People

Douglas Marthaler, Principal Investigator
Douglas Marthaler is an Associate Professor at Kansas State University, with a joint position between the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where he oversees the Molecular Next Generation Sequencing section, and the Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, where his primary research focus is to understand the enteric virome of swine, and its interaction with the microbiome and host immunity.

Qinghong Ran is a Research Assistant in the Marthaler lab. She received her Master’s degree from the Biotechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. Her research projects involve employing new next-generation sequencing technology as a diagnostic tool and developing multiplex PCR tests to detect current and emerging pathogens. In her free time, Qinghong enjoys reading, cooking, going for walks, and playing with her toddler daughter.

Suman Chaudhary is a Lab Manager in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) at Kansas State University. Previously, she was at OMICS Core Genetics Research, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri. She received her MS in Clinical Bioinformatics from Bioinformatics Department of Biomedical & Health Informatics, University of Missouri Kansas city, School of Medicine, KC, MO, USA & John Hopkins University. She received UMKC Women’s Graduate Fellowship Awards from 2009-2013. She has over 11 years of experience in Clinical Molecular Fungal, Human and Veterinary Genetics, virus diversity and phylogenetics. She have extensive knowledge on qPCR, TaqMan Genotyping, Gene Expression assays, Next Generation Sequencing- RNA Seq , miRNA Seq, Exome Seq, Microbiome, Whole Genome Seq , Bioinformatics data analysis and HIV Viral Evolution. She enjoys watching movies, camping, listening music, traveling to other countries, playing tennis and swimming.
Michael Duff is a DVM/PhD student in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Michael has been studying swine diseases for the past few years, earning his MS in Biomedical Sciences characterizing variant swine influenza A viruses that infect humans. Within Dr. Marthaler’s lab, Michael’s research focuses on identifying neutralizing epitopes on porcine Rotavirus A and C viruses with the goal of developing enhanced vaccines to promote swine health. Ultimately, Michael would like to build a career that incorporates elements of community outreach, human and animal health, and teaching at a university. In his free time, Michael enjoys fishing, biking, and traveling back to the west coast to visit family and friends.
Deepak Kumar is a PhD student at College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University. He earned his Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (BVSc & AH) and Master of Veterinary Science (MVSc) in Veterinary Public Health degrees from G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India. His primary research interest includes genotypic and phenotypic characterization of multidrug resistance (MDR) foodborne pathogens, investigating mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and transmission of zoonotic pathogens in rural and urban settings. Now, Deepak is expanding his research to viruses affecting swine populations by developing recombinant protein ELISAs to measure neutralizing immune response against G-specific surface glycoproteins of Rotavirus A and C. He enjoys traveling, cooking, playing cricket and volleyball.
Brandi Feehan is a Master student in Veterinary Biomedical Sciences program at Kansas State University (KSU). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Sciences & Industry in May 2018 from KSU. Her research primarily involves developing diagnostics to investigate immunity to porcine teschovirus (PTV) and porcine sapelovirus (PSV) Additionally, she is using bioinformatics to analyze the swine enteric virome to elucidate co-infection of enteric viruses in swine. Brandi is a frequent traveler and loves to explore other countries to learn about their agriculture, and history, and culture. She also enjoys running, horseback riding, and crafting in her spare time.
Matthew Heffel is an undergraduate student in Computer Science, minoring in Biology at Kansas State University. In June 2019, he’ll join the Genetics Masters Program at Kansas State University. Currently, he’s performing computational analysis of Next Generation Sequencing data, identifying viral reads and assembling genomes to discover the emergence of genetically diverse strains. Matthew also oversees the bioinformatic section by providing guidance, new ideas and novel solutions to bioinformatic issues within the Marthaler lab and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. In his free time, Matt enjoys time in nature, reading, playing soccer, and horticulture.
Aleesha Koetting is an undergraduate student in Animal Sciences. She will be graduating in May 2019 from Kansas State University and plans to pursue higher education. Her research in the Marthaler lab involves developing diagnostics assays for the detection of swine rotaviruses. Alee also enjoys being outdoors, reading, and trying new foods in her spare time.

