Meet the team!

Babak Momeni, PI

Babak joined the department of biology at Boston College in 2015 as an Assistant Professor. He received his doctoral training in Photonics Research Group (Electrical Engineering) at Georgia Tech, where he designed and implemented compact on-chip photonic demultiplexers. He continued his work at Georgia Tech as a postdoctoral fellow to make spectrometers for biosensing applications. Intrigued by biological systems, he joined Shou lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and studied stability and spatial organization of microbial communities in synthetic communities. 

@bmomeni on Twitter

ResearchGate profile 

Biology department profile

Marco Zaccaria, Postdoctoral Researcher

Before joining the lab in 2016, Marco received his Bachelor's degree in Natural Sciences and Master's degree in Ecobiology from the Sapienza University of Rome.  He received a PhD in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology through a joint program with the University of Florence (Università degli Studi di Firenze), where his doctoral work focused on convergent evolution between fungi and cancer.   Marco is particularly interested in microbial evolution and bioremediation.  In his current work, he studies the potential of microbial communities to degrade mycotoxins, which are abundant in the food system.  He enjoys petting cats, reading, traveling, and "most nerdy things".

Sandra Dedrick, Graduate Student

Sandra is a graduate student pursuing her Ph.D. in Biology at Boston College. She is currently studying the interspecies interactions of the human nasal microbiota in collaboration with the Liu lab at Harvard Medical School / Channing Institute of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Previous research has demonstrated that certain commensal bacteria of the nasal microbiome produce compounds that inhibit the growth of opportunistic pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus andStreptococcus pneumoniae. With this project, Sandra aims to elucidate the mechanisms by which: 1) commensals interact with pathogenic bacteria and, 2) commensals interact with one another. To achieve this, she is employing a number of in vitro experimental methodologies to test all pair-wise interactions between isolated species and establish a steady-state multi-species community. From this, she aims to create a computational model describing the observed interactions of simple pair-wise interactions with the goal of expanding these data to a more complex multi-species (3+) community.


Samantha Dyckman, Graduate Student

As a graduate student at Boston College, Sam is most interested in microbial community ecology.  After receiving her Bachelor's degree from Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2014, she studied hybridomas at Santa Cruz Biotech in California.  Sam enjoys reading, board games, and playing soccer with the biology department on Fridays.

Kevin Chen, Undergraduate Researcher

Kevin Chen is an undergraduate at Boston College from Livingston, NJ, majoring in Biology and minoring in Computer Science. He currently studies the effects of individual and combined inhibitors on E. coli growth. He is also interested in simulating microbial communities and studying their interactions. Kevin plans to pursue a career in biotechnology or information technology.

Sayles Day, Undergraduate Researcher

Sayles Day is an undergraduate Biology major (and a Faith, Peace, and Justice minor) at Boston College, from San Francisco, California. She has been part of a research project about the gut microbiome and is interested in cell biology, marine biology, and global health. Sayles is excited to be studying microbial communities that digest cellulose to potentially produce biofuels, especially because of the environmental and energy implications.

Nicholas Favazza, Undergraduate Researcher

Nicholas Favazza is an undergraduate at Boston College from Long Island, New York, majoring in Biology and minoring in Medical Humanities. Hoping to pursue a career as a medical doctor after graduation, he is interested in microbial communities and their implications in both human digestion and infection. He is especially interested in the potential to more accurately model and understand infection and how it may lead to improved health outcomes in hospitals and post-operation. 

David Fu, Undergraduate Researcher

David Fu is an undergraduate biology major at Boston College aspiring to attend medical school after graduation. He is excited about the intersection of biology and technology and currently researches the cooperation and inhibition in microbial systems.


Catherine Henckel, Undergraduate Researcher

Catherine Henckel is a Boston College undergraduate from Sussex, New Jersey, majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Italian. She is studying microbial community ecology in the lab, and is especially interested in its medical implications and how it will enrich our knowledge of the relationship between microbial communities and human health. Catherine plans to attend medical school after college to become a doctor.

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Lori Niehaus, Undergraduate Researcher

Lori Niehaus is an undergraduate biology and international studies double major at Boston College.  With hopes of pursuing a career in global health or epidemiology, she is most interested in the interactions of microbial communities and their effects on health and disease.  She is excited by the largely untapped potential for mathematical modelling to offer insight into these complex interactions. 

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Thaís de Palma, Visiting Research Scholar

Thaís de Palma has a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry and a Master’s Degree in Oral Microbiology and Immunology from the State University of Campinas, Brazil. Currently, she is a visiting researcher at Boston College. Her interests are in the interactions among microorganisms and in the mechanisms by which they develop oral and systemic diseases.


Ian Boland, Undergraduate Researcher

Ian Boland is an undergraduate biochemistry major seeking to gain hands on experience in the interdisciplinary parts of science. He is most interested in exploring the role of computational models as a mode to obtain vast amounts of preliminary data in a short period of time. Ian intends to pursue a career in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals after graduation.


Leena Rijhwani, Undergraduate Researcher

Leena is a Boston College undergraduate from Norwood, New Jersey, double majoring in Biology and International Studies with a focus on global health. She is interested in the health implications of microbial community interactions and is enthusiastic about learning more about the human nasal microbiome in the Momeni Lab.

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Madelyn Coleman, Undergraduate Researcher

Maddie is an undergraduate biology major at Boston College from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During her time in the Momeni Lab, she is very excited to study the interspecies interactions of the human nasal microbiota and their health implications, specifically between commensals and opportunistic pathogens. Maddie aspires to attend medical school after graduation and pursue a career as a medical doctor.  

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Sarah Ansari, Undergraduate Researcher

Sarah Ansari is an undergraduate biochemistry major at Boston College from New Jersey. She is interested in microbial interactions within the body. Sarah has been involved with the Momeni lab since her freshman year and is currently working with the oral microbiota. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Please contact Babak to discuss your interests and available projects (ideally a few weeks before the beginning of each semester). 

Former members

Nicole Thornton, Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2017 (Currently: undergraduate student at University of Miami, '19)

Michael Gates, Lab Research Technician, 2015-2017 (Currently: graduate student at Northeastern University, '21)

Raymond Lang, Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2017

Matthew Crum, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2016 (Currently:  graduate student at Boston College, '20)

Joshua Linnane, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2016 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, Biology '20)

Melissa Choz, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2016 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, Biology '20)

Kaitlin Chaung, Undergraduate Researcher, 2016 (Currently: lab technician at UCSF)

Daniel Beringer, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2016 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, Biology '19)

Joo Yeon (Joon) Choi, Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2016