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

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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).

Graduate Students

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.

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!

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 and is a 2021 CVG Scholar.

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.

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.

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.

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, hike extremely long distances and play with his cat.

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!

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.

Resaerch Technician

Chengqi Xu

Research Technician

BS, Molecular Genetics, The University of Edinburgh
MEng, Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University

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.

Undergraduate Students

Nandika Nair

Undergraduate Researcher

Nandika is majoring in Biomedical Engineering, and would like to pursue a PhD in the future. She is currently working with Sandra to understand how bacteria in the gut can induce colorectal cancer through their metabolic pathways. In her free time, Nandika likes listening to music, watching Netflix, and going on walks 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.

Lab Alumni

(in reverse order of their departure)

Gabe Welsh
Gabe is out studying for his MCAT. Good luck!
Ketaki Londhe
Ketaki will be graduating from Cornell's BME program and then onto graduate school!
Juan Beltran, PhD
Juan, my first PhD graduate, and a former postdoc, is now working for Quantum-Si, a protein tech start-up!
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.
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290 Kimball Hall, Cornell University  | Ithaca, NY 14850 |  ibrito at | 607-254-2938

Rachel Murphy

Rachel, our former technician, left to get her DVM from Cornell.