Current Undergraduate Students

undergradstudent_GebreyesKassu.jpgGebreyes Kassu
Bachelors of Science - Department of Biology
I’ve been studying the genetics of human parasites and symbiotic bacteria that live within them. Specifically, we are looking to see what influence symbionts have had on the evolution of a human louse parasite. Most of my work involves lots and lots of PCR looking for signs of certain bacteria such as Wolbachia.


undergradstudent_Melina.jpgMelina G. Marte
Bachelors of Health Science - Occupational Therapy
I am extremely interested in human health specifically in how environmental pathogens are transmitted through interactions with various hosts. It is important to understand how these interactions may lead to the spread of bacteria, fungi, and viruses especially through human contact with bats and their environment. For my honor’s thesis I am studying the cave microbiota (bacteria and fungi) of different caves in the Bahamas. Cave environments can harbor a myriad of microorganisms, most of which are unknown due to the uniqueness of the microhaibtats where they thrive. Under the advise of Angelo Soto-Centeno, I am doing a general inventory of the different bacterial and fungal species we can find in relatively undisturbed (low human/bat contact) and disturbed caves (high human/bat contact) to determine the potential pathogens to which bats and humans may become in contact with. Additionally, I sampled different species of bat to assess their potential as carriers of cave bacteria and/or fungi that may further be passed on from one roost to another. In times where disease spread, such as white-nose syndrome, has a high potential to endanger bat populations, understanding the diversity of cave microbiota is important to assess the general health and probability of spread among populations of bat.