MIT Microbiology Graduate Students
(always under construction!)

  Blank, Caitlin
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BA: Amherst College


 
  Cervantes, Bernardo
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BS: University of California, Berkeley

 
  Clark, Emily
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BA: Bowdoin College

 
  Enghuus, Casper
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BNG, MNG: Technical University of Denmark

 
  Wang, Benjamin
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BS: California Institutte of Technology

 
  Wheeler, Kelsey
Entry Year: 2015
1st Year
BA: University of Chicago

 
Nathaniel Chu
Entry Year: 2014
Alm Lab

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
Polz Lab

BS: Georgia Institute of Technology


My research before coming to MIT used genetic tools to understand group behaviors in the bacterium V. cholerae. At MIT I am learning quantitative techniques for analyzing high throughput sequencing data, but I'll be using a mix of both dry and wet lab techniques to get at ecological questions. I am particularly interested in understanding the extent to which bacteriophage control populations of bacteria in the healthy human gut. Aside from research, I enjoy cooking, indoor rock climbing, and exploring the Boston area.
Joshua Jones
Entry Year: 2014
Grossman Lab

BS: University of Maine


Jason Nguyen
Entry Year: 2014
Ploegh Lab

BS: University of California, Santa Cruz

Jing Zhang
Entry Year: 2014
Voigt Lab
2014-2015 Chevron-MIT Energy Fellow

BA: Smith College

My research interest lies at the interface of synthetic and system biology. I’m interested in using sequencing tools to understand and characterize the interaction of synthetic genetic circuits and host organisms. Outside the lab, I enjoy traveling, reading, and fluffy animals.
Mary Anderson
Entry Year: 2013
Grossman Lab

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison


I did my undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go badgers!) where I worked on bacterial metabolism in Salmonella enterica.  Currently, I work in the Grossman Lab and I am primarily interested in the coordination of gene expression and cell division in Bacillus subtilis.

Djenet Bousbaine
Djenet Bousbaine
Entry Year: 2013
Ploegh Lab

BS, MS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology



Isaak Mueller
Entry Year: 2013
Lu Lab

BS, MS: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology



I did my bachelor and master at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. In the Lu lab, I'm working on microbiome and probiotic engineering to sense and treat inflammation in the GI tract. In my free time I enjoy watching (real = European) football and traveling. 

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


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

I am interested in pathogenic microbes and understanding how these organisms can evolve to survive in new environments and cause disease. My research utilizes experimental evolution in combination with next-generation sequencing to understand the mechanisms that allow influenza A virus to adapt to a novel host.
I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and anything else that gets me outside.
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
Entry Year: 2012
Bell Lab

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison

Jennifer Nguyen
Jennifer Nguyen
Entry Year: 2012
Stocker Lab

BS, MS: University of California, San Diego


Research Focus: Linking physiology and ecology of marine bacteria, Bacterial growth efficiency.
Robert Citorik

Robert Citorik
Entry Year: 2011
Lu Lab
2015-2016 William Asbjornsen Albert Memorial Fellow

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, 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, 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

Diane Baer
Diane Baer
Entry Year: 2010
Laub Lab

BS, 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/
http://www.tinhouse.com/magazine/subscription-back-issues/summer-reading-64b.html 
Kimberly Cirelli
Kimberly Cirelli
Entry Year: 2010
Saeij Lab

BS, 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, 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
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.
Christopher Aakre
Christopher Aakre
Entry Year: 2009
Laub Lab

BS: Stanford University
Ph.D.: MIT 2015
Currently a Consultant with The Boston Consulting Group.
Andres Cubillos Ruiz
Andres Cubillos Ruiz
Entry Year: 2009
Chisholm Lab
2009-10 BP-MIT Energy Fellow

BS, 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
Ph.D.: MIT 2014
Currently a Post-Doctoral Appointee at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Nicole Kavanaugh
Entry Year: 2009
Ribbeck Lab

BS: Hofstra University
Ph.D.: MIT 2015
Currently a Scientist at Aldevron
Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Entry Year: 2009
Alm Lab
2009-10 BP-MIT Energy Fellow
2012 Martin Fellow

BA: Princeton University
Ph.D.: MIT 2014
Co-Founder and Research Director at Open Biome
Ninghan Yang
Entry Year: 2009
Saeij Lab

BS: Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine
Ph.D.: MIT 2014
Currently a postdoctoral fellow in Antonio Bertolleti’s lab at National University Singapore
tyler dewitt

Tyler DeWitt
Entry Year: 2008
Grossman Lab

BS: Brown University
Ph.D.: MIT 2014

Currently an Education Consultant and YouTube Education Creator
Kayla Menard
Kayla Menard
Entry Year: 2008
Grossman Lab

BS: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ph.D.: MIT 2013

Currently a Postdoctoral Appointee at Sandia National Laboratories.
Ana Oromendia
Ana Oromendia
Entry Year: 2008
Amon Lab

BS: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Ph.D.: MIT 2014

Currently a Research Scientist at Celmatix Inc.
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
Ph.D.: MIT 2015

I am interested in the evolution and ecology of wild populations, phytoplankton diversity and mechanisms of genomic change. I am currently studying how the marine cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus has evolved to its modern state of vast diversity and broad distribution across the world’s oceans, through a combination of genomics and culture-based approaches.


 

Benjamin Vincent
Entry Year: 2008
Lindquist Lab

BS: Stanford University
Ph.D.: MIT 2015

 

Currently a Scientist at Yumanity Therapeutics.

 

 

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