People of the Bazurto Lab
Jannell Bazurto

Jannell Bazurto, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Ph.D. Microbiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.S. Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Florida Atlantic University

I am a bacterial physiologist with a rich background in using mutant analysis to understand cellular metabolism in model bacteria. I performed my thesis work at the University of Wisconsin with Diana Downs, where I studied metabolic integration of thiamine biosynthesis in Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli. During my postdoctoral work, with Christopher Marx at the University of Idaho, I integrated omics approaches into my work to characterize experimentally evolved mutants to understand the formaldehyde stress response in Methylobacterium extorquens.

Research Staff

Photo of Eric Bruger

Eric Bruger, Research Scientist
My interests encompass patterns of microbial evolution and diversity, as seen both within and outside of the lab, as well as interactions between genes, networks, and within populations of bacteria.  After first delving into the world of microbial metabolism by studying thiamine biosynthesis in Salmonella as an undergraduate researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I pursued doctoral work on the evolution and physiology of cooperative traits regulated by quorum sensing in the aquatic bacterium Vibrio harveyi in Chris Waters' lab at Michigan State University.  I then united these experiences through my postdoctoral work in the Marx laboratory at the University of Idaho, which focused primarily on applying sequencing-based approaches to detect epistatic interactions between variants of formaldehyde oxidation pathways in the model methylotroph Methylorubrum extorquens.

I also have experience and interest in improving biological education, and worked in a teaching-focused role as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the College of Saint Benedict & Saint John's University in Minnesota prior to my current role. My present work involves investigating strategies and networks that M. extorquens and other environmentally isolated methylotrophs use to adapt to different nutrient conditions and stress regimes. Beyond work in the lab, I enjoy reading science fiction, watching documentaries, running, and spending time with family and friends.

Zak Hying, Graduate Student (MICaB)
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

M.S. Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
B.S. Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A bacterial physiologist by nature I enjoy thinking about how bacteria acquire and use diverse carbon sources. I gained experience in genetic approaches to study bacteria at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in Mark McBride’s lab where I studied the connection between the Type IX secretion system and gliding motility in Flavobacterium johnsoniae, and in Sonia Bardy’s lab where I studied the chemotaxis and surface motility in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In the Bazurto lab I am leveraging my genetics experience, combined with mutation analysis, -omics, and experimental evolution approaches to understand the mechanisms M. extorquens uses to transition from multi-carbon to single-carbon sources. Outside of the lab I am an avid cyclist, home brewer, musician and fan of Liverpool FC.

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Parikha Banga, PhD Student (PMB)
I am a molecular biologist specializing in agricultural crops like wheat, mustard and cotton. I completed my Master's degree at Haryana Agricultural University, India, investigating seed priming with Chitosan-Salicylic Acid nanoparticles in Cotton. In the Bazurto lab, I'm excited to unravel the intricate molecular interactions between plants and Methylorubrum. I aim to understand the mechanisms of phyllosphere colonization by M. extorquens and discover the beneficial roles these interactions play in the growth and development of both bacteria and plants.

Beyond the lab bench, I find joy in culinary arts, whipping up delicious food in the kitchen and exploring new cafes. I enjoy traveling, discovering new cultures, and practicing yoga.  

Headshot of Daniella (Dani) Vasquez Rico

Daniella (Dani) Vasquez Rico, PhD Student (MICaB)

I am a proud first-generation Latina with research experiences in both cancer biology and microbiology. My undergraduate research with Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright focused on how normal and cystic fibrosis- like secretions affected P. aeruginosa growth and biofilm formation. Afterwards, I worked as a post-baccalaureate researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Lewis Robert’s lab and studied the effects of anticancer drugs in cholangiocarcinoma cell lines. In the Bazurto lab, I aim to determine the mechanism of the formaldehyde sensor, EfgA, and how EfgA is connected to other genetic players involved in the overall formaldehyde sensing network in M. extorquens. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring the food scene in the Twin Cities, collecting funko pops, and spending time with my family.

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Elias Kemna, Lab Technician
I'm a microbiologist with a growing interest and experience in molecular biology and bacterial genetics. I hope to use my research experience to engineer microbes for the betterment of society, particularly by creating more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices. In the Bazurto lab, I explore the genetic and mechanistic basis of formaldehyde resistance in Methylorubrum extorquens and am developing a Bacteria-2-Hybrid system to detect and characterize protein-protein interactions in vivo. Outside of the lab, I like to run, skateboard, and garden.

Undergraduate Students

Headshot of Zeinab Igale

Zeinab Igale
I am previously from Willmar, MN and currently graduating in the spring with a bachelor’s in biology, society, and environment with a minor in Anthropology. In the lab, I am working towards optimizing the utilization of methylamine as a single carbon source in Mext. Strain PA1 through the NMG-pathway.


Headshot of Sadhvika Gundla

Sadhvika Gundla
Hey! I’m Sadhvika Gundla. I am a freshman double majoring in psychology and neuroscience. I’m working on a project called chemotaxis towards formaldehyde. I will be using techniques such as gene deletions, allelic exchange, PCR, and gel electrophoresis to make conclusions for my project.


Headshot of Anya Rushmer

Anya Rushmer
Hi my name is Anya, and I am from Germantown, Wisconsin. I am majoring in Neuroscience and graduating this spring! Currently in lab I am working on a directed research project investigating the role of Lanthanum on formaldehyde resistance in Methylorubrum extorquens PA1.


Lab Alumni

Research Staff

Jan Kucinski (Postdoctoral researcher)

Deepanshu Singla (MS student)

Tyler Miller (Lab technician)

Chandler Hellenbrand (Lab technician)

Jaye McEvoy (Lab technician)

Chin Yi Loh (Lab technician)

Jaye McEvoy (Lab technician)

Undergraduate Students

Sarah Khaskel

Morgan Swanson

Alexa Peterson

Abigail Jackson

Jennifer Lorenzana

Madison Shackelford

Dom Sofio

Uly Zigmund

Rotation Students

Leslie Day (PMB)

Joseph Bravo (MicE)

Tony Zmuda (PMB)

High School Mentee

Jalen Nelson