• DeVeaux Lab

    Microbiology and Molecular Biology of Extremophiles

    and not-so-Extremophiles


    Department of Biology

    New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology


  • What We Do

    Here are a few of our current projects....

    Radiation Survival Mechanisms

    Some like it hot

    Mechanisms of extreme radiation resistance remain elusive. We have created some of the most radiation resistant organisms known, and are investigating their unique characteristics. Photo of Halobacterium salinarum colony courtesy of Matt Ford (used with permission).

    Antibiotic Resistance, Pathogenicity and Survival

    A walk on the wild side

    Severe climate events, such as the recent massive floods associated with hurricanes and unprecedented snow packs, create environments that bring together bacteria that normally do not interact with each other. Since bacteria can and do readily exchange genetic material even across species, these events have the potential to create novel genetic combinations with increased human disease potential.

    Phage Therapy

    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

    We recently became part of a larger project with Sandia National Lab, looking at ways to use phage to specifically target certain human pathogenic bacteria. Photo of phages infecting Pseudomonas aeruginosa courtesy of Kasandra Velarde.

    image by Amit Chowdhury, USD

    Fingerprint Imaging

    What's a shedder?

    The goal of this project is to develop a safe, cost-effective portable field system for sensitive, interference-free latent fingerprint identification and DNA extraction. The system will be based on near infrared (NIR)-to-NIR upconversion luminescence from optimized nanoparticles (UCNPs) and be capable of capturing highly resolved fingerprint images under full ambient lighting, even on highly fluorescent surfaces. This is an interdisciplinary project, headed by researchers from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of South Dakota. Image of cells on fingerprint courtesy of Amit Chowdhury, USD.

  • Lab members

    Meet the gang:

    Professor and Chair, Biology Department

    New Mexico Tech

    Ph.D. University of Virginia, Microbiology, 1984

    B.S. University of California, Berkeley, Genetics, 1979

    Wellesley College, 1976-77

    Ph.D. student

    Katheryn Perea

    PhD student

    Kat is a PhD student who started in the Biotechnology program in the summer of 2021. She came back to NMT after several years in industry, focused on furthering her career in research. Within biology, Kat specializes in microbial community analysis, molecular biology, genomic and metagenomic analysis. She also has a background in both programming and theoretical mathematics and plans on pursuing more interdisciplinary research questions across these fields. When Kat isn’t running a gel backwards for the third time that day or smashing the keys on her keyboard in frustration, she’s probably out hiking, drinking beer, or getting tattooed. Kat’s plan for the future is up in the air, but she plans to keep exploring new questions and learning new skills, wherever she ends up.

    MS student

    Kasandra Velarde started research in the DeVeaux lab in Spring of 2019. She has worked on various organisms and has interned at three different universities! Currently, she is working on neutralizing pathogens by electron beam irradiation without destroying genomic integrity for research purposes. On the days she's not in the lab, she's hanging out with friends and family or playing sports. Here's a sweet quote of her time as a microbiologist - "Well, you know, usually my career consisted of alcohol, streaking, and antibiotics... ('pause for dramatic effect')... (ba dum tss). These are techniques that all microbiologists need to know especially if they are working with pathogens."


    Hannah Lambertson

    MS student

    Hannah is a current M.S. student from Colorado who was part of the 5-year accelerated Master's program at NMT, graduating with her B.S. in Biology in the Spring of 2021. She began working in the DeVeaux lab in Spring 2020 working as an undergraduate research assistant. She has worked with a variety of different organisms in the lab, but is currently doing research on radiation resistance mechanisms in Halobacterium salinarium. When not in the lab or doing homework, she likes to cross stitch, read, and plan her wedding! After completing her M.S., Hannah hopes to pursue a PhD in cancer or molecular biology back in her home state!

    Katherine Persinger

    MS student

    Katie Persinger began assisting in the lab in the Fall of 2019. She has worked with Antarctic isolates, Pseudomonas biofilms, phages, and extremophiles. Katie is currently working on her Master's thesis and studying the radiation resistance mechanisms of halotolerant archaea. She also has extensive experience with pug wrangling and pottery-making. Katie hopes to work with extremophiles and research life outside Earth in the future.

    Olivia Berding

    Undergraduate student

    Olivia is an undergraduate student pursuing her degree in biology as well as a minor in psychology. She is currently a junior here at New Mexico Tech, and has been working in the lab since May of 2021. When she isn't in the lab or doing school work, she is practicing her photography, baking sweets, or playing basketball with her friends. She intends to get her Bachelors, pursue her Master's degree, and in time choose between pursuing a career in genetics counseling or midwifery.

