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The Brito Lab is committed to the pursuit of scientific goals that expand our understanding of the natural world and to improve human health. Ilana and the lab are here to provide support to carry out and publish high-quality research and to meet individuals' career goals. In doing so, we value open communication based on mutual respect, scientific integrity, and good mentorship.

We celebrate diversity and strive to promote inclusion within the lab and our scientific communities.

Principal Investigator

Prof. Ilana Brito

Prof. Ilana Brito

Mong Family Sesquicentenial Faculty Scholar and Associate Prof in BME

PhD, Biology, MIT
BA, Biology and Government (dual degree), Harvard University

Ilana started at Cornell in 2016. She specializes both in the experimental and computational sides of microbiome research. She has a long-standing interest in infectious disease and global health which percolate throughout her research. She was awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Packard Foundation Fellowship, Pew Biomedical Scholar and a NIH New Innovator Award. She also loves trail running and running after her chickens. 

Lab Manager and Research Support Specialist

Qiaojuan Shi

Qiaojuan Shi

Research Support Specialist and Lab Manager

BS, Microbiology, Northwest University, China
PhD, Microbiology, Huazhong Agricultural University, China

Qiaojuan did her post-doctoral research at UCDavis before coming to Cornell. Prior to the Brito lab, she worked on transposition and DNA replication and on the human microbiome. Here in the Brito Lab, Qiaojuan manages all aspects of the lab to ensure the lab runs smoothly, in addition to managing large-scale research projects. Outside the lab, Qiaojuan enjoys spending time with her family, playing badminton and volunteering at her kids' schools.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Sandra Liliana Arias

Sandra Liliana Arias

Postdoctoral Associate

PhD, Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MS, Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sandra’s research focuses on understanding how the physicochemical properties of biological and abiotic interfaces regulate host-pathogen interactions. Her scientific goal is to contribute to a better understanding of how the features of the microenvironment impact microbial life and mark the onset of some disease states. Outside the lab, she enjoys hanging out with friends, cooking, and working out.

Divakar Badal

Divakar Badal

Postdoctoral Associate

Ph.D., Bioengineering, Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru, India
Integrated M. Tech in Biomedical Engineering, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad, India

Divakar is fascinated by the complexities of life at a micro scale, with a particular emphasis on studying the interactions and communication processes among bacteria within the gut. He utilizes genetic engineering methods to manipulate their genetic material in order to gain a deeper understanding of their behavior. When Divakar is not in the laboratory, he takes great pleasure in engaging with music on Classic FM, as well as exploring the fields of Impressionism and the literary works of John le Carré.

Jeffrey Cornuault

Jeffrey Cornuault

Postdoctoral Associate

PhD, Microbiology, Universite Paris-Saclay
MS, Microbiology, University Paris-Saclay
BS, Biology, University Paris-Saclay

Jeffrey is interested in the discovery of bacterial proteins involved in host-gut microbiota interactions. He aims to determine how these proteins act in host cells and how they participate in the onset of human disease. Outside the lab, he loves eating cheese, reading, playing video games and relaxing in the sun.

Graduate Students

Diana Balint

Diana Balint

PhD student in Microbiology

BA, Microbiology, Cornell University

Diana's work revolves around studying the mobility of antibiotic resistance genes in the human microbiome. After working in the Brito Lab, she plans to continue her research on the microbiome through a PhD program. Outside of classes and research, she enjoys figure skating, reading, and playing with her cat.

Lille Cunic

Lille Cunic

PhD student in Microbiology

BS, Genomics & Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University

Lille is interested in the diverse ways in which bacteria interact with human hosts to shape host physiology, as well as ways to leverage these interactions to improve human health. Outside the lab, she enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and playing tennis.

Luna Eresta Jaya

Luna Eresta Jaya

PhD student in Nutrition

PhD Student in Molecular Nutrition
BSc, Biotechnology, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Luna is interested in deciphering the mechanisms underlying host-microbe interactions, as well as finding ways to optimize them through dietary approaches. Prior to the Brito Lab, she worked at a medical diagnostics company in Japan. Apart from her professional pursuits, Luna loves fermenting foods and scuba diving!

Josh Jones

Josh Jones

PhD student in Microbiology & Immunology

BS, Cellular and Molecular Biology, San Francisco State

Josh is interested in uncovering how commensal microbes affect cancer progression and the efficacy of cancer-fighting immunotherapeutics. In his free time, he enjoys riding bicycles and hiking through the hills of Ithaca and playing video games. Josh is also a recipient of a Sloan Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and is a 2021 CVG Scholar.

Daniel Lamm

Daniel Lamm

PhD student in Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cell Biology
NSF GRFP Recipient

B.S. Biochemistry University of Missouri

Daniel is interested in developing experimental methods to find the pathways and mechanisms through which host-microbe interactions happen in the gut. Through this work he hopes to advance our understanding of the gut microbiota's role in health and disease. In his free time Daniel enjoys getting outdoors whether it be hiking, rock climbing, or whatever the day may bring.

Yi-Yuan (Ian) Lee

Yi-Yuan (Ian) Lee

PhD student in Computational Biology

MS., Computational Biology, Carnegie Mellon University
BS., Biochemical Science and Technology, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Ian is interested in deciphering the biological meaning in -omics data with machine learning and deep learning algorithms, especially in microbiome-host interactions and immunology. Outside of the lab, Ian loves swimming, dancing, reading, and brewing aromatic coffee.

