Postdoctoral Researchers

Jiarong Guo, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Jiarong is interested in microbial ecology and bioinformatics, using meta-omics to understand the unknown majority of microbes and viruses and their functions. For his PhD and first post-doctoral position at Michigan State, he mainly studied the microbiome around biofuel crop roots (rhizosphere) to identify bacterial species and functions enriched around the rhizosphere for potential engineering of a beneficial microbiome. Jiarong also learned to program and develop bioinformatics pipelines that enable efficient and scalable metagenomic analyses with large shotgun sequencing dataset. In the Sullivan Lab he works with the iVirus team to help develop the next generation of tools for viral ecology, including viral sequence identification and classification.

Marion Urvoy, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Marion joined the Sullivan lab in September 2022 after obtaining her Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Western Brittany (France). Her thesis investigated the processes structuring the composition and function of marine and estuarine bacterial communities and their impact on global marine biogeochemical cycles. In particular, she focused on quorum sensing, a communication mechanism used by bacteria. In the Sullivan lab, she currently studies virocell metabolism and its impact on the extracellular environment.

Akbar Adjie Pratama, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate Adjie’s websiteAdjie on Twitter
Adjie obtained his Ph.D. in November 2018 from Department of Microbial Ecology, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. His Ph.D. research focused on the role of bacteriophage in the ecology and evolution of fungal-interactive (soil) bacteria, Paraburkholderia species. In September 2019, he joined the Sullivan lab, where the main goal is to unveil the diversity and the ecological significance, e.g. in nutrient cycling and alter soil microbiome communities, of soil viral populations from IsoGenie’s near-decade sampling along a permafrost thaw gradient.

Ricardo Pavan, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Ricardo holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tasmania, Australia, where he studied the pelagic microbial ecology of the Macquarie Harbour. He employed machine learning and network techniques to analyze complex microbial datasets. With an MBA in Data Analysis, he developed a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively utilize statistical analysis and data visualization techniques when working with intricate datasets. Ricardo also collaborated on projects involving single-cell and single-nucleus RNA sequencing. He is passionate about microbiology, bioinformatics, and data analysis. In the Sullivan Lab, he contributes to two projects: studying the impact of vaginal microbial communities on low-birth-weight risk and developing novel tools for ssDNA virus verification and classification with the iVirus team.

Zhiping Zhong photo

James Wainaina, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
James obtained his PhD in Biochemistry specialization genomics and computational biology in 2019 from the University of Western Australia (Perth, Australia). His research focus was on phylogenomics and evolution of viruses and insect vectors within smallholder agro-ecosystems in the western highlands of Kenya. His primary interests are in understanding the evolution of viruses and the potential drivers of this evolution, using Bayesian phylogenetic methods and next-generation sequencing. He joined the Sullivan lab in June 2019, to investigate global AMGs and RNA viruses as part of the Tara Oceans research project.

Gerid Ollison, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
The healthy function of every known ecosystem, including the human body, is governed by elemental transformations mediated by microbes. Understanding how the composition of microbial communities is shaped by the intersection of physicochemical factors with species interactions is at the heart of Gerid’s current research. Gerid earned his PhD at the University of Southern California (David A. Caron Lab), where he examined the spatiotemporal distribution and diversity of marine protists (unicellular eukaryotes) in natural assemblages, and their transcriptional responses to environmental cues. He joined the Sullivan Lab in 2023 to improve our understanding of what viral-bacterial interactions in culture portend for free-living microbial communities.

Garrett Smith, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Garrett joined the group in autumn of 2023 as a research scientist to offer his metabolic reconstruction skillset to a variety of projects after a postdoc in The Netherlands (Radboud University Nijmegen) working on hybrid (integrating short and long reads) metagenomics to support metabolic reconstruction and  microbial ecology of microbial communities focusing on nitrogen removal relevant for wastewater treatment. He received his PhD from this Department in 2020 under joint supervision between Dr. Kelly Wrighton (now CSU at Ft. Collins) and Dr. Virginia Rich linking microbial activity to natural ecosystem processes, specifically methane oxidation in freshwater wetlands in Ohio and carbon and nitrogen cycling in river hyporheic zones in Washington state using multiple integrated meta-‘omics techniques and physiological experiments. In general, Garrett is interested in microbial metabolism and their connections to one another and their ecosystems, with emerging interests in health-related microbiomes and data analysis.

James Tan, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate
James received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan under Dr. Xiaoxia “Nina” Lin. There he developed and characterized microfluidic droplet (“microdroplet”) -based methodologies to study bacterial interactions for applications to natural systems. Microdroplet-based methods have multiple advantages as tools for microbiome science, namely their ultra-high-throughput and single cell resolution. James joined both the Microsystems and Nanosystems Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (led by Dr. Shaurya Prakash) and the Sullivan Lab in the fall of 2023 and is working to adapt microdroplet-based methodologies with metagenomic sequencing to investigate phage-host interactions in natural systems.


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