Dr. Brandon DeKosky earned a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015 and completed a Post Doc in Immunology & Vaccinology at the Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, MD in 2017. His research primarily focuses on inventing and applying advanced NextGen molecular biology techniques to accelerate development of new human vaccines and therapeutics.
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.
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.
Dr. Meena Muthuramalingam received her PhD in Genomics and Bioinformatics from University of Bielefeld, Germany. Worked as post-doctoral fellow in Oklahoma State University, her research primarily focused on redox proteomics and RNA binding proteins involved in stress signaling. Later she joined University of Oklahoma, worked on bacterial toxin-antitoxin modules. Currently, she is a research associate in the Picking lab at the University of Kansas. Her research focuses mainly on structural and biochemical characterization of proteins involved in type III secretion system of Shigella flexneri.
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.
Dr. Sean Whittier earned a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Green Center for Systems Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His research aims to develop vaccines for bacterial pathogens that utilize the type III secretion system.
Dr. Shailendra Tallapaka received a BS in Pharmacy from Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani in India and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he worked on developing biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles for delivery of vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer. Currently, he is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Picking lab at the University of Kansas where he is working on developing subunit vaccines against gram-negative bacteria using the type III secretion apparatus (T3SA) fusion protein platform developed by the Picking group.
Graduate Research Assistants
Ryan Skaar received his BA in Biochemistry and minor in Mathematics from Simpson College (Indianola, IA). His previous research focused on the development of self-assembling nano structures via DNA-patched nanocubes, leading to the formation of two startup companies, DNP123 and ExpresSeed. Currently, he is GRA and Madison & Lila Self Graduate Fellow in the Picking Lab Group at the University of Kansas. His project will be focused on T3SS sorting platform characterization to aid in vaccine and protein inhibitor development.
Shoichi Tachiyama received bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Teikyo University in Japan. At same time, he received a license for pharmacists in Japan. Currently, he is a graduate student in Picking's lab, and his project focuses on the protein structures and the protein-protein interaction in T3SS of Shigella flexneri.