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Harris Lab, 2016

Top row: Natalie Newton, Purvika Gautam, Jeremy Thompson, Tajie Harris
Bottom row: Carleigh O’Brien, Samantha Batista, Kate Still, Anjana Gevaria



Tajie H. Harris
Assistant 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



Jeremy M. Thompson
Graduate Student | Neuroscience Program

I obtained my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in French and completed my Master’s at VCU. During my Master’s, in Amanda Dickinson’s lab, I studied the role of vitamin A in cranial nerve development using the aquatic frog, Xenopus laevis. Here at UVA I joined the BIG (Brain Immunology and Glia) center to study the immune component of neurological diseases. In the Harris lab I am studying how the immune system works in the brain in response to infection with Toxoplasma gondii. After the lab, I play music. Check out my band on Facebook at Alcian Blue.

J.R. Tucker High School, French Immersion Program, 2006
Virginia Commonwealth University, B.S. Biology and B.A. French, 2010
Virginia Commonwealth University, M.S. Biology, 2013



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

I’m a fourth year grad student in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology department. 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



Anjana J Gevaria
Lab Specialist I

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. Currently in Harris lab I am investigating the role of CNS resident cells during Toxoplasma gondii. Outside lab I enjoy painting, cooking, reading, binge watching TV shows and napping.

Georgetown University, Masters of Science 2009



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


Kate pic

Katherine Still
Graduate Student –Neuroscience 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



Natalie Newton
Undergraduate Student

I’m a fourth year working towards earning a B.A. in Human Biology. My major is interdisciplinary with biology, public health, and bioethics. I began research in the Harris Lab during my third year. Under Jeremy’s guidance, I have been working on studying the immune response to Toxoplasma gondii. Outside of lab, I love hiking, listening to music, cooking, and spending time outdoors!




Purvika Gautam
Undergraduate Student

I’m a third year undergraduate studying Cognitive Science with a concentration in Computer Science. I joined the Harris lab because I was interested in learning about the brain’s ability to conduct a T-cell mediated immune response against Toxoplasma gondii as it has been thought to be an immunologically privileged site until only recently. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy painting, working out, eating, and lurking on Reddit.