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Lab Members


I was born in Kansas City, Kansas and raised in San Jose, California. I got my undergraduate degree here at UC Santa Cruz where I got my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. My undergraduate research primarily focused on understanding how mutations of the protein inhibitor p16 affect its role in cell cycle regulation and how that plays a larger role in glioma formation.  In the future I hope to work towards becoming a PhD candidate. In my free time I enjoy reading, crocheting, and swimming.

Myrka Carmona (she/her)




University of California, Santa Cruz Biochemistry


mmcarmon at


I am a third year undergraduate student majoring in MCD Biology. I was born in Ohio and raised in Santa Cruz, California. In my free time, I enjoy reading, crocheting, listening to music, and exploring all of the beaches and state parks that Santa Cruz has to offer. 

Natalie Cellucci (she/her)

B.S. (in progress)

University of California, Santa Cruz

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology


Koret Research Scholar

ncellucc at

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I was born in L.A. and raised in Taiwan. I came back to the U.S. when I was fifteen years old. My interest has always been in the diversity of survival strategies and the evolution of interspecies interaction, so I went for a bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution. I focused my studies and coursework on bioinformatics and biostatistics during my master’s to enrich my understanding and skills for data analysis. My previous work had mostly focused on the evolutionary history of insects. For my undergraduate research, I worked on the phylogeny of Nearctic shield-back katydids in the California Floristic Province and their relationship to the Nedubini katydids worldwide. For my master’s thesis, I utilized high-throughput sequencing of ultraconserved elements to deduce the unique geographic distribution and evolutionary history of California Channel Islands endemic ant species Aphaenogaster patruelis relative to related mainland kin. Currently, I am working on understanding the spatial distribution of bacterial in the human gut microbiome.

Bo Huey (Charles) Chiang (he/him)
Ph.D. Student



University of California, San Diego

Ecology, Behavior and Evolution


University of California, San Diego



bcchiang at


I am a third-year undergraduate majoring in Biology and Environmental Sciences. I am from the Bay Area and enjoy cooking, spending time with my friends and family, reading, and enjoying the outdoors in my free time.

Sarah Dunwoody (she/her)

B.S. (in progress)

University of California, Santa Cruz

Biology and Environmental Science


Undergraduate Research In Science & Technology (URST) Awardee

sdunwood at


I was born in Colorado and raised in Wisconsin. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Bachelors of Science while majoring in Microbiology. My research there mainly focused on the production of Aflatoxins from specific molds that grow in agriculture and how to reduce the toxicity in order to reduce food waste in the US. I continued my food research in Silicon Valley where I gained more insight into food safety and quality. I decided to segway into a more entrepreneurial based role to gain experience in creating and managing a team, before deciding to combine those skills with my research skills and interests in how the diet impacts the human gut microbiome. Thus, I joined the Patnode Lab at UCSC in 2022. When I am not in the lab, you can find me either surfing, running or walking my dog Millie. 

Meghan Graham (she/her)


University of Wisconsin, Madison


mgraham1 at


Michael grew up in the Seattle area, and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington. He moved to University of California, San Francisco for graduate training in the lab of Dr. Steven Rosen where he focused on immunology and glycobiology. He carried out post-doctoral work with Dr. Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis, exploring how host diet shapes gut microbial communities, before joining the faculty in the METX Department in November 2020.

Michael Patnode (he/him)

Assistant Professor



University of Washington



University of California, San Francisco

Biomedical Sciences

Postdoctoral Fellowship

Washington University in St. Louis


PatnodeLab at

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I was born and raised in Pakistan and later my family moved to Dubai where I completed middle and high school. Then, I came to California as an international student and completed my bachelors in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Systems Physiology at San Jose State University. In my undergraduate research lab, I studied how bacterial cholesterol dependent cytolysins (aka pore-forming toxins) such as pneumolysin of Streptococcus pneumoniae destroy the lung epithelium and cause bacteremia in the human host. Now, I am studying how the food that we eat interacts with the gut immune system. 

