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Meet Our Team


Vanja Klepac-Ceraj

I study microbial ecology, looking at the dynamics that govern microbe-microbe interactions, mechanisms that drive nutrient cycling, and how microbe-microbe interactions drive human and environmental health. We address these questions using a combination of culturing and enrichment techniques, quantitative molecular approaches, metagenomics, and modeling.


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Kevin Bonham

I am a microbiologist and immunologist using computational methods to explore the relationships between the human gut microbiome and childhood cognitive development, and to understand complex microbial communities. I also teach about the immune system and infectious disease, as well as introductory programming for biology students, and am interested in investigating and addressing barriers to women entering computational biology.

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Shelley McCann

I am a microbial ecologist with experience in marine microbiology and trace metal biogeochemistry. I earned a M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Connecticut where I studied methyl bromide metabolism by marine microbes and microbial sulfur cycling in stromatolites. From there I moved west to the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA where my work focused on the biogeochemistry of Mono Lake, CA. After enjoying many sunny years in CA, I’m happy to back on the east coast and working in the VKC lab at Wellesley. I’m excited for the opportunity to explore microbial ecology in New England biomes, to expand my experience to the human microbiome, and to share my knowledge and love of growing anaerobes.

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Guilherme Fahur Bottino

I am a Bioinformatician employing Machine Learning to investigate the complex relationships between the gut microbiome and cognitive development, building predictive models that help improve human health. I started my career on the University of Campinas, Brazil, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Chemistry using neural network tools to build 3D protein models, and joined the VKC lab in 2022 to employ my AI knowledge on the lab projects.


Mabel Zawacki '24

I am a Classical Civilization major and undeclared Biology minor interested in pursuing an MD/PhD in graduate school. In lab I am working on studying the microbial changes in Lake Waban over a period of time and identifying unknown isolates. In my free time I also do research at the Davis Museum and play in the Chamber Music Society on campus!


Buanna Francois ('24)

I am currently a Biology major and plan on double majoring in Biology and Classical Studies. In lab, I am studying the microbial communities in Wellesley's Lake Waban. I am on the pre-PA track and plan on attending Physician's Assistant school after graduating, but microbial research has been a huge interest of mine. Outside of lab, I am the secretary for Wellesley for Caribbean Development, but you will most likely find me in my room reading.

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Trisha Rahman ('25)

I am a prospective biochemistry major. I am interested in working in healthcare and medicine in the future, with a focus on the gut-brain connection and anxiety. In the lab, I am helping Cassie investigate B. infantis growth, an important infant gut microorganism. In my free time, you can find me reading or making jewelry!

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Meredith Swanson '25

I am a Biological Sciences and French major planning to pursue a career in medicine and/or research (that is hopefully related to microbes!). In lab, I am working with Cassie and Trisha investigating how environmental conditions impact carbohydrate metabolism in B. infantis. When I'm not in lab, I enjoy lifting, climbing, hiking, and singing!

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Sally Song '25

I am a Biology major and Psychology minor. After Wellesley, I plan to attend graduate school with a research focus on health and diseases (the specifics of which I am exploring now). Outside of the lab, you can find me shooting arrows or swimming at the KSC, working in the Biology Lab Prep room, or exploring Boston!

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Nina Zheng '25

I am a biochemistry major planning to go to pharmacy school or graduate school after college. I am helping Anika with her thesis investigating the connection between the gut microbiome and brain, using C. elegans as the model organism. In my free time, I enjoy dancing with the Wellesley Asian Dance Organization, playing piano, and doodling.


Aeka Tomita '26

Hi, this is Aeka! I'm a first year from New York, planning to major in Data Science. For now, I'll be helping out one of the seniors in the lab, Anika Luo, who is exploring the link between microbially-produced neurotransmitters on the brain through through the model organism C. elegans and its locomotion. I am currently pre-health, but after college, I am open to working in any field of work that helps the advancement or maintenance of quality healthcare!


Rachel Chubb '26

I'm a biology and Spanish double major at Wellesley. In the VKC lab, I'm working on developing an accessible tool to detect the presence of vital microorganisms in gut microbiomes in low-resource locations. After Wellesley, I intend to pursue a PhD in biological sciences, then go into academia; I love teaching as much as I love doing scientific research. Outside of science, I founded the Wellesley chapter of Out in STEM, a national organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM fields, and I'm part of Wellesley's Latinx org. I also love to dance, and I'm a member of Wellesley's tap org.


Cassie Potter ('23)

I am a Biochemistry major and Education Studies minor. I am particularly enthusiastic about running protein gels and personifying all the cool lab instruments. In lab, I am currently working on a project that investigates how environmental conditions impact carbohydrate metabolism in the human gut microbe Bifidobacterium infantis. I don't have any plans for after Wellesley — we shall see where my interests end up taking me.

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