Kappe Lab

Lab Team

Janna Armstrong

Research Associate II

Janna Armstrong is a research associate II with a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she spent her senior year focusing on human parasitology and infectious diseases. She spent the last 20 years focusing her work in molecular biology with The Dow Chemical Company’s animal health and gene discovery program in their agricultural biotech division. After leading a successful, multifunctional project team for 10 years in gene discovery, she decided to leave Dow to pursue her true passion in human parasitology related research – mainly malaria vacinology. When she is not doing science, she enjoys woodworking, remodeling homes, and doing outdoor activities with friends and family.

Silvia Arredondo, PhD

Research Scientist III

Silvia ArredondoDr. Silvia Arredondo is a staff scientist with a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was formally trained as a chemical engineer with emphasis on protein engineering and disulfide bond formation. Her interest in applying her skills to the fight against malaria led her to a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. During her time at the NIH, she focused on the structural and functional characterization of P. falciparum blood stage 6-cys proteins. Her work yielded the first molecular structure for this protein family. Arredondo remains intrigued by the 6-cys proteins and she is interested in elucidating the roles of the members of this family in the pre-erythrocytic stages.

Will Betz, MS

Research technician II

Will BetzWill Betz is a research technician with a MS degree from the University of Southampton. He has worked at the center since 2008. Previously, he worked as a field biologist/wildlife conservationist in New Guinea. It was there that he witnessed the pervasive and debilitating impact that malaria has on human health and economic development, and he himself contracted Vivax malaria on two occasions. His primary work responsibility is maintaining stocks of rodent malaria–infected mosquitoes, as well as supplying researchers with rodent and human malaria parasites via mosquito dissection. Outside of work, Betz enjoys photography, hiking and travelling with his wife, Debbie.

Nelly Camargo, BSc

Research associate II

Nelly Camargo joined Dr. Stefan Kappe’s Lab, then at New York University, in 2002. She received her BSc from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Nelly has played an integral part to many research programs in the lab spanning from establishing transfection technology of the rodent and human malaria parasites to supporting the Human Challenge Center (HCC) with malaria clinical trials. In partnership with the HCC, Nelly has been involved in both safety and efficacy trials in human volunteers with a genetically attenuated parasite that was created in the lab. She believes that excellent, honest, persistent and truly cooperative work will eventually lead to control of the damage inflicted to so many people by the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria. Outside of the lab Nelly enjoys spending time with her family.

Debashree Goswami, PhD

Fellow

Debashree GoswamiDr. Debashree Goswami received her PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine and University of Münster, Germany, in 2016. During her PhD, she investigated the role of a receptor-ligand pair involved in the process of leukocyte transendothelial migration using gene-deficient mice. For her postdoc, she wanted to transition into a lab involved in applied research, which brought her to the Kappe Lab. In the Kappe Lab, she is currently working on the malaria vaccine project that requires generating genetically attenuated parasites (GAP) that arrest late in the liver stage. These late-arresting GAPs would serve as the next potential vaccine candidate. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and volleyball and going on hikes.

Meseret Haile

Research technician I

Meseret HaileMeseret Haile is a research technician in the Kappe and Vaughan Labs. Meseret received her BA in anthropology and biochemistry from Smith College in 2018 where she was involved in research in the Williams Lab on expression cloning and analysis of putative transcription factors in filarial parasite Brugia malayi. Since joining the lab in September 2018, Meseret’s work is focused on using experimental genetic crosses to understand drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. She is also participating in the production of Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites for ongoing GAP3KO vaccine trial. Outside of lab, Meseret enjoys dog sitting, long naps, and all things post-colonial theory.

Nina Hertoghs, PhD

Fellow

Nina HertoghsDr. Nina Hertoghs is working as a post-doctoral researcher who shares her time between the labs of Drs. Stefan Kappe and Ken Stuart. She received her PhD from the University of Amsterdam, where she investigated the initial interactions between enveloped viruses like HIV-1 and Ebolavirus with mucosal dendritic cell-subsets. Here she will be involved in the HIPC2 project in which she will aim to characterize the immune responses that are elicited in several malaria-vaccine trials, and hopefully identify correlates of protection. In addition, she will utilize in vitro and ex vivo assays in order to get a more mechanistic understanding of antimalarial immunity. Outside the lab, she enjoys discovering Seattle, especially the culinary highlights the city has to offer.

Charlie Jennison, PhD

Fellow

Charlie JennisonDr. Charlie Jennison received his master’s degree in medical parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, researching novel diagnostic tests for schistosomiasis in Uganda. After three years researching sexually transmitted infections in Cambridge, UK, he undertook a PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, where he focused on the gametocyte and sporozoite biology of P. falciparum. In the Kappe and Vaughan Labs, he is continuing his research interests in exoerythrocytic parasite biology, investigating proteins important for parasite infection of mosquito and human/rodent hosts, as well as working to advance the design of genetically attenuated parasites as a malaria vaccine. Outside of the lab he enjoys hiking, snowboarding and local IPAs.

Spencer Kennedy

Research Technician I

Spencer KennedySpencer Kennedy is a research technician in the Kappe and Vaughan Labs working on the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Having graduated from the University of California, Davis with a BS in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2016, he was involved in internships with the Wu Lab studying phosphorylated peptides in lung cancer, and with the Peng Lab doing computational biology on breast cancer. Since joining the Center in 2017, he has been focused on the ongoing phase 1 clinical trial for a genetically-attenuated parasite (GAP) vaccine. He is also the primary technician for the Clinical ACL-I Insectary. Outside of work, Spencer is an avid tennis player and spends time volunteering with local non-profits that help homeless children in King County.

Sudhir Kumar, PhD

Fellow

Sudhir KumarDr. Sudhir Kumar is a postdoctoral scientist in the Kappe and Vaughan Labs. He obtained his PhD from the National Institute of Immunology/Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, working on calcium and cyclic nucleotide mediated signaling in Plasmodium falciparum erythrocytic stages. His current project focuses on experimental genetic crosses between different artemisinin-resistant and -sensitive parasites to discover the mechanism of drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. Outside of the lab he likes to travel, read, play badminton and watch cricket.

Nana Minkah, PhD

Fellow

Nana MinkahDr. Nana Minkah joined the Kappe Lab in October 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow. He received his PhD from Stony Brook University, where he utilized a murine model of herpesvirus infection to identify virus and host factors critical for the establishment and maintenance of chronic herpesvirus disease. In the Kappe Lab, he is studying how the early immune response to a genetically attenuated parasite influences its use as a vaccine candidate. Outside of the lab, he spends most of his time watching soccer and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Hardik Patel, PhD

Fellow

Hardik PatelDr. Hardik Patel joined the Kappe Lab as a postdoctoral scientist. He received his PhD from Institute of Science, Nirma University, India where he focused on understanding the dynamics of CD8 T cells response during maintenance of RAS (Radiation Attenuated Sporozoites) vaccine mediated sterile protection. In the Kappe Lab, he is extending his interest in studying the immune responses generated by GAPs (Genetically Attenuated Parasites) against Plasmodium Liver-stage infection. Outside the lab, he likes to play volleyball, badminton and enjoys hiking and exploring Washington state with his wife, Beena.

Carola Schaefer, DVM

Fellow

Carola SchaeferDr. Carola Schaefer obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for tropical medicine in Hamburg, Germany. Here, she worked on elucidating the molecular basis of antimony resistance in the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum. She then started her postdoctoral studies at the Heinrich-Pette-Institute for experimental virology, also in Hamburg. There she focused on the in vivo analysis of a HIV-specific recombinase using various humanized mouse models. She joined the Kappe Lab in 2017 where she utilizes and further develops humanized mouse models for human malaria research with Plasmodium vivax as her main interest. In her free time, she explores the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and 3-year old daughter.

Antonino Schepis, PhD

Research scientist III

Antonino SchepisDr. Antonino Schepis received his PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg. During his PhD, he studied the cellular changes caused by Vaccinia virus infection. Later, he moved in the San Francisco Bay area where he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University with Prof. James Nelson and a senior postdoctoral fellow at University of California San Francisco with Prof. Shaun Coughlin. During his time in the bay area, he studied epithelial tissue dynamics and homeostasis at early stage of embryonic development using live cell imaging. In the Kappe Lab, he is interested to understanding how the plasmodium is able to manipulate the host cytoskeleton and membranes to achieve invasion of and egress from the liver. Outside the lab, he enjoys exploring Seattle and the Pacific Northwest with his family.

