Alison Criss, PhD -- Professor

Alison Criss, PhD

Alison received her PhD from Harvard Medical School on Salmonella infection of polarized epithelial cells. As a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, Alison investigated the process of gonococcal pilin antigenic variation and developed new approaches for studying gonococcal interactions with human neutrophils.

Alison co-directs the UVA Infectious Diseases and the UVA Global Biothreats Training Programs with Dr. William Petri, and is co-founder and Director of the UVA Global Infectious Diseases Institute (

Ian Glomski, PhD -- Senior Scientist

Ian GlomskiIan’s research experience has touched on a broad range of disciplines related to the pathogenesis of bacteria, including Bacillus anthracis at the Institute Pasteur, Listeria monocytogenes at the University of California, Berkeley, and now Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the Criss Lab at the University of Virginia. His primary research focuses on the establishment and utilization of a cervicovaginal biomimetic model of gonorrhea to explore the interplay of N. gonorrhoeae, the innate immune system, and the microbiome in health and disease.

Aimee Potter, PhD -- Postdoctoral Researcher

picture of Aimee Porte, PhD postdoctoral researcherAimee received her PhD from Vanderbilt University in the lab of Dr. Jim Cassat on how Staphylococcus aureus obtains nutrients from bone during osteomyelitis. In the Criss lab, she is conducting genome-wide investigation of bacterial gene products that confer resistance of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to killing by immune cells.

Lacie Werner -- Graduate Student

Lacie WernerLacie earned her B.S. in Biology from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA in 2017. She entered the BIMS program in 2017 and joined the Criss lab in 2018. Lacie is investigating how soluble components affect the ability of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to activate human neutrophils.

Amaris Cardenas -- Graduate Student

Amaris CardenasAmaris graduated from the University of Dallas with a B.S. in Biology in 2017. She matriculated into the BIMS program after graduation and joined the Criss lab in 2018. Amaris is studying how changes to lipooligosaccharide impact the interaction of
Neisseria gonorrhoeae with human neutrophils.

Ian Liyayi -- Graduate Student

Ian LiyayiIan received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Stevenson University, MD in 2018. He participated in the NIH Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of Georgia in the Avci lab until he enrolled in the BIMS program in the summer of 2019. He joined the Criss lab in the spring of 2020. Ian is investigating how Neisseria gonorrhoeae overcomes metal sequestration and nutritional immunity during infection.

Evan Lamb -- MSTP Student

Evan LambEvan graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with his B.S. in Microbiology and Human Physiology. He matriculated into UVA’s Medical Scientist Training Program in 2019 and joined the Criss Lab in 2021. Evan is investigating interactions among the complement system, neutrophils, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, alone and in the context of vaccination.

Amy Forehand -- Graduate Student

AmyAmy graduated from William & Mary with a B.S. in Biology in 2021. She then joined the BIMS program in 2021 and the Criss Lab in 2022. Amy is investigating how Neisseria gonorrhoeae utilizes metal acquisition proteins to overcome nutritional immunity during infection.

Mary Gray – Lab Manager

Mary Gray, Lab ManagerMary is leading the efforts in Core D of the Gonorrhea Vaccine Cooperative Research Center (NIH U19 AI144180) to identify vaccine antigens that elicit host-protective antibody responses against Neisseria gonorrhoeae. She also conducts experiments in support of ongoing research on the interactions between N. gonorrhoeae and host immune cells and molecules. As lab manager, Mary keeps the lab organized and in compliance with research requirements. Prior to joining the Criss Lab, Mary managed and performed research in the lab of Dr. Erik Hewlett (retired) in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, UVA Department of Medicine.

Keena Thomas – Research Specialist

Keena ThomasKeena joined the Criss lab in 2021 after many years in Dr. Amy Bouton’s lab in the Department. Keena provides support for Criss lab research and is investigating how Neisseria gonorrhoeae colonizes epithelial cells to stimulate inflammatory responses.

Former Lab Members

Allie Palmer

Allie Alcott, PhD — Graduate Student 2017-2022

Current Position: Field Service Specialist, Microscopy, Thermo Fisher Scientific.


Chris Baiocco

Christopher Baiocco, B.S. – Undergraduate and Lab Specialist 2019-2022

Current Position: Medical Student, University of Virginia.


Jocelyn Ray

Jocelyn Ray, PhD — Graduate Student, 2017-2022

Current Position: Medical Student (MSTP), University of Virginia.


Asya Smirnov, PhD Research Scientist

Asya Smirnov, PhD — Research Associate/Research Scientist 2011-2020

Current Position: Instructor, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.


Stephanie Ragland Graduate Student

Stephanie Ragland, PhD — Graduate Student, 2012-2018

Current Position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Kagan Lab, Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital Boston


Jacqueline Stevens MSTP StudentJacqueline Stevens, PhD — Graduate Student, 2014-2018

Current Position: Resident, Dermatology, Harvard Medical School.


Urmila Barathan

Urmila Bharathan — Undergraduate Student, 2015-2018

Current Position: Medical Student, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.


Katie HillKatie Hill, MPH — Undergraduate Student, 2016-2018

Current Position: PhD Student, Yale University


Becky Dunning

Rebecca Dunning — Graduate Student, 2015-2016

Current Position: Senior Research Associate, Battelle, National Defense Institute.


Rhea Kapania

Rhea Kapania — Undergraduate Student, 2017-2018

Current position: Medical Scribe, Bon Secours Hospital, Richmond.


Richard Juneau, PhD Postdoc

Richard Juneau, PhD — Postdoctoral Fellow, 2011-2016

Current Position: Associate Professor of Biology, Virginia Western Community College.


Brittany Johnson, PhD Postdoc

Brittany Johnson, PhD — Graduate Student, 2009-2014

Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina-Charlotte.


Jonathan Handing Graduate StudentJonathan Handing, PhD — Graduate Student, 2011-2016

Current Position: Senior Scientist, Process and Technical Development, Moderna Therapeutics.


Kylene Daily

Kylene Daily — Undergraduate Student, 2012-2015, Laboratory Specialist 2015-2016

Current Position: MD-PhD Student, The Ohio State University.


Louise Ball Senior Laboratory Specialist

Louise Ball — Laboratory Specialist, 2009-2015

Current Position: Graduate Student, University of Florida.