Ottemann lab members

    Principal Investigator

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    Karen Ottemann, Ph.D. Karen grew up in Michigan and Illinois before landing in the San Francisco Bay area in 7th grade. She received her B.S. in Bacteriology from UC Davis in 1987, worked for almost a year at Cetus Corporation, and then carried out Ph.D. work on the Vibrio cholerae virulence gene regulator ToxR at Harvard University in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department with John Mekalanos. After finishing her Ph.D. in 1994, she moved to UC Berkeley Molecular Cell Biology Department to work on Salmonella chemoreceptors with Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. from 1994-1999. In 1999 she started her own lab at UC Santa Cruz focussed on colonization abilities and chemotaxis of Helicobacter pylori. She enjoys the collegial atmosphere and amazing research done by her colleagues, as well as the many gorgeous campus hiking and biking trails. Email:

  • Ph.D. Students

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    Kevin Johnson, Ph.D. student. Kevin grew up in the beautiful Monterey Bay Area. He received his B.S in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology from UCSC where he studied Type III Secretion System inhibitors in the Auerbuch Stone Lab. In 2015, he started his graduate studies in the Microbiology and Environment Toxicology Department at UC Santa Cruz. His research in the Ottemann Lab aims to determine environmental signals sensed by H. pylori chemoreceptors and how this process modulates the host immune response. When not in the lab, Kevin likes to surf, hike, and hangout with friends and family. Email: 

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    Christina Yang, Ph.D student. Christina grew up in the Central Valley before moving to Santa Cruz. She completed her B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCSC in 2016. As an undergraduate, she worked in the Ottemann lab studying H. pylori gland colonization dynamics. She started her graduate studies in 2016 and her project investigates the relationship between chemotaxis and gland colonization dynamics. Email:

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    Shuai Hu, Ph.D student. Shuai grew up in Xi’an, China, the hometown of Terra-Cotta Warriors. He received his B.S. from Xiamen University, China, and M.S. from Indiana University Bloomington. When he was exposed into various microbial research topics during his master’s study, he became passionate to understand the interactions between pathogens and their hosts. In 2016, he started his Ph.D. study in the Microbiology and Environment Toxicology Department at UC Santa Cruz. Currently, he is working with Helicobacter pylori  to understand how metabolites, such as lactate, bridge the connections between H. pylori and its host. During his leisure time, Shuai likes hiking, jogging, and hanging out with friends. Email:

  • Aaron ClarkeAaron Clarke, Ph.D. Student. Aaron is from Duluth, Minnesota, where he received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth. As an undergraduate, Aaron studied the role of natriuretic peptides on cochlear fluid balance and hearing loss under Dr. Trachte and Dr. Fitzakerley. He also studied tRNA fragments and their role as biomarkers in cancer while working with Dr. Lynne Bemis. After graduation, Aaron participated in PREP at the University of South Carolina and studied bacteriophage genomics under Dr. Bert Ely. Aaron joined the METX program in 2017 and is interested in antibiotic resistance. In his free time, Aaron likes to read, go to movies, and enjoy time in nature. email:
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    Raymond Lopez-Magaña, Ph.D. student. Raymond was born in the central coast of California. He received his B.S. in Microbiology from SFSU where he studied host-microbe interactions in the J. Chen Lab. In 2018, he moved back to the central coast to start his graduate studies in the department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology at UC Santa Cruz. He is currently focused on understanding the role of a cytoplasmic chemoreceptor and its role in H. pylori pathogenesis. When not in lab, Raymond likes to hike, draw, and spend time with family. email:

  • MS Students

  • No alternative textCande Bernal, 5th-Year MS Student. Cande’s formative years were spent in Chula Vista, CA, where his youth largely consisted of playing trumpet and developing a deep rooted interest in pathogens. In 2018, he began his graduate studies in the METX department and is currently investigating the function of the H. pylori chemoreceptor TlpC and its role in pathogenesis. He will be graduating Spring 2019 with a B.S. in Molecular,Cellular, and Developmental biology. In his spare time, Cande plays indie video games and spends quality time with loved ones. Email:
  • No alternative textYasmine Elshenawi, MS Student. Yazzy was born in Montreal but grew up in Orange County. She graduated this year from UC Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Biology. She is currently research ribosomal silencing in H. pylori. When she has free time she enjoys drawing, reading at the beach and running. email:

  • 5th Year MS Students

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    Frida Salgado, Undergraduate Researcher in the 5th year MS program, grew up in Long Beach, CA where she spent most of her free time playing club soccer. She is currently pursuing a Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology bachelors at UC Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate researcher, she focuses on the TlpB receptor and the role it plays in H. pylori infections. When not in lab, she enjoys riding bikes, working out, and cooking. Email: