Past Members 

Shirin Moossavi, M.D, Ph.D, PDF

Website, Google Scholar  


Shirin Moossavi is a CIHR Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and Biomedical Engineering jointly supervised by Dr Marie-Claire Arrieta and Dr Amir Sanati-Nezhad. Shirin obtained her Medical Doctorate from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran; her MSc in Genetic Manipulation and Molecular Biology from University of Sussex, UK; and PhD in Medical Microbiology from the University of Manitoba. She is the Early-Mid Career Ambassador of International Society of Microbial Ecology, the Founding Director of Microbiome and Microbial Ecology Interest Group at Universal Scientific Education and Research Network, and a contributor to Microbiome Digest.

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. Nikki is now pursuing Med. school in Europe.

Nithya Gopalakrishnan, Summer student


Nithya is going into her second year at the University of Toronto studying Genome Biology, Health & Disease, and Immunology. She has been passionate about research in ecological and health sciences for as long as she can remember, being an active participant in the science fair here in Calgary growing up. Becoming interested in Immunology during her first year classes, she decided to join the Arrieta Lab as a Summer student to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of the gut microbiome in mediating immune responses. During her time at the lab, Nithya will be working on characterizing the effect of M. restricta colonization with respect to the gut-lung axis. 

Kristen Kalbfleisch


Kristen Kalbfleisch was a brillant Lab Manager. She applied her dedication to integrity, HSE and her inquisitive mind to help the Arrieta Lab achieved its expanding research goals.  In 2021, Kristen completed her Occupational Health and Safety Fundamentals certificate through the University of Calgary, and is continuing to pursue further HSE and Project Management certifications. Kristen obtained her B.Sc. in Honors Biology from the University of Waterloo (2011), and returned for post-degree studies and a Teaching Assistant position centered in her passion - disease and microbiology - after spending some time teaching in Ilsan, South Korea.  In 2017, she worked in R&D at Sanofi Pasteur in Toronto, Ontario (through Seneca College) where she helped develop novel characterization methods and the teams first GMP protocol, within Analytical R&D.  

In 2018, Kristen made the difficult, but rewarding decision to move to Calgary, Alberta and now she calls the city - home, applying her love of science to all aspects of her life including gardening, baking, fermenting, staying present in nature and living life to the fullest.  

Time in the Arrieta lab: 2019-FEB2021

David Girgis


David was a volunteer in the Arrieta lab. He was first exposed to health research last year, and found an interest in the human microbiome and its larger effect on the body. David hopes to learn more about these topics at the lab. In the future, he wishes to pursue a career in healthcare and health research. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, skiing, and hiking.

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2021-DEC2021

Tahsin Ferdous, M.Sc


Tahsin Ferdous was a data analyst in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of the University of Calgary. In March 2020, she joined Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta’s lab as a Biostatistician. There, Tahsin Ferdous is applying her expertise to perform statistical analysis of microbiome data and write supporting documents. She graduated from the University of Calgary with a Master of Science in Biostatistics. She received BSc (Hons) and another MSc degree in Statistics from Shahjalal University of Science & Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh. She has applied statistical packages for simulated health data representing infectious persons in a sequence of hypothetical cities as well as RNA-sequencing data and probiotic data sets.  She has two publications. The name of one publication is “Estimating parameters of two-level individual level models of COVID-19 Epidemic Using Ensemble Learning Classifiers” which is published in Frontiers of Physics. Where she conceived and designed the experiments. She has another publication named : “An overview of RNA-seq data analysis” in the Journal of Biology and Life Science. She got “Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship” and “Research scholarship at University of Calgary” in 2017. Tahsin Ferdous has great enthusiasm for working with microbiome data and in the field of Bioinformatics.

Time in the Arrieta lab: APR2020-DEC2021

Ali Javed


Ali was an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary, in his second year of the Biological Sciences program. He will be contributing to the Arrieta Lab as a summer undergraduate research student, and will be conducting an individual research project. Ali is very interested in cellular biology, as well as the effects of the environment in the development of human health and the immune system. 

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAY2019-AUG2020; MAY2021-AUG2021

Julia Gorospe


Julia joined the Arrieta Lab in the summer as a recipient of an Alberta Innovates Summer Studentship. Once she has completed her summer student placement, she worked on an independent thesis project focusing on the effects of preterm infant early nutrition on microbial composition. In the future, Julia hopes to study the connection between nutrition, the microbiome, and autoimmune disorders. 

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAY2020-AUG2021

Faye Chleilat, Ph.D


Faye was a Postdoctoral Associate in Dr. Claire Arrieta’s lab. She completed her MSc in Nutrigenomics at the University of Guelph in southwestern Ontario, before moving cross-country to start her PhD in Dr. Raylene Reimer’s lab at the University of Calgary. Her doctoral work investigated how early nutritional programming before conception and during the early post-natal period can affect metabolic, epigenetic and gut microbial outcomes. Faye continues to be deeply invested in how the gut microbiome affects health and disease and is very excited to continue to pursue this area of research in Dr. Arrieta’s lab, using germ-free animal models.  

