Group photo December 2019

TRG December 2019

Principle Investigator 

Rick Tarleton, Principle Investigator


Rick Tarleton

Regents’ Professor and UGA-Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Biological Sciences

Ph.D., 1983, Wake Forest University



Molly Bunkofske


Molly Bunkofske 

Graduate Research Assistant

BA in Biology, Augustana College, Rock Island IL 

Molly joined the lab in 2016. Her current research focuses on understanding why the CD8+ T cell response fails to clear infection with T. cruzi and identifying alternative targets of the CD8+ T cell response that may be beneficial for vaccines. 



Juan Bustamante       

Assistant Research Scientist  

PhD. in Health Science, University of Cordoba, Argentina 

Juan joined the Tarleton Research Group in 2005. His current research focuses on gaining a better understanding the role of the immune response upon T. cruzi infection as well as in the development of optimized treatment protocols for Chagas disease. In his spare time he enjoys coaching and playing soccer.  

Caleb Hawkins


Caleb Hawkins

Research Technician III

B.S. in Biology with minor in Chemistry,  University of South Carolina

M.P.H., Southern New Hampshire University

Caleb recently joined the lab in August 2021 and is quickly learning his way around the lab. He is currently developing a method for identifying nanobodies that target T. cruzi amastigotes, and investigating the role those nanobodies can play in the identification of dormant T. cruzi infections by using a yeast nanobody library. Outside of the lab Caleb enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and watching movies.

Jihyun Lim

Jihyun Lim

Research Technician III 

Lim joined the Tarleton lab in the fall of 2018. She works mainly on drug discovery assays targeting T. cruzi, testing using both in vitro and in vivo techniques. In the past she has studied genetic engineering and food science. In her free time she is passionate about Zumba and travel.  


place holder

 Maria Matthew

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant



Angel Padilla 

Research Scientist

PhD, Universidad Nacional de Tucuman, Argentina  

Angel has been with the lab since 2004. His main interests include studying the immune response against T. cruzi and the biology of the parasite. He is also involved in the high throughput screening of new compounds against T. cruzi. In his free time, he likes spending time with my family and friends.  



Natasha Perumal    

Graduate Research Assistant

BSc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Colombo-Sri Lanka   

Natasha has been a part of the TRG since January 2016. Her research interests focus on understanding the early events in immune recognition of T. cruzi and how these events impact the overall control of infection. In her free time she enjoys travelling, hiking and live music.  

Fernando Valdez


Fernando  Sánchez-Valdéz

Research Professional III 

PhD, Molecular Biology, Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry in the University of Buenos Aires. Argentina.  

The main focus of his research has been to uncover the mechanism of drug resistance in Chagas disease by combining ex vivo luminescence assays and tissue-clearing techniques.



Wei Wang

Research Professional IV

PhD, Molecular Genetics, Shanghai, China, Chinese Academy of Science

Wei joined the TRG in 2014. Her research projects include Mode of Action studies of drugs for Chagas therapy, adapting new CRISPR technologies to T. cruzi, and dissecting T. cruzi genomes to address what genetic codes that make this parasite so unique. Outside of the lab, she enjoys jogging and playing the Violin.



Brooke White

Lab Manager 

B.S. in Biological Sciences, Valdosta State University  

Brooke has been managing the Tarleton lab since 2017. She works mainly on detecting parasite DNA in mouse and macaque tissues and isolating PBMC samples from macaque and canine T. cruzi treatment trials along with day to day running of the lab. Previously she managed a Drosophila Genetics lab at UGA. Brooke loves spending time with her family, traveling, hiking, and watching movies in her free time. 

Recent Lab Alumni


Natália P. de A. Nogueira

September 2019 - May 2020

Visiting Professor

PhD, Biosciences, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Anita Minniefield

Anita Minniefield

August 2018 - May 2020

Research Technician III

B.S. in Biological Sciences, Cornell University

Huifeng Shen

Huifeng Shen 


Nikitha Sundaresha

   Adriana Martins



Adriana M. C. Canavaci Martins

January 2020 - February 2021

Research Technician III

PhD, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais