Michael Barta
Assistant Research Professor, Higuchi Biosciences Center
Multidisciplinary Research Building, Room 2051

Dr. Barta received his PhD in Cellular Biology and Biophysics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).  As a postdoctoral research at KU in the lab of P. Scott Hefty, he utilized a structure-based discovery approach to functionally characterize proteins of unknown function from Chlamydia trachomatis.   His research interests center on microbial-host interactions critical to pathogenesis, particularly from a protein structure-molecular mechanism point of view.  As a research assistant professor at KU, he is working on the biophysical characterization of type III secretion tip-translocator complexes from a diverse array of human pathogens."

Prajnaparamita Dhar
Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Courtesy Appointment, Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Learned Hall, Room 4132

Dr. Prajnaparamita Dhar (Prajna) received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Florida State University, spent some time in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Zasadzinski at the University of California, Santa Barbara as a postdoctoral fellowship, after which she began her position at KU. Her research primarily focuses on understanding nature’s rules that govern biological self-assembled processes, in order to better mimic nature and design new treatments for various diseases.  

Philip R. Hardwidge
Associate Professor, Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University
Coles Hall, Room 340

Dr. Hardwidge earned his Ph.D. at the Mayo Clinic Graduate School. His research focuses on understanding, treating, and preventing diarrheal disease caused by bacterial pathogens by studying several virotypes of Escherichia coli that cause diarrhea and malnutrition in humans and livestock, including E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 STEC, and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). These pathogens, as well as other enteric bacteria that use contact-dependent secretion systems, represent important threats to food safety, biosecurity, and animal health. 

Prashant Kumar
Associate Researcher

Dr. Kumar received his PhD in Bioprocess Technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India.  As a postdoctoral researcher at KU, he worked on purification and biophysical characterization of recombinant subunit vaccines.  His research interest includes development of cost effective and scalable technologies for downstream processing of proteins and small molecules.

Wendy Picking
Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Multidisciplinary Research Building, Room 160

Professor Picking earned her PhD at the University of Kansas. She most recently served as an associate professor at Oklahoma State University. Her research interests are vaccine development - especially for the children of low income countries, Enteric bacterial pathogens, and type III secretion.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Vikalp Vishwakarma
Postdoctoral Researcher
Multidisciplinary Research Building, Room # 254

Dr. Vikalp earned his PhD in Salmonella vaccine development from the School of Biotechnology, KIIT University - Bhubaneswar, India. He completed his research in collaboration with ETH Zurich, Switzerland where he worked in the lab of Prof. Wolf Dietrich Hardt. His research interest includes identification of virulence factors and development of mucosal vaccine strains against enteric bacterial pathogens. As a postdoctoral researcher, he worked at Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City KS for a year and moved to KU Lawrence as part of Kansas Vaccine Institute. At KU, he is working on in vivo screening and validation of recombinant subunit vaccines for Shigellosis and Salmonellosis.

Graduate Research Assistants

Olivia Arizmendi
Graduate Research Assistant

Olivia Arizmendi received her BSc in Biomedical Research from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She is a PhD candidate in the Molecular Biosciences program. Her current projects encompass cell biology and protein-protein interactions.

Melissa Pressnall
Graduate Research Assistant

Melissa Pressnall received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biology from Bethany College in Kansas. She is currently working on the analysis of cell populations important for immune responses in both tolerance and vaccination.

KVI Events
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
KU Today