Field of Microbiology Students (FoMS)

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FoMS is a student-run organization that seeks to build a strong sense of community for members of the Cornell Field of Microbiology. We host activities and events like:

  • Seminars featuring preeminant speakers
  • Interdisciplinary workshops
  • Social events and more!


We know that life as a graduate student can be very demanding and stressful. In this light, we seek to promote and celebrate scientific thought and development throughout the field of microbiology. Through these efforts, we hope to provide a social platform where students feel supported by our community.

      Microbiology Graduate Students 2015-2016




Andrew St. James (ars395)

Ruth Richardson n/a
Anna Weaver (aiw26) N/A  
Anne Otwell (aeo28) Ruth Richardson Using a variety of proteomic-based techniques, I am working to better elucidate proteins involved in dissimilatory iron and sulfate reduction. A major focus of my work has been on improving characterization of the metabolically versatile Gram-positive bacterium Desulfotomaculum reducens MI-1.
Aravind Natarajan (an393) Matthew DeLisa Design and engineering of protein glycosylation pathways in bacteria.
Azul Pinochet Barros           (vap48) John Helmann We study metal ion homeostasis in Bacillus subtilis, with a special focus on iron. We want to better understand how proper intracellular iron levels are maintained and the mechanisms of iron toxicity. We are also looking into the interactions between the iron and manganese systems in the cell. 
Chantal Koechli (cnk29) Daniel Buckley I use stable isotope probing, coupled with high-throughput sequencing of 16s rRNA and ITS markers in order to understand the impact of land-management on the microbial community participating in carbon cycling in agricultural soils.
Daniel F. Rojas Tapias                (dfr47) John Helmann My research focuses on the role of the extracytoplasmic sigma factors SigM and SigW, and the transcription factor Spx in the response to cell wall stress (CWER) of Bacillus subtilis. By using molecular biology tools, our ultimate goal is to unravel the genetic networks that accompany the CEWR in B. subtilis to provide a better understanding of how bacteria adapt to the presence of cell wall antibiotics.  
Daphne Welter (dkw45) Ruth Ley Population genetics of bacteria evolving within the mammalian gastrointestinal tract.
David Sannino (drs357) Esther Angert Understanding the biological function of thiaminase I, an enzyme found only in a small group of bacteria that catalyzes the breakdown of thiamin. Improving the assembly of the Epulopiscium sp. type B genome, a gut endosymbiont of tropical marine surgeonfish, and using genomic insights from this to understand its metabolic potential and physiology to ultimately grow Epulopiscium spp. and its relatives in lab culture. 
Elliot Jackson (ewj34) Ian Hewson  
Eun Jin Choi           (ec759) Jeongmin Song n/a
Evgeniya Nazarova      (evn2) David Russell My research focuses on lipid metabolism of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In particular, I'm trying to understand how pathogen has adapted to metabolize fatty acids and cholesterol acquired from the host, so that it can maintain persistent infection for decades.
Francine Arroyo (fa257) Esther Angert My research focuses on the evolution of the large intestinal bacterial symbiont, Epulopisicium, and its interaction with its surgeonfish host.
Heng Zhao  (hz285) John Helmann My research uses genetics and antibiotics as tools to study the mechanism and regulation of cell wall synthesis in Bacillus subtilis, a Gram positive bacterium. One specific interest is studying extracytoplasmic function (ECF) σ factors and their roles in protecting the integrity of the cell envelope under stress.
Hualiang Pi  (hp367) John Helmann Fur-regulated virulence protein FrvA, a P1B4-type ATPase, is critical for virulence in a mouse infection model and functions physiologically as a Fe(II) exporter in Listeria monocytogenes, suggesting an important role of iron efflux in bacterial pathogenesis. 
Javier Jaimes Olaya          (jaj246) Gary Whittaker My research focuses on the understanding of the Coronavirus entry processes into the cell. In particular, I’m assessing the role of the cellular proteases in the cleavage of the Spike protein of Feline Coronaviruses (FCoV) and the use of protease inhibitors as a possible therapeutic strategy. I’m also studying the genetic and protein changes that can alter the tropism in FCoV.
Jessica Sutter   (jls644) Ruth Ley My research is to study the effect of host genome on the microbial dynamics of the maize rhizosphere.
Jingqiu Liao  (jl3374) Martin Weidmann n/a
Kalia Bistolas  (ksb97) Ian Hewson My research aims to characterize the viral consortia (nanobiome) associated with marine and lacustrine members of three major arthropod groups — amphipods, copepods, and isopods — and determine the ability of these viruses to mediate the biogeochemistry of their hosts. 
Lory Henderson (loh9) Martin Wiedmann I am interested in how different environmental conditions affect bacterial physiology in ways that impact their transmission to human hosts and their ability to cause disease. My research focuses on determining the mechanism by which the positive regulatory factor A (PrfA) and SigB interact to regulate expression of prfA and other functions related to Listeria monocytogenes transmission.
Mallory Choudoir (mjc383) Daniel Buckley I study biogeography of the soil bacteria Streptomyces. I am interested in the evolutionary and ecological processes that drive diversification and speciation. 
May Taw    (mnt29) Matthew DeLisa My work focuses on engineering the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway of Escherichia coli for the enhanced export of heterologous proteins by directed co-evolution. By doing so, we hope to isolate Tat mutants that can be used to enhance protein production in this host and provide insight on the poorly understood Tat transport mechanism.
Michael T. Petassi (mtp56) Joseph Peters I study transposons and other mobile genetic elements that facilitate horizontal gene transfer between diverse species of bacteria. These elements play an important role in the evolution of new pathogens, especially in regards to the spread of antibiotic resistance genes.
Monique Theriault (met238) N/A  
Olga Lastovetsky (ol57) Teresa Pawlowska My research focuses on the molecular interactions between bacteria and fungi and on the evolutionary drivers that maintain the stability of fungal-bacteria symbioses
Peter Diebold (pd378) N/A  
Rachel Fieweger(raf277) N/A  
Samantha Scott (sas646) Pamela Chang n/a
Samuel Barnett (seb369) Daniel Buckley n/a
Shannon Murphy (sgm87) N/A  
Stacey Heaver (slh292) Ruth Ley n/a
Tam Tran      (tct29) David Russell  
Vaidehi Patel   (vbp22) John Helmann My research focuses on understanding role of Bacillus subtilis ECF sigma factor M in beta-lactam resistance.
Vienvilay Phandanouvong Lozano            (vp246) Anthony Hay