Lab Members


Özlem Yilmaz

Principal Investigator

Dr. Yilmaz is our principal investigator. She also serves as the Chair of the Oral Health Sciences Department at the Medical University of South Carolina


Nityananda Chowdhury

Staff Scientist

Dr. Nityananda Chowdhury (Nitto) is a post doctoral scientist who joined our lab from Penn State University. Nitto is a bacterial physiology and genomics specialist who also serves as our lab manager.


Brianyell McDaniel Mims

Post-doctoral Fellow

Dr. Brianyell McDaniel Mims is a post doctoral scientist who recently joined the Yilmaz laboratory to study the role that oral pathogens play in the onset of cognitive impairments.


Jaden S. Lee

DMD/PhD Student

Jaden Lee is a DMD/PhD Student who is studying host pathogen interactions in our laboratory as a part of his doctoral studies. Jaden also conducted clinical dental research in Korea after completing his undergraduate degree at Butler.

Bridgette Wellslager.jpg

Bridgette Wellslager

PhD Student

Bridgette Wellslager is PhD Student who is studying host pathogen interactions in our laboratory as a part of her doctoral studies. Prior to joining the lab, Bridgette performed an epidemiological study examining the changes in the prevalence of influenza vaccinations after the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic from 2008 to 2010 at the University of South Carolina Honors College.


Casey Derieux

Laboratory Technician 

Casey Derieux is our laboratory technician and assists the other members with their research. As an undergraduate at Clemson University, Casey worked in the Seekatz laboratory studying the opportunistic pathogen Clostridium difficile.


Ayana Paul

PREP Student

Ayana Paul is a member of MUSC's Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program. She is currently studying the molecular basis for virulence and the persistence of P. gingivalis in human gingival epithelial cells in the Yilmaz laboratory.