Lab Members


Stephanie Banakis, M.S.

Lab Manager and Biologist

Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Chicago
Master’s of Biology, New York University.

Stephanie studies the evolution of the Influenza virus and of SARS-CoV-2 in populations at risk.

Matthew Chung, Ph.D.

Computational Biologist

Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, G. H. Cook Scholar, Rutgers University, NJ
PhD, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore

Matt specializes in the computational analysis of genomics, metagenomics, and transcriptomics data sets. For his doctorate, Matt conducted a multi-species RNA-Seq analysis across the entire life cycle of the filarial nematode Brugia malayi, its Wolbachia endosymbiont, and its vector host Aedes aegypti.

Denis Voronin, Ph.D.

Denis Voronin, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Master’s of Biology, Novosibirsk State University, Russia
PhD, Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russia

Denis trained as a postdoctorate fellow at Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine before joining the New York Blood Center where he became Assistant Member of the Cellular Microbiology Research Program. Denis is focused on delineating the essential cellular processes that define symbiotic Wolbachia-host interactions in filarial nematodes. Elimination of the symbiont leads to death of the adult worm, rendering Wolbachia an attractive target for interventional tools to combat filariasis.

Wei Wang, M.D.


Bachelor of Medicine, Tongji Medical University, Wuhan, China
Master’s of Microbiology, North Dakota State University.

Wei has over 20 years of experience in cell culture with expertise in molecular virology and vaccine research.

Allison Roder, Ph.D.

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow.

B.S. in Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience, and Computer Science, Rochester Institute of Technology.
PhD, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University

Allison uses a combination of molecular biology and computational methods to analyze virus dynamics and the host response to viral infection. Her recent work focuses on identifying, quantifying, and analyzing minority variants in intrahost viral populations and studying the dynamics of these variants over time, both within a single host and across populations. Current studies are centered around SARS-CoV-2 as well as Influenza A and B viruses.


Abdoulie Bojang, Ph.D

Post-doctoral Visiting IRTA (APTI)

B.Sc., Bioscience and Health, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK
M.Sc., Biomedical science, University of Hull, UK
Ph.D., Open University, UK
Higher scientific officer, Medical Research Council unit, The Gambia
Postdoctoral researcher, Medical Research Council unit, The Gambia

Abdoulie joined SGS in August 2021. His project in the SGS is to assess by metagenomics the impact of intrapartum oral azithromycin on the nasopharyngeal microbiome of Gambian infants.  Oral azithromycin given during labor appears to be a promising intervention to ultimately decrease neonatal mortality and to reduce incidence of clinical infection among mother (mastitis, fever) and their babies (skin infection).  However, the impact of the intervention on the nasopharyngeal microbiome of infants is not yet known.  

Michael Frimpong, Ph.D.

Post-doctoral Visiting IRTA (APTI)

B.Sc., Medical Laboratory Technology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Ph.D., Immunity and Infectious Diseases, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

Michael joined SGS in August 2021. His research is focused on using metagenomics to understand the pathogenesis of skin neglected tropical diseases, particularly Buruli ulcer and how that information can be used to improve treatment outcomes.

Joseph Koussa, Ph.D

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow

BSc in Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada.
MSc in Molecular Biology, Lebanese American University, Lebanon.
PhD, Biology, New York University, USA

Joe is interested in the parasitism of filarial nematodes and uses Brugia malayi as a model filarial parasite to investigate the host-parasite interface tackling glycomic, proteomic and immune-relevant interactions between the parasite and its human host.


Alexandra (Sasha) Mushegian, Ph.D.

IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow

BA Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University  
PhD, Biology, Universität Basel

Sasha is working on projects examining Sars-Cov-2 diversity and evolution. She is broadly interested in genomics and microbiomes in the context of disease ecology.



Martha Nelson, Ph.D.


BA Biology, Amherst College
PhD, Pennsylavania State University

Martha is a computational biologist who studies pathogen evolution. She uses genomic data to explore how the modern globalized world promotes the emergence of novel viruses that cause global pandemics, vaccine failures, and major outbreaks in animals and humans, and identifies strategies to combat emerging threats. 

Yin-Ting (Tim) Yeh, Ph.D.


Assistant Research Professor, Department of Physics, PSU
BS, Engineering and System Science & Material Scienec Engineering, National Tsing-Hua University, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan
MS, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, University fo Notre Dame
PhD, Biomedical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University

Tim is a visiting scientist at the NIH where his research focuses on developing microdevices for rapid capture and detection of viruses by Raman spectroscopy.



Anil Chakravorty, B.S.

Post-bac IRTA

B.S., Integrative Biology Honors program, minor in Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL

Anil works with Dr. Allison Roder and investigates the gene expression profiles of host cells in response to infection with Influenza A and B. Currently, most transcriptomic analyses focus on influenza A infection, in part due to its pandemic potential; there is a paucity of information regarding host response to influenza B infection.

Daniela Chow, B.S.

Post-bac IRTA (INRO)

B.S., Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at El Paso, TX

Daniela, under the mentorship of Dr. Joe Koussa, is studying the interplay of Brugia malayi with human lymphatic endothelial cells and its contribution in pathogenesis. She is also determining the role of Brugia malayi Galectin-2 (lec-2) in host-parasite interactions.

Brent Edwards

Post-bac Fellow

BA Biology, Middlebury College, VT

Brent studies the endosymbiotic relationship between the intracellular bacteria, Wolbachia, and its filarial nematode host. Another project investigates the interactions between Wolbachia and Zika virus in mosquitos.

Allie Kreitman, B.A.

Post-bac IRTA (INRO)

B.A., Molecular Biology, minor in Math, Colorado College, CO

Allie’s project, under the mentorship of Dr. Sasha Mushegian, is to characterize the genomic epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She is also comparing samples collected from symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Christopher Mederos, B.S.

Post-bac IRTA

B.S., Biochemistry, Florida International University in Miami, FL.

Chris is working on two projects. The first, under the mentorship of Dr. Allison Roder, is to investigate the evolutionary transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 and intra-host single nucleotide variants (iSNVs). The second project, under the mentorship of Dr. Joe Koussa, investigates the role of secreted lipid-binding proteins in the infection of Brugia malayi in humans.


Marissa Knoll

PhD Candidate, New York University


Marissa’s investigates influenza virus dynamics in the obese ferret model.

Katherine (Kate) Johnson

PhD Candidate, New York University


Kate uses next-generation sequencing data and computational methods to better understand viral dynamics within the host and how these dynamics impact viral diversity, evolution, and transmission.

RyeAnne Ricker, B.S.

Ph.D. candidate, Biomedical Engineering, George Washington University

B.S., Biological Engineering, Montana State University, MT
B.S., Microbiology – Medical Laboratory Science, Montana State University, MT

RyeAnne worked as a microbiologist for 2 years at the Public health Labs for the State of Washington, Division of Disease Control & Health Statistics, before starting her graduate program at GWU. In her graduate research in SGS, she uses Machine Learning techniques to characterize viruses by their Raman spectrum. The aim of this work is to generate rapid methods for detection and identification of viruses as well as to better understand how a Raman fingerprint can be used to infer relationships between viruses.

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