MIT Microbiology Graduate Students
(under construction!)

tyler dewitt
Tyler DeWitt
Entry Year: 2008
Grossman Lab
Graduated: 2014

BS: Brown University
I study the mechanism of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. In particular, my research focuses on the role of a peptidoglycan hydrolase that is encoded by--and necessary for transfer of--the conjugative transposon ICEBs1, found in the common soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Kayla Menard
Kayla Menard
Entry Year: 2008
Grossman Lab
Graduated: 2013

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Thesis Title: "Consequences of a mobile genetic element at secondary integration sites"
Ana Oromendia
Ana Oromendia
Entry Year: 2008
Amon Lab
Graduated: 2014

BS: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
My main interest is in characterizing consequences of aneuploidy on cell physiology. Given that aneuploid yeast strains are temperature sensitive; we hypothesize that aneuploidy causes stress on the protein folding machinery and I am investigating how the cells cope with this stress by looking at the heat shock and unfolded protein response in the disomic Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Alison Takemura
Alison Takemura
Entry Year: 2008
Polz Lab
2013 Martin Fellow
2014-2015 Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fellow

BS: Rice University
Microbes are ubiquitous and rapidly evolving. They are distributed throughout ecosystems we come in contact with (ocean, soil) as well as the landscape of our own bodies. Yet, we don't have a mechanistic understanding of how closely related microorganisms routinely partition habitats in order to live together. My research focuses on this ecology question, and uses molecular biology to probe the genetic adaptations microorganisms employ, and quantify their contributions to fitness. I work with the model system Vibrionaceae, and when my lab and I go to the beach to take samples, I often accidentally fall in.
Jessica Thompson
Jessica Thompson
Entry Year: 2008
Chisholm Lab

BA: Princeton University
My research involves probing the ecology and evolution of wild Prochlorococcus populations using single cell genomics and targeted metagenomics.
Benjamin Vincent
Benjamin Vincent
Entry Year: 2008
Lindquist Lab

BS: Stanford University
My main interest is probing the heat shock response and the evolution of drug resistance through the characterization of novel small molecules.
Christopher Aakre
Christopher Aakre
Entry Year: 2009
Laub Lab

BS: Stanford University
Andres Cubillos Ruiz
Andres Cubillos Ruiz
Entry Year: 2009
Chisholm Lab
2009-10 BP-MIT Energy Fellow

BS: Universidad De Los Andes
MS: Universidad De Los Andes
My main interest is in understanding of the role of secondary metabolites in planktonic marine microbial communities. My research uses a combination of metagenomics and molecular biology methods to study the diversity, evolution and biological function of prochlorosins, a unique type of cyclic peptide secondary metabolites produced by strains of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus - the two most abundant cyanobacteria in the ocean. 
Anna deRegt
Anna de Regt
Entry Year: 2009
Sauer Lab

BS: Swarthmore College
I am interested in protein mechanism and how form and function interrelate. Currently I work on DegS, an E. coli periplasmic protease involved in the outer membrane stress response. As the first enzyme in a regulatory proteolysis cascade, it is important that DegS be a sensitive switch that is able to "turn on" in the presence of stress. I use a combination of biochemical and structural techniques to study how DegS recognizes and responds to stress signals on the atomic level. When I'm not in the lab, you can probably find me outdoors either on the frisbee field or in the White Mountains.
Nicole Kavanaugh
Nicole Kavanaugh
Entry Year: 2009
Ribbeck Lab

BS: Hofstra University
My primary research focus is understanding the interactions between pathogenic microbes and mucus. Mucus is an important biological barrier inside the human body that functions to keep harmful microbes from causing infections. I hope to understand the mechanisms by which mucus provides this protection in order to develop new anti-infection strategies.
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Entry Year: 2009
Alm Lab
2009-10 BP-MIT Energy Fellow
2012 Martin Fellow
Graduated 2014

BA: Princeton University
Broadly, I am interested in understanding the many ways that the hidden microbial majority influences the world around (and within) us. Currently I'm studying the dynamics of CRISPR evolution, the ecological mechanisms of fecal bacteriotherapy and the key genes and species associated with environmental gradients in a nuclear bioremediation site. My first project in the lab was a collaboration with Chris Smillie in which we characterized the forces shaping a large network of gene exchange in the human microbiome and beyond that we uncovered using a simple new evolutionary rate heuristic. When I'm not studying bacteria, I enjoy adventure racing, running and generally exploring new corners of the world.
See Also: Open Biome
Ninghan Yang
Ninghan Yang
Entry Year: 2009
Saeij Lab
Graduated 2014

