Current Lab Members

Peg Riley

Position: Principal Investigator/ Professor/President Massachusetts Academy of Sciences/Co-Director Center for Drug Resistance/Co-founder of Bacteriotix LLC

Lab Member Since: 1991

Dr. Margaret (Peg) Riley, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1991 and joined the faculty at Yale University, where she was granted tenure and remained for 15 years while developing an internationally renowned research program in antimicrobial drug discovery. She has published over 100 articles and edited four books in her research area. Her early studies in microbial ecology and the evolution of antibiotic resistance suggested an alternative to the current paradigm of antibiotic drug discovery, one that recognizes the power of targeted approaches to therapeutic intervention, which result in lower levels of antibiotic resistance and reduced collateral damage to the healthy human microbiome. In 2009 Dr. Riley co-founded a biopharmaceutical company, Bacteriotix, whose mission is to provide proof of concept for this new drug development paradigm, with a focus on therapeutic interventions for catheter acquired urinary tract infections. In 2009, she co-founded the Institute for Drug Resistance, whose mission is to facilitate novel, multidisciplinary approaches to addressing the challenge of drug resistance and created a new Gordon Research Conference on Drug Resistance.

In 2008 Dr. Riley created the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase levels of civic science literacy. She currently serves as its President and oversees science outreach and education reform efforts aimed at engaging middle and high school students in independent research experiences and providing their teachers with professional development opportunities in inquiry-based teaching methods. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and recently joined the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sandra Robinson

Position: Lab Manager/ Graduate Student

Lab Member Since: 2007

Sandra began working in the Riley lab in May of 2007 as an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology and became the lab manager and a Research Fellow in the Riley lab. She is currently a graduate student in Animal Biotechnology and Biomedical Science. She is currently finalizing a large project examining the evolutionary history of beta-lactamase genes - genes that encode proteins which confer resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics. Her thesis focuses on the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of catheter-acquired urinary tract infections. She has also founded a small biopharmaceutical company (Bacteriotix) and is working on the development of narrow-spectrum therapeutics.

Jenna Farrell

Position: Executive Director, Massachusetts Academy of Sciences

Lab Member Since: 2009

Jenna was a Massachusetts Academy of Sciences intern during her senior undergraduate year at UMass Amherst and became the Executive Director upon graduation. Jenna is responsible for administering the portfolio of programs the Academy offers, as well as fundraising, partnership building, and operations management. Additionally, she oversees student interns and the care of the MAS mascots, Charles Darwin the Bearded Dragon, Monty the Python, and Doc the African Grey parrot.

Danielle Federa

Position: Co-Director, Information and Project Management, Institute for Drug Resistance Database Manager, Riley Lab

Lab Member Since: 2009

Federa got her MBA at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and spent over 20 years as a management consulting specializing in the integration of strategic and financial planning. She developed a Thought Leadership practice within the firm to guide clients in the prudent acquisition and implementation of emerging technologies. She founded a successful consulting firm that provided services to the health services sector and recently expanded her portfolio to include information management through the completion of a Masters in Information and Library Science degree. Currently, Federa is responsible for the strategic and operational planning for the Institute for Drug Resistance.

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