People Present

Upon graduation our students receive first-class up to date training and the right credentials sought by employers in the job market

Suzanne F. Dagher Ph.D

1994 Ph.D. Molecular Biology—Michigan State University

E-mail: sfdagher(at)

She is an expert with extensive dexterity in molecular biology, protein biochemistry, protein expression, protein purification and yeast genetics.

Jesse Noar Candidate to Ph.D. in Microbiology

2011-2013 NSF GRFP Fellow

B.A. Biology/Microbiology Cornell University

E-mail: jdnoar(at)

Jesse Noar grew up in some suburbs of New Jersey, but despite that has always been pretty fond of nature. He spent a good amount of time playing outdoors and reading about how things work.

In high school, an especially good biology teacher introduced Jesse to techniques of microbiological culture and told him to separate and identify the organisms in a mixed culture, which he found so enjoyable that he decided to make a career of studying bacteria.

In his undergraduate years at Cornell University, Jesse did well in his microbiology classes and also worked in several labs, gaining experience and research enough to complete an honors thesis. After graduating, he decided to remain in his current lab and gather enough data to publish his first scientific journal article.

With a few years’ worth of research experience under his belt, Jesse decided that it was time to aim for a PhD, and enrolled in the Microbiology graduate program at North Carolina State University, working in the lab of Dr. Bruno-Bárcena. Initially funded by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU and from July 2011 by a NSF graduate research fellowship, he is currently researching a strain of diazotroph that has the potential to produce marketable quantities of hydrogen.

Walter Javier Sandoval Espinola M.S.

2009  Bachelor of Science, Biology – Universidad Nacional de Asunción (UNA) San Lorenzo, Paraguay

2011 NCSU Master of Science and Candidate to Ph.D.  in Microbiology

E-mail: wjsandov(at)

2009-2011 FULBRIGHT Fellow

Walter was awarded in 2009 with a Fulbright scholarship.  He grew up in the city of Luque, near Asuncion, the Capital city of from Paraguay.

While he was an undergrad student, with a major in Biology, he also worked in the Quality Control department of a meat processing plant. This is where he got more interested in bacteria, his current major in grad school.

After obtaining his bachelor degree at the Universidad Nacional de Asuncion,  he was offered the possibility to study in several universities in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. He finally decided to come to North Carolina State University. His research is focused in second generation biofuel, specifically, producing biobutanol using a mutant strain of Clostridium with a non-food carbon source as the substrate. His aim is to improve the productivity of this biofuel so that it can become cost-competitive compared with fossil fuels. This, he says, will help society become more independent of petroleum, and all the geopolitical and contamination issues that this fossil fuel carries with it.

Besides science, he is also an amateur photographer who really enjoys the outdoors. From the highlands to the beach,  you might always find him taking pictures. He likes art in most of its expression. In the end, he says, science is a form of art.

Hunter Whittington

2013 B.S. in Microbiology – NC State University

E-mail: hdwhitt(at)

A North Carolina native, Hunter was born in the beautiful city of Asheville, but has lived all over the state. His fascination with the sciences was evident at an early age, as he spent much of his time collecting rocks and experimenting with chemistry.

In high school, Hunter’s interest in microbiology piqued when he performed a simple bacterial transformation experiment in his AP Biology class. Several long discussions later, Hunter knew that he wanted to perform microbiological research.

For various silly reasons, Hunter decided to pursue a degree in Biomedical Engineering at NC State and after a semester of struggling through boring engineering classes, he knew something had to change. After a brief meeting with Dr. Jim Brown, Hunter changed his major and eventually earned his Bachelor’s degree in microbiology.

After graduating Hunter spent a year in the NCSU Department of Plant Pathology developing real-time PCR quantification assays for different plant pathogens. He then spent some time working as a technician at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute before returning to NC State to pursue his Ph.D.

Outside of science, Hunter enjoys spending his time hiking, backpacking, rockhounding and cooking.


Alicia Cox

Senior undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology.

E-mail: acox(at)


Alicia is an outstanding scholar from Raleigh.  She grew up in the city of oaks where would like to receive graduate level education.

She has been the recipient of the summer 2015 research grant from the office of undergraduate research at NCSU.

In recognition of her high academic achievement, the Department of Microbiology and the College of Sciences have chosen her as the recipient of the Dr. Elizabeth S. Haas Memorial Research Endowment for Women in Microbiology for the 2015-2016 academic year.