Sarah Post

Sarah Post

PhD student in Microbiology & Immunology

BS, Microbiology, University of Pittsburgh

Sarah works to identify proteins in the gut microbiota that interact with the host to shape host health. Outside of the lab, she's an avid swimmer/runner/biker, a general outdoor enthusiast, and loves budget-traveling to new cities. Sarah received the 2019 T32 Immunoengineering Training Fellowship!

Adarsh Singh

Adarsh Singh

PhD. Student in Biomedical Engineering

BTech + MTech dual degree, Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering, IIT Kharagpur, India

Adarsh is trying to leverage innovations in synthetic biology and genetic engineering to better understand host-microbe relationships. In his free time, he enjoys working out, watching documentaries on international politics, listening to semi-classical Indian music, and cuddling with his cat. Also, he aims to visit a list of cities on his bucket list before he turns 30.

James Stangeland

James Stangeland

PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering

B.S. Chemical and Biological Engineering, Montana State University

James is interested in the protein-protein interactions between host and microbiome. He is also curious about the affects the microbiome has upon neurological health and development. Outside of the lab, he enjoys brewing interesting beers and sweet meads. He can also be found reading, painting and hiking.

Sola Takahashi

Sola Takahashi

PhD student in Microbiology

BS, Molecular Biology, University of California, San Diego

Sola is interested in the interaction between microbial and human proteins in the gut, and its effects on human health. She is also curious about how commensal bacteria influence host macrophages. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing volleyball, traveling, and doing outdoor activities.

Alex Wirganowicz

Alex Wirganowicz

PhD student in Biochemistry, Molecular, and Cell Biology

BSA, Chemistry, UT Austin BS, Biology, UT Austin

Alex is working to understand and leverage the biology of bacterial membrane vesicles. He hopes to improve our understanding of their role in host-microbe interactions and potential utility for drug delivery applications. Outside of lab he makes fancy coffees, races bikes, and hangs out with his pet rabbit.

Xieyue (Sharon) Xiao

Xieyue (Sharon) Xiao

PhD student in Biomedical Engineering

BS, Biotechnology, Shandong University, China
MEng, Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University

Sharon is investigating outer membrane vesicles within the microbiome. She just received her Masters of Engineering in biomedical engineering from Cornell! She loves reading, classical music and chilling out and is trying to push herself to love working out.

Jiawei (Azalea) Yang

Jiawei (Azalea) Yang

PhD student in Microbiology


B.Eng, Food Science and Engineering, Nanjing Normal University, China

Azalea has a passion for host-microbe interactions and their impact on human health. Before coming to Cornell, she worked at the Chinese Academy of Science Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology and Genenergy, a sequencing company in China, where she developed her skills in microbiology and molecular biology. Outside of work, Azalea enjoys playing the piano and exercising in the gym.

Ellen van Wijngaarden

Ellen van Wijngaarden

PhD student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

B. Eng, Mechanical Engineering, York University

Ellen is interested in characterizing the material and ionic properties of soft biological materials. Her work focuses on gut mucus and biofilms under the combined supervision of Professors Brito and Silberstein. Outside of the lab she loves being active outdoors, learning languages or enjoying a coffee with a good book.

Undergraduate Students

Hannah Ceisler

Hannah Ceisler

Undergraduate Researcher

Hannah is planning on majoring in Biological Engineering in CALS and would like to pursue graduate studies in the future. She is currently working to understand how bacteria interact with host intestinal tissue and how this affects human health. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, playing sports, and watching sporting events, sitcoms, and horror movies.

Maya Deen

Maya Deen

Undergraduate Researcher

Maya is planning on majoring in Computer Science and hopes to pursue a PhD in Computational Biology. She is currently working with Sarah to understand how bacteria in the microbiome interact with the host. Outside of the lab, she likes to sing, arrange music, watch sci-fi movies, travel, and spend time with family.

Rohit Lal

Rohit Lal

Undergraduate Researcher

Rohit is currently a Biometry and Statistics major, and in the future he hopes to be able to go to medical school. He is working on exploring microbiome-host protein interactions. Outside of the lab, he likes to play, watch, and talk basketball.

Jiatong (Kelly) Mei

Jiatong (Kelly) Mei

Undergraduate Researcher

Kelly is majoring in biomedical engineering, and is planning to pursue a master’s degree in the same field. Currently, she is working with Sandra to better understand the mucus barrier in the gut. In her free time, Kelly loves to go hiking, watch films, and write Sci-Fi online.

Rahul Nath

Rahul Nath

Undergraduate Researcher

Rahul is planning on majoring in biomedical engineering and would like to pursue graduate studies in the future. He is currently working with Josh on understanding how bacteria in the microbiome affect host gene expression during colorectal cancer using imaging and computational techniques. In his free time, Rahul enjoys performing music, exploring walking trails, and reading.

Research technician

Locke Bonomo

Locke Bonomo

Research technician

BS, Biology and Biotechnology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Locke specializes in genetic engineering and bacterial cloning. Since graduating, they have gained diverse experience spanning academia to industry. Locke joined the lab to explore the intersection of the gut microbiome and drug delivery. Their aim is to advance this research from academia to pharmaceutical applications. Outside the lab, Locke enjoys playing PC games and gardening.

Lab Alumni

(in reverse order of their departure)

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