Bunnik lab

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Bunnik lab 2023     (Click here to see photographs from previous years)
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION | The Bunnik lab is committed to maintaining and promoting an inclusive working and learning environment where people feel safe, supported, and comfortable to be themselves, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, place of birth, etc. Of our past and current lab members, 40% are members of groups underrepresented in STEM, 40% are born outside the USA, and 70% identify as women. We try to lead by example to improve diversity and inclusion in our own lab, but also in the department and institution:
Evelien M. Bunnik, Ph.D.
Assistant professor

I am fascinated by host-pathogen interactions, in particular the interplay between host immune responses and immune evasion strategies of the infectious agent. In addition, I am passionate about making this world a better place to live for the poorest and most vulnerable people. For these reasons, my research has focused on the major infectious diseases in the world, in particular those that affect developing countries.

In my spare time, I like to clear my mind by being active outdoors. I love to run and will race any distance between a mile and a marathon. When at home, I enjoy cuddling my cats, solving puzzles, Zwifting and listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

Sebastiaan Bol, Ph.D.
Senior research scientist & lab manager

Originally from The Netherlands, I moved to the USA in 2011 and lived in beautiful California for 5 years prior to moving to the Hill Country in Texas. In my free time, I enjoy running, cycling, wildlife habitat restoration and conservation, and doing cat research (Cowboy Cat Ranch). I care a lot about animal welfare and strive to make this world a better place for every living being. In the Bunnik lab we do our best to minimize our footprint: we recycle, avoid wasting energy, and use non-toxic alternatives for harmful chemicals.

Raphael Reyes
Graduate student, Ph.D. candidate

I am a fifth-year graduate student and NIAID F31 predoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. I have a history of participating in research labs from diverse fields, ranging from stem cell development to parasite epigenetics. My goals involve continuing my research career by studying the complex interactions involved in human immunity to infectious and chronic diseases, with an emphasis on the response of B cells and antibodies.

reyesr11@uthscsa.edu   |   Curriculum vitae
Rolando Garza
MD/PhD student

I am interested in the host-immune response and host-pathogen interactions as it pertains to human disease states. I was born and raised in a small town called Uvalde. I earned my BS from UTSA and did my post-baccalaureate training in the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. On my free time, I enjoy cooking, watching anime, jogging, and playing bass guitar in a cover band.

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job." -Fletcher

garzar18@uthscsa.edu   |   Biosketch
Rodriel Bautista
Master student

I'm originally from the Bay Area, California and completed my BS in Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology at UC Santa Cruz in 2018. After graduation I conducted research on respiratory disease and drug development in both academia and industry. My research interests lie in host-pathogen interactions, disease mechanisms, and host immune responses. I am excited to start my research and hope my experience will benefit the local minority community in the future. In my free time you can find me powerlifting, tufting rugs, and going to concerts and music festivals.

bautistar2@uthscsa.edu   |   Curriculum vitae
Caroline Torres
Master student

As a first-generation graduate student from a poor Colombian immigrant family, I have always taken education very seriously. I’ve always wanted to specialize in tropical medicine and hematology/oncology and be able to travel to less fortunate countries and provide healthcare to those who don’t have access to it. Pursuing a Master’s degree in Immunology & Infection will prepare me for this ultimate goal.
In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, reading novels, learning new languages, watching documentaries and anime, trying exotic cuisines, and traveling.

Bunnik lab alumni
Dr. Ashley Braddom Reers (alumna)
Ph.D. student  (2018-2022)

"During my time in the Bunnik lab, I studied epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum. The experience I gained during my graduate education under the mentorship of Dr. Bunnik was invaluable to my development as a scientist. In her lab, I had the opportunity to learn bioinformatic and wet-lab approaches to tackle complex biological questions while working alongside passionate scientists from diverse backgrounds. Currently, I work as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Hannah Frank at Tulane University where I study the development of B cell responses to vaccination and infection in bats."

Nirel Ayertey  (alumna)
Summer student  (summer 2022)

"The Bunnik lab was the first one I had ever worked at, and I was not disappointed one bit! Everyone was very kind and welcoming. There was a warmth and friendliness in the lab that made it feel very inviting. I not only learned a lot in the short time I was there, but I also had fun. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget."

Update December 2022: Nirel got accepted to Brown University, one of the eight Ivy League colleges in the country! Congratulations Nirel!

Elizabeth Martinez-Scholze  (alumna)
Master student  (2021-2022)

"Being a student in the Bunnik lab was an invaluable experience for me because I gained research experience that I continue to use today. There are several memorable experiences I had while in the Bunnik lab, my favorite is probably the time we went kayaking at Medina Lake. I had a little too much fun that day and fell off my kayak into the water. I still laugh when I think about that experience and hope that future students in the lab have as great a time that I did (water not included)."

Katie Clarke (alumna)
Master student & research assistant  (2020-2022)

"I work at Regeneron, as part of the therapeutic antibody discovery and technology development team. Prior to this position, I received an MS in Immunology and Infection after completing my thesis research in the Bunnik lab. Subsequently, I had the great opportunity to remain in this lab as a research assistant before starting my current role. During my time in the Bunnik lab, I worked alongside excellent scientists and scientists-in-training and conducted fascinating research on the characteristics of antibody-mediated immunity against the malaria parasite. The Bunnik lab thoroughly prepared me for the role I have now, both by facilitating professional development and by increasing my confidence in myself as a scientist."

Dr. Jake Gonzales (alumnus)
Ph.D. student  (2017-2021)

"I work for BioLegend as a Technical Application Scientist. The experience I gained during my time in the Bunnik lab, ranging from basic lab techniques to improving my skills in scientific communication, have all been invaluable in moving my career forward into the position I am in today. Dr. Bunnik’s mentorship extended to activities beyond the lab as she always encouraged us to take the time to relieve the stress that comes with grad school. One of my favorite examples of this was the time Dr. Bunnik took us all out for a day of kayaking on Medina Lake and board games in the middle of a work week just to help us all unwind and enjoy each other’s company outside of the lab."

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San Antonio, Texas, 2023