Projects & Investigators


Cortney Heim, PhD, Senior Scientist

BA, Biology, Southwest Minnesota State University
PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Dr. Heim’s research focuses on the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in facilitating S. aureus biofilm persistence. Specifically, the mechanisms that promote their expansion and immunosuppressive functions to identify novel ways to treat these chronic and recurrent infections.


Gunjan Kak, PhD, Postdoctoral Trainee

BSc, University of Delhi
PhD, University of Delhi
Dr. Kak is currently investigating the metabolic crosstalk between leukocytes and S. aureus biofilm that facilitates immune modulation during the course of infection.

Lee Korshoj, PhD, Postdoctoral Trainee

BS (with Highest Distinction), Chemical Engineering, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, NE
PhD, Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder

Dr. Korshoj’s research explores host-pathogen cross-talk during S. aureus craniotomy infection and novel biofabrication approaches for treatment.

Rachel Fallet, BS, Researcher

BS, Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth
Along with general laboratory support, Rachel’s work is focused on the
management of our laboratory mouse colony. These genetically modified mice provide important clues in the detection of mechanisms involved in immunity and infection.

Blake Bertrand, BS, Graduate Student

BS, Saint Louis University, MO
Blake is a third year PhD student in the Kielian Laboratory. His work is focused on studying the S. aureus metabolic changes during chronic orthopedic biofilm infections, and how this influences the host immune response.


Christopher Horn, MS, Graduate Student

MS, University of Nebraska - Omaha
Chris is a second year PhD student in the Kielian laboratory. His work is focused on reactive oxygen species production and its role in Staphylococcus aureus biofilm-leukocyte crosstalk.

Zachary Van Roy, BS, Graduate Student

BS, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Zach is a first year MD/PhD student in the Kielian Laboratory. He is investigating the association between metabolism and epigenetics during S. aureus craniotomy infection.