The Hersperger Lab | Albright College

The Hersperger Lab

Investigations into host-virus relationships.

Adam R. Hersperger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
Chair of the Biology Department

Julie Schrey ’21 performed gel electrophoresis following PCR to examine whether a viral gene was present in a recombinant virus that was constructed in the lab.

Adam H photo

I was born and raised in Erie, PA. After high school, I attended Bucknell University and obtained a bachelor of science degree as a Cell Biology and Biochemistry major. After college, I joined the Cell and Molecular Biology graduate group at the University of Pennsylvania to work on earning a doctorate. My work in graduate school focused on the characterization of CD8+ T-cell responses in various types of HIV-infected patients. While this area of research was quite interesting, I realized it would be extremely difficult to continue in the field of HIV immunology at a small college or university, which was my ultimate goal. Consequently, I sought a lab for my post-doctoral training that made use of in vitro systems and mouse models to investigate viral immunology. I chose to join the lab of Laurence Eisenlohr, VMD, PhD, an expert in the study of antigen processing and T-cell responses in the context of viral infections. It was in this setting that I learned about ectromelia virus (ECTV), a natural pathogen of mice. ECTV is safe to work with and an ideal virus to study with undergraduate student collaborators. Like all poxviruses, ECTV encodes numerous proteins that modulate host processes and the immune system. The study of host-pathogen interactions, especially immune evasion mechanisms, has become a major focus of my research.

I currently call Pottstown, PA home. I have two incredible children ages 4 and 6 that keep me very busy. In my spare time (ha!), I enjoy hiking, gardening, and visiting microbreweries.


Current students:

  • Julie Schrey, class of 2021

Former students:

  • Michelle Nahrgang, class of 2020, plans on applying to medical school in the near future
  • Kaylyn Haan, class of 2019, currently working as a veterinary technician and applying to veterinary school
  • Rose Zimmerman, class of 2019, plans on applying to medical school in the near future
  • Rebecca Morgis, class of 2019, currently attending the Penn State Hershey School of Medicine
  • Julia Pevarnik, class of 2019, applying to medical laboratory scientist training programs
  • Sarah Boothman, class of 2018, currently in a doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Tiffany Frey, class of 2017, currently in a doctoral program at the University of Florida
  • Maura Sheehan, class of 2017, currently applying to medical school and working as a lab technician
  • Colton Ryan, class of 2016, currently attending the Penn State Hershey School of Medicine
  • Devin Fisher, class of 2015, currently in a doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Erin Hand, class of 2015, currently training to become a pharmacist

Recent peer-reviewed publications:

  • Forsyth KS, Roy NH, Peauroi E, DeHaven BC, Wold ED, Hersperger AR, Burkhardt JK, Eisenlohr LC. Ectromelia-encoded virulence factor C15 specifically inhibits antigen presentation to CD4+ T cells post peptide loading. PLOS Pathogens 2020.
  • Frey TR*, Forsyth KS, Sheehan MM*, DeHaven BC, Pevarnik JG*, Hand ES*, Pizzorno MC, Eisenlohr LC, Hersperger AR. Ectromelia virus lacking the E3L ortholog is replication-defective and nonpathogenic but does induce protective immunity in a mouse strain susceptible to lethal mousepox. Virology 2018.
  • Frey TR*, Lehmann MH, Ryan CM*, Pizzorno MC, Sutter G, Hersperger AR. Ectromelia virus accumulates less double-stranded RNA compared to vaccinia virus in BS-C-1 cells. Virology 2017.
  • Hand ES*, Haller SL, Peng C Rothenburg S, Hersperger AR. Ectopic expression of vaccinia virus E3 and K3 cannot rescue ectromelia virus replication in rabbit RK13 cells. PLOS ONE 2015.
  • Hersperger AR, Siciliano NA, DeHaven BC, Snook AE, Eisenlohr LC. Epithelial immunization induces polyfunctional CD8+ T-cells and optimal mousepox protection. Journal of Virology 2014.
  • Siciliano NA, Hersperger AR, Lacuanan AM, Xu R, Sidney J, Sette A, Sigal LJ, Eisenlohr LC. Impact of distinct poxvirus infections on the specificities and functionalities of CD4+ T-cell responses. Journal of Virology 2014.

* an undergraduate student co-author

Rebecca Morgis ’19 and Julia Pevarnik ’19 presented their posters at the 2018 meeting of the American Society for Virology, which was held at the University of Maryland at College Park.


Tiffany Frey ’17 and Maura Sheehan ’17 presented their posters at the 2016 meeting of the American Society for Virology, which was held at Virginia Tech University.


Ectromelia virus expressing GFP (green fluorescent protein) was used to identify virus-infected cells growing in culture. This image shows a cluster of infected cells, which is referred to as a “plaque”.