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Lab Members


Michael Patnode (he/him)
Assistant Professor
B.S. - University of Washington - Biochemistry
Ph.D. - University of California, San Francisco - Biomedical Sciences
Postdoctoral Fellowship - Washington University in St. Louis

PatnodeLab 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.


Meghan Graham (she/her)
B.S. - University of Wisconsin, Madison - Microbiology

mgraham1 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. 

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Bo Huey (Charles) Chiang (he/him)

Ph.D. Student

B.S. - University of California, San Diego- Ecology, Behavior and Evolution 

M.S. - University of California, San Diego- Biology

bcchiang at

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.

Giovanni Vega (he/him)

Ph.D. Student

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

gvega6 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 manipulate 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.

Fatima Rizvi (she/her)
Ph.D. Student
B.S. - San Jose State University- Biological Sciences with a concentration in Physiology

fzrizvi at

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. 

Nikita Deshpande (she/her)
B.S. - University of California, Santa Cruz - Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Undergraduate Research In Science & Technology (URST) Awardee

nsdeshpa at

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!      

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 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.

Samridhi Semwal (she/her)
B.S. (in progress) - University of California, Santa Cruz - Human Biology

ssemwal at

Natalie Cellucci (she/her)
B.S. (in progress) - University of California, Santa Cruz - Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

ncellucc 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. 

Loreli Gonzalez (she/her)
B.S. (in progress) - California State University, Monterey Bay - Molecular Biology

lgonz124 at

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.

Lab Alumni


Nicolette Hernandez-Kaempf (she/her)

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

Current Pursuits: Cabrillo College (Pre-nursing)

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. 


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)

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.

Ph.D. Rotation Students




Giovanni Vega

Bo Huey Chiang


Domenique Banta

Stephanie Bazarini

Fatima Rizvi

Available Positions

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

Contact: Contact
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