Hailing from Sicklerville, New Jersey, Brian discovered his love of microbiology after spending a summer in high school studying cavity causing Bacillus and the antimicrobial properties of green tea. Brian left New Jersey shortly after to attend the University of Chicago, where he studied microbiology. It was there that Brian discovered his love for pathology and microbial genetics when he worked on his thesis in Dr. Howard Shuman’s lab by studying capsular production in Acinetobacter baumannii. With a head full of knowledge about Durkheim, Marx, opera, and also a wee bit of biology, Brian was ready to move to Seattle and begin his work in Dr. Malik’s lab.
Brian’s work (under the guidance of Tera) in the lab focuses on the symbiotic relationship between Legionella species and amoeba. Legionella pneumophila is commonly associated with the illness Legionnaires’ disease, but it’s widely believed that its relationship with amoeba gave Legionella the tools to cause disease in human hosts. Despite the fact that Legionella is commonly parasitic towards its amoeba hosts, there is evidence that the amoeba and Legionella may develop a symbiotic relationship. Thus, there is the underlying question on how a pathogen is distinct from a symbiont, and moreover how genetic conflicts may shape the transition from parasite to mutualist. Despite the fascinating relationships that exist in this system, the genetic and evolutionary underpinnings of symbiosis remain poorly understood. Thus, Brian hopes to uncover what makes Legionella and amoebae friend or foe.
In his free time, Brian can be found trying to convince everyone he knows to watch Steven Universe, playing the latest Nintendo or farming video game, or singing Broadway tunes at some karaoke bar.