Former members

Graduate Students

Marco Hamins-Puertolas completed his PhD in Biomathematics in our group in 2021. Marco developed new phylodynamic birth-death models for continuous-valued traits in order to explore how within-host pathogen traits like viral load shape between-host transmission fitness (Hamins-Puertolas, 2021). Marco is currently a postdoc working on dengue epidemiology at UCSF.

Cole Dunbar joined our group in 2018 after graduating from NCSU. Cole worked on developing new algorithms for detecting and removing phylogenetic conflicts between gene trees. Cole completed his Master’s degree in Bioinformatics in 2021.


Gina Chaput joined the group in 2021 to work jointly with Dr. Angela Harris to establish clinical and wastewater genomic surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 at NCSU and the surrounding Research Triangle area. Gina is currently researching the microbiome of seagrass as a postdoc at UC Davis.

Hongyu Chen joined our group in 2020 after completing his PhD at Auburn. At NC State, he continued our work on how TSWV adapts to different hosts/vectors by combining experimental evolution with deep sequencing of viral populations. Hongyu is currently a molecular and bioinformatics scientist at Intact Genomics.

Casey Ruark-Seward joined the group in 2018 after obtaining her PhD in Plant Pathology from NC State. She was instrumental in getting our molecular virology lab up and running and initiated our experimental host/vector alternation experiments with TSWV (Ruark-Seward et al., 2020). Casey is currently a research scientist at Novozymes Biologicals in Salem, VA.

Undergraduate researchers

Mya McDonald is a Goodnight Scholar and Microbiology major at NCSU. She worked with David on a meta-analysis of the pleiotropic fitness effects of viral mutations across different hosts.

Julia Muller joined us in the summer of 2021 from the University of Albany as a visiting research assistant. Julia analyzed viral load and deep sequencing data from our TSWV experiments and helped with our meta-analysis of viral mutational fitness effects.

Anne Frances Jarrell visited us in the summer of 2019 from UNC Chapel Hill as a Kelman Scholar. Anne Frances worked on sequencing historical potyvirus samples rescued from the depths of Gardner Hall. She is now pursuing her PhD at the University of Georgia.