Microbial Insights provides unparalleled expertise. There is no substitute for experience. Our laboratory personnel have received graduate degrees, and are published, recognized experts. You can rest assured that your samples are in the hands of our dedicated professionals.

Meet a few of these extraordinary scientists below:

Dora Taggart
Chief Executive Officer

Since joining Microbial Insights in 2001, Dora Taggart has advanced the field of Molecular Biological Tools, including pioneering work in qPCR analysis and stable isotope probing. Dora continues to propel MI forward by collaborating with leading researchers in academia and federal agencies to keep MI at the forefront of the industry. As CEO, Dora has become a global ambassador for MBTs, regularly presenting as an invited speaker at environmental and corrosion conferences, leading hundreds of technical workshops worldwide, and co-authoring guidance documents with groups like the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council (ITRC) EMD team and ER Wiki (Remediapedia) to support appropriate use and interpretation of MBTs. In 2011, Dora was named the most valuable team member for the ITRC EMD team. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Bottle Rocket Productions, Boys and Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau, Environmental Workshops, LLC as well as the Board of Visitors for the University of Tennessee Department of Microbiology. Dora received her degree in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Anita Biernacki
Chief Operating Officer

Anita joined Microbial Insights in 2006, and has helped to advance and implement the MI vision. Anita oversees the DNA, PLFA, and Stable Isotope Laboratories and is ultimately responsible for all processes from sample reception through analysis to report delivery and ensuring that we achieve the MI mission of offering our clients the most accurate and comprehensive spectrum of MBTs in the industry. As COO, Anita leads process improvement initiatives, oversees quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC), works to sustain the lab and IT infrastructure, and manages employee relations. Her comprehensive business leadership developed through experience over the years of running MI with a managerial perspective. She received her B.S. in Biology from the University of South Florida and her M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee. During her graduate studies under Prof. David White, Anita employed a variety of MBTs to investigate the microbial community composition and structure associated with methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) biodegradation under anaerobic conditions at gasoline impacted sites.

Dr. Kate Clark
Technical Director

Kate supervises the daily scientific and technical operations at MI, coordinating with multiple parties, including lab directors, clients, project managers, and technical writers, to ensure that high-quality, accurate results are delivered on time and our high customer service standards are upheld. Kate is responsible for project development and implementation as well as comprehensive and historical reporting. With expertise and experience ranging from the lab bench to field sites, she is uniquely suited for project development and management — aiding clients from MBT assay selection and study design through reporting and result interpretation. She received her B.S. in Biology from Rhodes College and went on to complete her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tulsa. During her Ph.D. studies, Kate focused on the use of molecular biological tools (MBTs) including qPCR and stable isotope probing (SIP) to assess biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons and fuel oxygenates. She was also instrumental in the development and full scale, field validation of innovative in situ bioreactors for enhanced biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents.

Dr. Sam Rosolina
Isotope Facility Director

Sam optimizes and implements new analyses in our stable isotope facility. With his expertise and experience in the development and validation of cutting-edge analytical techniques and methods, Sam ensures that the Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) Laboratory meets the highest standards of accuracy and precision while he continues to broaden the scope of environmental molecular diagnostics for environmental and MIC assessment. He received his B.A. in Chemistry from Berea College and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Tennessee. Throughout his Ph.D. research, Sam focused on analysis of trace-level environmental toxins including heavy metals and toxic gases. Detection and quantification of trace contaminants in complex mixtures and media is an especially challenging field requiring not only the development and optimization of innovative new analytical methods but also the establishment of highly rigorous QA/QC procedures for initial and continuing method validation.

Charles Slater
Senior Research Scientist

Charles is instrumental in qPCR and QuantArray assay design and ensuring that Microbial Insights continues to remain at the forefront of molecular microbiology. Charles’ expertise and experience both at the lab bench and at the computer spans the continuum of molecular biology from DNA (extraction, qPCR, sequencing) through gene expression (mRNA, RT-qPCR) to protein purification and analysis (SDS-PAGE, HPLC, MS). Over the past 20 years, the molecular microbiology field has exploded not just in terms of technology but also in terms of data volume with nearly 200,000,000 gene sequences available. Simply put, developing and validating new MBTs requires a special team of scientists and a corporate commitment to research and development. He received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Tennessee and his M.S. in Forensic Science and Biotechnology from the University of Alabama.

Jennifer Amos
Customer Service Director

Jennifer is at the hub of operations responsible for overseeing bottle orders, sample check-in, routine quoting and often serving as the initial point of contact and liaison between our clients and project managers. At MI, we strive to match cutting edge MBTs with exceptional customer service that simply cannot be matched by other laboratories. To achieve this goal, Jennifer combines scientific knowledge and experience with outstanding skills in organization, logistics and communication. While completing her B.A. in Biology, she performed an undergraduate thesis project investigating the orientation of turtles. After graduation, Jennifer oversaw all daily operations of a veterinary practice and went on to hone her customer service skills by managing client contact and business operations for a company with a staff of over four hundred. She received her B.A. in Biology from Maryville College.

Natalie Vaughn
Project Management

Natalie is responsible for project management and interfaces with clients for MBT assay selection, sampling logistics, and routine customer service requests. Her background in molecular biology and microbiology, combined with field experience, makes her well-suited for evaluating client projects and recommending the most appropriate analytical options. She received her B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga and her M.S. in Microbial Ecology at Arizona State University. For her master’s thesis, Natalie investigated the influence of precipitation changes on the microbial community composition and physiological responses in desert soils. Since graduating, she has diversified her skills working in industry, academic research, and teaching microbiology at the collegiate level. Natalie enjoys sharing her passion for science and draws on her teaching experience to communicate with clients and bring them up to speed on the utility and applications of our MBTs.

Hamid Tellez
Data Analyst

Hamid has been a Data Analyst with Microbial Insights since 2019 and works to streamline the data handling process along the path from the raw output to its implementation in the final deliverable. His role includes analyzing data output from qPCR, QuantArrayTM, and sequencing tests to ensure accurate and informative results, as well as working to push the reliability and further automation of the report generation process. His ultimate goal is to ensure the highest standard of quality assurance for every sample processed.  With a background in Statistics (University of Tennessee) and Analytics (Georgia State University), Hamid helps contribute to the technical side of the DNA analysis process while also helping ensure the interpretability and functionality of the statistics and analyses being provided to clients.

Dr. Ali Taleghani

Senior Scientist

As a senior scientist, Ali is responsible for project development and implementation as well as comprehensive and historical reporting. With a background in data analysis and modeling, contamination tracking, and remediation planning, Ali leverages his comprehensive skill set to provide superior data interpretation and reporting. He received his B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Iran University of Science and Technology and his M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Sharif University of Technology. During this time, his research focused on modeling the transport of contaminants in multiphase environments as well as producing activated carbon derived from agricultural residues to remove heavy metals in industrial wastewater. While pursuing his Ph.D. in Biological Engineering at the University of Missouri, he investigated the biodegradation of veterinary antibiotics via bench-scale anaerobic digesters and established a full-scale ammonia stabilization project.