Member Monday: Babak Momeni!

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In his research, Babak's is interested in explaining how biological complexity arises and is maintained in the context of microbial communities. By understanding the underlying interactions among microbes, can we control microbial community functions? In a search for general principles that guide how communities work, he has interest in microbial communities involved in human health, industrial applications, and the environment. He finds joy in mathematical modeling and tranquility in doing experiments, so whenever he can, he combines the two.

Outside of the lab, Babak plays soccer (mostly indoor, these days) and runs. He enjoys reading fiction (although he collects good books more than he gets to read them!). More recently, playing board games with the lab and friends has also turned into one of his favorite “activities”. 

In parallel to his research, Babak is also interested in science communication and outreach.  He has a continued interest in issues of diversity in science and fairness in science evaluation, and is a member of eLife early-career advisory group.

Member Monday: Meet Ian Boland


Ian currently works with mathematical modeling on Matlab to simulate community interactions and investigate the driving force that pushes simulated populations to coexist in communities. Outside of the lab, Ian enjoys reading, rock climbing, and spending time with friends and family. After graduation, he plans to work in quality assurance in the medical devices industry. 

Member Monday: Meet Joy Zou


As a junior Biochemistry and Computer Science double major at Boston College with a concentration in Bioinformatics, Joy is currently developing a deep-learning model that accurately predicts the level of coexistence given an initial pool of microbial species
and chemical mediators. Such a model would not only eliminate the need to perform thousands of experiments or simulations but would also help the scientific community explain the frequently posed question of why species with disparate fitness can stably coexist in a community.
Outside of research, Joy enjoys running occasionally, playing board games with friends, creating conceptual art when she is inspired by experiences in her life, and directing a mentorship program for undergraduate students at Boston College who are eager to primarily pursue a career in the sciences or any other field.
After graduation, she hopes to use the skills she has developed to complete her personal project concerning improving pharmaceutical efficiency in socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods such as in the Bronx. She plans on finding a career in tech/humanitarian work to not only give back to her community in New York but to also promote social cohesion of human beings regardless of their differences in class, gender, orientation, ethnicity, religion, and
political inclination.

Member Monday: Meet Samantha Dyckman


Sam's current interests revolve around understanding how microbial interactions lead to community stability. Microbes are essentially everywhere, but it is not always clear how they maintain their community structure and often it can be non-intuitive what will heavily impact a community's composition and stability. Sam wants to better comprehend how positive and negative (and specifically both simultaneously) can affect the community as a whole. In order to do this Sam wants to use the model organism, E. coli,  since it is easy to genetically manipulate and also simple to culture in lab. By creating a synthetic community, she can examine how these different interactions lead to stability and better apply it to natural communities in the future. 

Outside of the lab, Sam enjoys reading when she gets the chance (aka her commute on the T each morning). When she's feeling more social, board games are another hobby of hers, and if the weather ever gets above 50 degrees, she really enjoys soccer and hiking. 

As a second year graduate student she still has many years ahead of her before earning her PhD, but once she achieves it she hopes to use her experience here to work for the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Sam wants to bridge her lab skills with more public outreach to hopefully leave a positive impact on her community. 

Member Monday: Meet Thaís de Palma

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Thaís is originally from Brazil and moved to the USA in 2016 where she works as a visiting researcher in Momeni’s lab. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry and a Master’s Degree in Oral Microbiology and Immunology from the State University of Campinas, Brazil. Thaís’ research focuses on oral microorganisms such as StreptococcusRhotiaNeisseria, and Actnomyces. Currently, employing in vitro experiments, she is investigating how these oral species interact with each other. Thaís is also taking advantage of her time in the lab to learn about Mathematical Models applied to Microbiology. She is applying to her PhD in microbiology and hopes to become a graduate student next fall. Outside the lab, Thaís enjoys traveling, cooking for her friends, and watching series.

Member Monday: Meet Lori Niehaus


As a biology and international studies major, Lori is interested in trying to understand the ways chemically-mediated microbial interactions could be used to improve human health across the globe.  Currently, she is studying the combined effect of two substances that inhibit bacterial growth - acetic acid and erythromycin.  The potential applications of this research are plentiful.  Low concentrations of acetic acid, for example, have been found to be effective in treating burns, and as resistance to penicillin increases, more and more patients are relying on erythromycin as an an antibiotic. Outside of the lab and the classroom, Lori enjoys playing intramural soccer and basketball and is currently training for the Boston Marathon!

Member Monday: Meet Kevin Chen

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Kevin is a senior currently studying the effect of inhibitors on E. coli growth rate in single and combination experiments. Outside of the lab, he is interested in cooking, spending a lot of his time watching how-to videos on Youtube and learning about different food-styles and food-cultures. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in computational biology; if you know of any prospective entry-level jobs in the field, feel free to contact him at!

Member Monday: Meet David Fu

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David is currently working with Marco to investigate mycotoxin degradation by Rhodococcus pyridinivorans in hope of a possible usage in bioremediation. David is also excited that they are collaborating with French scientists abroad in delineating the underlying genetic/enzymatic mechanism. He hopes to take his results and compile them into a senior thesis. Outside of lab he is applying to medical schools which he plans to begin attendance of in Fall 2018.