Vanderbilt School of Medicine | Vanderbilt University | Vanderbilt Medical Center




Seth Bordenstein, PhD, Primary Investigator

Dr. Bordenstein is a biologist in the Department of Biological Sciences and in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. He is an Associate Professor with broad interests in the role of microbes in animal evolution and health, including the microbial basis of animal speciation, horizontal gene transfer, bioprospecting archaea for antibiotics, genome evolution of viruses and host-associated bacteria, and the importance of maternal microbial transmission. He is the founding director of the worldwide HHMI outreach program Discover the Microbes Within! Dr. Bordenstien's research has been highlighted in numerous popular science media including a documentary on bacterial symbiosis, The New York Times, National Geographic, Discover Magazine, PBS, The Huffington Post, Scientific American, BBC Radio, among others.

Seth Bordenstein CV | Blog: Symbionticism | Seminars: Video Channel

Email: s.bordenstein(at) / Phone: 615.322.9087










Sarah Bordenstein, M.S., Senior Research Specialist

Sarah Bordenstein has a Masters degree in microbial ecology and a background in project management and outreach. As a Senior Research Specialist, Sarah is the go to person for all lab activities and continues to build educational resources related to symbiosis (see Wolbachia, A Heritable Pandemic). In her experimental work, she is using quantitative and computational genomic analyses to study the function of phage elements in Wolbachia.

Email: sarah.r.bordenstein(at) / Phone: 615.322.9094



Kevin Kohl, Ph.D., Postdoc

Kevin joined the lab in 2015 as a postdoctoral researcher to study the microbial ecology of vertebrate hosts. He spent time in Argentina studying the maternal transmission of gut microbes in three species of live-bearing lizards. More recently, he is studying the fidelity of host-microbe associations in Peromyscus mice to better understand the basis of phylosymbiosis.

Email: kkohl78(at) / Phone: 615.322.9094




Aram Mikaelyan, Ph.D., Postdoc

Aram joined the lab in the summer of 2016 to study the genetic and microbial basis of speciation, namely the number and types of animal immune genes that interact with gut bacteria to cause hybrid mortality between closely related Nasonia species.

Email: / Phone: 615.322.9094











Teddy Van Opstal, Graduate Student

Teddy joined the lab in 2014 to study the evolution of host-microbe interactions in Nasonia, namely how mothers regulte transmission of bacteria. Teddy is part of the Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Program.

Email: evanopstal87(at) / Phone: 615.322.9094






Andrew Brooks, Graduate Student

Andy joined the lab in 2014. Andy is using computational tools to study the assembly of the host genome and microbiome over host evolutionary history. Andy is part of the Human Genetic Program at Vanderbilt and was supported by the NIH Human Genetics Training Grant

Email: andrew.w.brooks(at) / Phone: 615.322.9094












Jessie Perlmutter, Graduate Student

Jessie joined the lab in 2015 to study the molecular genetics and mechanisms of how Wolbachia infections hijack animal reproduction.

Email: jessamyn.i.perlmutter(at) / Phone: 615.322.9094












Dylan Shropshire, Graduate Student

Dylan joined the lab in 2015 to study the microbial genetic basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI occurs when Wolbachia-infected males mate with uninfected females and despite over 40 years of resarch, the Wolbachia genes underlying CI remain unknown. CI is at the forefront of mosquito-control efforts to curb the transmission of dengue and Zika viruses, and CI is also a speciation mechanism between various arthropod species.

Email: john.d.shropshire(@) / Phone: 615.322.9094











Danny On, Research Assistant I

Danny joined the lab in 2016 to study the microbial genetic basis of cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). He just got a puppy, who we think shoud be named Wolbailey in place of just Bailey.

Email: jungmin.on(@) / Phone: 615.322.9094






We are always looking for talent, passion and a commitment to excellence, especially in the areas of symbiosis, systems biology, antibacterial peptides, bacteriophages, multi-omics, speciation, and big data. If you're interested in joining the Bordenstein lab, please email Seth with a CV and statement of interest.











Ananya Sharma, Class of 2019, Research Intern (F: 2015, S: 2016, F: 2016, S: 2017)

Emily Layton, Class of 2020, Research Intern (F: 2016. S: 2017)

Helen Zhou, Class of 2018, Research Intern (F: 2016, S: 2017)

Emily Hernandez, Class of 2018, Lab Assistant

Gabe Hoppock, Class of 2019, Lab Assistant (started September of 2016)