Dr. Sue Ishaq, PhD

Principal Investigator


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.

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

Photo of Sarah Hosler in an elevator.

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

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.

A person holding a mouse in a research facility. The person is wearing a hairnet, nitrile gloves, a surgical mask, and a surgical gown. The mouse with dark brown fur is sitting on the top of the person's hand. In the background, there are metal shelves with bins and containers of research supplies.

Dorien Baudewyns

Undergraduate researcher, Nutrition, Husson University

Dorien is an undergraduate researcher at Husson University, who is working with the Ishaq lab and with Drs. Tao Zhang and Yanyan Li at Husson University. She is assisting with projects related to bioactive compounds in broccoli, gut microbes, and health.

Woman standing on the ocean shoreline.

Jade Chin

Undergraduate Researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Biology

Jade is an Animal and Veterinary Sciences major with a pre-veterinary concentration, originally from Connecticut. She joined the lab in summer 2020 to study leaf silage microbes for her Honors thesis. She plans to study abroad at the University of Glasgow during her senior year and attend their veterinary school after her undergraduate degree.

Louisa Colucci

Louisa Colucci

Undergraduate researcher, Health Science, Husson University

Louisa is a Health Science major, originally from Saco, Maine. She is conducting undergraduate research for her Senior Capstone project at Husson University with Drs. Tao Zhang and Yanyan Li. She joined the Ishaq team in 2021 and is currently exploring the effects of broccoli phytonutrients on anaerobic gut microbes.

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

Blueberries on a bush

Nick Hershbine

Undergraduate Researcher, Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Nick is exploring the microbial communities associated with wild Maine blueberry soils in a joint project between Drs. Lily Calderwood and Ishaq.

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

Grace Lee

Undergraduate Researcher, Neuroscience, Bowdoin College

Grace was accepted to the University of Maine REU program for summer 2020, which was postponed due to pandemic concerns. She’ll joined the Ishaq lab remotely to learn data analysis for a project on microbes and animal health. She hopes to continue her love for science and service in a future career in the medical field as a clinical physician. Her passions outside of school work include playing the viola and spreading awareness of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

Portrait of Emily Pierce

Emily Pierce

Undergraduate researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Emily is an Animal and Veterinary Sciences major with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine and a minor in microbiology from central Vermont. She joined the lab in spring 2020 to study work on culturing rumen cells and the immune factor production after coculturing with microbes. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she will be attending school for Veterinary Medicine.

2021 CUGR Fellowship

A blonde woman wearing a white tank top, and unzipped red hoodie, and jeans, while standing in a field of tall grass with trees in the background.
Catie Sullivan

Catie Sullivan

Undergraduate researcher, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

I am studying Animal Veterinary Science (pre-vet) and graduating in 2023. I love animals and want to work with them for the rest of my life. I am a triplet from New York that came to Maine in search of adventure and new opportunities and found UMO in the process. 

Omar Tavio

Research Assistant, Husson University

Alessia Pellegrini

Research Assistant, Westlake High School

My name is Alessia Pellegrini and I am a senior at Westlake High School. I am an inducted member of my school’s Science National Honor Society, which I was able to achieve through my work for Dr. Sue Ishaq. My work consisted of researching and creating a resource list about scientists from underrepresented groups in the microbiology and technology fields. Continually, I added alternative text to many of the posts on the Ishaq Lab’s website in order to make it more accessible to visually impaired visitors. I plan to study Biology when I begin college this upcoming fall. Most of all, I am excited and honored to be a part of the Ishaq Lab Team!

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. 

Marjorie Killerby, B.S.

Master’s of Science, Animal Science, Adviser: Dr. Juan Romero

Marjorie is a Bachelor in Veterinary Medicine originally from Lima, Peru and is currently studying to earn a Masters in Animal Science in the University of Maine, Orono. She is researching the effects of novel preservatives on nutritional quality and microbial communities in silage and hay for the dairy industry. I am mentoring Marjorie as a graduate committee member in microbial ecology, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis.

Photo of woman in front of mountains

Tindall Ouverson, B.S.

Master’s of Science, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University. Adviser: Drs. Fabian Menalled and Tim Seipel

Tindall graduated in May 2018 with a B.S. in Sustainability Science, summa cum laude, from Furman University in Greenville, SC. Currently, she is conducting research in the Weed and Invasive Plant Ecology and Management Group with Drs. Fabian Menalled and Tim Seipel. Specifically, her research focuses on the response of soil microbial communities to cropping systems and climate change in semiarid agriculture. I am mentoring Tindall as a graduate committee member in microbial ecology, DNA sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis.

Temporal soil bacterial community responses to cropping systems and crop identity in dryland agroecosystems of the Northern Great Plains. 

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