In addition to her love of the basic sciences, Faye loves to travel, hike, play golf and is a devoted Raptors fan. 

Time in the Arrieta lab: FEB2021-JUN2021

Kate Plechkova


Kate is a Research Assistant who provides technical and clinical research support in the Arrieta lab. She completed her Bachelor of Science at Mount Royal University in Calgary. With her keen interest in microbiology and previous work experience in a specialized immunology diagnostics and research lab at the University of Calgary, Kate plans to make the most of her aspirations and skills to optimize meeting the team’s collaborative microbiome research goals. In addition to lab work, Kate enjoys rollerblading, drawing and hiking with family and friends. 

Time in the Arrieta lab: JAN2021-MAY2021

Muhammad Bilal Hafeez

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAY2020 - JAN2021

Jumana Samara, M.D

Website: ResearchGate


Jumana graduated from Medical School with a specialization in paediatrics after a residency-training program in Syria. Since 2015, she has been participating in a neonatal perinatal medicine program, taking care of sick newborn infants including preterm and low birth weight babies. She followed additional training in epidemiology at the University of Manitoba (2012-2013), and attended successfully the course of Quality Improvement and Patients Safety at the University of Calgary (2016-2017). One of the greatest challenges in her career is the infectious diseases targeting infants with weakened immune system. Her commitment toward her patients is to provide the best care, even beyond the discharge from Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She recently started a Masters degree in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases with Dr. Arrieta. Her project aims to study the gut physiology and microbiome dynamics in preterm infants as well as the role of probiotics and how it contributes to childhood wellbeing.

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2017 - FALL 2020

Veronika K. Pettersen, Ph.D

ResearchGate, LinkedIn, Google ScholarBlog


Veronika is currently Assosiate Professor at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, and was visiting Claire’s lab from July 2018 to June 2020. The Research Council of Norway funded her stay at the University of Calgary via the FRIPRO mobility research grant program co-funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program under Marie Curie grant. Veronika studied biochemistry in Czech Republic (University of Chemistry and Technology) and biotechnology in Denmark (Technical University of Denmark) and Norway (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). After her Ph.D. project, Veronika joined the Gade Research Group for Infection and Immunity, University of Bergen, where she specialized in microbial proteomics and genomics. She is currently affiliated with the Pediatric and Host-Microbe Interactions groups at UiT. Her research interests lie in microbial metabolism, host-microbe communication, and consequences of drug-driven alterations of the gut microbiota. In the Arrieta lab, she was involved in studies of the effects that gut fungal species have on immune function in a murine model of asthma. Her main role in this project was to functionally characterize the microbe‐host interactions by proteomic and metabolomic approaches. 

Time in the Arrieta lab: JUL2018 - JUN2020

Hana Osman


Hana is a recent graduate from the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program at the Cumming School of Medicine with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. She completed her honours thesis in the Arrieta Lab due to her interest in immunology and autoimmune diseases.  


"Through my time in the Arrieta Lab, I was fortunate to experience a sense of community.   I am immensely thankful for their mentorship, patience and love of science that produced an environment saturated with determination, hard work, communication and most importantly for me, an environment that promoted learning. They enabled the lab to be a safe place for me to grow. I was able to be both independent and increase my scholarly inquiry while at the same time, feel like I belonged in this lab community. "

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2019 - APR2020

Colin Mackenzie


Colin was a Cellular, Molecular, and Microbiology Student who completed his undergraduate honours thesis in the Arrieta lab. His interests were in the interaction that microorganisms have with the host and their role in host development.


"My opportunity to participate in the research within the Arrieta lab allowed me to contribute to research occurring within a new and exciting field, the microbiome. The time I spent within the group gave me the opportunity to learn new techniques, more importantly it allowed me to learn from the brilliant minds behind the projects in the lab. My time in the lab allowed me to grow as a scientist and a student, as I was always supported by the members of the lab. Thank you to everyone for your support, guidance, and the amazing opportunity to be a part of the lab! "

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2019 - APR2020

Kaiden Jobin


Kaiden is a 3rd year Health Sciences student who is majoring in biomedical sciences. Starting in high school, Kaiden began working on a variety of projects in the microbiology field which were focused on bacterial diversity in the Canadian Arctic with a special interest in hydrocarbon degrading bacteria. Using his experience in metagenomics Kaiden is now interested in exploring fungal diversity within the gut microbiome and is specifically interested in the interplay between fungal diversity and the composition of the immune system. Outside of research, Kaiden loves to ski, hike and spend time with his family.


"Surrounding myself with such a positive learning environment has been beneficial for my growth as an undergraduate student. I was able to learn a number of new processes and ways of thinking due to the support all of the lab members provided. There was a great deal of independence given to me and a level of trust I did not expect a lab to provide to an undergrad student. This helped me flourish and learn from my errors. All of the lab members were very supportive and I felt comfortable in the lab due to the positivity everyone showed up with as well as the synergistic nature of the team. I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to do research with the Arrieta lab as I have benefited a great deal from my time there." 

