DART group, now on mosquito genetics projects.

Kelly Symmes, BS., joined our team as a DVM student interested in zoonoses and public health. She graduated with her DVM in May 2018 and is currently pursuing doctoral work in virology at Yale University. Kelly worked in the laboratory sequencing West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis viruses in California and performing phylogenetic analyses to infer genetic relatedness and origins of circulating viruses.

Cody Steiner B.S. obtained his bachelor’s degree in in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from UCLA and joined the UC Davis Epidemiology Graduate Group. He earned a M.S. degree in 2018. His project focused on improving arbovirus surveillance in California by applying molecular diagnostics to novel field surveillance methods.