Steven W. Wilhelm -  Professor OF Microbiology 


Office: 865-974-0665    Labs: 865-974-0682  or  865-974-4014



Steven W. Wilhelm, Ph.D.
Benevolent Dictator

Chaos control, wine steward,   cat herding and middle relief





Gary LeCleir, Ph.D.,   Research Assistant Professor

Gary came to Knoxville in 2006 after completing his PhD at the University of Georgia.  His primary area of focus currently is the sequencing and annotation of giant viruses found in the ocean (leviathans).  Currently he is working with researchers at Bigelow and Rutgers to sequence and annotate the genome of the virus that infects Aureococcus anophagefferens, as well as with colleagues in the department as part of our new cross-department microbiome efforts.   Gary is also the in house expert on DNA sequencing and analysis, all things Boston Red Sox, and manages the oUTsiders softball team.





   Jackson Gainer, B.Sc.,  Doctoral Candidate 

Jackson started in our graduate program in January of 2012. Prior to this he worked in the lab of Dr Erik Zinser as a research associate.   For his doctoral work, Jackson will be working between the Wilhelm and Zinser labs and addressing questions on the quantitative distribution of viruses infecting Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus. 



  Samantha Rose, B.Sc., Doctoral Candidate


Sam came to UT from Drury in the fall 2013.  Her research is currently examining how DNA modifications in viruses shape their resilience in nature.  Her work will see her focus on phage, but also use some Phycodnaviruses as model systems.





  Joshua Stough, B.Sc., Doctoral Candidate


Joshua joined the lab in late 2013  - he is currently working with our microbiome team as we try to understand how changes in the microbiome of genetically identical mice.  He is also working with our environmental metatranscriptomics group to understand how viruses shape microbial community structure and function.




Robbie Martin, B.Sc.,      Doctoral Candidate 


Robbie joined the lab in late 2012 and is also going to be working on our microcystin biogestors project.  As a starting point he is re-evaluating or process of isolating individual bacteria that degrade microcystin, and will move forward with determining how environmental conditions and co-culture influence toxin degradation.





Lauren Krausfeldt, B.Sc.,        Doctoral Candidate 


Lauren joined the lab in late 2012 and is also going to be working on our microcystin biogestors project.  Specific early goals will be to determine the rates at which the toxin is degraded by different heterotrophic microbes in our collection.



Eric Gann, B.Sc.,   Doctoral Candidate 

After spending the summer of 2014 in Knoxville as a NSF-funded REU student, Eric has returned to start working on methyltransferase genes in giant viruses.  He will be working with the Aureococcus anophagefferens  system to try and understand why viruses require so many genes in this group. Eric is also leading our efforts to make Aureococcus genetically tractable.



Maddie Denney, M.Sc.,        Doctoral Candidate (Program in Genome Science and Technology)

Maddie joined the lab in the summer of 2016 after completing 2 rotations in our group (one on bioinformatics, a second on lipidomics).    She will be working with the Microcystis group in the lab, trying to understand not only how environmental conditions promote biomass formation, but how conditions allow Microcystis to outcompete out members of the community.


Alyssa Scott,  Undergraduate Assistant (Microbiology)


Alyssa joined the lab in late 2014 and is working with Sam  - she is using Chlorella viruses as her current model and examining how biophysical alterations to the DNA may shape susceptibility to UV.  She is also working with Ashley  to facilitate our collaboration with



Ashley Humphrey,  Undergraduate Assistant (Microbiology)


Ashley joined the lab in early 2016 to work on our Aureococcus genomics project.  Working alongside Eric Gann, she has been endeavoring to optimize our ability to culture this pelagophyte in large volumes, to grow it on plates and to generate biomass for a variety of ongoing lab studies.   She is also working with Alyssa to facilitate our collaboration with



Steven Ho,  Undergraduate Assistant (Microbiology)


Steven joined the lab in late 2016 and started by looking for giant viruses in soil and decomposition samples.  For 2017 his focus has turned aquatic - he will be looking in the Tennessee River to try and find the giant viruses Monir identified in his 2016 paper. Along with his river work (in collaboration with Samantha) he will be working to screen environmental genomes and transcriptomes for giant virus signatures.




updated 06/23/2017