Zakee L. Sabree

Associate Professor, Evolution Ecology and Organismal Biology,

Faculty Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs



Mathias Schneider

PhD Student,


Kayla Cross

PhD Student,

I completed my undergraduate education in California where I obtained a B.S. in Biology. In 2020 I joined the Microbiology department at Ohio State and joined the Sabree Lab in 2021. My current projects include (1) the effect of diet on gut species diversity and functional capacity and (2) how different gut microbiome compositions impact innate immune gene expression. These projects use the American cockroach, an efficient model organism, with a combination of wet lab techniques and large data set analysis using R.


Kyle Buffin

PhD Student,

Kyle joined the Sabree Lab in 2022 and is a PhD student in the Microbiology program at OSU. He is researching the relationship between host-associated microbiomes and immune system evolution. Specific topics of interest include innate immune gene evolution in arthropods, arthropod microbiome diversity and function, and host factors influencing microbiome assembly


Sophia Stokes

Undergraduate Student,

I am an undergraduate Microbiology major at OSU and joined Sabree lab in 2023 to work as a research assistant. One project I am involved with includes developing a hands-off DNA extraction method. Other projects that I help out with involve testing the effects of different bacterial strains on germ-free American cockroaches. I am interested in learning more lab techniques and exploring the symbiotic relationship between gut microbiota and their hosts.


Esther Okamoto

Undergraduate Student-SROP,

I am an undergraduate at Agnes Scott College (Class of 2024), spending the summer at OSU as a visiting student researcher. I am part of projects that aim to understand the impact of microbiomes on growth and development, using germ-free cockroaches as the model organism. The study involves the introduction of a development-promoting gene through a commensal bacterium to stimulate maturation in these germ-free cockroaches. By closely examining the subsequent changes in growth, we can gain valuable insights into the microbiome’s influence on the development of organisms.

Sharyu Deshmukh

M.S. Student,

Hello, I’m Sharyu, a graduate student at OSU. In 2023, I had the wonderful opportunity to join Prof. Sabree Zakee’s lab as a student assistant. As a Student Research Assistant specializing in microbiome data analysis, my main goal is to utilize machine learning techniques to discover gut bacteria that are associated with healthy animals. Specifically, I am focused on developing and implementing innovative ML approaches for microbiome communities that play a role in specific health outcomes.

Layla Ramsey

Lab Technician and Undergraduate Student,

I am an undergraduate student at OSU studying Environmental Science with a specialization in Ecosystem Restoration. I joined the Insect Microbial Symbiosis lab in 2022 as a research assistant, and I focus primarily on rearing and maintaining the germ-free insect colony. I also help out with the various projects occurring in the lab. A project I am currently working on involves collecting data on the developmental potential as well as general lifespan of the germ-free colony by allocating a number of germ-free insects towards development alone. This will help us observe how lack of a gut microbiome impacts the growth, development, and overall lifespan of an organism.



Postdoctoral Scientists

Arturo Vera Ponce de Leon, Ph.D. – Postdoctoral Researcher, Norwegian University of Life Sciences‬

Paul A. Ayayee, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Nebraska-Omaha


Graduate Students

Ilaria Laterza, Ph.D, visiting scholar

Ian Brackett, M.S., M.P.A.

Benjamin C. Jahnes, Ph.D. – Research Associate, Ohio State University

Alejandro Otero-Bravo, Ph.D. – Research Associate, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Laura J. Kenyon, M.S. –  Stony Brook University School of Medicine


Undergraduate Researchers

Salvia Zafar, B.S.

Lang Guo, B.S.

Victoria Ramsey, B.S. – master’s degree student, Ohio State University

Mady Herrmann, B.S.

Jon Foltz, B.S.

Sofia Nicholas, B.S.

Sema Osman, B.S.


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