The University of Arizona

Current Microbiology Graduate Program Students

Farhan Anwar

I graduated from the University of Arizona with my B.S. in Microbiology in 2012. Currently, I am continuing my studies in the Master’s program in Microbiology in Dr. Vedantam and Dr. Viswanathan’s laboratory. My focus is on the organism, Clostridium difficile, and its virulence factors. Specifically, my focus is doing an epidemiologic study on the prevalence of this organism in Tucson. Additionally I am looking into the difference of toxin between epidemic and nonepidemic strains of C. difficile.
Andrew Clark
I graduated from the University of Arizona Microbiology program in 2006, and then completed my Masters in Microbiology with Dr. B. Helen Jost in 2009.  While completing my master’s degree I worked in the clinical microbiology laboratory at Tucson Medical Center, and then as a research specialist for Dr. Donna Wolk in the Department of Pathology in the UA College of Medicine.
I currently am pursuing a Ph.D. under the mentorship of Drs. Gayatri Vedantam and V.K. Vishwanathan investigating the molecular mechanisms by which the pathogenic bacterium Clostridium difficile is able to colonize host tissues and subsequently establish infection.  I am particularly interested in the contribution of bacterial colonization factors their interaction with the innate immune system in the context of C. difficile infection.  Vedantam and Vishwanathan Labs
Kamini Joshi
I graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry in 2013.  I am currently pursuing an M.S. in Microbiology under the guidance of Dr. Sadhana Ravishankar, where I will use multiple approaches to control foodborne pathogens in organic leafy greens.  My research focus will be on testing the effectiveness of antimicrobials under stress response and testing effectiveness of antimicrobial on food contact surfaces.
John McMullen

I am an Accelerated Master student here at University of Arizona. Currently, I am finishing my Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and concurrently starting my Master of Science in Microbiology. I have been studying the mutualistic relationship between insect pathogenic nematodes and their endosymbiotic enteric bacteria in Dr. Patricia Stock's laboratory for the last three years. This research has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of bacteria in endosymbiotic relationships with eukaryotic hosts. Now, for my graduate research I will be looking at how these relationships are selected and maintained in this tripartite interaction of insects, nematodes, and bacteria.

Rebecca Mcquade
I graduated from the University of Arizona’s Nutritional Sciences program in 2008.  Though I enjoy nutrition, I found that I’m most interested in the fascinating world of microbes.  

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to return to the UofA, where I’m currently studying the hospital-acquired pathogen Clostridium difficile under the guidance of Drs. Gayatri Vedantam and V.K. Viswanathan.  In particular, I’m interested in antimicrobial resistance in C. difficile, and the host cell response to C. difficile infection. 

Gustavo Pinoargote
I obtained my bachelor’s degree from EARTH University in Costa Rica and my Master’s from Texas A&M-Commerce.  I work for EM Research Organization as a Technical Consultant.  I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in microbiology under the guidance of Dr. Ravishankar.  My field of interest is the use of effective microorganisms in agriculture, animal husbandry and environmental restoration.  I will focus my research specifically in improving the efficiency of microflora in the digestive tract of aquatic species of economic significance in Latin-American countries.
Shylaja Ramamurthy
I received my master of science degree in microbiology from Birla institute of technology and science, India. I'm currently pursuing my PhD under the guidance of Dr. V.K. Vishwanathan and Dr. Gayatri Vedantam. My research is focused on the interaction between  Escherichia coli effector  proteins  and the host epithelial cells.
Aishwarya Pradeep Rao


I graduated with a B S in Chemistry, Botany and Microbiology from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India and continued with a Masters degree there in Biotechnology. I am currently working towards a PhD in Microbiology under the guidance of Dr. V.K Viswanathan and Dr. Gayatri Vedantam. My research will be focused on bacterial adaptation to host environments, with a specific emphasis on enteric pathogens. 

Jennifer Roxas

Jennifer Lising Roxas obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus.  While on a J1 research scholarship at the University at Illinois at Chicago under the supervision of Dr. VK. Viswanathan, she discovered her passion for understanding the intricacies of bacterial pathogenesis. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Microbiology under the tutelage of Dr. V.K. Viswanathan and Dr. Gayatri Vedantam.  Her field of interest is in pathogen/host interactions.

Arlette Schneider
I received my bachelor's degree in Veterinary Science from the University of Arizona in 2012. As an undergraduate I worked in Dr. Joens' lab where the focus was on Campylobacter jejuni in broiler chickens. During that time I developed a greater appreciation for research and the field of microbiology. I am now pursuing a master’s degree in microbiology as a member of Dr. Ravishankar's lab where I will be working on the control of foodborne pathogens with the use of natural antimicrobials. More specifically, I hope to focus on the mechanisms of action for these antimicrobials and their applications on various types of produce.


Shelby Wendel
I am currently an Accelerated Maters student here at the University of Arizona. While finishing my undergraduate studies in Microbiology I am also starting work on a Masters in Microbiology as well. I will graduate with my B.S. in the spring of 2013 and will continue working towards my Masters degree. I am part of Dr. Michael Riggs' lab.