Fatima Rizvi (she/her)
Ph.D. Student



San Jose State University

Biological Sciences

with a concentration in Physiology


fzrizvi at


Samridhi Semwal (she/her)

B.S. (in progress)

University of California, Santa Cruz

Human Biology

ssemwal at


I was born and raised in San Diego and then moved to Santa Cruz for my bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Cruz. My undergraduate research focused on Wolbachia, a vertically transmitted bacteria that manipulates its host’s reproductive system via different mechanisms to maximize their spread. One mechanism is called cytoplasmic incompatibility, which is what I focused on. Now I’m studying the interactions between microbes and antibodies in our gut and how different factors influence these antibodies’ production.

Giovanni Vega (he/him)

Ph.D. Student


University of California, Santa Cruz

Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

gvega6 at


I was born in Jalisco, Mexico and at a young age my family migrated to the Fresno, CA. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degree in biology from CSU, Fresno. My master thesis focused on the cAMP receptor protein (CRP), which detects the concentration of glucose in Escherichia coli by monitoring the intracellular level of cAMP. I tested key residues in CRP to determine their contribution to DNA binding. At UCSC, I am exploring the relationship between dietary intake and immune system function. In my free time, I like to go on hikes, rock climb, and watch movies.

Christian Montiel (he/him)

PhD Student



California State University, Fresno



California State University, Fresno


cmmontie at

Lab Alumni

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I grew up in the Bay Area, and have lived in California all my life. I'm majoring in MCD Biology and beginning my third year at UCSC. My favorite things include trying new boba places, reading, and spending time with my friends and family!

Nikita Deshpande (she/her)


B.S. - University of California, Santa Cruz - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Undergraduate Research In Science & Technology (URST) Awardee

Current pursuits: John's Hopkins (Master's in Public Health)


I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I will be transferring from Hartnell college to CSUMB where I will be majoring in molecular biology. In my free time I enjoy fishing, spending time outdoors, and being with friends and family.

Loreli Gonzalez (she/her)

(2023; ACCESS Student)

B.S. (in progress) - California State University, Monterey Bay - Molecular Biology

lgonz124 at


My background is in Environmental Toxicology and Environmental Justice. My undergraduate research included analyzing the sedimentation rates and toxicity of silver nanoparticles in different freshwater mediums and analyzing seaweed contaminants along the Puget Sound. I work to ensure that my science is accessible to all, in hopes that I help bridge the gap between scientific understanding and the public. When I am not at the lab, you can find me at the dance studio, biking around town or reading a historical fiction novel.

Nicolette Hernandez-Kaempf (she/her)


B.S. - Western Washington University - Environmental Toxicology
Minor - Environmental Justice

Current Pursuits: Cabrillo College (Pre-nursing)


I am currently a third-year undergraduate studying Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. I am originally from the South Bay Area.  When not at the lab or studying, you’ll find me shredding trails with my mountain biking or gaming at night with my friends. If not, I’m probably traveling internationally to sightsee in other countries.

Alexander Newman (he/him)


B.S. - University of California, Santa Cruz - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Undergraduate Research In Science & Technology (URST) Awardee

Current Pursuits: UC Riverside (PhD Program)

Ph.D. Rotation Students





Giovanni Vega

Bo Huey Chiang


Domenique Banta

Stephanie Bazarini

Fatima Rizvi

Christian Montiel

Khurshid Iranpur

Charles Winterbottom

Keya Jonnalagadda

Available Positions

Post-doctoral Fellows: We have open positions for post-doctoral fellows who want to apply concepts and techniques from nutrition, bacteriology, and/or immunology to better understand host-microbe mutualism. Please send us your CV and a cover letter summarizing your scientific interests. (PatnodeLab at

Graduate Students: The lab is accepting current PBSE students for rotations. Prospective graduate students interested in the lab should apply to the PBSE or the METX Doctoral or Masters programs.

Undergraduate Students: We are accepting students seeking research experiences in microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry. Please send your CV, unofficial transcript, and a paragraph describing your scientific interests to PatnodeLab at

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