Current Students

Joseph Gary Skeate

Education: M.S. in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, 2013, University of Southern California; B.S. in Biochemistry and Microbiology, 2008, University of Minnesota

Research Project: Herpesvirus extracellular vesicle-mediated changes in high-risk HPV infection

Background: Currently a doctoral candidate in the medical biology program at USC, Joseph originally joined The Kast Lab as a student pursuing his master’s in 2011. Before this time he worked for 3M in the Security, Safety, and Protective Services division where he was awarded two records of invention (ROIs) for his role in the development of microbial detection devices patented by the company. Additionally he is a science teacher for K-12 students for the Neighborhood Academic Initiative, which is weekend program run by USC’s Joint Educational Program to supplement inner-city students STEM education. His other hobbies include (but are not limited to) an abnormal amount of cycling, outdoor rock climbing, and even roasting coffee.

Personal Research Website

Researchgate Profile for Joseph SkeateLinkedin Profile for Joseph Skeate

Julia Taylor, PhD StudentJulia Rose Taylor

Education: B.S. in Biomedical Science, 2013, Lynchburg College_____________________

Research Project: Contributions of the Annexin A2 Heterotetramer to HPV16 Endocytosis

Background:  Julia is a 5th year doctoral candidate investigating the role of a specific protein complex in the host entry and intracellular trafficking of HPV. Using a combination of cellular, molecular, and imaging-based experiments, she is working to further understand how HPV hijacks the normal host cell machinery and travels from the surface of the cell to its final destination, the nucleus. Julia is as equally passionate about communicating science as she is conducting it, and advocates for the use of art and technology to enhance how we communicate our findings. Outside of the lab Julia takes great pleasure in cooking, live music, her cat Luna, and learning new skills. 

Researchgate profile for Julia Taylor Linkedin profile for Julia Taylor 

Shantaé Marie Thornton

Education: B.S. in Health Sciences, 2016, Chapman University

Research Project: Characterization of the role of A2t in birbeck granule (BG) biogenesis occurring in Langerhans Cells and their potential role in HPV processing and antigen presentation.

Background: Shantaé joined The Kast Lab in 2016 to pursue her master’s degree in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) program in the Keck School of Medicine. Before she began working on her thesis research project at USC, her undergraduate research project involved studying molecular regulators of obesity. Following completion of this program, she plans to continue her education by pursuing a PhD and a career in translational research. 

Ruben Prins

Education: B.Sc

Research Project: Utilization of small-molecule inhibitors against STAT3 in HPV-driven tumors

Background: He’s a magical character.

Mikk Otsmaa


Research Project: Targeting LIGHT into solid tumors through vascular targeting peptides

Background: He’s another magical character.