BS: Imperial College of Science,Technology & Medicine
Diane Baer
Diane Baer
Entry Year: 2010
Laub Lab

BS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
MS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Diana Chien
Diana Chien
Entry Year: 2010
Polz Lab
2010-11 Shell-MIT Energy Fellow

BS: Princeton University
The functional meaning of the great genetic diversity observed within natural microbial populations is a perplexing problem. To draw links between genetic and functional diversity, I investigate various correlates of ecological differentiation among wild microbes, using members of the experimentally tractable Vibrionaceae family as a model system. I am also interested in understanding the environmental and biological forces that act on diverse microbes to give rise to the microbial communities that we see in the wild.

Other interests include writing poetry: http://theamericanreader.com/sedna-married-other-poems/
Kimberly Cirelli
Kimberly Cirelli
Entry Year: 2010
Saeij Lab

BS: Johns Hopkins University
MS: Johns Hopkins University
As an undergraduate, I worked on constructing an entirely synthetic yeast genome and researched targeted gene therapy using zinc-finger nucleases. For my MS, I studied the progression of HIV in macrophages. My current focus is on the innate immune response of rats and mice to Toxoplasma gondii.
Julia Co
Julia Co
Entry Year: 2010
Ribbeck Lab

BS: University of California, Los Angeles
The mucus barrier is the body’s first line of defense against pathogenic infections of the wet epithelia. Microbes must adapt to or overcome this barrier in order to colonize the body. My research aims to understand microbial physiology in the context of mucus. Specifically, my current work focuses on how microbial communication systems, called quorum sensing systems, function in mucosal environments.
Fahim Farzadfard
Fahim Farzadfard
Entry Year: 2010
Lu Lab

BS: Tehran University
MS: Tehran University
I earned my Bachelor and MSc degrees in Biotechnology from University of Tehran, Iran. My previous research experiences include study of glucose signaling pathway in yeast, fermentations and microarray data analysis. My research interests range from building new tools for synthetic biology to modeling signaling pathways and regulatory networks. Currently, I am developing a synthetic receptor system in yeast for sensing extracellular synthetic ligands.
Jacob Rubens
Jacob Rubens
Entry Year: 2010
Lu Lab
2010-11 Shell-MIT Energy Fellow

BA: Washington University, St. Louis
I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis. As an undergraduate, I researched the biosynthesis of a unique cyanobacterial photosynthetic pigment and led an undergraduate team in improving photosynthetic microbial biofuel production towards entry into a synthetic biology competition (iGEM). I receive support from an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and am a member of the MIT Society of Energy Fellows. I am developing synthetic biology tools for applications in biotechnology, energy and the human microbiome.
Robert Citorik
Robert Citorik
Entry Year: 2011
Lu Lab

BS: University of New Hampshire
I completed my undergraduate studies in microbiology at the University of New Hampshire, where I studied toxin production in EHEC. I decided to continue in the field of pathogenic bacteria as a research assistant in the Infectious Disease department at Massachusetts General Hospital exploring virulence factors in Salmonella and Vibrio cholerae. Currently, I am seeking to work somewhere at the interface of synthetic biology and infectious diseases, with particular interests in both antibiotic resistance and enteric pathogens. Outside of academia, I enjoy running, hiking, and mixed martial arts, as well as weekend trips back to the clean air of NH where syrup is simply assumed to be pure maple.
Diana Falla Castillo
Alejandra Falla Castillo
Entry Year: 2011
Niles Lab

BS: Universidad De Los Andes
MS: Universidad De Los Andes
Plasmodium falciparum is the causative agent of most severe form of malaria. The lack of an effective vaccine to combat this disease highlights the importance of developing new therapies that target essential functions in the parasite. However, genetic manipulation of P. falciparum is difficult because of the absence of RNAi machinery and limited transcriptional regulatory systems. My research is focused on the development and utilization of inducible transcriptional regulatory strategies for identifying and controlling the expression of essential P. falciparum genes.
Leonor Garcia Bayona
Leonor Garcia Bayona
Entry Year: 2011
Laub Lab

BS: Universidad De Los Andes
MS: Universidad De Los Andes
I work with a freshwater bacterium called Caulobacter crescentus, which has the ability to thrive in very nutrient poor conditions.  I'm characterizing a bacteriocin system: a group of genes that allow the cells to kill closely related bacteria, usually to outcompete them when resources are limited in the growth environment.

