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".


Helen Kurkjian, Postdoctoral Researcher

Helen is an ecologist whose current work is motivated by two broad questions:  1) how does the movement of individuals affect population growth, persistence, extinction, and recolonization? and 2) how are these effects mediated by the physical landscape?  She joined the lab as a postdoc in 2018 with plans to investigate these questions in microbial systems.  She completed her PhD in 2018 at UC Berkeley, where she studied how connectivity in metapopulations affects recolonization and recovery following subpopulation extinctions.  She received an MS in Biology from Humboldt State University in 2012 and her BA from New York University in 2007.

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.


Natalie Sandlin, Graduate Student

Natalie is a graduate student at Boston College pursuing her Ph.D in biology. She is interested in molecular microbiology and bioremediation. Currently, she is studying the potential of microbial communities to degrade mycotoxins, common food contaminants. Natalie received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology from the University of Dallas in 2018. Outside of lab, she enjoys reading, traveling, and baking.


Rosie Jungquist, Undergraduate Researcher

Rosie is an undergraduate biology major from Jamestown, New York. She joined the lab at the end of her freshman year, and is primarily interested in microbial community ecology. Outside of the lab, Rosie enjoys swimming, bouldering, and anything involving the sun. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in medicine.


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.

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Kyle Wiant, Undergraduate Researcher

Kyle is an undergraduate biology major at Boston College from Rochester, New York. He joined the lab at the end of his sophomore year and is currently working with the nasal microbiota. Outside of the lab, Kyle is a co-captain of the men's rowing team at BC, and is pursuing a minor in film studies. After graduation, he intends to pursue a career in medicine.


Deno Alkurdi, Undergraduate Researcher

Ezdean (Deno) Alkurdi is a Boston College undergraduate from Worcester, Massachusetts. He majors in Biology, and is primarily interested in microbial community ecology. Deno enjoys lifting weights, hiking, and swimming. Deno wants to pursue a career in a biotechnology.


Chelsey Skeete, Undergraduate Researcher


Yuting Zhang, Undergraduate Researcher

Yuting is a rising senior in Boston College majoring in Psychology. She is from Beijing, China. She is interested in a computational approach to biological systems, especially human brains! During her time in Momeni Lab, she studies how different network architectures influence the resulting microbial community structure and how heterogeneity of microbial community influences the resulting microbial community coexistence. She also enjoys drawing and painting in her free time. She wants to pursue studies in human memory and computational approaches in the future and find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

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McKinley Croteau, Undergraduate Researcher (REU)

McKinley is a rising junior at Simmons University majoring in biochemistry and minoring in physics and public health. Originally, she is from Keene, New Hampshire. In her free time, McKinley enjoys playing field hockey and ice hockey. She is excited to work on the human nasal microbiome project this summer, and to learn more about species to species interactions. After graduation, McKinley intends to pursue a career as a physician-scientist.

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



Joy Zou

Undergraduate Researcher, 2018-2019

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Tianhu (Tony) Chen

Undergraduate Researcher, 2019-2019


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Alli DiPietro

High School Volunteer, 2018-2018 (Currently: William and Mary, VA, '22)

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Javaris Hart

Undergraduate Researcher (REU), 2018-2018 (Currently: undergraduate student at Jackson State University, '19)

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Thaís de Palma

Visiting Scholar, 2017-2018 (Currently: graduate student at University of Rhode Island)

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Ian Boland

Undergraduate Researcher, 2017-2018 (Currently: TopCon Medical Systems, New York)

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David Fu

Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2018 (Currently: medical student at University of Nebraska Medical Center)

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Nicholas Favazza

Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2018 (Currently: project coordinator at Mount Sinai)

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Lori Niehaus

Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2018 (Currently: US Fulbright Scholar, Malaysia)

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Kevin Chen

Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2018 (Currently: Blueprint Medicine, Cambridge)

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Catherine Henckel

Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2018 (Currently: medical student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School)

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Sayles Day

Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2018 (Currently: Teach for America, Hawaii)


Minghoa Liu, Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2017 (Currently: graduate student at UIUC)

Stacy Nguyen, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2017 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, '21)

Suyen Espinoza, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2017 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, '21)

Allison Drozda, Graduate Student (Rotation), 2017 (Currently: graduate student at Boston College, '21)

Nicole Thornton, Undergraduate Researcher (REU), 2017-2017 (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: research associate at Synthetic Genomics, San Diego)

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