The Eric skaar Lab
In order for bacterial pathogens to cause disease, they must obtain nutrients inside their vertebrate hosts. The primary nutrients that are limiting to the growth of bacteria inside vertebrates are metals. This is due to the fact that vertebrates have developed numerous metal chelation systems that serve as a host defense against microbial infection. This process is called nutritional immunity. My laboratory is interested in identifying the host and bacterial factors that are involved in this battle for metal during the pathogenesis of infectious diseases. We use techniques from biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and chemistry to answer fundamental questions pertaining to the host-pathogen interaction. In particular, we focus on diseases caused by the important human pathogens Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infections), Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax), and Acinetobacter baumannii (leading cause of hospital infections and battlefield wound infections). The long term goal of our research is to develop novel therapies to treat microbial diseases.
Alexa Marcus has always had a passion for art and science, but only recently has she explored how the two can intersect in a unique and useful way. Alexa's interest in art began early in her life and more recently culminated into taking drawing courses throughout high school and college and starting her own freelance creative services business (alexamarcusdesigns.com). This creative services business has opened up a new world of art for Alexa, as graphic design is a relatively new medium for her. Alexa offers her clientele, made up of small businesses, a comprehensive branding package, from logo design to brand identity. Along with this budding business, she also has a growing interest in how humans interact and behave, leading her to major in Human and Organizational Development and minor in Neuroscience and Business.
Because of these interests, she was inspired to join the first ArtLab class offered at Vanderbilt her freshman year. Alexa was able to explore the intersection of art and science through the creation of a painting based on research from the Calipari lab. This course inspired her to join the ArtLab this summer and partner with the Skaar lab. Alexa has enjoyed using her art talents to portray scientific findings in an engaging and accurate way. Her work ranges across the mediums acrylic paint and graphic design. She hopes that her abstract pieces will draw in a variety of audiences and urge them to delve deeper into the meaning behind these pieces.
As an artist I am interested in process-based conceptual art. I enjoy navigating the space between tangible and intangible, and sharing that exploration with a community; therefore, my art captures the ideas, and intellectual inspiration that I have shared with others and instills the same emotions that I experienced in those interactions. In the AiR program I was interested in personifying bacteria to characterize interactions in the body through emotions that are simple to conceptualize.