Photo credit: Patrick Wine, UMaine

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

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.

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, B.S.

Research Assistant, Husson University

Dorien is a research assistant 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. She recently graduated with her bachelor’s in Nutrition from Husson.

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

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

Grace Lee, B.S.

Research Assistant, Neuroscience, Bowdoin College

Grace was accepted to the University of Maine REU program for summer 2020, which was postponed due to pandemic concerns. She 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. She recently graduate with her bachelor’s in Neuroscience from Bowdoin, and is conducting research there.

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. 

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.

The 2020/21 Ishaq Lab crew

Former lab members