Principal Investigator

Prof. Ilana Brito

Mong Family Sesquicentenial Faculty Scholar and Asst. Prof in BME

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

PhD, Biology, MIT

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. 

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Lab Manager and Research Support Specialist

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.

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Postdoctoral Researchers

Ana Porras

Cornell University Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow

BS, Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin

MS, Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD. Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ana is interested in the differences between the microbiomes of populations in developed and developing nations, and understanding their effects on human health. When she's not doing that, she likes to dance, play volleyball, bake, crochet, and travel (especially to Colombia, where she's from). 

Jon Sanders

CIHMID Postdoctoral Fellow

BA, Earth Systems, Stanford University

PhD, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

What makes our microbiome uniquely human—and how did it come to be like it is? Jon studies the evolution of animal gut microbiomes, using new sequencing technologies to trace how the genomes of gut microbes have evolved across their millions of years of history with their hosts. He is co-mentored by Andy Moeller in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

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Graduate Students

Juan Felipe Beltrán

PhD student in Computational Biology

BS, Computer Science, New York University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


Juan Felipe's focus is understanding host-microbe interactions at a molecular-level. He is using a suite of computational tools and developing algorithms that allow him to generate testable hypotheses. In his free time, he cooks savory dishes, designs interactive media projects, and hosts visiting friends from all over the world.

Peter Diebold

PhD student in Microbiology

BA, University of Illinois

Peter is interested in developing new experimental tools to examine the mobile gene pool in complex microbial communities. He is also wants to develop tools for engineering the microbiome. In his free time, Peter likes to play guitar and play with his dog. 

Hector Loyola Irizarry

PhD student in Microbiology & Immunology

BS, Industrial Microbiology, University of Puerto Rico

Hector is interested in understanding the gut host-microbe interactions that underlie disease and engineering the gut microbiome to improve host health. In his free time, Hector will usually be playing video games, watching movies, and exploring new places. He also enjoys cooking and playing soccer.

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.

Felicia New

PhD student in Genetics, Genomics and Development

BS, Biology, University of Florida

MS, Medical Sciences, University of Florida

Felicia's focus is on the evolution of the gut microbiome using using large, one-of-a-kind metagenomic datasets to tease apart associations between functions and variation of the microbiome with host genetics, phylogeny, diet, and other factors. Outside of the command line, she likes spending time with her dog, baking, or being outside.

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.

Albert Vill

PhD student in Genetics, Genomics and Development

BS, Gettysburg College


Albert's research involves developing methods to capture and track mobile genetic elements, specifically those associated with the human gut microbiome.  He has a background in the genetics and ecology of bacteriophage, and he is particularly interested in how lysogenic phage may harbor and transfer antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial virulence factors.  Outside of lab, Albert enjoys hiking, soccer, and mushroom foraging. 

Xieyue "Sharon" Xiao

PhD student in Biomedical Engineering

BS Biotechnology, Shandong University, China

MEng in 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.

Hao Zhou

PhD student in Microbiology

BEng in Environmental Engineering, Nankai University (China). 

Hao is interested in the relationship between trait evolution and horizontal gene transfer. His work combines engineering and a love of mathematics and microbiology. He is excited about biological mysteries behind big data and wishes to develop computational tools to better understand the microbiome. In his free time, he loves playing ping-pong, traveling, going to the movies, and running.

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Research Technicians

Taylor Walker

Research technician

M.Eng. Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University


Taylor is interested in identifying ways to promote health equity by identifying areas for intervention and analyzing sociocultural factors that impact health outcomes. She aims to utilize the human microbiome as a method of drug delivery that increases health access. Taylor is a 2018 Forbes Under 30 Scholar and will ultimately pursue an MD-PhD. When she’s not in the lab, Taylor enjoys writing and reading, as well as watching competitive sports. 

Diana Balint