    Benjamin Wilson

    Undergraduate student

    Benjamin started learning the ins and outs and attending meetings in the Spring 2021 semester in his freshman year and working over the Summer of 2021. He is currently a sophomore and aspiring pre-med student seeking to complete a B.S. in Biology. He plans to graduate in the Spring of 2024 and see where the wind takes him (hopefully to graduate school). He spends his days working on homework, dabbling in swimming, and visiting Santa Fe on the weekends to see his family and volunteer at the hospital.

    Meera Bhakta

    Undergraduate student

    Meera is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in biology. She is currently a junior at New Mexico Tech. She is hoping to pursue a PhD and work in a lab someday. She is hoping to learn as much as she can about microbiology and genetics. When she isn't doing homework, she is hanging out with friends, reading, and relaxing with her bunny.

    Casia Esparza

    MS student in the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Duval


    Casia first began working in the DeVeaux lab in summer 2019, focusing on the fingerprint identification project. After two-plus years filled with endless PCR and gel electrophoresis, she graduated with her B.S. in Biomedical Sciences. While her project here focused on human fingerprint DNA, she has also worked with Pseudomonas aeruginosa and bacteriophages. When she finally has free time, she is often out in the field taking pictures of the vast landscapes around New Mexico, doing some type of art project, or cooking/baking for anyone that’s hungry.


    She is now working on her M.S. in Biology in Dr. Ben Duval’s lab.

    Accelerated MS student in the laboratory of Dr. Joel Sharbrough

    Raymond began working in the lab his freshman year in the fall of 2018, gaining experience and learning new things from his fellow peers. He is currently working on his Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences and plans to graduate (he hopes) in 2022 with his BS, and MS in 2023.. When he’s not in the lab or working on papers for his classes, Raymond enjoys playing piano and guitar as well as participating in the Council for Climate Change Club and Techie Stand Up here at New Mexico Tech. Additionally, Raymond probably owns too many Metallica shirts for his own good.

    Raymond actually now works in the laboratory of Dr. Joel Sharbrough at NMT.

    Ph.D. student

    Completing her baccalaureate in computer engineering in 1986, Faye Schilkey's career spanned programming assembly line controllers for the automotive industry to real-time autopilot and guidance missile systems to IT, databases and bioinformatics software. For approximately the last 12 years Ms. Schilkey has specialized in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics technologies and leads multidisciplinary teams in productive research collaborations. She has worked at the National Center for Genome Resources since 1996 and has been the Director of the New Mexico IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (NIH NIGMS 2P20GM103451) Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core since 2007.

  • Publications

    Evans, J.J., A. Bost, K.H. Muci-Kuchler, and L.C. DeVeaux, 2018. Factors affecting use of ballistics gelatin in laboratory studies of bacterial contamination in projectile wounds, Military Medical Research 5:16. doi.org/10.1186/s40779-018-0164-7.


    Evans, J.J., P.E. Gygli, J. McCaskill and L.C. DeVeaux, 2018. Role of RPA homologs in radiation survival of the model archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. Genes 9, 223. Special Issue entitled “Genetics and Genomics of Extremophiles”. doi:10.3390/genes9040223.


    Lee, B.D., W.A. Apel, P.P. Sheridan and L.C. DeVeaux , 2018. Glycoside Hydrolase Gene Transcription by Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius During Growth on Wheat Arabinoxylan and Monosaccharides: A Proposed Xylan Hydrolysis Mechanism. Biotechnology for Biofuels 11, 110. doi.org/10.1186/s13068-018-1110-3


    Lee, B., W. Apel, L.C. DeVeaux and P.P. Sheridan, 2017. Concurrent metabolism of pentose and hexose sugars by the polyextremophile Alicyclobacillus acidocaldarius. Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology 44, 1443-1458. doi.org/10.1007/s10295-017-1968-2


    Smith, S. J.N. Benardini, D. Anderl, M. Ford, E. Wear, M. Schrader, W. Schubert, L.C. DeVeaux, A.Paszczynski, and S.E. Childers, 2017. Identification and Characterization of Early Mission Phase Microorganisms Residing on the Mars Science Laboratory and Assessment of Their Potential to Survive Mars-like Conditions. Astrobiology 17. doi: 10.1089/ast.2015.1417.


