Photo credit: Patrick Wine, UMaine

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.

Team Broccoli

Portrait of Lola Holcomb, wearing a block sweater on a beach at sunset

Lola Holcomb

Doctorate of Philosophy student, Biomedical Science

Lola entered as a rotating first-year GSBSE student in March 2022, and declared the Ishaq Lab her dissertation lab soon after.  Troubled with indecisiveness and the desire to research, well, everything, she quickly found that using bioinformatics and big data as a lens to study microbial ecology (and in time, its relation to social equity) allowed her to do the kind of meaningful interdisciplinary research she’s always wanted to do.  Lola is currently working on 16s data analysis for other ongoing lab projects, comparing gut microbiomes of mouse models of Inflammatory Bowel Disease with broccoli as a dietary treatment.  Lola was recently awarded a One Health and the Environment NRT Fellowship here at UMaine, and will be using the fellowship to advance her doctoral studies of bioinformatics, microbes, and social equity.  

Johanna Holman at her ASM Microbe 2022 poster

Johanna Holman, B.S., M.S.

Doctorate of Philosophy student, 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. She obtained her master’s in nutrition in summer 2022, and is returning to the Ishaq and Li labs for her PhD!

2022 Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award

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

Holman, Johanna M., “Prevention of Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Broccoli-sourced and Microbially-produced Bioactives” (2022). University of Maine. Master’s of Science Thesis. 3654.

Team Scallop

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.

Sydney Shair

Undergraduate Researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Sydney has gained experience with various animals starting at Norfolk County Agricultural High School, volunteering at Franklin Park Zoo, and interning at Massachusetts General Hospital while touring various Massachusetts-based biomedical labs. With an interest in animal reproductive physiology, she is hoping to make impactful discoveries in the world of human and animal medicine in reproductive health after pursuing her doctorate.

New students have joined the scallop team, we are in the process of adding their profiles!

Team Health

portrait of Alexis Kirkendall
Alexis Kirkendall

Alexis Kirkendall

Undergraduate Researcher, Biology, Heidelberg University

Alexis is from Ohio and is majoring in Biology at Heidelberg University. Her research interests are in genetics and she has a love for the fascinating world of microbes. She joined the lab through the Summer 2022 REU. She is researching Cryptosporidium in cows, helping in the MSE Symposium, and aiding in the Camel Rumen Microbiome Project this summer.

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.

Emily Sala holding up a newborn lamb.

Emily Sala

Undergraduate researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Emily Sala is an undergraduate student majoring in Animal and Veterinary Sciences with a Pre-Veterinary Sciences concentration. Emily has extensive experience working with small ruminants, through her own sheep farm she started in 2015, and her fiance’s dairy goat farm. Emily has seen first hand the struggle small ruminant farmers around New England have had with intestinal parasites. Resistance to deworming medications is a growing problem in both sheep and goat farms across the nation. Through her research at the University of Maine, Emily hopes to gain a better understanding of how intestinal parasites in sheep and goats respond to alternative deworming practices. With the increase in resistance to veterinary deworming medications, this research will give insight as to whether or not pumpkins can be used as a viable alternative to traditional deworming practices.

Lab Affiliates

Adwoa Dankwa

Adwoa Dankwa, M.S., Ph.D.

PostDoctoral Researcher, Human Nutrition and Food Sciences, Adviser: Dr. Jennifer Perry

Dr. Dankwa recently completed her PhD in Food Science and Human Nutrition. 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 served 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.

Gloria Adjapong

Gloria Adjapong, Ph.D.

PostDoctoral Fellow

My name is Gloria Adjapong, an Association of Public Health intern/fellow with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Diagnostics Research Laboratories (UMCEDRL).  I joined UMCEDRL this summer in July, 2022.

I have my PhD in Medical/Clinical Microbiology from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and my research interest is in infectious diseases and molecular diagnostics. My goals are to achieve a career in identification of emerging/existing microorganisms with the aim of achieving timely and effective therapeutic intervention and also to acquire some knowledge in Bioinformatics, which is applicable in my Public Health career.

Dr Sue Ishaq is one of my mentors and I am currently doing some genomic work in her Laboratory. I hope to acquire new skills in my molecular diagnostics at the end of my fellowship. 

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 all283967
PhD, primary mentor200
PhD, committee member204
MS, primary mentor224
MS, committee member044
MPS, primary mentor112
MPS, committee member000
Honors, primary mentor033
Honors, committee member033
Top Scholar202
BS, primary mentor257
Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)123
Total students mentored as of November 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