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Shelby O’Connor: Associate Professor (PI)

Shelby grew up in St. Louis, MO. She earned her undergraduate degree in the Biology Honors program at UIUC. She then obtained her PhD in Dr. Shigeki Miyamoto’s lab at UW-Madison. After grad school, she spent one year at the UW School of Pharmacy setting up labs for first year pharmacy students. Then, she worked in David O’Connor’s lab as an Assistant Scientist from 2006 until 2011, when she obtained independent funding and began her own lab.

While Shelby likes doing experiments, she almost never gets to touch a pipet anymore. So sad….so very sad. Instead, she tries to live vicariously through everyone else. She also likes running, riding her bike, and playing racquetball. While she likes fruit and vegetables, she is also a huge fan of cookies with a lot of frosting.

Shelby’s favorite ice cream: Cookie Dough
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Amy Ellis: Assistant Scientist

Amy grew up in LaCrosse, WI. She stayed in LaCrosse for undergrad (wow - she must really like LaCrosse!), earning two undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Cellular/Molecular Biology. She obtained her PhD in Dr. Janet Mertz’s lab at UW-Madison in the Cancer Biology program. After grad school, Amy studied Ebola and influenza in our neighbor’s lab, Dr. Yoshi Kawaoka. She decided to move across the parking lot to our building, which is where she has been for the past 2+ years.

Amy likes cloning in the lab. She thinks it is fun! She also has trained in the martial art of aikido for about 10 years, and she once worked for the USGS where she got to wear hip waders and collect mud samples.

Amy’s favorite ice cream: Chocolate Shoppe Zanzibar
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Matthew Sutton: Graduate Student

Matt grew up in Manassas, Virginia. He earned his undergraduate degree in Biology at UVA in 2012. As an undergraduate, he studied regenerative pathways in Drosophila melanogaster. After graduation, he was a post baccalaureate IRTA at the NIH in John Mascola’s lab. He made a big move from the East coast to Wisconsin when he started grad school, and he is still adjusting to the Central Time Zone.

Matt’s favorite thing to do in the lab is flow cytometry. He is in awe at what we can learn from flow, and he enjoys developing new staining panels. He also likes asking questions — a critical important feature of a graduate student! (see the lab philosophy page). Matt is a huge NBA fan; he likes the Washington Wizards, but he is beginning to embrace the Milwaukee Bucks.

Matt’s favorite ice cream: Chocolate, but he also says he’ll eat any ice cream.
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Alexis (‘Lexie’) Balgeman: Associate Research Specialist

Lexie grew up in Lyle, MN, which is on the MN/IA border. Lexie describes it as a very very very very small town. She went to Drake University and earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology. Lexie has worked in the lab for three years, and she thankfully takes care of a lot of stuff for all of us, which is why she has earned the name, “Lab Mom” at the young (very young) age of…..

Lexie came straight to the lab after graduating. In college, she studied abroad in Egypt and England. She claims she doesn’t have a ‘favorite thing’ in lab, so I’ll assume that means she likes everything. She is an avid reader, and she likes hot yoga and dogs….or was it yoga and hot dogs…..I don’t remember.

Lexie’s favorite ice cream: Zanzibar chocolate or Salted caramel
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Ryan Moriarty: Associate Research Specialist

Ryan M grew up in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. She went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned a degree in Genetics. During her undergrad years, she did research in Chris Hittinger’s lab. Her favorite part of her undegrad research project was to create a ‘super hybrid’ of saccharomyces species. She was excited because nobody had done it before, and many people didn’t think it was possible!

Outside of science, Ryan M is on a cheer team, makes wine, and likes to sew. She also likes spending time outside, especially with dogs.

Ryan’s favorite ice cream: Ben and Jerry’s
Phish Food


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Ryan Treves: Madison Memorial High School Senior

Ryan T lives in Madison, WI. He is currently a senior at James Madison Memorial High school. Ryan joined the lab in the summer of 2017 as a participant in the MMSD High School Science Research Internship program. Even though he has only been in the lab a few months, Ryan enjoys sterilizing glass rods by setting them on fire (i.e. flame sterilization) and snagging DNA out of gel slices (i.e. gel extraction)

Outside of the lab, Ryan enjoys playing the trumpet, and he leads the Wisconsin Young Birders Club. If you tell him, ‘Hey I saw this bird on the water and it wasn’t a duck!’, he will work to help you figure out what it was you saw. Amazing!

Ryan’s favorite ice cream: Butter Pecan