Criss Lab News

January 2015: Congratulations to Rick and Jacqueline, whose manuscript “A thermonuclease of Neisseria gonorrhoeae enhances bacterial escape from killing by neutrophil extracellular traps” was accepted at The Journal of Infectious Diseases!

December 2014: Congratulations to Jonathan, whose manuscript “The lipooligosaccharide-modifying enzyme LptA enhances gonococcal defense against human neutrophils” was accepted at Cellular Microbiology! A link to the manuscript can be found here.

October 2014: Congratulations to Brittany, Louise, and Kylene, whose manuscript “Opa+ Neisseria gonorrhoeae exhibits reduced survival in human neutrophils via Src family kinase-mediated bacterial trafficking into mature phagolysosomes” was accepted at Cellular Microbiology! The manuscript can be found here.

October 2014: Alison, Asya, Rick, Jonathan, Stephanie, and Louise presented their work at the International Pathogenic Neisseria Conference in Asheville, NC.

October 2014: Alison and Stephanie spoke with undergraduate microbiology students at Lynchburg College, where Alison gave a lecture sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology.

September 2014

Alison received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching! Information about the award can be found here.

An excerpt of the Award poster can be found here.

September 2014

The U19 “Ecopathogenomics of sexually transmitted infections” was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Alison is a collaborator for all projects in this multi-project systems biology grant. Click here for more information about EPSTI.

August 2014

R21 AI110889 (Alison Criss, PI) was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

July 2014

Congratulations to Stephanie and Jacqueline for appointment to the Infectious Diseases and the Medical Scientist Training Program training grants, respectively!

July 2014

Alison was promoted to Associate Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology

June 2014

Asya presented a poster at  Neutrophil 2014 International Symposium in Montreal, Canada

June 2014

Alison and colleague Loren Erickson published their manuscript “The Complement System and Bacterial Complement Resistance: Team-Based Learning” in AAMC’s MedEdPORTAL.  A link to the manuscript can be found here (requires registration).

May 2014

Huge congratulations to Brittany Johnson, PhD! Brittany’s dissertation is entitled “Mechanisms of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Survival in Primary Human Neutrophils.”

May 2014

Jonathan and Rick presented posters at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston, MA

April 2014

We welcome Jacqueline Stevens to the Criss Lab! Jacqueline received her undergraduate degree from UVA and is currently a MD/PhD candidate in the UVA Medical Scientist Training Program.

March 2014

Kylene was awarded a stipend from the Hutcheson Fund to support her Summer 2014 research in the Criss lab on mechanisms of gonococcal internalization by human neutrophils. Congratulations, Kylene!

March 2014

Brittany was selected for an oral presentation at the 2014 Huskey Research Exhibition and received second place for her talk! A link to UVA Grad Days and the Huskey Research Exhibition can be found here.



Huge congratulations to Brittany, who was selected as the winner of the 2014 Robert R. Wagner Prize for Outstanding Research in Microbiology! Brittany received the Wagner Award and presented a seminar to the Department and School of Medicine on March 19, 2014.

Wagner Prize Seminar 2014


January 2014

Congratulations to Asya and Kylene, whose manuscript “Assembly of NADPH oxidase in human neutrophils is modulated by the opacity-associated protein expression state of Neisseria gonorrhoeae” was accepted for publication in Infection and Immunity. This work shows that infection of neutrophils with opacity protein-negative gonococci prevents the proper assembly of the holoenzyme that generates reactive oxygen species,  to block the neutrophil oxidative burst.  The manuscript can be accessed here.


November 2013

Alison and colleague Ian Glomski co-hosted the Virginia Branch of the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting at UVA on November 8 and 9. The Criss lab was well represented: Jonathan and Rick were selected to give talks, and Stephanie, Louise, Brittany, and Kylene presented posters! Kylene and Brittany received travel awards for their presentations.