 

Mark Mimee
Mark Mimee
Entry Year: 2011
Lu Lab

BS: McGill University
I earned my B.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology from McGill University, where I pursued undergraduate research on characterizing virulence factors in EHEC and EPEC. I came to MIT with a strong interest in applying synthetic biology techniques to develop new tools to combat bacterial pathogens and other infectious diseases. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking and laying down a groove on my double bass.
Katie Moravec
Katie Moravec
Entry Year: 2011
Laub Lab

BA: Amherst College
Yekaterina Tarasova
Yekaterina Tarasova
Entry Year: 2011
Prather Lab
2011-12 Total-MIT Energy Fellow

BS: University of California, San Diego
Philip Arevalo
Philip Arevalo
Entry Year: 2012
Polz Lab
2012-2013 BP-MIT Energy Fellow

BS: Brown University
I arrived at MIT with a strong interest in microbial ecology and evolution. In particular, I'm interested in understanding how complex microbial communities assemble. When I'm not thinking about science, I'm probably singing some Gilbert & Sullivan or playing guitar.
Christopher Bandoro
Christopher Bandoro
Entry Year: 2012
Runstadler Lab

BS: University of Guelph
During my undergrad I studied the outer membrane vesicles produced by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the context of Cystic Fibrosis. At MIT I'm interested in studying how the external and host environments influence the transmission and evolution of pathogens. Aside from research, I enjoy running along the Charles River, playing squash, watching TV, and learning to cook delicious meals.
Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
Entry Year: 2012
Runstadler Lab
2012-2013 BP-MIT Energy Fellow

BS: University of California, Santa Cruz
Logan Higgins
Logan Higgins
Entry Year: 2012
Gore Lab

BA: Lewis & Clark College
As an undergraduate, my research focused on the ecology of plant-symbiotic bacteria and fungi in forests of the Pacific Northwest. At MIT, I am primarily interested in how diversity is generated and maintained in different microbial ecosystems. I enjoy grocery shopping, architecture and design, hiking, and cats.
Michael Maloney
Michael Maloney
Entry Year: 2012
Bell Lab

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Jennifer Nguyen
Jennifer Nguyen
Entry Year: 2012
Stocker Lab

BS: University of California, San Diego
MS: University of California, San Diego
Research Focus: Linking physiology and ecology of marine bacteria, Bacterial growth efficiency.
Mary Anderson
Mary Anderson
Entry Year: 2013
Grossman Lab

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison


Djenet Bousbaine
Djenet Bousbaine
Entry Year: 2013
Ploegh Lab

BS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
MS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology


Isaak Mueller
Isaak Mueller
Entry Year: 2013
Lu Lab

BS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
MS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology


David VanInsberghe
David VanInsberghe
Entry Year: 2013
Polz Lab

BS: University Of British Columbia


Before coming to MIT my research was primarily focused on studying the ecology of bacterial communities in forest soils across North America. I came here interested in studying the ecological processes that drive the evolution of interactions between microbial lineages in the environment. In my spare time I like to hike, take photos, and garden.

Benjamin Waldman
Benjamin Waldman
Entry Year: 2013
Saeij Lab

BS: University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Nathaniel Chu
Entry Year: 2014

BS: Brown University

I am widely interested in engineering microbial communities to address problems in environmental and human health. My past projects used genomics to understand invertebrate and fisheries populations dynamics and coral microbiomes and their response to seasonal fluctuations and disease outbreaks. Outside of the lab, I enjoy long-distance backpacking, mountaineering, kayaking, diving, and landscape photography. For more information see http://nathanieldavidchu.wordpress.com

Joseph Elsherbini
Entry Year: 2014

BS: Georgia Institute of Technology
Joshua Jones
Entry Year: 2014

BS: University of Maine
Jason Nguyen
Entry Year: 2014

BS: University of California, Santa Cruz
Jing Zhang
Entry Year: 2014
2014-2015 Chevron-MIT Energy Fellow

BA: Smith College
   

 

 

Inquiries regarding the Microbiology Graduate Program may be sent to:

B L Whang
Microbiology Graduate Program
Building 68-139
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA

e-mail:  microbiology [at] mit.edu