Talia Karasov

Assistant professor

email: t.karasov[at]

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Talia first became interested in genetics as an undergraduate at Stanford University working on the rapid evolution of insecticide resistance in Drosophila populations in the laboratory of Dmitri Petrov. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago with Joy Bergelson, she transitioned to working on the genetics of host-microbe interactions, work that she continued as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology working with Detlef Weigel. She started as an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah in Fall 2020.

In her free time she loves running, hiking, climbing and reading.

Efthymia Symeonidi


email: esymeonidi1[at]

Effie grew up in a town situated at the foot of Mount Olympus in Greece. She started her studies in Thessaloniki in the Biology department of the Aristotle University and received a Master's degree from the University of Glasgow. She did her PhD in the lab of Detlef Weigel in Tuebingen working on salicylic acid production in natural accessions of A. thaliana and a postdoc in the lab of Marja Timmermans in Tuebingen on understanding cell differentiation at a single cell level.

In her free time Effie likes reading, watching movies/shows and spending time outdoors.

Aubrey Hawks

Graduate Student

email: aubreymarie37[at]

Aubrey Hawks earned her BS in Biology at the University of Utah. As an undergraduate she worked in Nitin Phadnis’s lab using Hi-C sequencing to measure reduced homologous chromosome pairing in Drosophila interspecies hybrids. More recently, she worked in Richard Clark’s lab studying plant resistance to mites.

Outside the lab, she enjoys cooking, weightlifting, reading and spending time outdoors. Prior to studying Biology, Aubrey received an MA in Art History. She occasionally reads, writes or teaches about art.

Talia Backman

Graduate Student

email: talia.backman[at]

Talia received her BS in Biology at Utah Valley University. She worked in Heath Ogden's lab to resolve the evolutionary history of Ephemeroptera, also known as mayflies. She then joined Eric Domyan's lab and aimed to resolve the genetic mechanisms of how organisms evolve new traits in domesticated rock pigeons. Towards the end of her undergraduate career she investigated whether microbes could break down complex carbon molecules.

When she's not in the lab she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs, running, and skiing. She also extends her love of microbes to her home life by growing gourmet mushrooms and foraging for them when she has the chance.

Brad Nelson

Undergraduate Student

email: u1200766[at]

Brad Nelson is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah. He grew up in Oregon and graduated from West Linn High School. He is studying biology with an emphasis in microbiology and is minoring in history. He is passionate about science and plans to attend graduate school. He is considering pursuing a PhD in immunology.

In his free time he enjoys aquascaping, hiking, camping, and anything to do with cars.

Cannon Fehrenbach

Undergraduate Student

email: u1243735[at]

Cannon was born and raised in Draper Utah. Growing up he was fascinated with all things biology, and now he is very excited to work in a lab for the first time. This is his first year at the University of Utah as he works to a BS degree in biology.

In his free time he enjoys basketball, video games, and reading fantasy books.

Sarita Som

Undergraduate Student

email: u1263424[at]

Sarita is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah working toward an HBS in Biology with an emphasis in anatomy and physiology and minoring in chemistry and pediatric clinical research. She was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland and graduated from Severn School in 2019. When not studying or doing research, she enjoys reading books, listening to podcasts, solving logic puzzles, skiing, hiking, and drawing or painting. After graduation, she hopes to go to graduate school and is still deciding between a PhD in evolutionary biology or an MD-PhD program.

Olivia Pratt

Undergraduate Student

email: u0447662[at]

Olivia is a Senior at the University of Utah majoring in biology with an emphasis in microbiology, and minoring in chemistry. She loves to learn about plant and animal pathogens, and is excited to attend graduate school in a field related to her studies. In her free time she enjoys hiking, backpacking, reading mysteries, and spending time at her family cabin in the Uintas.


Lab mascot

Born in Chicago, raised in Chicago and Germany he is excited to help keep the lab running in Salt Lake City.