The Brito Lab is committed to pursuing 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 pursue and 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

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. 

Please reload

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.

Please reload

Postdoctoral Researchers

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.

Juan Felipe Beltrán

Postdoctoral Associate

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

PhD, Computational Biology, Cornell University

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.

Ana Maria 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). 

Doris Vandeputte

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow

PhD, Biomedical Sciences, KU Leuven

MSc, Bioengineering Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

BSc, Bioengineerign Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Doris moved from Belgium to the states to join the lab. She is interested in the rates of horizontal gene transfer within the gut microbiome under various levels of positive selection. She wants to determine the relative importance of transfer type, selective pressure and host health. As a true Belgian, she loves dark chocolate in all forms as well as dining with family and friends. She loves to travel, experience different cultures and the immense beauty of nature.

Please reload

Graduate Students

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.

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. Sarah received the 2019 T32 Immunoengineering Training Fellowship!

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. Albert received the 2020 Distinguished Genomics Scholar Award!

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.

Please reload

Masters Students

Chengqi Xu

Masters student in Biomedical Engineering

BS, Molecular Genetics, The University of Edinburgh


Chengqi is interested in the interplay between hosts and microbes. She is applying computational approaches to analyze large-scale datasets and extracting new types of information from them. She hopes to pursue a PhD and keep an adorable cat. Besides her bench work, Chengqi enjoys road tripping with friends and flying drones.

Please reload

Undergraduate Students

Ketaki Londhe

Undergraduate researcher

Ketaki is planning on majoring in Biomedical engineering, and would like to pursue a PhD in the future. She is currently working with on understanding cell-cell communication within the human gut microbiome. In her free time, she likes reading and writing, dancing, watching Netflix and chilling with friends. 

Matthew Rhee

Undergraduate researcher

Matt is majoring in Biology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and would like to go medical school. He is currently working with Peter on tracking the sources of mobile genes in microbiomes and exploring different selection methods for commensal microbes. In his free time, Matt likes to watch movies, play frisbee, and play tennis. 

Gabriel Welch

Undergraduate researcher

Gabe (Class of '21) is majoring in Biology and Society, and is planning on going to medical school. He is currently working with Ana on her various projects, including researching microbiomes of developing nations and gene editing. He is particularly interested in coupling his experience in translational genetics with wet lab work. He also loves to play golf and travel.

Please reload

Lab Alumni

(in reverse order of their departure)

Taylor Walker, MEng
Taylor was a BME MEng student in the lab focused on host-microbiome interactions.
Abi Anima
Abi was an undergrad in the lab who traveled to Guatemala to study the effect of iron on the microbiome!
Alison Greenberg
Alison was a student intern in the lab and is finishing up her degree in Statistics.
Alyssa Kent, PhD
Our former postdoc, Alyssa, is moving to Atlanta to work with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Jeffrey Page
Jeff was our summer intern. He's off to finish his final year at Ithaca College.
Elias West
Our REU student from Loyola Marymount University. He's finishing up his BA and applying to PhD programs.
Rowan Callahan
Our former lab tech, Rowan got his BA in BE and wants to work in data science. But first to China, to learn Chinese.
Jinghan Zhang
Jinghan earned her BS in BME and is headed to Columbia Mailman School of Public Health for an MPH in Epidemiology.
Cara Pardon, MS
Cara got her MS in GGD, and is now working at the National institutes for Health as a staff scientist.
Nausheen Fatima, MS
She volunteered in the lab and is now getting her PhD at Binghamton University.
Rachel Murphy
Rachel, our former technician, left to get her DVM from Cornell.
Show More

290 Kimball Hall, Cornell University  | Ithaca, NY 14850 |  ibrito at | 607-254-2938