Photo credit: Patrick Wine, UMaine

Dr. Sue Ishaq, PhD

Principal Investigator


*Please note, this is not an exhaustive list as not all lab members chose to have their bio listed online.

Graduate students

Johanna Holman, B.S.

Master’s of Science, Human Nutrition and Food Sciences

Johanna joined the lab in fall 2020 to investigate the effects of diet on the gut microbiome, and on host-microbial interactions. For the past several years, she has been working with Drs. Tao Zhang and Yanyan Li at Husson University, and her project will combine her previous work on the nutritional biochemistry of broccoli with effects on gut microbes.

2022 Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award

2020-2021 University of Maine Graduate Student Employee of the Year

Sarah Hosler, photo courtesy of Albright College
Sarah Hosler, photo courtesy of Albright College.

Sarah Hosler, B.S.

Master’s of Science, Animal Science

Sarah is from Newton, NJ and has lived in NJ her whole life until she started college at Albright College in PN. Her undergraduate research was on protein classification. Sarah joined the lab in fall 2020 to create new methods for studying host-microbial interactions.

“I am excited to see how much I grow through my graduate experience at the University of Maine. I’m also a little bit nervous about the cold, but I’m sure I will get used to it.”

Sarah, Apr 2020

2022 Finalist for UMaine NSFA graduate awards

Ayodeji Olaniyi
Ayodeji Olaniyi

Ayodeji Olaniyi, B.S.

Master’s of Science, Animal Science

Ayodeji is a graduate student in the animal science department. An aspiring and self-motivated student, with practical experience in animal production and proper farm maintenance. Spurred by the needs to improve the production of meat/livestock in Africa and ensure good health and environmental conditions for animals. Also an Animal Science Enthusiast that seeks acquisition of knowledge and the practical use of such knowledge to bridge the gap between research findings and solving Animal production challenges. He joined the lab in 2022 tracking the trends in the spread of Cryptosporidium parvum at the Witter farm. Ayodeji is an international student from Nigeria and he is looking forward to all UMaine has to offer in this next phase of his life.

Lola Holcomb (bio in development)


Myra Arshad

Undergraduate Research Assistant, Ecosystems and Human Impact, Stony Brook University

Myra is a Research Assistant for the Ishaq Lab, who was accepted to the University of Maine’s 2021 Summer REU program. Due to the ongoing pandemic, she is conducting remote research for the Ishaq lab by doing data analysis on camel metagenomic data. At her home institution she conducts ecotoxicology research under Dr. Pochron, where she looks at plastic mulch’s impact on worm and microbial health. She hopes to integrate environmental health with human health, and pursue public health through an anti-racist approach.

Joe Balkan, performing culturing of bacteria at the anaerobic chamber. Joe is wearing a face mask, and is holding up a culture plate. There are stacks of petri dishes inside the chamber.

Joe Balkan

Undergraduate Researcher, Biology, Tufts University

Joe Balkan is from South Burlington, Vermont and is majoring in biology at Tufts University.  He enjoys research related to human health, and is especially interested in the microbiome.  Joe is researching protocols for the lab’s investigation of broccoli bioactive metabolism in the gut.

Rebecca French

Rebecca French

Undergraduate Researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Rebecca is an animal and veterinary science student with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. She joined the Ishaq lab team in 2021 as a part of her capstone project, which is focused on flying squirrels and mice that are carrying zoonotic pathogens into Maine.

2021 J. Franklin Witter Undergraduate Research Endowment Fund

Marielle Pelletier in red medical scrubs and a stethoscope kneeling while holding up a small dog.
Marielle Pelletier

Marielle Pelletier

Undergraduate Researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Marielle Pelletier is an undergraduate student on the pre-veterinary track studying Animal and Veterinary Sciences with a minor in Chemistry.  She has worked in the veterinary field since high school
and has personally seen the effects of veterinary shortages in various areas of the world.  Her experiences in veterinary medicine in both rural and urban Maine as well as in underdeveloped Costa Rican neighborhoods have piqued her interest in the veterinary shortage crisis Maine is currently facing.  As a Top Scholar at the University of Maine, Ellie hopes to expand her knowledge in the animal and environmental health areas and connect with local policymakers to create an effective management plan to absorb Maine’s shortage while
advancing her laboratory and research skills.

Morgan Rocks

Morgan Rocks

Undergraduate Researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Morgan is an animal and veterinary science student with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine. She joined the lab in 2021 to work on the small animal microbiome project for her senior capstone. Her current work is focusing on the DNA sequencing of pathogens found within the squirrel and small rodent populations in Maine.

Lab Affiliates

Adwoa Dankwa

Adwoa Dankwa, M.S.

Doctorate of Philosophy, Human Nutrition and Food Sciences, Adviser: Dr. Jennifer Perry

Adwoa is a graduate student in Food Science and Human Nutrition department. Adwoa’s work in the Perry lab is focused on understanding the microbial and chemical composition of fermented non-dairy low alcohol beverages and how these influence consumer acceptability over time. Dr. Ishaq serves on Adwoa’s committee to provide expert advice on microbial ecology, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis. Aside from formal mentorship, Dr. Ishaq provides insight, support, and encouragement in all areas that are deemed helpful in making Adwoa succeed in her program. Adwoa originally hails from Ghana and is loving all the seasons Maine has to offer.

Alice Hotopp

Alice Hotopp, M.S.

Doctorate of Philosophy candidate, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Advisors: Drs. Kristina Cammen and Brian Olsen.

Alice is a PhD candidate in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, co-advised by Drs. Kristina Cammen and Brian Olsen. Alice is part of the Genomic Ecology of Coastal Organisms (GECO) research group, which studies the genomic basis of adaptation in sparrow species inhabiting tidal salt marshes along the Atlantic coast of North America. Alice’s research focuses on understanding potential evolutionary drivers of plumage coloration, such as plumage microbial communities, in tidal marsh sparrows. 

Research Students mentoredCurrentFormerTotal while at UMaine
Total all262955
PhD, primary mentor100
PhD, committee member303
MS, primary mentor303
MS, committee member224
MPS, primary mentor011
MPS, committee member000
Honors, primary mentor123
Honors, committee member033
Top Scholar202
BS, primary mentor055
Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)213
Total mentee list, updated May 2022

Join the lab

Interested in our work? Please read the information provided to determine if the Ishaq lab might be right for you before inquiring. Still interested? Send your CV and a brief explanation of what you want to study and why you want to join a research lab.

Former lab members