Picture of Tajie Harris

Tajie Harris
Associate Professor | Principal Investigator

Dr. Harris has spent her scientific career studying parasitic pathogens that infect the central nervous system. As a graduate student, she studied the innate immune response to Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense, the causative agent of Human African Trypanosomiasis. During her postdoctoral training, Tajie began studying the adaptive immune response to Toxoplasma gondii. During this time, she began using several microscopy techniques, including multi-photon microscopy to understand how T cells responses are coordinated in real time within the brain. At the University of Virginia, Tajie is a member of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia and the Carter Immunology Center. Tajie enjoys traveling, cooking with locally grown produce, and being outdoors with her golden retriever, Oskar.

Bemidji State University, B.S. Biology, 2002
University of Wisconsin, PhD Microbiology, 2007
University of Pennsylvania, postdoctoral training 2013


Picture of Samantha Batista, graduate student

Samantha Batista
Graduate Student | Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology Program

I received my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Vassar College in 2015. I have always been interested in infectious disease, particularly how pathogens interact with the host immune system. The Harris lab provides an opportunity to work at this interface as it applies to the fast-growing field of neuroimmunology. I am currently investigating the role of alarmins in chronic Toxoplasma gondii infection. Outside of the lab I enjoy reading, photography, and yoga.

Kingston High School, 2011
Vassar College, B.A. Biochemistry, 2015


Picture of Katherine Still, graduate student

Katherine Still
Graduate Student | Neuroscience Graduate Program

I received my undergraduate degree in Biology from James Madison University in 2012. Eager to explore my post-baccalaureate options, I worked for a year as a technician in a biotechnology lab and for two as a fellow in the National Cancer Institute. Ultimately, clinical volunteering and literature led me to neuroimmunology and a sense of urgency in applying to graduate school. I am specifically interested in immune cell recruitment to the brain T. gondii infection. Outside of the lab I enjoy backpacking, triathlon training, yoga, and reading.

Paul VI High School, 2008
James Madison University, B.S. Biology, 2012


Picture of Michael Kovacs, graduate studentMichael Kovacs
Graduate Student | Medical Scientist Training Program

I entered the MSTP program at UVA in 2016 after working for two years in a cancer genetics lab as a post-bac research trainee at the National Cancer Institute. I spent my time there trying to understand the mechanisms underlying the association between common human genomic variants and susceptibility to melanoma. Since starting my graduate studies, my interests have shifted to exploring the role of the immune system in neurologic disease. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, running, and spending time outdoors.

Washington University in St. Louis, B.A. English, 2013
Columbia University, M.A. English Education, 2014


Picture of Maureen Cowan, graduate studentMaureen Cowan
Graduate Student | Neuroscience Graduate Program

I received my undergraduate degree from UVA with a double major in Psychology and Biology. Prior to joining the Harris lab, I worked in behavioral and systems-level neuroscience laboratories. I was initially interested in studying microglia under the lens of neurodevelopment, and later became drawn to understanding their role in immunity. In the Harris lab, I am currently investigating the role of microglial STAT1 signaling in conferring resistance to Toxoplasma gondii. Outside of the lab I enjoy reading, painting, and spending time with my Chihuahua, Kiwi.

Battlefield High School, 2011
University of Virginia, B.A. Psychology & Biology, 2015



Picture of Anjana J Gevaria

Anjana J Gevaria
Lab Specialist

I graduated with masters from Georgetown University. After graduation, I worked as lab specialist in the division of Nephrology at UVA studying the immune response to autoimmune disease model of nephritis. In Harris lab, I investigated the role of CNS resident cells during Toxoplasma gondii. Outside of lab, I enjoy painting, cooking, reading, binge watching TV shows, and napping.

Georgetown University, Masters of Science 2009


Natalie Newton

Natalie Newton
Undergraduate Student

I began research in the Harris Lab during my third year. Under Jeremy’s guidance, I worked on studying the immune response to Toxoplasma gondii. Outside of lab, I love hiking, listening to music, cooking, and spending time outdoors!


Picture of Carleigh O’Brien, graduate student

Carleigh O’Brien
Graduate Student | Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology Program

I got a bachelor’s degree in Biology and French from DePauw University in 2013. As an undergrad, I did research in a neuroscience lab, but immunology was always my primary interest, and I joined the BIG (Brain Immunology and Glia) center to get the best of both worlds. My project in the lab focuses on characterizing the phenotype and behavior of regulatory T cells in the brain during Toxoplasma gondii infection. Outside of the lab, I enjoy ballet, volleyball, and watching horror movies.

Cathedral High School, 2009
DePauw University, B.A. Biology and French, 2013