Meet The Team



Manuel Amieva - Principal Investigator

Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) and Microbiology and Immunology

Education: B.A., Biology, Dartmouth College (1986).
M.D./Ph.D., Medicine and Cancer Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine (1997).
Fellowship, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Stanford University School of Medicine (1999-2002).
Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Stanley Falkow, Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine (2000-2004).

Manuel’s research focus is on understanding how bacterial pathogens colonize epithelial surfaces and how epithelial colonization leads to infection and disease. He grew up in Mexico City and fell in love with the wonders of biology as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, where he was taught multiple skills in microscopy and studied the development of marine invertebrates. Afterwards, Manuel returned to Mexico and wrote children’s books that were recorded as radioplays and retold his countless adventures in science and biology. He then moved to California to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. at Stanford University. During his Ph.D., Manuel studied how cytoskeletal proteins aid in cell movement in the laboratory of Heinz Furthmayr. Following completion of a residency in Pediatrics at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Manuel became a Pediatric Infectious Diseases Fellow at Stanford and further trained as a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Stanley Falkow. An avid microscopist, Manuel loves to hide in the microscope room where he can spend countless hours on the confocal looking through the porthole at microbes interacting with cells and tissues.

Outside of the lab, Manuel enjoys spending time with his family, drinking tequila, and scuba diving, though not necessarily all at the same time.




Julia Co - Postdoctoral Researcher

Education: B.S., Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, UCLA (2010).
Ph.D., Microbiology, MIT (2015).

Julia is from the Bay Area and joined the Amieva Lab in 2015. Julia's research interests revolve around bacterial interactions with the mucosal epithelium. Her postdoctoral research explores the use of human organoids as a model to study the gastrointestinal pathogens Helicobacter pylori, and in collaboration with Denise Monack's lab, Salmonella enterica spp. She is interested in studying these models to elucidate how these microbes interact with human epithelia to cause disease. During her Ph.D., Julia investigated how mucosal bacteria respond to the mucus glycoprotein mucin.

Outside of the lab, Julia is interested in K-12 science outreach and enjoys creating multimedia tools to make biology more accessible to students. She also enjoys figure skating, dancing, and eating (mostly different types of bread).




Connie Fung - Graduate Student

Education: B.S., Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, UCLA (2012).

Connie was born and raised in the suburbs of Orange County, California and joined the Amieva Lab in 2013. Connie's doctoral research focuses on a specialized population of Helicobacter pylori that live as microcolonies on the surface of epithelial precursor and stem cells deep in the gastric glands. She is investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of gland colonization, and whether there are adaptive advantages for the bacteria living in this niche. Furthermore, she is interested in characterizing bacterial factors important for maintaining this gland-associated population. Connie's undergraduate research focused on how the parasite Toxoplasma gondii targets proteins to organelles important for host cell invasion and replication.

Connie is involved in several mentoring and science outreach programs on and off campus because she loves teaching and fostering interest in science for younger students. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, eating, traveling, tennis, and crime/mystery dramas.




Mar Margalef-Catala - Postdoctoral Researcher

Education: B.S., Biotechnology, University Rovira I Virgili (URV), Spain (2010).
Master's Degree, Oenology Research, URV (2011).
Ph.D., Oenology and Biotechnology, URV (2016); Applied Biotechnology, University of Verona, Italy (2016).

Mar is from Spain and joined the Amieva Lab in April 2017. After investigating the stress responses of microbes responsible for making wine during her Ph.D., Mar now wants to learn more about the interactions between pathogens and humans. She is interested in using human gastric organoids as a model to study how the bacterium Helicobacter pylori colonizes the stomach.

Mar loves going to scientific dissemination events and learning about other fields. When she is not in the lab doing experiments, Mar enjoys doing volunteer work to teach and play with children. Mar also has an artistic facet--she has sung and danced for many years and is really comfortable with performing on stage.




Rachel Cooper - Research Technician/Lab Manager

Education: B.S., Biology (concentration in Molecular and Cellular Biology), Santa Clara University (2009).

Born and raised in San Jose, Rachel is a Bay Area native. She joined the Amieva Lab in 2013 and manages the lab's day-to-day operations and also assists the graduate students and post docs with their research. While completing her undergraduate studies, Rachel was part of a small research collaboration that studied the ecological and molecular effects on color polymorphisms in the arctic mustard, Parrya nudicaulis.

When not in lab, Rachel daydreams about being on the back of a horse. She rode and competed for many years, and also had the pleasure of coaching the Santa Clara University equestrian team for two years. Her other interests include spending time with her family and friends, road trips to the Sierras, volunteering in her community groups, and fundraising/participating in her mud run team benefitting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.