David J. Esteban

Associate Professor of Biology
David J. Esteban wearing a dark shirt.

Research in my lab focuses on two main areas. 1) The gut microbiome (the collection of microbes that reside in the gut) is known to impact, and be impacted by, the health of the host. The effects of microbial activity and host response to those microbes extends beyond the gut to the immune system and the nervous system. I am interested in the role of the gut microbiome in disease (cancer cachexia, and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and in host behavior. 2) Using a model sediment ecosystem, my lab has characterized the bacterial community dynamics in response to environmental conditions and we are exploring the structure and diversity of the viral community. To better understand the relationship between the viral and bacterial members of the these communities we are developing techniques to improve culturability of bacteria and their viruses from the environment.

BS, University of Calgary; PhD, Saint Louis University-Main Campus
At Vassar since 2007


Olmsted Hall of Biological Sc
Box 554


STS 303 Senior Thesis

Selected Publications

Esteban, D.J., Hysa, B.*, and Bartow-McKenney, C.* Temporal and spatial distribution of microbial communities in Winogradsky columns.  (2015) PLoS ONE 10(8): e0134588. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0134588

Esteban, D.J, and Holloway, K. S. Mad dogs, vampires, and zombie ants: A multidisciplinary approach to teaching neuroscience, behavior, and microbiology. (2015) Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education. 13(2):A81-A87.

Rundell, E.A*, Banta, L.M, Ward, D. V., Watts, C.D., Birren, B., Esteban, D.J. 16S rRNA gene survey of microbial communities in Winogradsky columns. (2014) PLoS ONE 9(8): e104134. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104134

Esteban, D.J., Upton, C., Bartow-McKenney, C.*, Buller, R.M.L, Chen, N., Schriewer, J., Lefkowitz, E., and Wang, C. Expression of a non-coding RNA in ectromelia virus is required for normal plaque formation. (2014) Virus Genes, 48(1):38-47.

Banta, L.M., Crespi, E.J., Nehm, R.M,  Schwarz, J.A., Singer, S., Manduca, C.A., Bush, E.C., Collins, E.L., Constance, C.A., Dean, D., Esteban, D.J., Fox, S.,  McDaris, J., Paul, C.A., Quinan, G., Raley-Susman, K.M., Smith, M.L,  Wallace, C.S., Withers, G.S., and Caporale, L. Integrating genomics research throughout the undergraduate curriculum: A collection of inquiry-based genomics lab modules. (2012) CBE Life Sciences Education. 11, 203-208.

Esteban, D. J., Parker, S., Schriewer, J., Hartzier, H., and Buller, R.M.L.   Mousepox, a small animal model of smallpox. (2012) In Isaacs, S.N. (ed) Vaccinia Virus and Poxvirology: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 890, p 177-198. Humana Press, NY.

Esteban, D. J., and Hutchinson, A.P.*  Genes in the terminal regions of orthopoxvirus genomes experience adaptive molecular evolution.  (2011) BMC Genomics, 12:261.

In the Media

Ezra Potts ’25 points to a screen  showing what pollen looks like when viewed under a microscope.

More than 80 students engaged in research projects on the Vassar campus this summer with 33 faculty members under the auspices of the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI).


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