Mingpu Qi is a visiting scholar in a Ph.D. program at the College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University (HZAU), China. His Ph.D. research involves epidemiological survey (surveillance, isolation, and characterization) of zoonotic pathogens (adenovirus, rotavirus, E.coli, etc.) in Golden snub-nosed monkey (an endangered species). He also established a monkey IFN-γ in vitro assay to diagnose tuberculosis in Golden snub-nosed and Macaque monkeys while at HZAU. In the Marthaler lab, Mingpu’s research utilizes metagenomics and bioinformatics approaches to understand the biological significances and evolution of newly emerging porcine and bovine pathogens. He enjoys watching movies, listening to music, playing table tennis and badminton.

Graduate Students at the University of Minnesota

Todd KnutsonTodd Knutson 
Todd Knutson is currently pursuing a M.S. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota. Todd is developing bioinformatic pipelines for the rapid identification and genome assembly of viral and bacterial species from next-generation sequencing data. In particular, he is developing programs for the identification of novel viral subtypes and for tracking viral evolution of important enteric and respiratory viruses in pigs. Todd received a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics from the University of Minnesota.
screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-12-17-34-pmFrances Shepherd, Graduate Student
Frances Shepherd is a graduate student in the Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Minnesota.  Her research interests include pathology of animal disease, mechanisms of disease transmission, and interactions of virus species with their hosts.  She is also interested in public outreach and communicating science to wide audiences.  Frances is working in the Marthaler lab studying Rotavirus A genetics in swine populations, with the goal of developing better vaccines to prevent piglet mortality. In her free time, she enjoys traveling across the US to rock climb, cycle, and downhill ski.
screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-12-05-21-pmZhen Yang
Zhen Yang is a DVM student of the Class of 2019 at the University of Minnesota.  With joint efforts in the Marthaler lab, Zhen is researching factors contributing to Porcine Circovirus Type 2 Associated Disease (PCVAD).  Originally from Jiagedaqi, which is located at border of Inner-Mongolia Province and Heilongjiang Province in China, Zhen received his BS in Agriculture from South China Agricultural University in 2014. Zhen enjoys both indoor and outdoor sports and likes playing the guitar.
 April Estrada                                              
April is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative and Molecular Biosciences at the University of Minnesota. As a National Needs Fellow, she is interested in bacteriology with a focus on foodborne and zoonotic pathogens. She developed her interests in animal health, food safety, and public outreach as president of the meat science club at Cal Poly Pomona. Currently, she’s using whole genome sequencing to investigate the present and/or absence of genes associated with changes in the pathogenesis of Strep suis infections.  In her free time, she likes to skateboard, play video games, and watch horror movies.

Previous Visiting Scholars

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-12-08-24-pmDehui Sun, Visiting Scholar
Dehui Sun is a visiting scholar from Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute in China. She focuses  in  Senecavirus A evolution and Rotavirus isolation in the lab. She is interested in  Picornaviridae  virus family’s evolution and pathogenesis. She has published 12 papers in academic journals, has 6 patent numbers and has presided over three projects. One is from National Natural Science Foundation of China.
 
screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-12-17-07-pmFangzhou Chen, Visiting Scholar
Fangzhou Chen is a visiting scholar from Huazhong Agricultural University in China. His research primarily involves the diagnostic, isolation, characterization, bioinformatics analysis of the conventional porcine pathogens and the emerging and re-emerging porcine pathogens (Such as variant Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, variant Transmissible gastroenteritis virus, variant pseudorabies virus, bocavirus, and deltacoronavirus). He also involved in developing new diagnostic method (including differentiation diagnostic method) and vaccine (inactivated vaccine, subunit vaccine and attenuated vaccine).He has published 14 papers in academic journals.Fangzhou enjoys both indoor and outdoor sports, just like basketball, swimming, badminton and cycling.