Team old




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.



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.



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. Jay is investigating the vector competence of North American mosquitoes for Zika virus.



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 is exploring whether and why distinct genetic populations of Aedes aegypti vary in their ability to become infected by and transmit Zika virus.


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.


Cody Steiner B.S. obtained his bachelor’s degree in in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics from UCLA and is currently a UC Davis Ph.D. student in the Epidemiology Graduate Group. He is improving arbovirus surveillance in California by applying molecular diagnostics to novel field surveillance methods and using the results to inform disease models.



Kelly Symmes, BS., is a third year DVM student at UC Davis interested in zoonoses and public health research. She intends to pursue doctoral work in virology after she obtains her DVM in 2018. Kelly is sequencing West Nile and St. Louis encephalitis virus in California and performing phylogenetic analyses to infer genetic relatedness and origins of circulating viruses.



Jackson Stuart is a fourth year undergraduate Global Disease Biology major and African History minor at UC Davis focusing on 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.


Kaitlin Xa is a fourth year undergraduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major at UC Davis. She is interested in food microbial safety and hopes to enter a food science graduate program in the future. Kaitlin is a student lab assistant in helping with lab maintenance and assistant to our team.




Radhika Iyer is a junior 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 currently works as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and helps with the Zika virus projects.