Marie-Claire Arrieta, Ph.D, PI
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Originally trained as a medical microbiologist in San José, Costa Rica, Claire moved to Canada to pursue graduate studies. She completed M.Sc and PhD programs at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Her doctoral work explored the role of intestinal permeability (leaky gut) in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease. Through her work, she became very interested in the concept of the gut as the engine of diseases that occur in organs far away from the gut. Following this, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Brett Finlay's, a prominent molecular microbiologist that has pioneered many studies in the field of the human microbiome. During her postdoctoral stay, Claire studied the relationship between the gut microbiome, the gut's immune system and asthma, a disease of the lungs. Besides her time spent in research, Claire is also very interested in science communication to the public. She has written one public book (Let Them Eat Dirt), and is currently working on a second book (a children's book), as well as on a documentary film project.
Julie Groizeleau, Ph.D, Research Associate
Julie is a Research Associate in the Arrieta lab. Originally from France, Julie obtained her MSc from the Pasteur Institute - Université de Paris in Immunology, Microbiology, and Infectious Diseases. She obtained her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She then moved to Calgary as a postdoctoral fellow in the Harrison Lab. As a microbiologist, Julie’s expertise lies in bacterial biofilms and molecular genetics. After her PDF, Julie worked as the coordinator for the Pan- Canadian Microbiome Research Core, IMPACTT. There she gained extensive experience on science communication and project management. Owing to her career path, Julie has acquired a diverse set of skills that makes her a polyvalent asset. As a member of the Arrieta Lab, Julie is helping with various projects. She assists the team with grant managements and really enjoys giving a hand in the lab. Outside of the lab, Julie keeps her balance by staying active outdoor and exploring the Canadian Rockies.
Sunita Sharma, M.Sc, Laboratory Research Assistant
I have been working in the field of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology for many years at the University of Calgary. I am skilled in conducting experiments, employing varied models both in vivo as well as in vitro. I have a MSc in Life Sciences (Botany) from India where I worked as a research fellow at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine. I have also recently obtained a Certificate in Pharmacy Assistant from SAIT, Alberta. I am always open to challenge myself to learn new techniques and methodologies. Apart from research, I have an interest in activities such as cooking, baking, gardening, and hiking.
Michel Emond, Laboratory Research Assistant
Michel graduated in the field of Wildlife Management at the CEGEP of St-Anne-De-La Pocatière, Québec. His career path changed when an opportunity opened up for him to work at McGill University. While there, he gained skills as a lab animal technician and a tissue culture specialist. He was eventually offered a position as a Research Assistant at AstraZeneca R&D Montréal. More recently, he moved to Calgary with his wife and kids to work at the Clara Christie Centre for Mouse Genomics (University of Calgary). With his extensive experience within the field of laboratory animal research, both in the private industry and the public sector, Michel is a great asset to the team of the Arrieta Lab!
Andrea Guedez, Lead Clinical Study Coordinator
Andrea Guedez is a Research Assistant for the BLOOM study within the Arrieta lab. She obtained her Bachelor of Medical Sciences with an Honors Double Major in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of Western Ontario. It was here where Andrea developed a strong interest in pediatric and neonatal research, specifically in exploring the short and long-term effects of early life adversities on disease development. As a member of the Alberta BLOOM Study Team and Arrieta lab, Andrea is responsible for recruitment, follow up, building relationships with participants and if she’s lucky, also getting to know babies who are on study! Outside of the lab, Andrea enjoys hiking, the outdoors and getting together with family and friends.
Fatimoh Kasaba, Clinical Research Assistant
After obtaining my MSc in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Nottingham, I developed a strong interest in public health research. As part of my MAS in Nutrition and Health at ETH Zurich, I participated in research aimed at directly informing national health policy in Jamaica and developed an interest in microbiome research. Particularly, I have a strong interest in understanding the interplay between our diet, microbiome, and other factors, notably their roles in the development of chronic diseases but also how these can be modulated to promote health and prevent diseases. I also find the prospective of influencing health policies very enticing. As a BLOOM clinical research assistant, I enjoy meeting and interacting with the study participants, who I am helping to recruit as well as following-up our data collection.
Nikki Sivakumar, Clinical Research Assistant
Nikki got her bachelor of science honors degree with a major in life sciences at Queen’s University. During her time there, she developed a strong passion for immunology and physiology, specifically in exploring the disease development of certain immunologic conditions. This led her to work at an asthma and allergy clinic, where Nikki got to observe these clinical manifestations in real life. She also applied her passion for research development working as a summer student in the community health sciences department at the University of Calgary, where she got to explore novel interventions that may help improve long-term health outcomes of those suffering from diabetes and food insecurity. Nikki hobbies include swimming, traveling, and spending time with my friends and family.
Allie McCreight, Clinical Administrative Assistant
Allie is our Clinical Administrative Assistant and is working closely with our BLOOM studies teams. With an Earth Sciences background (Honours BES’08 in Geography – Biophysical Specialization, University of Waterloo & Environmental Technologist (ET’11) Advanced Diploma, Fleming College), she is very interested in learning more about microbiology and the immune system from her brilliant team. Using her recent business experience and strong organizational skills, Allie aims to support the Arrieta Lab’s operational goals of growth and efficiency. Outside of work, Allie plays rec hockey and loves camping, hiking, yoga and entertaining friends, while her two young children keep her busy.
Alma Tariro Muropa, Bioinformatician & Data analyst
Alma is our bioinformatician and data analyst. Her professional background notably lies in health research, working with others on health innovations, making data-driven decisions about how to implement them in both public and private health institutions. Her extensive experience in conducting routine and research health data collection, management, are instrumental to generate meaningful discoveries from our clinical Alberta BLOOM study. Alma investigates data from the study to enable visualization, and decipher predictions, that will advance the field of child health research. Alma thrives on having the chance to improve children's health.
