Lab in winter, 2024

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 bacterial pathogens while colonizing the ocular surface. 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 continually asks (and now occasionally answers) 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 kayak more frequently 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

Millie Martinez

IPBS Graduate Student

Hometown: Chicago, IL

B.S., Loyola University Chicago, Biology major

Favorite aunt of her nieces and nephews!

Support Staff

Halimede Kroken-Rusch
The Lost Companion,
class of 2021

kneading machine

Gimli Mazurek

likes the cat and CAR RIDES

Lettuce Mazurek

likes anything that remotely resembles food

Shiloh Thota

primarily interested in napping

Bilbo Bunnins Mazurek
Red Door Shelter,
class of 2023

loves adventures and bananas

Bean Resko

sock collecting enthusiast

Mochi Serrato

anything on the floor is a treat, including the cat

Momo Serrato
Brownstone Animal Shelter,
class of 2023

Chicagoland kitty parkour champion

Coco Martinez

loves sunbathing, sleep, and chicken

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