October 2013

Brittany was selected to present a poster at the NIH National Graduate Student Research Conference. It was unfortunately canceled due to the government shutdown.



October 2013

Congratulations to the UVA International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team, which won a gold medal at the North America semifinal and competed in the Global iGEM Championship! Alison advised the team on engineering E. coli minicells that would last longer in the human body without provoking inflammation. Check out Team Virginia's website, the UVA Today article, and a YouTube video where Alison was interviewed about synthetic biology and the promise of minicells.



September 2013

Alison received the UVA School of Medicine’s Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research! Click here for the award poster.


September 2013

The Journal of Visualized Experiments published Brittany and Alison’s video article, “Fluorescence microscopy methods for determining the viability of bacteria in association with mammalian cells.” The video and a PDF of the protocol can be accessed here.


July 2013

Alison and former undergraduate Erin Dale contributed to “Neisseria gonorrhoeae metalloprotease NGO1686 is required for full piliation, and piliation is required for resistance to H2O2- and neutrophil-mediated killing,” which was published in the July/August 2013 issue of mBio. The article can be found here.


July 2013: Brittany Johnson was selected to participate in the 2013 American Society for Microbiology’s Kadner Institute. The Kadner Institute provides guidance on preparation for careers in microbiology.  More information is available here:


June 2013: Alison was invited to speak at the 2013 Phagocytes Gordon Research Conference. Her talk was entitled "Survival of Neisseria gonorrhoeae after primary human neutrophil challenge.”  More information on this conference is available here:

asmconference2013logosm.jpg May 2013: Alison gave the talk "Playing with fire: Neutrophils in the pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae" at the 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Denver, Colorado.
opacolonycriss140.jpg April 2013:

The manuscript “Constitutively Opa-expressing and Opa-deficient Neisseria gonorrhoeae differentially stimulate and survive exposure to human neutrophils,” by Louise and Alison, was accepted at the Journal of Bacteriology. It was published in the July 1, 2013 issue and can be accessed here.


March 2013: Brittany Johnson and Kylene Daily were selected to present at the "Two Hoos" session of the Huskey Graduate Research Exhibition on March 27, 2013.  Their talk on "Mechanism of Neisseria gonorrhoeae internalization by neutrophils" was one of seven given by pairs of graduate and undergraduate student researchers.  Congratulations Brittany and Kylene!


February 2013: Congratulations to Kylene Daily, who received a 2013 Harrison Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award!  Kylene's project will explore how unopsonized Neisseria gonorrhoeae is internalized by primary human neutrophils.  More on the Harrison Awards is available here (


January 2013: We welcome Stephanie Ragland to the Criss lab!

Stephanie received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Commonweath University and worked in Jason Carlyon's lab at VCU prior to entering the BIMS program at UVA in July 2012.


January 2013:

The manuscript “Neisseria gonorrhoeae phagosomes delay fusion with primary granules to enhance bacterial survival inside human neutrophils,” by Brittany and Alison, was accepted at Cellular Microbiology [remove link to journal] and was published in the August 2013 issue. Brittany’s image was selected for the cover! The manuscript can be found here.

January 2013:

The Criss lab presented at the Mid-Atlantic Microbial Pathogenesis Meeting at Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, January 27-29.  Brittany Johnson was selected to give a talk and received a travel award.  Louise Ball, Jonathan Handing, Rick Juneau, and Asya Smirnov presented posters.

2012: Congratulations to Jonathan Handing and Rick Juneau for appointment to the UVA Infectious Diseases Training Grant!


labGermanyIPNC2012sm.jpg September 2012:  Alison, Louise, Brittany, Jonathan, Asya, and Rick attended the International Pathogenic Neisseria Conference in Würzburg, Germany in September 2013.  Brittany gave a talk and Louise, Jonathan, Asya, and Rick presented posters.  Everyone enjoyed the scientific and social interactions, including the banquet at the Würzburg Residenz.