Kerri Coon CV
Assistant Professor

I obtained a B.Sc. in Biology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, and a Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. I did my Ph.D. training with Dr. Michael Strand studying the microbial regulation of molting in mosquitoes, and subsequently worked on insect gut microbiota-immune system interactions in Dr. Nancy Moran’s laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. I joined the faculty in the Department of Entomology at UW-Madison in 2019 and transferred to the Department of Bacteriology in 2020. I can serve as the major advisor for graduate students from Microbiology, Entomology, and Genetics. I am also affiliated with the Biotechnology, Parasitology & Vector Biology, and Microbes in Health and Disease Training Programs at UW-Madison.

  Office: 3552 Microbial Sciences Building
  Phone: (608) 262-6919

Miguel Medina Muñoz
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Bacteriology

Office: 3526 Microbial Sciences Building

Serena Zhao
Ph.D. Candidate, Entomology

My current project is characterizing how variation in larval microbiota shape mosquito traits related to vectorial capacity, using environmental microbes from larval habitats in runoff water. I am particularly interested in the modulation of vector physiology by microbial communities in urban environments, as urban populations in vector-borne-disease endemic areas continue to grow.

Office: 3541 Microbial Sciences Building

Aldo Arellano
Ph.D. Candidate, Microbiology

I am interested in the processes underlying microbial assembly and functional potential in the context of symbiosis. I use the Sarracenia-Wyeomyia smithii system to study how mosquito larvae impact microbes and in turn how host physiology is affected by these “curated” communities. I am also interested in how microbial interactions and microbial products may sustain cross-kingdom symbiotic associations.

Office: 3541 Microbial Sciences Building

Andrew Sommer
Ph.D. Candidate, Microbiology

I am interested in understanding the role the environment plays in shaping the ability of potentially pathogenic bacteria to colonize and persist within the dipteran larval gut. To do this, I study both terrestrial Muscidae flies living in dairy barns as well as Culex mosquitoes inhabiting urban wastewater systems. My hope is that this research will help inform public health agencies to better control the spread of vector borne bacterial disease.

Office: 3541 Microbial Sciences Building

Sebastián Díaz
Visiting Scholar
Ph.D. Student, Biology, Universidad de Antioquia

I am interested in the microbial diversity associated with insects and the factors that shape it. In my doctoral project, I am working with the reproductive tract bacterial microbiota of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, studying how mating and blood-feeding affect bacterial community structure and, in turn, how these bacteria influence mosquito reproductive biology.

Office: 3526 Microbial Sciences Building

Holly Nichols
Ph.D. Student, Microbiology

I am interested in how microscopic and macroscopic organisms coexist and shape each other’s evolutionary trajectory. I study how bacteria adapt to the transient environment of the mosquito gut and consider how host and bacterial genetics shape the interaction.

Office: 3541 Microbial Sciences Building


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Undergraduate Researchers

Alexandra Beckman


Journey Prack (Neurobiology/Zoology)


Jessica Lysne
(Global Health/Neurobiology)

Lab Alumni

Mike LeClaire (Undergraduate Student)
Jake DeWitte (Undergraduate Student)
Tomi Akin-Olabiyi (NSF REU Student)
Daisy Chew (Undergraduate Student)
Molly Sneller (Undergraduate Student)
Lalita Arzumanyan (Undergraduate Student)