Dustin was raised a Cubs fan on the Mississippi River in Moline, IL – the home of the John Deere Factory. Following high school, Dustin served in the U.S. Army in Virginia and elsewhere working on cargo ships.
When his time was done with Uncle Sam, he returned home to the Midwest to further his education. First was his Associate’s degree then Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to finish his bachelor’s. While working for Dr. David Duvernell studying the speciation of fish, he became very interested in the forces shaping genomes and the functional consequences of such changes.
Because of this interest, Dustin pursued graduate studies investigating “jumping genes” at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins under the mentorship of the human geneticist Dr. Haig Kazazian Jr. Following this, Dustin decided to explore the West.
He carried out his postdoctoral fellowship with the evolutionary biologist Dr. Nels Elde at the University of Utah. His work in the Elde Lab focused on the elaborate chess match between hosts and viruses which infect them. In particular, he is interested in how genomes change in response to this game of high-stakes and how this information can be used to learn more about the immune response along with other human diseases.
In his free time, Dustin enjoys going to rock concerts; he has attended several hundred to date. In addition, he likes hosting cook-off parties including a chili cook-off now entering its eighth year.
Notably, while a postdoc Dustin was unsuccessful using gourds and squashes for communication purposes – for updates people should contact Dr. Nels Elde who maintains the project to date.