Meet Our Team
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.
Sophie Rowland ('17)
I majored in Biology and Classical Civilization (and dabbled in music) while at Wellesley ('17). I began my work in the VKC lab as a junior investigating how microbes in anaerobic environments use and transform minerals. Now as a Research Associate in the lab, I’m focused on the ECHO Grant exploring the relationship between the human gut microbiome and cognitive development. When I fully depart from the Wellesley bubble, I intend to pursue a masters in science writing so I can share the fascinating intricacies of science with a wider audience.
Danielle Peterson ('20)
I am a biological sciences major, and statistics minor ('20). I have been passionate about microbiome research since high school, and have recently gotten interested in the intersection of data science and biology. I work on the ECHO project investigating the role of various environmental factors on the development of children’s gut microbiota and cognitive development. I am also very excited to be working on my senior thesis comparing the efficacy of 16S and metagenomic sequencing in analyzing infant and child microbiomes. Outside of the lab, I am a member and captain of the varsity swimming and diving team. After graduation, I plan to go to graduate studies to pursue further studies in computational biology, bioinformatics, or biostatistics.
Lauren Tso ('20)
I am a Biology and Computer Science major interested in using computation to understand the microbiome. I joined the lab in Spring 2017 and am involved in the ECHO project. Our goal in this project is to investigate the relationship between the gut microbiome and child health and development. Currently, I am working with Dr. Kevin Bonham on analyzing the evolution of the microbe Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis and its presence in American infants. Outside of lab, you can find me chasing a frisbee on the Wellesley Whiptails or looking for dogs to pet around campus.
Alexa Gross ('21)
I'm a Neuroscience and Studio Art major passionate about systems neuroscience, mental health, and the intersection of art and science. I enjoy working with microbes in a combined science and art context.
Jacquelyn Cai ('22)
I am studying Neuroscience and Computer Science at Wellesley. I am working on the ECHO project with Hannah, summarizing general trends in the metadata. After college, I want to work in the healthcare industry. In my free time, I enjoy playing on the squash team, baking, and working out.
Stephanie Consuegra ('22)
As a rising sophomore, I am still debating what my future career looks like. I am currently thinking about majoring in French while also pursuing the pre-med track, to then attend Law school and become specifically invested in the public health of women. Mentoring, guiding, and providing any kind of support for others has always driven me. Yet the endless amount of hours I spent around my dance teammates while in high school and the year I just completed at Wellesley, has proven to me that I feel the most passionate when I am enabling and encouraging other young women like myself. Besides women empowerment, I absolutely love to bake sweets and dance! Being a part of the VKC Lab has pushed my boundaries of academic exploration further and has sparked in me the idea that I could seek joy in combining my interests of both law and medicine; which once seemed so unrelated. I hope to continue working on the ECHO project, even though I am excited about the possibility of participating in any other project the lab becomes involved with.
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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Hannah Dong ('22)
I am interested in biology and film studies. I am working on the ECHO project with Jacquelyn. Together, we use R Studio to understand the metadata. Outside of the lab, I am a part of the Wellesley Asian Dance Organization and the Chinese Student Association. I have not planned what I want to do after college, so I am excited for what the future holds.
Annelle Abatoni Kayisire ('23)
I grew up in Kigali with my parents and four siblings. My earliest memories include being a sister for the first time, where I witnessed, through my mother, the mundane but indispensable strength of women. My biggest ambitions include improving sexual and reproductive health of women, and designing creative technology and media projects for social impact. I am passionate about thoughtful action towards social justice. I plan to major in Media Arts and Sciences, fulfilling my desire to explore both scientific and design thinking. I am currently undertaking the First-Year Apprenticeship program at Wellesley, where I get to shadow scientists in the Klepac-Ceraj Lab, while also enhancing my lab experience. When I'm not frantically trying to finish homework, I will be reading Brain-Pickings newsletters or listening to obscure soul music.
Catherine Dhennezel ('21)
I am studying Biology and Psychology and I am particularly interested in the interaction between physical and mental health. I am currently working with probiotics, their relationship with the gut microbiome and if the claims they make are true . I am a pre-med student and I hope to keep working on health related topics after I graduate. Outside of lab I really enjoy cinema and going to concerts!
Aditi Kannan ('22)
I am majoring in Biochemistry and interested in minoring in music. In lab, I will be investigating the microbial community in bokashi fertilizer with Nisreen. I hope to go into research in the future, though I am still exploring different scientific paths! Outside of lab, I am on Ministrare Council, I am a DJ for the college radio (WZLY), and I play the violin in Chamber Music Society.
Lisa Luka ('18)
I majored in Biochemistry and graduated in 2018. I worked in the VKC Lab for two years.
Alyssa Fishbein ('19)
I majored in Biology and minored in Psychology at Wellesley. In lab, I studied the prevalence of Bifidobacterium longum infantis to understand the relationship between the infant gut microbiome and cognition. I am currently a Research Technician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute studying lung cancer.
Anna Farrell-Sherman ('19)
I studied microbial communities and the algorithms we use to understand them as a Computer Science Major. I began working in the VKC Lab during my sophomore year at Wellesley, studying anerobic manganese oxidation in Fayetteville Green Lake, NY. I wrote my senior honors thesis on how to apply machine learning algorithms for the differentiation of protein functions. Outside of lab, I love to rock climb, cook, read, and play outside!
Rachel Harris ('14)
I am presently at Princeton University in the Department of Geosciences wrapping up my Ph.D. in geomicrobiology with Tullis Onstott. My dissertation research focuses on exploring temperature and pressure-based thermodynamic extremes of deep biosphere methane cycling, with particular interest investigating under-characterized microbial dark matter for novel methanotrophic lineages.
Connie Rojas ('14)
I am a Ph. D student in Dr. Kay Holekamp's spotted hyena lab at Michigan State University, working toward a dual degree in the Department of Integrative Biology, and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEBB).
Rebecca Rubinstein ('15)
I'm about to begin the MD/PhD program at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill after working as a Zika Epidemiologist for Harris County Public Health for a year and receiving my MPH at University of Texas Medical Branch.
Amelia McClure ('16)
Since graduating, I have pursued different opportunities related to environmental science, climate change resilience, and water resources management. Most recently, I spent a year as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, working with the local government to develop and implement community-based flood and landslide prevention and preparedness strategies.
Nisreen Abo-Sido ('18)
As a researcher with the Lexicon of Sustainability, I am working on interdisciplinary and collaborative projects aimed at involving diverse stakeholders in promoting more sustainable food systems.