Michael Ceballos

Michael Ceballos

Assistant Professor

J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences

(BISC)-Biological Sciences

Phone: 479-575-5643

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The Ceballos Lab is a highly interdisciplinary microbiology and biochemistry research laboratory. Currently, there are two core projects:

First, the lab investigates pathways by which neurotropic double-stranded DNA viruses may induce seizure. A transgenic mouse model system is used for both in vitro and in vivo studies to elucidate neurobiological mechanisms that may underlie viral-induced epileptogenesis in humans.  The lab is also interested in the role that herpesvirus integration (and reactivation from latency) may play in telomere disruption and oncogenesis.

Second, the lab is studying the prevention, emergence, transmission, and attenuation of double-stranded DNA viral diseases in aquaculture.  In addition to host-pathogen interactions in fish, the lab collaborates with both domestic and international partners to explore novel methods to enhance aquaponics technologies toward developing low maintenance, low energy-use, "sustainable" systems for use in rural and tribal villages. This includes the integration of microalgae photobioreactor and permaculture systems to bioremediate aquaculture effluent while producing useful photosynthetic products (i.e., algal and plant biomass/metabolites) that may be used as food or medicine. This project is supported, in part, by an award from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Through partnerships with academic, government, private, and non-profit organizations across the country, other collaborative projects are also underway.  This includes engineering protein systems derived from extremophile microorgansims to enhance biofuel production processes, studying the antiviral properties of tribal-use plants, and developing novel molecular tools from viral and microalgal systems.  The Ceballos Lab maintains extensive research and student training partnerships in southeast Asia (i.e., Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand) and in South America.



Dr. Ceballos has delivered a variety of courses during his career including lower-division courses in Physics and Chemistry and upper-division courses in Virology and Neurobiology.  Currently, he shares responsibility with Dr. David McNabb for a core Cell Biology course at the University of Arkansas.

University of Montana (Missoula), Ph.D.

Microbiology & Biochemistry


University of Alabama at Birmingham, M.A.

Behavioral Neuroscience


University of Alabama in Huntsville, B.S.



Ceballos RM. Bioethanol and Our Natural Resources: Feedstocks, Pretreatments & Engineered Systems, Taylor and Francis Publishers, LLC [under contract; anticipated completion date 12/2016]

O’brien MP, Beja-Pereira A, Allendorf FW, Anderson N, Ceballos RM, Cross PC, Edwards H, Higgins J, Wallen R, and Luikart G (2016) DNA Tracking of Recent Brucellosis Outbreaks in Montana and Wyoming Livestock. Journal of Wildlife Disease [accepted for publication]

Ceballos RM, Chan MKY, Batchenkova NA, Duffing-Romer AX, Nelson AE, and Man S (2015) Bioethanol: Feedstock Alternatives, Pretreatments, Lignin Chemistry, and the Potential for Green Value-Added Lignin Co- Products. J Environmental Analytical Chemistry 2(5).

Ceballos RM, Ceballos, Jr RM, Rani A, Morales CT*, Batchenkova NA(2014) Improved Hydrolysis of Pretreated Lignocellulosic Biomass using Mobile Enzyme Sequestration Platforms. Recent Advances Energy Environment Materials 47-53.

Ceballos R, Sankoli SM, Ramnath S, Venkataramegowda S, Murthy GS, and Ceballos RM (2013) Evaluation of phytochemicals and in vitro antioxidant studies of Toddalia asiatica leaf. Int J Phytomed Rel Ind - Medicinal Plants. 5(4):202-205.

Merculieff Z, Shubharani R, Seethalakshmi, MS, Sivaram, V, Murthy GS and Ceballos RM (2013) Phytochemical, antioxidant and antibacterial potential of Elaeagnus kologa (schlecht.) leaf. Asian Pacific J. of Tropical Biomedicine 4(1):930-934.

Juneja A, Ceballos RMMurthy GS (2013) Effects of environmental factors and nutrient availability on the biochemical composition of algae for biofuels production: A Review. Energies “Algae Fuel 2013”. 6:4607-4738.