Van Ortega, Ph.D, PDF
Van is an NSERC and MITACS-funded Post Doctoral Fellow in the Arrieta lab. He obtained his PhD from the University of Alberta where his research focused on the potential for metal-based nanoparticles to inadvertently modulate immune responses, using model systems such as cell lines, primary cell cultures, and whole animals. Van also has a MSc from the University of Guelph where he examined changes in behavioral and physiological stress in fish when exposed to environmental contaminants. Van also has several years working as a risk assessment toxicologist in the turbid waters of environmental consulting. His interest in environmental health stems primarily from a fundamental curiosity in the science of environmental contamination and its effects on biological systems. For his PDF, Van is combining his experience in stress and immune research to investigate the early-life role of gut bacterial communities (i.e. the gut microbiome) on the developmental outcomes of neuroendocrine stress-axis systems that are integral for maintaining immune health and physiological homeostasis later in life. When not in the lab, Van enjoys traveling, the outdoors and training for endurance races.
Thaís Glatthardt, Ph.D, PDF
Thaís Glatthardt joined the Arrieta lab in July 2020 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. She holds a B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. in Microbiology from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During her master and doctoral research, she investigated the effect of metabolites produced by skin microbiome against multiresistant pathogens, focusing in antivirulence molecules that could be helpful in the development of new therapeutical approaches. She was also awarded the Rising Star Fellowship from the Beverly Phillips Rising Star Program. Remaining in the microbiome derived bioactive metabolites field, in the Arrieta lab she is investigating the role of some novel microbiome-produced small aromatic molecules (MPSAMs) against Salmonella and EPEC virulence factors and infection.
Mona Parizadeh, Ph.D, PDF
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Mona is a postdoctoral fellow specialized in microbial ecology, community ecology, computational biology, and bioinformatics. She holds a Ph.D. in Biology and a DESS (diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées) in bioinformatics from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada. Her doctoral research focused on the drivers of plant and soil microbiome diversity and composition in agro-ecosystems and their variation in response to perturbations. This work was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She also has an M.Sc. in Horticulture from the University of Tehran, Iran, where she studied the genetic diversity of Iranian Basil populations. Mona is interested in environmental effects on microbiomes, host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions, and drivers of microbial community assembly in different environments, including humans, plants and soil. She addresses these objectives by applying ecological theory and using different high-throughput sequencing approaches, including meta-barcoding and meta-omics.
Other than research, Mona enjoys cooking new recipes, traveling and living in different places around the world, learning about different cultures and languages, and exploring science and art integration.
Erik van Tilburg Bernardes, M.Sc, Ph.D student
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Erik is a CIHR- and Eyes High-funded PhD student in the Arrieta lab. Erik holds a Masters of Science in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (2014-2017), from the University of Calgary, and a Bachelor in Pharmacy (2008-2014), by the Federal University of Alfenas (Unifal-MG, Brazil).
Erik’s scientific career started in his undergraduate years in Brazil and later brought him to Calgary, working in different projects that aimed to study/identify alternative treatment options for the bacterial pathogen, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. His previous experience includes different molecular, physiological and immunological techniques, which combined with his expertise in pharmacology and microbiology make him an invaluable asset for the team. His interests include the interactions between host and microorganisms, and Erik is keen to learn more on how gut fungi shape the host’s immune system and finally prevent/predispose individuals to developing diseases.
Emily Mercer, Ph.D student
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Emily is a Ph.D. student in the Arrieta lab, holding a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Guelph. She completed her undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Emma Allen-Vercoe, a prominent gut microbiome researcher, which utilized 'Robogut' technology to explore gut microbial community assembly dynamics in naturally depleted ecosystems, such as in inflammatory bowel disease. Emily's interest in the gut microbiome initially stemmed from her passion for travel and experiences abroad, but further evolved as she became curious about the role of early life adversity in our lifelong health trajectories. In her Ph.D. thesis, Emily will explore interkingdom assembly dynamics in the infant gut microbiome and examine the relationship between early life stress and the establishment of the gut microbiome and stress-related brain circuitry in premature infants. Her research interests include microbial ecology, metabolomics, host-microbe interactions, the gut-brain axis, and brain development. Outside of the lab, Emily enjoys hiking, traveling, and the outdoors.
Mackenzie Gutierrez, Ph.D student
Mackenzie initially joined the lab as a co-op student in 2019 while completing her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia (2015-2020). During her stay she was involved in a number of projects, though her focus project, funded by Alberta Innovates, explored the role of different microbiome populations in modulating the pathology of acute inflammation in the gastro intestinal tract. This strongly reinforced her passion for investigating the role of the microbiome in immunological development, chronic diseases and how novel therapeutics can be used to manage such diseases. Mackenzie is now a CIHR- PhD student in the lab and is exploring the contributions of the microbiome in metabolic development and inflammation.
Kaetlyn Phillips, M.Sc student
Kaetlyn is currently completing her M.Sc. thesis in the Arrieta Lab. She achieved her B.Sc. in Honors Biology from the University of Waterloo where participation in the co-op stream provided her with multidisciplinary research experiences and an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award in 2018. Her decision to study the microbiome became the bridge between her childhood passion for health sciences, her preferred coursework in molecular and microbiology, and her avid engagement in research to date. Her thesis will focus on the gut-brain axis by investigating the relationship between gut microbiome immaturity in premature infants and neurodevelopmental outcomes using gnotobiotic mouse models. In her personal time, she enjoys hiking, libraries, art galleries and museums.