Lab Members

Jacco Boon, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Boon received his PhD in 2003 from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Dr. Boon studies the interaction between the infected host and RNA viruses including influenza virus, Bourbon virus and SARS-CoV-2, with the aim to identify viral or host proteins that can be inhibited by existing and future antiviral drugs. 

Traci Bricker, MSc

Research Lab Supervisor

I received my Bachelor’s Degree from McKendree University.  I have 18 years of experience at Washington University in St. Louis.  My scientific interests include Influenza virus, Bourbon Virus, and more recently SARS-CoV-2. 

Tamarand Darling, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

I have a BAS in Emergency Medical Science, a BS in biology and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology specializing in virology.  My thesis work encompassed decreasing  Ebola virus and Marburg virus replication using dimerized llama single domain antibodies and evaluating viral protein-protein interactions.  I am now focusing on more widespread viruses such as Influenza and the host response to viral infection.

Astha Joshi, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

I did MS in Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee in India and received a Ph.D. degree in Biophysics from Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics PAS in Poland on a thesis entitled “RNA 3D structure determination using hybrid approaches”.  I would like to combine the expertise in genetics and molecular biology techniques developed in Boon lab with my prior experience in structural biology to understand the molecular mechanism of viruses. With a primary focus on exploring the RNA and protein interactions present in the viral genome, which is essential for viral genome packaging.

Ishmael Aziati, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate

After years of research experience in infectious diseases at NMIMR-University of Ghana, Ishmael obtained a PhD in  Medical Science from Tokyo, Japan. He is now using many techniques to characterize molecular and cellular events critical for the pathogenesis of respiratory and vector-borne infections, as a strategy for new therapy. He is also interested in an integrated Vector-Animal-Human Surveillance for emerging viruses.

Gayan Bamunuarachchi, PhD 

Postdoctoral Research Associate

I graduated from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and received my Ph.D. in biomedical science from Oklahoma State University in 2020. In my Ph.D., I focused on noncoding RNA regulation of Influenza virus replication. My current research interests are to explore the host and RNA virus interactions including Bourbon virus, influenza, and SARS-Cov-2.

Houda Harastani 

Graduate Student in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis

I have my BSc degree (with honors) in Medical Laboratory Sciences from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and a MSc degree in Molecular Biology from the Lebanese American University in Lebanon. With over six years of academic and research experience, I have developed a strong interest and passion in the field of Biology and Biological Sciences. My research interests lie in the area of Molecular Virology, especially in viral packaging, pathogenesis, and vaccine development.

Kuljeet Seehra, MSc

Research Specialist


I have Master in Biology from Washington University in St. Louis and my current project involves working with Influenza A Virus. In particular, I am developing virus neutralization assays for influenza virus to quantify the amount of neutralizing antibodies in serum from diverse mouse strains after vaccination. I also perform ELISA assays to quantify antibody titers in mice and hamsters after influenza and SARS-CoV-2 vaccination.

Past Lab Members

Post-Doctoral Fellows
Md Shafiuddin, PhD

Graduate Students
Anshu Gounder, PhD
Camille Linton, MSc
Graham Williams, PhD

Senior Research Technician
Brittany DesRochers

Undergraduate Students
Preston Lee
Derek McFarland
Rita Chen

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