    Upadhyaha, B., L.C. DeVeaux, and L.P. Christopher, 2014. Metabolic engineering as a tool for enhanced lactic acid production. Trends in Biotechnology 32, 637-644. doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2014.10.005


    Christopher, L.P., V. Kapatral, B. Vaisvil, G. Emel and L.C. DeVeaux, 2014. Draft Genome Sequence of a New Homofermentative, Lactic Acid-Producing Enterococcus faecalis Isolate, CBRD01. Genome Announcements 2, e00147-14. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00147-14


    Gygli, P.E. and L.C. DeVeaux, 2014. Adaptation of the Halobacterium salinarum ssp. NRC-1 gene deletion system for modification of chromosomal loci. Journal of Microbiology Methods 99, 22-26. doi.org/10.1016/j.mimet.2014.01.012


    Lockhart, J.S. and L.C. DeVeaux, 2013. The Essential Role of the Deinococcus radiodurans ssb Gene in Cell Survival and Radiation Tolerance. PLoS One 8, e71651. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0071651


    Mestari, M.A., D. P. Wells, L.C. DeVeaux, and S. F. Naeem. 2008. Real-Time Dosimetry System for Radiobiology Experiments Using a 25 MeV LINAC, CAARI 2008: 20th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry Conference Proceedings, 3-6. doi.org/10.1063/1.3120062


    Gygli, P., S. Prajapati, M.A. Mestari, and L.C. DeVeaux, 2008. Resistance of an extreme Halophile to multiple stresses, CAARI 2008: 20th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators in Research and Industry Conference Proceedings, 993-996. doi.org/10.1063/1.3120210


    DeVeaux, L.C., J. R. Smith, S. Hobdey, E. C. Spindler, D.P. Wells, C. Frandsen, T. Webb, M.A. Mestari, V. Dimitrov, and W. Beezhold, 2007. Effect of Electron Beam Dose Rate on Microbial Survival. Proceedings of the Eighth International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Applications and Utilization of Accelerators, 388-393.


    DeVeaux, L.C., J.A. Müller, J.R. Smith, D.P. Wells, J.E. Petrisko, S. DasSarma, 2007. Extremely radiation-resistant mutants of a halophilic archaeon with increased single-stranded DNA binding protein (RPA) gene expression, Radiation Research 168 (4) 507-514. https://doi.org/10.1667/RR0935.1

    DeVeaux, L.C., D.P. Wells, A.W. Hunt, T. Webb, W. Beezhold, 2006. Accelerator-Based Radiation Sources for Next-Generation Biological Research. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A 562, 981-984. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2006.02.119
    DeVeaux, L.C., L.S. Durtschi, J.G. Case, D.P, Wells, 2006. Bystander Effects in Unicellular Organisms. Mutation Research 597, 78-86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2005.06.033
    Webb, T., W. Beezhold, F. Harmon, R. Spaulding, L. DeVeaux, J. Petrisko, 2005. Photonuclear and Radiation Effects Testing with a Refurbished 20 MeV Medical Electron Linac. Particle Accelerator Conference 2005 Proceedings http://accelconf.web.cern.ch/AccelConf/p05/PAPERS/RPAP035.PDF.
    Wells, D.P, L.C. DeVeaux, E.L. Roethlisberger*, T.F. Gesell, 2001. Development of Biologically-Based Radiation Dosimetry. Health Physics 80, S100.
    DeVeaux, L.C., G.R. Smith, 1994. Region-specific activators of meiotic recombination in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Genes and Development 8, 203-210. http://doi: 10.1101/gad.8.2.203 Genes & Dev. 1994. 8: 203-210

    Munford, R.S., J.E. Cronan, Jr., L.C. DeVeaux, P.D. Rick., 1992. Biosynthetic radiolabeling of bacterial lipopolysaccharide to high specific activity. J. Immunol. Methods, 148, 115-20.


    DeVeaux, L.C., N.A. Hoagland, G.R. Smith, 1992. Seventeen complementation groups of mutations decreasing meiotic recombination in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Genetics 130, 251-262.


    Naggert, J. M.L. Narasimhan, L. DeVeaux, H. Cho, Z.I. Randhawa, J.E. Cronan, Jr., B.N. Green, S. Smith, 1991. Cloning, sequencing and characterization of Escherichia coli Thioesterase II. J. Biol. Chem. 266, 11044-11050.


    Oden, K.L., L.C. DeVeaux, C.R.T. Vibat, J.E. Cronan, Jr., R.B. Gennis, 1990. Genomic replacement in Escherichia coli K-12 using covalently closed circular plasmid DNA. Gene 96, 29-36.


    DeVeaux, L.C., J.E. Cronan, Jr., T.L. Smith, 1989. Genetic and biochemical characterization of a mutation (fatA) that allows trans unsaturated fatty acids to replace the essential cis unsaturated fatty acids of Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. 171, 1562-1568.


    Lundrigan, M.D., L.C. DeVeaux, B.J. Mann, R.J. Kadner, 1987. Separate regulatory systems for the repression of metE and btuB by vitamin B12 in Escherichia coli. Mol. Gen. Genet. 206, 401-407.


    DeVeaux, L.C., D.S. Clevenson, C. Bradbeer, R.J. Kadner, 1986. Identification of the BtuCED polypeptides and evidence for their role in vitamin B12 transport in Escherichia coli. J. Bacteriol. 167, 920-927.