Amina Sheikh

Research technician I

Amina SheikhAmina Sheikh is a research technician with a BS degree in Public Health from the University of Washington. She began her journey at the Kappe Lab as an undergraduate intern where she worked in characterizing type I IFN response to liver stage infection with genetically attenuated malaria parasite vaccines. Some of her skillsets include running parasite cycles, performing western blot test, conducting genomic DNA preparation through PCR analysis, and investigating RNA expression using Real Time Quantitative PCR. In her free time, Amina enjoys spending time with her family and discovering new local music in the Seattle area.

Kristian Swearingen, PhD

Visiting scientist

Dr. Kristian Swearingen is a visiting scientist at CGIDR and a senior research scientist at the Institute for Systems Biology in the lab of Dr. Rob Moritz. He received his PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Washington. Swearingen specializes in the development of mass spectrometry instrumentation and techniques for identifying and quantifying proteins. His work in collaboration with the Kappe and Moritz Labs has resulted in characterization of protein expression in Plasmodium salivary gland sporozoites, including identifying proteins exposed on the parasite surface that may serve as new targets for vaccines against malaria. He is currently investigating the role of post-translational protein modifications as chemical signals in the development of infectivity in mosquito stage Plasmodium as well as in transmission of the parasite from the human host to the mosquito vector. When not in the lab, he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, playing music and brewing beer.

Shawna Stonum

Senior administrative assistant 

Shawna StonumShawna Stonum began supporting labs at 307 Westlake in December 2017 and joined the Kappe and Vaughan Labs in October 2018. Shawna has supported staff in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors in a variety of industries, including social services, health care, finance and now life sciences. Her favorite groups of people are those who use their skills to benefit the greater good. Shawna derives great satisfaction in being an integral part of the puzzle that works to potentially save lives and improve the quality of living those lives. Free time hobbies include acrylic painting and spoiling two grandsons.

Ashley Vaughan, PhD

Research assistant professor

Ashley VaughanAshley Vaughan, PhD, is a research assistant professor. He received his PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. During his tenure in the Kappe Lab, he showed the importance of the parasite’s fatty acid synthetic pathway for sporozoite and liver stage maturation. He also researches how to elicit the most protective immune response after vaccination with genetically attenuated parasites. Ashley’s collaborations with Sebastian Mikolajczak led to significant advances in the use of human-liver chimeric mouse models in studying malaria. This includes complete liver stage development and the transition to blood stage malaria in the mouse for the human malarias Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. He has also used this mouse model for the creation of experimental Plasmodium falciparum genetic crosses, a significant advance that should aid in our understanding of Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance. Ashley continues to be fascinated by basic parasite pre-erythrocytic biology and uses rodent malaria and parasite transgenesis to understand how the parasite interacts with its vector and host during sporozoite and liver stage development. Outside of the lab, he is a keen hiker, traveler, gardener and scuba diver, pastimes he enjoys with and without his husband, Rafael.

Alfiya Yesuf

Work study student

Gigliola Zanghi, PhD

Fellow

Gigliola ZanghiDr. Gigliola Zanghí received her Doctor of Pharmacy from University of Messina (Italy). She also obtained a PhD in parasitology through the French Parasitology Alliance for Health Care (ParaFrap). During her PhD, working at Mazier Lab (UPMC, Paris, France) in collaboration with Scherf lab (Institute Pasteur, Paris, France), she was interested in the epigenetic regulation of the Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites and the mechanisms underlying the quiescence of Plasmodium relapsing species. After a post-doc at the Institut Pasteur (Paris, France), where she continued studying the epigenetic regulation of P. falciparum pre-erythrocitic stages, she joined Kappe Lab. Her work is currently focused on elucidating the mechanism of dormancy of P. vivax hypnozoites. Outside the lab she enjoys reading, travelling and exploring the beautiful nature that the state of Washington has to offer.