Venkataramegowda Sivaram, Koragandahalli Venkateshappa Jayaramappa, Anita Menon and Ruben Michael Ceballos (2013) Use of bee-attractants in increasing crop productivity in Niger (Guizotia abyssinica. L). Braz. Arch. Biol. Technol. 56(3):365-370.

Ceballos RM*, Marceau CD*, Marceau JO*, Morales CT*, Morris S, Clore AJ, and Stedman KM (2012) Differential virus host-ranges of the fuselloviridae of hyperthermophilic archaea: Implications for evolution in extreme environments. Front in Microbiology,3(295):1-10.

Ceballos, RM (2011) “Ten Commandments of Establishing and Maintaining a Viable Research Program” (2011) in Scholarly Guideposts for TCUP faculty published by the QUALITY EDUCATION FOR MINORITIES NETWORK for the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) [Spring 2011; pp.1-11].

Gary T, Butler J, Arino de la Rubia L, Myles EL, Bradford K, Kirven- Brooks M, Ceballos RM, Taylor L, Bell B, and Coulter G (2010). The NASA Astrobiology Institute — Minority Institution Research Support Program: Supporting the Next Generation of Astrobiologists. Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series. Bioastronomy: Molecules, Microbes and Extraterrestrial Life. Vol. 420: 477-484. 

Mao J-D, Ajakaiye A, Lan Y, Olk, DC, Ceballos M*, Zhang T, Fan MZ and Forsberg CW (2007) Chemical structures of manure from conventional and phytase transgenic pigs investigated by advanced solid-state NMR spectroscopy. J. of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56:2131-2138.

Ceballos, RM (2006) “Biomedical Science: No Longer Taboo at Tribal Institutions”. Winds of Change – Journal of American Indian Education, Vol. 21(2) [Spring Issue 2006].

Quick MW, Ceballos RM*, Kasten M, McIntosh MJ and Lester RAJ (1999) α3β4 subunitcontaining nicotinic acetylcholine receptors dominate function in medial habenula neurons. Neuropharmacol. 38: 769-783.



Dr. Ceballos began his professional career in industry working at the Boeing Company in the Flight Modules Design Group on NASA's International Space Station project (ca. 1990s).  After completing a bachelor's degree in Physics, he shifted scholarly focus to biological systems and studied the impacts of drugs (i.e., nicotine) on neuronal systems function in areas of the brain involved in attention, arousal, and addiction. Using rat brain slices and cultured neurons, Dr. Ceballos demonstrated the impact of nictonic agents (agonists and antagonists) on cell signaling. Based in part on this work, he completed a master's degree in Behavioral Neuroscience in 2003. After serving for several years as a masters-prepared science instructor within the tribal college system, Dr. Ceballos decided to continue his formal education and earned a Ph.D. in Integrative Microbiology and Biochemistry through an U.S. National Science Foundation IGERT program.  His dissertaion work, funded in large part by a grant from NASA, focused on virus-host interactions in a hyperthermophilic archaeal dsDNA viral system. Using his prior experience in neurobiology and virology, Dr. Ceballos currently studies neurotropic dsDNA virus systems and emergent infectious disease dynamics, in humans and other vertebrates (e.g., fish and mice). Although his general interests include understanding the evolution of virulence (and attenuation) in host-pathogen systems and the role that viruses play in major evolutionary changes, Dr. Ceballos is also engaged in projects with practical application. As part of an applied science component of his research, he studies microbial systems (e.g., archaea and microalgae) to develop biotechnology to enhance liquid fuel production systems and for optimizing "sustainable" aquaponics systems.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute SEA-PHAGES Certification (2015)

NSF IGERT Ph.D. Trainee - Montana Ecology of Infectious Disease Program (2007-2010)

Ford Foundation Fellow Ph.D. Dissertation Fellowship (2009-2010)

Alfred P. Sloan, Sloan Indigenous Graduate Program PhD Scholar (2006-2009)

NASA Astrobiology Institute MIRS Fellowship (2006)