Matt Barber

Associate Professor of Biology
Member, Institute of Ecology and Evolution
he/him | mfbarber[at]

Matt grew up in the United States and Japan before pursuing his undergraduate degree at Colgate University in upstate New York. He completed his Ph.D. in the labs of Or Gozani and Katrin Chua at Stanford University studying human chromatin modifying enzymes. Matt then went on to investigate evolutionary conflicts between pathogenic bacteria and their animal hosts in Nels Elde’s lab at the University of Utah. He opened his lab as an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon in September 2016. Outside of lab Matt enjoys spending time with his family and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Kristin Kohler

Research Associate & Lab Manager
she/her | kkohler[at]

Kristin grew up in the small town of Jackson in Northern California and obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of the Pacific. During her time at Pacific she worked in the laboratory of Craig Vierra where she identified silk genes of the Black Widow spider. She completed her Ph.D. in the lab of David Schatz at Yale University studying the targeting of Somatic Hypermutation in activated B cells. In the Barber lab Kristin applies her knowledge of immunology to study several projects at the interface of evolution and bacterial-host interactions. Outside of work Kristin enjoys hiking with her dog, trail running and baking.

EmilyClare Baker

Postdoctoral Fellow
NIH F32 award recipient
she/her | ebaker6[at]

Emily grew up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington Emily worked in the lab of Dr. Harmit Malik. There she first encountered the many forms of evolutionary conflict. After graduating with a B.S. in biology Emily continued on as a technician in the Malik lab for another two years before moving to Madison, WI to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. In Madison she joined the lab of Dr. Chris Hittinger where she studied the evolution of the cold-loving brewing yeast Saccharomyces eubayanus at the genomic, organelle and gene level. In the Barber lab Emily has enjoyed extending her knowledge of evolution to host-microbe conflicts between primate housekeeping proteins and bacterial pathogens. When not doing research Emily enjoys watching superhero movies, playing cricket with her family and procrastinating writing a blurb for the Barber lab website.

Caitlin Kowalski

Postdoctoral Fellow
Helen Hay Whitney Foundation fellowship recipient
she/her | ckowalsk[at]

Caitlin is a northeast native and grew up in New Hampshire. After receiving her BS in Biology from Stonehill College in Massachusetts, Caitlin returned to New Hampshire for graduate school at Dartmouth. While at Dartmouth, she joined Robert Cramer’s lab where she investigated the influence of hypoxia on filamentous fungal biofilms and pathogenesis utilizing the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. She was awarded her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology in April 2020. Caitlin’s graduate work leveraging natural strain heterogeneity and experimental evolution got her interested in the adaptation of host-associated microbes. In the Barber lab, Caitlin is excited to investigate how host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions shape pathogen adaptation. Outside of lab, Caitlin can be found exploring in the mountains, trail running, or enjoying a local sour beer.

Killian Campbell

Ph.D. Student
Genetics Training Grant recipient
he/him | ccampbe4[at]

Killian is originally from Spokane, WA and obtained his undergraduate degree from Eastern Washington University, where he worked with Dr. Andrea Castillo. After that, Killian went on to work at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as an NIH-PREP post-baccalaureate student in the lab of Harmit Malik. There he worked alongside Tera Levin studying host-pathogen interactions between Legionella and amoeba. Killian is currently a graduate student in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and is interested in the evolution of host-pathogen interactions. In his free time, Killian enjoys listening to rap music, running, and cooking. 

Titas Sil

Ph.D. Student
she/her | tsil[at]

Titas is from India, where she completed her Bachelor’s and Masters’s studies as the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal with a Biology major. Her Master’s project with Dr. Vineet K. Sharma focused on the interactions between skin microbes and metabolites. Currently as a Ph.D. student at the U of O, she is exploring evolutionary conflicts between hosts and microbes over nutrient metals. In her free time Titas likes to cook, watch/read thriller series, photographing nature, and plan for trips in upcoming vacations.

Kendal Tinney

Ph.D. Student
she/her | ktinney[at]

Kendal grew up off of Lake Michigan in Holland, MI. She received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, where she worked in the lab of Dr. Kristin Parent. Here she used phage hunting to identify novel Shigella bacteriophages and investigated the molecular interactions of phage tail attachment to their host. Kendal is a graduate student in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and is interested in the evolution of microbe-parasite interactions. In her spare time, Kendal enjoys doing crafts, baking, and spending time outdoors either climbing or snowboarding.

Sylvia Khalil

Undergraduate Student

Sylvia grew up in the Pacific Northwest, hailing from Portland, Oregon. She is an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, majoring in Biology and Human Physiology. Under the mentorship of Caitlin Kowalski, she is currently studying the microbial interactions of bacteria and fungi on the skin. Outside of lab, Sylvia likes spending time knitting, oil painting, and roller skating.

Dante’ James

Undergraduate Student

Dante’ was born and raised in Southern Oregon. She is a current undergraduate at the University of Oregon/Robert D. Clark Honors College studying Human Physiology, Global Health, and Anthropology. Under the mentorship of Dr. Caitlin Kowalski, she is working to understand the relationship between pathogenic bacteria and commensal fungiShe is excited to learn more about her interests in immunology and the skin. In her free time, Dante’ enjoys watching dermatologists review products, reading, going on walks with her dog, and cooking.

Lab Alumni

Mary Darby Jackson, postdoctoral fellow (2020-2022)
Currently: assistant professor, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine

Filadelfia Tadjibaeva, research assistant (2021-2022)

Emma Thompson, undergraduate student (2021-2022)

Omoshola Aleru, PhD student (2018-2022)

Clara Rehmann, research assistant (2020-2021)
Currently: Ph.D. student, University of Oregon

Ryan Sayegh, research assistant (2019-2021)
Currently: Ph.D. student, CU Boulder

Wyatt Borman, undergraduate student (2019-2021)
Currently: medical scribe, Roseburg, Oregon

Nicole Paterson, Ph.D. student (2019-2021)
Currently: bioinformatician, CDC

Hussein Al-Zubieri, undergraduate student (2019-2020)
Currently: dental student, UCSF

Jasmine Garcia, undergraduate student (2020)
Currently: Ph.D. student, UCSF

Dimitra Fellman, undergraduate student (2018-2020)
Currently: research associate II, PHI Cancer Registry of Greater California

Eden Brush, undergraduate student (2017-2019)
Currently: Masters student (genetic counseling), Columbia University

Jacob Laser, research assistant (2017-2018)
Currently: medical student, University of New England

Maddy Griffin, undergraduate student (2017-2018)
Currently: graduate student, Bastyr University

Hanna Buechi, research assistant (2016-2017)
Currently: program manager, Measure to Improve