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Juvenal Lopez, Ph.D.

Microbiology & Immunology


Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis – Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL)


Peggy Cotter, Ph.D.


I received my PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis from Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). The overarching goal of my research is to understand the mechanisms by which bacteria compete and/or cooperate with one another to thrive in their respective environments. The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is one weapon that bacteria employ to outcompete one another. My thesis work in Dr. Mario Feldman’s Lab focused on elucidating several aspects of the T6SS of the human pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii. My work provided insight into the architectural requirements for building the T6SS machine, and it identified a family of proteins involved in immunity to T6SS attacks. For my postdoctoral research, I will be working in Dr. Peggy Cotter’s Lab at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. My goal is to characterize the ecological roles of the contact-dependent inhibition (CDI) system of Burkholderia thailandensis. Work in Dr. Cotter’s Lab suggests that this system serves a dual role: interbacterial competition and cooperation.

Beyond my research, I am passionate about educating the next generation of scientists. During graduate school, I was highly involved with WUSTL’s CIRTL program. I taught graduate and undergraduate courses, and I participated in numerous pedagogical seminars. Thanks to the SPIRE program, I will be able to continue to hone my teaching and mentorship skills as a postdoc. I am extremely excited to be part of such an extraordinary group of peers and mentors, and I cannot wait to implement my new skills and pedagogical approaches into the classroom.