Siobain Duffy

Siobain is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. She is interested in the molecular evolution of fast-evolving viruses, specifically those with RNA and single-stranded DNA genomes  She studies the emergence of viruses on novel hosts using experimental evolution, conducts computational research on emergent RNA and ssDNA viruses, and improves phylogenetic methods for viral molecular epidemiology.

She gets to think about an even wide range of microorganisms in her role as chair-elect for ASM’s Division R (evolutionary microbiology) and as a member of the ICTV committee for bacterial and archaeal viruses.

Mansha Seth Pasricha

Mansha holds a B.Sc (honors) in Biochemistry from Delhi University and a PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Rutgers University. Her research interests are to understand evolutionary mechanisms. In her PhD project she has explored the evolution of cell death proteins in the archaeon, Haloferax volcanii.  Currently, she is a teaching-research postdoc exploring how epistasis affects host range expansion in the model RNA virus phi6 . She has helped middle school, high school students, and undergraduates generate and characterize host range mutants of phi6 as part of her research project. She is also a part-time lecturer with the department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources.

Lily Li

Lily has a BS in Biotechnology from Sichuan University, and then a MS in Microbiology from Fudan University. After that, she use phylogenetic methods to study the short-term and long-term evolution of lentiviruses in the Center of Genetics and Genomics of University of Nottingham, and received her PhD degree there. Now, she works on the deep evolutionary relationships among circular, Rep-encoding single-stranded DNA viruses.

Lele Zhao

Lele has a BS in Biotechnology from Beijing Normal University. She is a fourth year PhD student in Microbial Biology. She is interested in virology and the many aspects in which it relates to human epidemics. Lele is currently working on virus evolution research involving phi6. 

LaShanda Williams

LaShanda is an alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University (BA Anthropology/BS Sociology) and New York University (MS Anthropology) who is interested in the coevolution of humans and their pathogens.  She is a third year PhD student in Ecology & Evolution who is pursuing research on how dental microflora changed as a result of the contemporary antibiotic-using era.  She has been awarded funding for her microbiome research using collections at the Smithsonian.  She is also a museum educator at at the American Museum of Natural History.

Willard Mbewe

Willard is a visiting PhD student (Makerere University) from Malawi. He is working on Genetic characterization and epidemiology of Cassava brown streak viruses (Ipomovirus) from east and central-southern Africa. He is interested in understanding plant viral phylogeography and evolutionary dynamics that shape emergence and distribution of plant viruses.

Natasia Jacko

Natasia is a fourth year SAS student in a combined Microbiology BS/MPH program.  She is interested in the study of virology and epidemiology and is currently studying ssDNA viruses. Natasia’s previous work has focused on detecting native American begomoviruses through the isolation of viral particles from the whitefly vector.  She is currently working on a proof of concept project on the lethal mutagenesis of ssDNA viruses.

Raffia Ahmed

Raffia Ahmed is a SEBS senior majoring in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources. She is interested in the quantitative effect of viruses on global food security and human health. She is currently researching evolutionary diversity in plant viruses.

Dragos Stemate

Dragos is a third year Molecular Biology and Biochemistry SAS student. He is currently determining the fitness effects of single mutations in phi6 on different hosts. Although these mutations expand phi6 host range, it is at a cost of their fitness on some of their hosts. He is looking at epistasis between double mutants that arose in some of the host range screens. Some of these mutants have double mutations which are being tested together and singly for epistasis in several hosts. I test these mutants' fitness on multiple host to find out and compare how one mutation compares to that of two mutations. Thus, show that two separate mutations can be deleterious but combined have different effects.

...and maybe you?

Lab Alumni


Eric Ho, postdoc, now assistant professor, Lafayette College

Graduate Students:

Allison Hicks, MS, now a PhD student at Harvard University

Aubrey Watson, MS, now a laboratory technician at Contrafect

Yee Mey Seah, PhD student, now a postdoc at Molecular Epidemiology, Inc.

Daniel Stern Cardinale, PhD student, now assistant teaching professor in General Biology at Rutgers University

Alison Lima, visiting PhD student from Brazil, now an assistant professor at Universidade Federal de Uberlândia

Roberto Sobrinho, visiting PhD student from Brazil, now a postdoc at Universidade Federal de Alagoas


Jenn McConnell, now a research associate at Weill Cornell Medical College

Undergraduate researchers:

Kevin Apodaca

Kendra Avinger

Patrick Ayoola

Cassandra Burdziak

Victoria Buchholz

Alvin Crespo

Stefania Davia

Kate DeRosa

Shmyla Din

Preshita Gadkari

Joan Kuchie

German Lagunas Robles

Christopher Lin

Shannon Loelius

Dylan McClung

Travis Mok

Lillian Nichols

Yuliya Olifer

Amy Patel

Hermano Pereira

People in the Lab