We are a collaborative team that stands in solidarity against racism and other forms of systemic oppression.
People of all races, sexes, genders, sexual orientations, ages, religions, abilities, cultures, backgrounds, and
beliefs are welcome here.


Laura Knoll (she/her/hers)
Principal Inv

Laura Knoll graduated from St. Olaf College with a BA in Chemistry and Biology. Her thesis research was in lipid metabolism with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis. Laura did her postdoctoral research with Dr. John Boothroyd at Stanford University where she used molecular genetic techniques to study the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. In 2001, she moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to join the Medical Microbiology and Immunology Department. When she is not in the lab, Laura likes to play Dungeons and Dragons with her teenage sons.



Laura’s awards:

  • 2022, William Trager Award for Basic Parasitology from the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology (ACMCIP)
  • 2012, UW-Madison WARF Romnes Faculty Fellow
  • 2009, Biomedical Research Award from the Hartwell Foundation
  • 2008, Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association
  • 2007, Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society
  • 2003, Shaw Scientist Award, funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
  • 2000, Burroughs Wellcome Career Award

Laura’s MMI faculty profile


Katie Barnes (she/her)
MDTP Graduate Student
Katie is interested in understanding the complexities of the host response following exposure to Toxoplasma gondii and determining whether the responses are due to host self-preservation or parasite manipulation. More specifically, Katie is examining the immune and metabolic role of arginine and Arginase II in host survival following T. gondii infection. In addition to arginine, the metabolism of cholesterol and lipids in an infected host is Katie’s passion side-project. Outside of the lab, you can find Katie hanging out with her adorable cat, hunting down Madison’s best cheese curds with her friends, or thrifting with the lab.


Katie Cataldo
MDTP Graduate Student






Nicole Davis (she/her)
Postdoctoral Scholar

Nicole is broadly interested in host-microbe interactions and how infectious microbes affect the biology of their hosts. In the Knoll Lab, Nicole wants to understand host and parasite factors that cause Toxoplasma gondii to enter its sexual cycle. In her spare time, she likes to eat, run, and hike.



Billy Joel Erazo Flores (he/him)
CMP Graduate Student

Billy is interested in the interaction between host and pathogen, especially how specific host genetics can alter pathogenesis. In the Knoll lab, he wants to understand more about models of Toxoplasma gondii and Entamoeba histolytica. Outside the lab, Billy enjoys talking to friends, trying new foods, watching football, playing basketball, and video games.



Gina Marcela Gallego-López (she/her)
Postdoctoral Fellow

Gina’s research goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms of parasitic infections to develop novel therapeutic strategies. Gina studies Apicomplexan parasites such as Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium and their effects on host metabolism by Optical Metabolic Imaging (OMI), metabolomics, and RNA sequencing.


Marienela Heredia (she/her/ella) CMP Graduate Student
Marienela is broadly interested in how gut microbial eukaryotes interact with their hosts in the context of human health and disease. In the Knoll lab, she wants to understand how protozoans such as Entamoeba histolytica affect gut homeostasis and influence inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). She is also interested in developing her bioinformatics skills, specifically in genomics. In the future, she hopes to investigate neglected tropical diseases as an independent researcher. In her free time, Marienela enjoys writing, flannel shopping, hanging with her cats, trying new places to eat, and listening to K-pop!


Carlos Jorge Ramírez-Flores (he/him/el)
Postdoctoral Scholar

Carlos is a Mexican biologist and biochemist interested in the biology of Toxoplasma gondii. In the Knoll lab he is trying to understand the enzymes and molecules involved in the signal to start the sexual cycle of Toxoplasma. He is ​also interested in the proteins released by Toxoplasma gondii and their effects on host cells. In his free time, he likes to walk, spend time with his wife and eat ice cream (even in winter), pizza and his own Mexican food.


Katelyn Studener
Lab Manager

Ph.D. Students Previously Trained

Van, Tam (12/01-3/07)                                        Currently Medical Microbiology Fellow at Children’s Hospital LA
Craver, Mary Pat (12/02-8/08)                       Currently contract writer at American Institutes for Research
Frankel, Matthew (12/03-8/08)                      Currently a Senior Scientist in Abbott Diagnostics
Milligan-Myhre, Kathryn (12/02 to 11/9)    Currently Assistant Professor University of Alaska
Payne, Thomas (12/02-12/10)                          Currently Group Leader of Quality Assurance at Epic
O’Brien, Kevin (12/05-4/11)                              Currently Technical Engineer at First Choice IT Group
Tobin Magle, C. (12/05-11/11)                           Currently Data Management Specialist at UW-Madison
Neal, Lori (12/08-5/14)                                       Currently postdoctoral fellow at Michigan with Michal Olszewski
Pittman, Kelly (10/11-8/15)                               Currently postdoctoral fellow at Duke with Dennis Ko
Dashek Arendt, M. (9/17-6/19)                       Currently a DVM/PhD, Veterinarian at Hendrix Genetics, MO

Olson, Will (12/14-7/19)
Currently in Marquette University law school




Wilson, Sarah (12/14-9/19)
Currently a Scientist at EntroGen, Inc. Los Angeles




Cervantes, Patrick (12/15-9/20)
Currently a Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Labs




Carolina Mendoza Cavazos (12/17-8/22)
Currently Scientist IV at Promega Corporation





Postdoctoral Trainees Previously Trained


Mordue, Dana                                                            Currently Associate Professor at New York Medical College
Rooney, Peg
                                                                Currently a writing specialist with Stratatech Corporation
Pollard, Angela                                                          Currently a grant writing specialist at Eva Garland Consulting
Aliota, Matthew                                                        Currently Assistant Professor at University of Minnesota
Settles, Erik                                                                Currently Research Associate at Northern Arizona University
Hsiao, Christine                                                       Currently Forensic Analyst (DNA) at Connecticut DESPP
Moser, Lindsey                                                          Currently Senior Scientist at Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals
Bruno Martorelli di Genova                             Currently Assistant Professor at University of Vermont-Burlington






Andrew Garfoot                                                      Currently Senior Scientist at Invenra, Inc.
Andrés Mauricio Tibabuzo Perdomo              Currently a postdoctoral scholar in Phil Newmark’s Lab (UW-Madison)







Former Lab Staff


Morgan Meilicke, lab manager                       Scientist, PPD
Kyle Boldon, lab manager                               
Building & Grounds Superintendent, UW-Madison
Wynne Moss, lab manager                               
Scientist, USGS