Lab Members

Shelby O’Connor: Professor in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Shelby grew up in St. Louis, MO. She earned her undergraduate degree in the Biology Honors program at UIUC. She then obtained her PhD in Dr. Shigeki Miyamoto’s lab at UW-Madison. After grad school, she spent one year at the UW School of Pharmacy setting up labs for first year pharmacy students. Then, she worked in David O’Connor’s lab as an Assistant Scientist from 2006 until 2011, when she obtained independent funding and began her own lab.  In addition to research, Shelby enjoys teaching and participates in the Biocore program.

While Shelby likes doing experiments, she almost never gets to touch a pipet anymore. So sad….so very sad. Instead, she tries to live vicariously through everyone else. She also likes running, riding her bike, and walking her dog. While she likes fruit and vegetables, she is also a huge fan of cookies with a lot of frosting.

Shelby’s favorite ice cream: Cookie Dough

Amy Ellis: Associate Scientist

Amy grew up in LaCrosse, WI. She stayed in LaCrosse for undergrad (wow – she must really like LaCrosse!), earning two undergraduate degrees in Biochemistry and Cellular/Molecular Biology. She obtained her PhD in Dr. Janet Mertz’s lab at UW-Madison in the Cancer Biology program. After grad school, Amy studied Ebola and influenza in our neighbor’s lab, Dr. Yoshi Kawaoka. She decided to move across the parking lot to our building, which is where she has been for the past 3+ years.

Amy likes cloning in the lab. She thinks it is fun! She also has trained in the martial art of aikido for about 10 years, and she once worked for the USGS where she got to wear hip waders and collect mud samples.

Amy’s favorite ice cream: Chocolate Shoppe Zanzibar

Alexis (‘Lexie’) Balgeman: Research Specialist

Lexie grew up in Lyle, MN, which is on the MN/IA border. Lexie describes it as a very very very very small town. She went to Drake University and earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology. Lexie has worked in the lab for three years, and she thankfully takes care of a lot of stuff for all of us, which is why she has earned the name, “Lab Mom” at the young (very young) age of…..

Lexie came straight to the lab after graduating. In college, she studied abroad in Egypt and England. She claims she doesn’t have a ‘favorite thing’ in lab, so I’ll assume that means she likes everything. She is an avid reader, and she likes hot yoga and dogs….or was it yoga and hot dogs…..I don’t remember.

Lexie’s favorite ice cream: Zanzibar chocolate or Salted caramel

John (JJ) Baczenas: Associate Research Specialist:

JJ grew up in Discovery Bay, CA.  He mentioned that it is a small town in the middle of nothing but corn. He earned his undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from Hawaii Pacific University. During his time in Hawaii, he worked in David Hyrenbach’s lab alongside the non-profit group Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge. He used next-gen sequencing to see what specific birds on the Kure Atoll were eating.

Outside of the lab, JJ enjoys board games, video games, climbing, and scuba diving. He is your friendly-neighborhood nerd and gets way too excited about nerdy things.

JJ’s favorite ice cream: Graeter’s Mint Chocolate Chip

Ryan Moriarty: Graduate Student (MDTP)

Ryan M grew up in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. She went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she earned a degree in Genetics. During her undergrad years, she did research in Chris Hittinger’s lab.  She was in our lab for two years as a technician and then joined as a graduate student in September of 2019.

Outside of science, Ryan M has gotten into running (thanks to her wonderful coworkers) and ran her first marathon, on accident, this past summer.  She’ll be doing a marathon on purpose soon, and maybe a 50K…after all, it’s only a few more miles. She also enjoys hiking and dogs.

Ryan’s favorite ice cream: Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food (but apparently, Cherry Garcia is giving it a run for its money)

Olivia Harwood: Graduate Student (CMP)

Olivia is from Littleton, Colorado. She went to Colorado Mesa University and earned a B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Dance. She did research with Dr. Kyle McQuade, and did a summer research project with Dr. Steven Wilhelm at the U. of Tennessee.  Wow – she also went on a research trip to Antarctica (rumor has it that it was cold)! In lab, she likes pipetting ‘things.’ It’s therapeutic.

Outside of lab, Olivia enjoys knitting and running. She likes dogs, but doesn’t have one yet.  (clearly, she needs one!)

Favorite ice cream: Banana cream pie and peanut butter cookie dough, depending on the day.

Abby Weaver:  Undergraduate student at UW-Madison.