Nikolas Stasulli, Ph.D.



    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Microbiology & Immunology


    Beth Shank, Ph.D.


My interest in teaching started when I was an undergraduate at Ursinus College where I gained experience as a laboratory teaching assistant. I helped with lab setup and assisted students in several courses including cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry. I enjoyed helping other students and facilitating a better understanding of the concepts and applications of each lab.

As a doctoral candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill, I sought more opportunities to gain teaching experience and share my passion for science with others. I served as a teaching assistant for a medical microbiology course for two semesters and took part in opportunities to interact with local schools and the community to share my appreciation of science. I also assisted undergraduates preparing to apply for graduate programs as a Pre-Graduate Education Advising Program mentor.

In my doctoral research in Dr. William Goldman’s lab I investigated the bacterium Yersinia pestis and the lung lesions that form due to infiltrating neutrophils during pneumonic plague. I developed a modified protocol for laser capture microdissection (LCM), which adhered to BSL3 regulations, to perform RNAseq from various regions of mouse lung lesions. I identified distinct repertoires of host genes expressed in different areas of lesions. I also modified an assay to investigate the impact of Y. pestis effector proteins on primary human neutrophils in vitro and identified the type-III secretion system effector YopM as being important in extending neutrophil survival.

As a postdoctoral SPIRE Scholar I am switching my focus away from a highly pathogenic organism to make my future research more feasible for a smaller institution. In Dr. Elizabeth Shank’s lab I am expanding on my interest in prokaryotic-eukaryotic interactions to investigate the production of novel metabolites during multispecies interactions between various bacteria and fungi. Understanding microbial interactions and developing ways to manipulate microbe relations can provide a novel approach to disrupting reservoirs of pathogenic microorganisms in the environment or on medical equipment. Additionally, identifying previously unknown small molecules in multi-species microbial populations may help develop novel antibiotic therapies. Dissecting the intricacies polymicrobial interactions also utilizes a range of techniques that would offer excellent opportunities for training undergraduates in bench research. I am excited for all the new experiences I will have as a SPIRE Scholar and hope to bring my lab expertise into the classroom to enhance my students’ experiences with references to real world applications.


  • Spring 2017
    • Principles of Biology, UNC Pembroke


  • Stasulli, N and Shank EA. 2016. Profiling the metabolic signals involved in chemical communication between microbes using imaging mass spectrometry. FEMS Microbiol Rev. 40(6): 807-813.