Meet the Team

Kate Buckley

As an undergraduate, Dr. Buckley studied biochemistry at Hood College in Frederick, MD. She became an evolutionary immunologist during her PhD work at George Washington University. After postdocs at the University of Toronto and Carnegie Mellon University, she moved to Auburn.

When not in the lab, you can find her scouring estate sales, turning bacon fat into soap, or with her cat Amelia Grace, who is objectively the best cat on the planet.

Email: kbuckley[at]auburn[dot]edu
Current CV

Ethan Tucker, Graduate Student

Ethan is pursuing his Master’s degree in Biological Sciences. He is interested in understanding how the larval immune system shapes the microbiome. Hailing from Mississippi State with a degree in microbiology, Ethan is growing accustomed to his new wardrobe in Auburn blue and orange.

Chad Hamm, Lab Technician

Chad comes to us from Dothan, Alabama. On top of mastering embryology and molecular biology in the lab and keeping our undergraduate researchers in line, he also sees that the sea urchins are fed and the tanks are in working order.

Undergraduate Researchers

Abbey Behler

Abbey Behler is a Microbial, Cellular & Molecular Biology Major with an emphasis on Microbiology from New Jersey. She is using ATAC-Seq to identify regions of DNA that regulate gene expression during immune response. Abbey is remarkably good at fantasy football and plans to pursue an MD/PhD in immunology.

Harrison Carrell

Harrison Carrell is a Marine Biology major and our resident expert in phylogenetics who is currently analyzing the evolutionary histories of mitochondrial carrier family proteins across the eukaryotic tree of life. His love for building trees from molecular data is truly outstanding. He is the only person from Iowa that most of the lab has ever met.

Nick Kraieski

Nick Kraieski is a Marine Biology Major from Georgia. Nick’s strengths include microscopy, biochemistry, and evolution. Nick’s weakness is remembering lists formatted with bullet points. He is planning to pursue a PhD in biology.

Autumn Pipkin

Autumn Pipkin is a Biomedical Sciences major who is planning to attend medical school. Her first love is horses. But her second love is building the gene regulatory network that controls immune cell differentiation in sea urchin embryos.

Emily Ratkowiak

Emily Ratkowiak is a Microbial, Cellular & Molecular Biology Major with an emphasis on Microbiology. Her military upbringing took her all over the globe, but she is particularly attached to Hawaii. Emily loves microscopy, particularly measuring environmental impacts on larval morphology. She is planning on a career in public health.

English Todd

English Todd is a Biomedical Sciences Major here at AU. She is currently working to understand the role of perforins in the sea urchin larval immune response. English has arguably the best sneaker collection in the lab and objectively two very large dogs that keep her busy. She is planning to attend medical school.

Leah Watts

Leah Watts is a majoring in Organismal Biology with a concentration in Integrative Biology. She is a native Alabamian and a competitive country western dancer. Leah is currently getting her (tube) feet wet in the lab by generating fluorescent bacteria to monitor phagocytosis.

Amelia Williams

Amelia Williams is a Biomedical Sciences major from Birmingham, Alabama. To the confusion of the rest of the lab, her favorite class thus far has been Organic Chemistry. While the best thing about Amelia may be that she shares a name with Dr. Buckley’s cat, her work on the larval immune response to different pathogens is also excellent. She is planning to attend medical school.

Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams is a Biomedical Sciences major from Birmingham, Alabama. Stephen is working on characterizing aspects of microbes that initiate larval immune responses. He has also created some of the greatest sea urchin related jokes of all time. Stephen is heading to vet school this fall.


We are actively looking for PhD students who are interested in uncovering fundamental properties of animal immunity.

The Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn has funded positions available for both Master’s and PhD level graduate students. Contact Dr. Buckley for more details.