Lauren Melcher, BS

Laboratory Manager

Brown Widow - Latrodectus geometricus
  • Photo by Jerry Schudda

    Brown Widow – Latrodectus geometricus

    A lighter color and slightly smaller spider than the Black Widow with a yellow to orange hourglass on its abdomen, the Brown Widow is found on every continent except Antarctica. Although still venomous, Brown Widow bites are not considered to be as painful as the Black Widow’s. This spider has also been suggested to be outcompeting Black Widow populations for habitat as it continues to spread across the globe.

    Brown Widow’s contain alpha latrotoxin in their venom that is unique to the family including Black Widows. This toxin causes sustained, painful muscle spasms which can affect all the muscles in the body simultaneously, and is particularly felt in the larger muscle groups.

Lauren Melcher works as the laboratory manager for the VIPER Institute and as a research technician in the IDRC laboratory at the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. She is currently working on project for both labs, including characterization of proteins in venom and developing live dead assays to assess the viability of fibroblast cells after venom application, as well as bacterial growth curves testing antimicrobial peptides, like Pexiganan and LL37. She graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan with a B.S. in Biology and Graphic Design in 2018. Previously, she was a research intern in the Aquaculture Pathology laboratory in the School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the University of Arizona, and helped to improve probes for bacterial and viral shrimp disease diagnostics for her senior thesis project. She plans on attending graduate school in the future and hopes to continue a career in research. She enjoys hiking, sailing, and training for triathlons.