Ben Koestler, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Western Michigan University

Department of Biological Sciences

Ruchi Ojha

Graduate Research Assistant (PhD candidate)

Cyclic di-GMP levels are regulated by DGC’s and PDE’s. I am studying the DGC’s of Shigella flexneri, a gram-negative bacterium which invades the epithelial cells and causes diarrhea. I enjoy working in the lab and spend most of my day reading. Apart from that, I also like travelling and spending time with friends and family.

Candice Churaman

Graduate Research Assistant (PhD student)

C-di-GMP is a ubiquitous secondary messenger produced by bacteria that has been shown to influence various phenotypic expressions such as biofilm formation and virulence. I am currently studying the role PDE's play in Shigella flexneri phenotypic expression and the mechanisms involved. Aside from research I enjoy spending time with family and friends, travelling and exercising.

Abrar Al Fardan

Graduate Research Assistant (Masters student)

Shigella flexneri converts pyruvate to acetylCoA and formate in the host cell, which could play a role in virulence. I am studying formate binding proteins in shigella. I like working in lab, but in my free time, I like jogging, reading, watching documentaries and spending time with my family and friends.

Shelby Gould

Graduate Research Assistant (Masters student)

I am looking to see how Shigella flexneri changes the host cell pH over time by using a novel biosensor and how this might impact host pathogen relationships. I am also a scientist at Zoetis in the Bacteriology Process Development group. Outside of work and research I enjoy running, biking, and spending time with my family and friends.

Ashley Dittmar

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am studying effects of DGCs and PDEs regarding biofilm formations of E. Coli, a model organism closely related to Shigella flexneri. I am majoring in Biomedical Sciences with minors in Chemistry and Medical Humanities and plan to become an infectious disease specialist in the future. Outside of research and class I enjoy reading, dogs, and volunteering with public health outreach programs.

Syed Daniyal

Undergraduate Research Assistant

When in the epithelium of the small intestine, Shigella flexneri creates formate through anaerobic respiration. Formate will accumulate in the environment and increase Shigella's cell-cell spread. I am going to screen which genes aid in Shigella’s formate detection mechanism with the use of a transposon mutant library. I am an undergraduate student at Western Michigan University, majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in chemistry. After my undergraduate studies, I plan to pursue medicine and become an MD. Outside of my educational interests, I like to run, watch movies, and spend time with friends and family.

Madison Murphy

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Shigella flexneri has variations to its standard metabolic pathway when Cyclic di-GMP levels are altered. I am studying the metabolic pathways of several Shigella genes in various growth conditions. I am an undergraduate student at Kalamazoo College and am planning to major in Biology with a pre-medical focus and minor in Psychology. Aside from lab and school, I enjoy going on walks, hanging out with family, and crocheting.

Lab Alums

Gurleen Kaur, undergraduate research assistant