Our Team

To contact the team, reach out to info(at)wolbachiaproject.org.

Sarah Bordenstein, M.S., Director and co-founder of The Wolbachia Project

Sarah Bordenstein

Sarah is Director of Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project and Associate Research Professor in the Departments of Biology and Entomology at Penn State University. She is an expert in curriculum development, particularly in the field of microbiology in which she develops and disseminates worldwide educational resources related to symbiosis and biotechnology. As co-leader of the Bordenstein Lab, she applies quantitative and computational genomic analyses to study phage WO and plasmid biology in Wolbachia. Her favorite arthropod order is Lepidoptera.

Seth Bordenstein, Ph.D., Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Endowed Chair in Microbiome Sciences and co-founder of The Wolbachia Project

Seth Bordenstein has studied animal-microbe symbioses and microbiomes for 25 years. He is an evolutionary geneticist and microbiologist in the Departments of Biology and Entomology at Penn State University. He is the founding director of the worldwide HHMI-initiated science education program Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project and of The Vanderbilt Microbiome Innovation Center. He currently serves as Director of The Pennsylvania State University Microbiome Center, one of the largest and most venerable organizations in the field. His laboratory endeavors to understand the evolutionary and genetic principles that shape symbiotic interactions between animals, microbes, and viruses and the major applications of these interactions to human health. Towards these goals, the lab employs hypothesis-driven approaches to study intimate symbioses between arthropods and obligate intracellular bacteria that modify sexual reproduction and facultative symbioses between animals and gut microbes that impact animal health, fitness, and evolution. Dr. Bordenstein is the recipient of the 2014 Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Research, 2018 Chancellor Faculty Fellow Award from Vanderbilt University, 2020 Genetics Society of America Award for Excellence in Education, 2020 Centennial Endowed Professorship, and 2022 Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Endowed Chair in Microbiome Sciences.

Athena Lemon, M.S., Data Manager

Athena is a Laboratory Scientist at the Tennessee Department of Public Health with a passion for science communication and outreach. After working with fleas and the plague at Washington State University, she joined the Wolbachia Project in 2020 as a Project Coordinator. She co-created the underlying database, paying special attention to the taxonomy and data entry experience for users, and contributes as a data manager. When not in lab, Athena knits, quilts, and gardens. Her favorite arthropod order is Siphonaptera.

Nick Negretti, Ph.D., Database Administrator

Nick designed and built The Wolbachia Project database. He is currently working at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the department of pediatrics, division of neonatology. He enjoys working on digital projects, 3D printing, and gardening. His favorite arthropod species are roly poly’s and honeybees.