Time in the Arrieta lab: JUL2018 - APR2019; 2020-2021

Linkedin, ResearchGate, Google Scholar, Pubmed, Blog


Dr. Laforest-Lapointe was the first postdoctoral fellow to join the Arrieta lab. She has now left the lab to start a new position as a Assistant Professor at Université de Sherbrooke, in Quebec. Isabelle is specialized in microbial ecology, community ecology, bioinformatics, and biostatistics. She was awarded the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship Excellence Award as well as the Cumming School of Medicine Postdoctoral Scholarship in 2017 and 2018. She holds a Ph.D. in Biology (2012-2017) from the Université of Québec à Montréal (UQAM) for which she obtained a mention of excellence as well as the award for best student research in 2016 at UQAM. She also holds a Master in Ecology and Diversity Management (2010-2011) from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and completed all the class training of a Master in Statistics from the Polytecnica de Catalunya (2011-2012). Her interests range from host-microbe interactions to statistics, from plant to microbial ecology, from functional ecology to community dynamics, and coding. She is also a Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor since 2014.


"My professional and personal journey in the Arrieta lab were outstanding. As soon as I arrived I felt welcomed and well-integrated in all projects as well as with the team. My abilities as a postdoctoral fellow were brought forward, showcased, and appreciated. I was given many opportunities to improve my skills in local and international workshops. In addition, Dr. Arrieta gave me many travel occasions to showcase our work at conferences. Finally, the team is always involved in the integration of new members, thus ensuring a very successful and enjoyable work environment.”

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAY2017 - FEB2019

Joseph Girgis


While working in the Arrieta lab, Joseph was a Senior at St. Francis high school. His interests in microbiology and immunology led him to volunteer at the Arrieta Lab to obtain a greater understanding of the fields. He has now moved to Ireland, joining the Medicine program at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).


"My time at the Arrieta Lab was a remarkable experience in which I had the chance to improve my knowledge upon a wide array of skills including microbiology and immunology techniques, as well as experimental design. Starting in the lab as a high school student, I had limited research experience but I never felt as though that hindered me because of the level of training I received. The lab atmosphere was welcoming, which helped contribute to a productive working environment. The experience I gained during my time in the Arrieta Lab was invaluable, and I am appreciative that I had the opportunity to work with such a fantastic group of people!"

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2017 - AUG2018

Dr. Miriam Enriqueta Nieves Ramirez, Ph.D


Miriam is a researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). She visited Dr. Arrieta's lab to continue her work on various projects including her study of the interaction between bacteria and eukaryotes (16S and 18S) and the development of cervical cancer. She did her Ph.D. on the polymorphisms of HLA genes and their role as biomarkers of cervical cancer. She also worked on the protein Entamoeba hystolitica calreticulin (EhCRT) and its influence on the amoebic liver abscess (ALA) and the complement pathway. She is working now on an ex-vivo model of the human liver infection by Entamoeba hystolitica looking at the genes of the pathology and cytokines' production as the immune response in the hepatocyte to understand better the development of the ALA. She is also working on the infection by the protozoan Blastocystis sp. and its influence on the human gut microbiome. Blastocystis sp. is one of the most common human gut colonizer.


"It was an honor for me to share a short research stay in the laboratory of Dr. Marie Claire Arrieta. With her research group, in addition to facilitating my experiments and orienting me at all times, their own experiences were very pleasant to listen to in the time we shared together. You immediately feel a very warm and jovial atmosphere in the laboratory, they make you feel like part of the group. I can only recommend that if you have the opportunity to visit Dr. Arrieta's laboratory, in addition to learning a lot, you will feel as if you were in your own laboratory. Thank you very much to each and every one of its members."

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAR2018 - MAY2018

Shen Yen Tsou


Shen Yen is an undergraduate student of Biomedical Science in the BHSc program at the University of Calgary. She completed her honors thesis in the Arrieta lab as a result of her rekindled interest in microbiology and longtime curiosity with atopic disease.


"While I was a part of the Arrieta Lab I truly felt like I was on the frontier of research in the microbiome and asthma. The cooperation between lab members allowed me to get experience in multiple different kinds of projects, and I gained lots of experience in lab techniques in immunology and microbiology. Training was thorough and there was always someone willing to answer my questions. Everyone in lab was respectful and appreciative of each other. The cohesive group really made me feel like a part of a team. I know I will be taking everything I've learned with me into my future studies."

Time in the Arrieta lab: SEP2017 - APR2018

Haley Jamison



While finishing her second year of her Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree at Western University, Haley did a summer internship in the lab. Her interests are pathology, immunology, and physiology.


"In the Arrieta lab, I gained experience with microbiology and immunology lab techniques, working with animals, and data analysis. My summer project studied the effect of an intestinal fungal overgrowth on asthma pathogenesis and fungal growth regulation by short-chain fatty acids. I’m confident that the hands-on experience I gained in the lab will strengthen my future academic work as I go into my 3rd year of a Bachelor’s in Pathology. I am very grateful to have been a part of the Arrieta team and I will miss everyone very much!"

Time in the Arrieta lab: MAY2017 - AUG2017