Meet Our Team
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.
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.
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 microbial ecology and 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.
Stephanie Consuegra ('22)
I am a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biochemistry. While participating in the First-Year Apprenticeship Program with the VKC Lab I quickly fell in love with all things "microbes". I took on a novel project studying the differing soil microbial communities across the wet and dry biomes through the lens of a well-known resilient plant, Rhoeo spathacea, in the newly built greenhouse on Wellesley's campus: The Global Flora Conservatory in the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses. I am currently working on this project and look forward to continue exploring the intricacies of soil to soil and soil to plant microbial relationships. My tentative plans are to attend medical school after taking a gap year once I graduate, although I am certainly open to those plans changing.
Aditi Kannan ('22)
I am a senior majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Music. In lab, I have been enjoying studying the microbial communities present in Wellesley's Lake Waban and Paintshop Pond over time. I am also helping to investigate the connection between gut microbiota and anxiety and depression in middle childhood and adolescence. After I graduate this spring, I hope to get a research assistant position to gain more lab experience with the intention of pursuing a PhD in a related field in the future. Outside of lab, I play the violin and viola for Chamber Music Society, I am a science writing tutor, and I am a Ministrare Council coordinator. Otherwise, you can find me reading a fiction book, baking some cookies, or listening to music!
Hannah Dong ('22)
I am majoring in Media Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in Media Arts. In the lab, I combine my love for science and art through design. I have worked on the lab website and created project pages to highlight our lab research. I am currently designing a mobile application for the Global Flora. Outside of lab, I dance with the Wellesley Asian Dance Organization, organize events with the Chinese Students Association, and take lots of photos.
Annelle Abatoni Kayisire ('23)
I am a Biology and Media Arts and Sciences double major, and I am particularly interested in the intersection of computational design and biological concepts. I am currently working on finding out and creatively exhibiting the microbial composition of Wellesley’s greenhouse, the Global Flora and exploring their different functions. In the past, I’ve worked on developing a software package that manipulates and analyzes microbial community data. After college, I hope to keep working with computational modeling tools to better understand biological systems. Outside of lab and school, I enjoy playing tennis and spending time with my friends.
Anika Luo ('23)
I am a Biochemistry major and Music minor at Wellesley, and after I graduate I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. My career goal is to conduct research in biomedical science and advance the field of pharmaceutical medicine. In this lab, I have worked on various engineering and computational projects in which I have built tools to study microbial communities and to streamline analysis of metagenomic data. My current project investigates a method of using gut microbes to restore normal function in neurotransmitter deficient Caenorhabditis elegans, which may have important therapeutic implications for neurological conditions. When I’m not in lab, I can be found dancing with the Wellesley Asian Dance Organization, singing with the Wellesley College Choir and Chamber Singers, or reading in a cozy corner with some hot chocolate.
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.
Caroline MacVicar ('23)
I plan on majoring in biological sciences on the pre-med track. I am interested in pursuing a career in medicine after college, though I am also considering a career as a scientific researcher. I am very passionate about the climate, and I have an increasing interest in the relationship between microbes and our environment and health. Outside of lab, I am a member of the Wellesley golf team, and I enjoy reading and writing!
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 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!
Sandra Quintana ('25)
Although I haven't declared yet, I plan on majoring in English while going on a premed track as I want to take advantage of attending a liberal arts college. I currently plan to pursue a career in medicine, but I like to keep my mind open to other possibilities both in and out of the STEM realm. As part of the First Year Apprentice Program, I shadow other members in the lab in their investigations of the microbial systems across various places in Wellesley's campus. Outside of the VKC lab, I play the clarinet in the Chamber Music Society, volunteer with the Boston Healthcare for Homeless Program, and am a content editor for Kaleidoscope Magazine!