    Friedrich, M.J., L.C. DeVeaux, R.J. Kadner, 1986. Nucleotide sequence of the btuCED genes involved in vitamin B12 transport in Escherichia coli and homology with components of periplasmic-binding-protein-dependent transport systems. J. Bacteriol. 167, 928-934.


    DeVeaux, L.C., R.J. Kadner, 1985. Transport of vitamin B12 in Escherichia coli: Cloning of the btuCD region. J. Bacteriol. 152, 888-896.


  • Former lab members

    See what our graduates are up to...

    Ashley Chavez

    M.S., Biology, New Mexico Tech, 2020

    Ashley was born and raised in New Mexico. She has been a microbiologist and virologist since she was 16, starting off collecting phages from the Rio Grande and culturing bacteria from plants. She received her BS and MS in Biology from NMT, where her project was in collaboration with Sandia National Labs, focusing of phage therapy, developing a phage cocktail that works against antibiotic resistant strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She also has experience with soil, cannabis, and algal microbiology and phage work. She plans on working in government or industry after graduation. Outside of lab she has two dogs, plays guitar, and collects plants. You know when Ashley is working because heavy metal is blasting. Fun fact: Ashley broke her arm in a mosh pit last summer.



    Kimberly McNair

    M.S., Biology, New Mexico Tech, 2020

    Kimberly was a dually-enrolled BS/MS student from Colorado Springs with a passion for microbiology. Her thesis focused on the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms and related genes in the Rio Grande. She completed her BS in May of 2019 and her MS in May of 2020. She currently works at the Texas Department of State Health Services on the Tuberculosis Diagnostics Team.



    Celena Shrum

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2019




    Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2018

    Jessie is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the Idaho college of Osteopathic Medicine. Jessie completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Idaho Veteran's Research and Education Foundation. The focus of her research was Staphylococcus aureus and other drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, and improving our understanding of how bacteria regulate the expression of virulence factors, including exotoxins. The aim of these studies was to define networks that can be exploited for improved diagnostics and innovative intervention strategies to reduce disease incidence and provide protection against lethal and disabling infections.


    Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2017

    Dr. Murray is currently the Director of the Environmental Engineering Tech program at Western Dakota Technical College, and CEO of Crossover Biomedical.





    Elizabeth Jensen

    M.S., Biomedical Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 2017

    Since 2017, Libbey is an instructor for the school of natural sciences at Black Hills State University at their Rapid City, SD, campus. She teaches biology courses for both majors and non majors as well as anatomy labs.

    Ph.D., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2015

    Brady is the Director of the Earth, Biological and Quantitative Systems Science Division at the Savannah River National Laboratory. In this role, he leads a team of 75 scientists and engineers performing multi-disciplinary research and development related to environmental, bioenergy and national security programs. He is also responsible for managing and building programs in the environmental remediation and biological sciences business sectors targeting the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, as well as industrial organizations. He is currently overseeing development of a Biomanufacturing Laboratory Suite that is part of the SRNL Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative being developed with the University of South Carolina-Aiken. In his spare time, he still enjoys pursuing microbiological and molecular research for understanding microbial function and interactions related to a number of complex problems.


    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2013

    Matt manages teaching and research facilities in support of the Food Science & Technology department at UC Davis.



    Patrick Gygli

    Ph.D., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012

    Since his post-doc at the Ohio State University, Pat has been taking a hiatus from laboratory work to focus on other important matters.

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012

    Ben is currently a staff pharmacist for Albertson's in Boise, ID.



    Julienne McCaskill

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012

    Julienne is currently a Lab Manager at AgroPur, where she has 30 employees. They run quality, analytical and organoleptic testing on their cheeses and powdered whey products. She has been in the food industry for over 6 years. Julienne currently lives in beautiful Twin Falls, Idaho where she enjoys shooting, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock climbing, camping, hiking and mountain biking with her husband and 2 dogs.



    Merrit Cherry

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2012




    J. Scott Lockhart

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University. 2012




    Jared Wortham

    M.S., Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Idaho State University, 2009




    Christina Kavran, D.O.

    M.S., Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Idaho State University, 2008




    Mohammed Amine Mestari

    M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2007




    Lynn Durtschi

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2006

    Lynn is an Instructor Evaluator in Administration for BYU-Idaho's Online Learning Department. He is in the final stages of completing his dissertation for an Ed.D in Higher Education Administration at Idaho State University.



    Nino Chelidze

    M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2006

    Nino is a Radiation Safety Officer at Fermi National Laboratory.



    Jonathon Smith

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2006




    Nicola Selfa

    M.S., Microbiology, Idaho State University, 2005




    Patricia Retka

    M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2005




    Cassandra Frandsen

    M.S., Health Physics, Idaho State University, 2005