Want to join the lab?

PhD student

The Steinel lab is currently looking for 1-2 PhD students. Prospective PhD students should apply to the UML Applied Biology Program (Note: applications are rolling). If you are interested in getting a PhD in the Steinel Lab, you must contact Dr. Steiinel directly. Before you do so, be sure to familiarize yourself with the lab’s research. Interested students should submit via email:

  • CV/resume, highlighting previous coursework (and grades) in cell and molecular biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and/or immunology

  • A cover letter addressing your academic and research background, your interest in one or more of the projects listed below, and your future career goals.

  • An example of the kind of biological problem that interests you. This is to illustrate your ability to identify interesting questions and propose experiments to answer those questions. The lab focus is in fish comparative immunology, host parasite interactions, and parasite-mediated immunosuppression, however other related topics are welcome.

Postdoctoral researcher

The Steinel Lab will be hiring a postdoctoral research associate to begin in the fall of 2019. Ideal candidates will have strong training in immunology, with preference going to candidates with experience in B cell and/or germinal center biology.

Click here to apply via the UML HR website

Ongoing research in the Steinel Lab:

Characterize the stickleback adaptive immune response to immunization and helminth infection. To expand our understanding of vertebrate immunology, the Steinel lab studies the immune response of the small fish, threespine stickleback. Though this fish is a well-established model for evolutionary biology and ecology, it is an up-and-coming model system for the study of fish immunity. To solidify stickleback as a model of fish immunology, we will be conducting a comprehensive characterization of stickleback adaptive immune cells and immune response kinetics. Preliminary work will be conducted on lab-reared and -infected fish, but will be expanded to study stickleback immunity in natural populations in Vancouver Island, Alaska, Iceland, and/or New England


Assess the role of the melanomacrophage center (MMC) in the fish adaptive immunity. The fish B cell response is much like that of mammals, generating memory cells, plasma cells, and high-affinity antibody. However, the fish B cell response accomplishes these outcomes in the absence of germinal centers. Instead, it has been proposed that the fish B cell response occurs within the MMC. To test this hypothesis, we will characterize the MMC, as well as cells found within and in close proximity to the MMC, and measure their response to immune challenge.


Characterize helminth-mediated immunosuppression in stickleback. Stickleback are naturally infected with a tapeworm parasite known as Schistocephalus solidus. We have observed that this tapeworm suppresses the MMC response of infected fish. Interestingly, there is variation among populations of stickleback with respect to their ability to be suppressed by this parasite, with some fish populations being resistant to this suppression. To establish stickleback as a model of host-parasite interactions and assess parasite-mediated immunosuppression in stickleback, we will determine the effect of helminth infection on stickleback B cell, T cell, and MMC activation in vivo


Identify the tapeworm-derived factors which mediate helminth-induced immunosuppression in stickleback. Tapeworms can modulate host immunity via the release of excretory and secretory factors. These products interact and manipulate host immune function through numerous pathways, such as the activation of immunoregulatory pathways or the dampening of immune cell activation/proliferation. To determine the mechanisms through which S. solidus manipulates stickleback immunity, we will identify the tapeworm excretory-secretory products and test, both in vivo and in vitro, their ability to mediate immunomodulation in threespine stickleback.