Lab summer party, 2023

Department R01 celebration, 2022

Abby R Kroken, PhD

Abby earned her PhD at the Medical College of Wisconsin studying the structure and function of clostridial neurotoxins in the lab of Joseph Barbieri. She did her postdoctoral fellowship with Suzanne Fleiszig at UC Berkeley in the School of Optometry, where she developed her imaging skills to study the contact-lens associated pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and also become immersed in the cornea, contact lens, and vision science communities. She now investigates the role of toxins used by bacteria while colonizing corneal tissue. As an external and clear organ, the cornea presents a unique opportunity for simplified intravital imaging methods and single-cell imaging, allowing her and the lab to ask basic questions about host-pathogen biology and aid in solving vision-threatening problems. 

Abby is from rural Wisconsin and spent much of her childhood planning to become an artist or maybe have a nice office job. A few influential teachers set her on a course to take microbiology halfway through college, from which there was no turning back. As a first gen college student, she is interested in continuing to ask (and now occasionally answer) naive questions about how science careers work. 

Outside the lab, Abby enjoys caring for an extensive plant collection, scouring antique and thrift shops for unusual home decor, and learning to make challenging recipes. She aspires to take up kayaking and foster infant kittens (not simultaneously). 

Rachel Mazurek

IPBS Graduate Student

Hometown: Des Plaines, IL

B.S., Elmhurst University, Biology major

Bacteria, fur babies, spooky season, and heavy metal. Christmas begins Nov 1st.

Adam Thota

IPBS Graduate Student

Hometown: Muskego, WI

B.S., Wisconsin Lutheran College

M.S., Loyola University Chicago, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Zach Resko


Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

B.S., Duquesne University: Biological Sciences major

PhD, Loyola University Chicago, Microbiology & Immunology

Gustavo Serrato

MIIM Master's student

B.S., University of Michigan

Support Staff

Halimede Kroken-Rusch
Age 3
The Lost Companion,
class of 2021

collects houseplant leaves

Gimli Mazurek
Age 5

likes the cat and CAR RIDES

Lettuce Mazurek
Age 7

likes anything that remotely resembles food

Shiloh Thota
Age 6

primarily interested in napping

Bilbo Bunnins Mazurek
Red Door Shelter,
class of 2023

loves adventures and bananas

Bean Resko
Age 1

sock collecting enthusiast

Mochi Serrato
Age 2

anything on the floor is a treat, including the cat

Momo Serrato
Age 1
Brownstone Animal Shelter,
class of 2023

Chicagoland kitty parkour champion

Lab Alumni

Keith Klein, Inaugural lab member

Research Assistant II, 2021-2022

Kroken AR, Klein KA, Mitchell PS, Nieto V, Jedel EJ, Evans DJ, Fleiszig SMJ. Intracellular replication of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in epithelial cells requires suppression of the caspase-4 inflammasome. mSphere. 2023 Aug 17:e0035123.

After Kroken lab: Medical School at University of Illinois Chicago