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Principal Investigator


Brittany Johnson, PhD

I'm originally from Marion, VA! I received my B.S in Biology ('08) from The College of William and Mary. I graduated with a PhD in Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology from the University of Virginia ('14). Currently, I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte! Go-Niners!! My research program is directed at understanding host pathogen interactions and identification of novel therapeutic points of intervention during infection of the brain and bone tissue. I am particularly interested in understanding critical aspects of bacterial pathogenesis, including pathogen responses to the
host environment and evasion of immune detection and clearance. I am also a member of the Active Learning Academy at UNC Charlotte and work to integrate teaching and research through innovate learning activities. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy spending time with my family, kayaking, rock climbing, and relaxing at local breweries or at home on my screened porch. 

Assistant Teaching Professor


Samantha Suptela, PhD MPH

I'm a first-generation college student from Stanfield, NC! I received my B.S in Biology ('08) and PhD in Biology ('12) from UNC Charlotte- Go Niners!!- and a Master of Public Health from the University of Virginia ('13). Currently, I am working on my M.Ed. and am a Lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. I am invested in improving undergraduate STEM education, increasing student involvement in research, and implementing student-centered and collaborative learning activities in my courses. My current project in the lab involves investigating the innate immune sensor RIG-I as a therapeutic target for bacterial CNS infections. In addition to teaching and research, I am involved in science communication and community outreach. In my free time, I enjoy spending time and having fun with my family, traveling, and reading! A fun fact about me is that I have a collection of science tattoos: So far, that includes a microscope, an antibody, an Erlenmeyer flask with flowers, an anatomical heart, and a scientist Hello Kitty with a test tube, lab coat and goggles!


Current Graduate Students


Sophie Sipprell

I am from Matthews, NC. Biology always really intrigued me, since there is so much to learn, and research was a way I could learn more in an up-close and more hands-on manner. I am particularly interested in the immune system and the potential impact our research can have on treating and understanding more about diseases that impact our community. My current project looks at bone-building cells, called osteoblasts, infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. I am interested in analyzing their ability to produce inflammatory immune molecules. I am particularly interested in infected osteoblasts’ production of chemokines, which are important inflammatory immune molecules that can recruit important immune cells, such as neutrophils, to the site of infection. A fun fact about me is that I am a Charlotte Women’s Soccer alum and I love the beach.


Erin Davis

I am from Charlotte, NC and am researching the molecular mechanisms underlying glial inflammatory responses to Neisseria meningitidis. I sought out an opportunity to do research as an undergraduate because I wanted the mentorship of graduate students and faculty as well as the opportunity to see the real-world applications of what I had been learning in the classroom as a Biology major. I decided to obtain my M.S. in Biology after graduating in December 2022 with my B.S. in Biology! A fun fact about myself is that I play intramural soccer on campus!

Current Undergraduate Students


Krishna Majithia

I am from Charlotte, NC and my current research project involves studying the molecular mechanisms underlying glial inflammatory responses to Neisseria meningitidis. Research is an important component in the advancement of medicine and I am interested in learning how it impacts our understanding of diseases and the development of treatments. I am hoping that the experience I gain in the research lab will help me develop valuable skills and knowledge as I pursue my education in medicine. In my free time I enjoy traveling with my family, painting, and being outdoors! 


Mary-Kate Key

I'm from Concord, NC, and I am interested in researching antimicrobial peptides and how they can be used as an alternative to antibiotics. I would like to be involved in research to build my knowledge of immunological and pathological studies as well as develop skills for my future career. In my free time, I love being outside and going on hikes with my friends! 

Previous Students


Kelli Hutcheson

M.S. Biology: 2022

I am from Midlothian, VA! My research interests include the study of the immune system and autoimmune diseases in particular. I am currently studying immune mediators produced by murine osteoblasts in response to bacterial infections. I got involved in research after I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis, and realized how much more there was to discover about my autoimmune disease, and many others. Gaining the knowledge and research experience to study these diseases in either a laboratory or clinical research setting are the first steps to my goal! A fun hobby of mine is going camping with my husband and dogs in the mountains!


Doris Mogambi

B.A. Biology: 2022

My research interests include public health, epidemiology, immunology, and disease/illness prevention. I became involved with research to challenge myself as a future scientist and learn how to apply what I’ve learned in class. I am also interested in conducting my own research studies in the future. It is great to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who would also like to make their impact in the science community. A fun fact about me is that I am the only child in my family born in the U.S. 


Kirthi Kaushik

B.S. Biology: 2023

I am from Cary, North Carolina. My research project is to observe bone-building cells (osteoblasts) and their production of chemokines in response to infections such as Staphylococcus aureus. Research is definitely a melting pot of discoveries made by others and can be a great collaborative space for sharing ideas/concepts. Being a student in the lab allows me to apply the knowledge I’ve gained as a Biology major not only inside a classroom setting but on the outside too. My hobbies include dancing, baking, and spending time with my family! A fun fact about myself is that I’ve traveled to 7 different countries and had the opportunity to study abroad through a program at UNCC!

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