The Tate Lab


Principal Investigator

headshot2TimorAnn T. Tate, Ph.D.

I am an Assistant Professor in the Vanderbilt University Department of Biological Sciences (Jan. 2017 – present). My research focuses on understanding reciprocal ecological and evolutionary feedbacks between hosts and parasites, using a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to zoom back and forth between the molecular details and the population level processes.

Before moving to Vanderbilt I was a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston, mentored by Tim Cooper. I completed my Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University (advised by Andrea L. Graham), and received my B.S. from Rice University.

Contact: a.tate@vanderbilt*dot*edu

CV: Tate_CV_May2019_webpage

Research Assistants

siqinLiu (2)

 Siqin Liu, M.S. (RA-II)

I received a Master’s degree at Tennessee State University where I focused on detecting pathogenic bacteria from foods including fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products and identifying antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes in these bacterial isolates. Now I am particularly interested in understanding the impact of co-infection on host and parasite population stability. Outside the lab, my interests include music, cooking and visiting national parks.

Contact: Siqin.liu@vanderbilt*dot*edu

Postdoctoral Fellows

birnbaum_dissertationStephanie Birnbaum, Ph.D.

I am a USDA NIFA post-doctoral fellow researching the molecular interactions between pesticide resistance and immunity against pathogens in flour beetles. I completed my Ph.D. in 2019 at Vanderbilt where I used a non-model insect species, the milkweed-oleander aphid, to investigate the role of transcriptional plasticity in adaptation to toxic environments. Prior to my Ph.D., I worked at Emory University as a lab manager after completing my B.S. degree from Emory in 2010. I am broadly interested in the evolution of specialization and the molecular mechanisms underlying obligate species interactions. Aside from research, I am passionate about exposing the next generation of students to the wonders of science and continue to seek opportunities to serve in K-12 outreach projects.


Justin Buchanan, Ph.D.

I am a USDA NIFA post-doctoral fellow researching the impact of metabolism on disease tolerance and transmission. I completed my Ph.D. in 2019 at University of Nebraska-Lincoln with Dr. Kristi Montooth. During my Ph.D. I investigated how flies with decreased mitochondrial function are able to physiologically compensate during development, and in the mechanisms by which these flies respond to the further costs of infection. My overarching interest is in understanding how organisms respond to infection given that growth and reproduction require energetic investment, and responses to the biotic and abiotic environment during development may divert energy away from these core processes.

Graduate Students

JustinJustin Critchlow

I am a Ph.D. student investigating the causes behind phenotypic variation in disease symptoms and their impact on onward transmission of parasites. Previously I worked on the population dynamics of the white-footed mouse at Penn State University. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me running around in the sun, listening to podcasts, or behind a good book.
Contact: jtc5120@gmail*dot*com

Destane Garrett

*bio coming soon*

 Undergraduate Students

Abby PerryAbby Perry

I am an undergraduate student from Mississippi majoring in Biochemistry. My work in the lab focuses on differences in immune gene transcription between larval and adult beetles.  Outside the lab, my interests include music, running, and Russian language.


Faith Rovenolt

I am an undergraduate student from Virginia majoring in Ecology, Evolutionary, and Organismal Biology and minoring in Scientific Computing. My work in the lab focuses on modeling infections and analyzing their dynamics. Outside of the lab, my interests include sketching, writing, and being out in nature.


Yongjia “James” Deng JDeng_Oct2019

James is an undergraduate student from West Virginia currently majoring in Biochemistry and Chemical Biology. In the lab, he is particularly interested in nutritional immunology, and his research project is defining the contribution of dietary macronutrients to host defense against microbes.

headshot2Ana Torres

Ana is a rising junior at Vanderbilt University, and is interesting in pursuing a career in immunology. Ana’s research project involves characterizing the role of cellular and humoral immune responses against naturally occurring parasites in flour beetles.

 AnnaBorchersAnna Borchers

I’m a rising senior from San Francisco, CA majoring in molecular and cellular biology. My work in the lab focuses on genotype-specific coinfections in flour beetles. In the future I’m hoping to pursue a career in global humanitarian aid in the health sector.


Lab Alumni

Derrick2Derrick Jent (RA-II)

Derrick previously worked on fungal infections in spiders and crickets, and most recently delved into the mysteries of citrus greening disease. He is applying his penchant for insect infection systems to study host-microbe interactions during co-infection.

EmmaBlackford2Emma Blackford

Emma is an undergraduate student from Nashville, TN currently majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in English at Oberlin College. She is interested in ecology and invertebrate biology, and in the Tate lab primarily researched gregarine parasites and their relationships with Tribolium beetles.


KelseyAuman2Kelsey Auman

I am an undergraduate student from Buffalo, NY majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology.  My work in the lab focuses on transmission methods of the parasite Farinocystis triboli in flour beetles. Outside of the lab, my interests include volunteering, traveling, and music.


ElizabethWebsitePic-01Elizabeth Greer

Elizabeth is currently a biology and biomedical science teacher at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, TN. Her background is organismal biology with a B.S. and a Master in Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin. Elizabeth volunteered in the summer 2017 completing research with Tribolium beetles. In her free time, she is often grading and planning lessons for amazing students… but also loves going to concerts and music festivals, going on adventures with her husband and dogs, and visiting with her family.