Research Group

Jennifer C. Stearns, PhD

Graduate Students

Bhavya joined the Stearns Lab in 2018, after completing a BSc. in Honours Biology at McMaster University. Her graduate research involves creating metagenomic pipelines to analyze the infant gut microbiome during solid food introduction. In addition, she is interested in how the various steps of metagenomic data analysis impact the accuracy of final genomic assemblies, metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs), and carbohydrate active enzyme (CAZyme) predictions. Bhavya’s favourite gut commensals are Bifidobacterium. In her free time, she enjoys running, yoga, and reading.

Bhavya Singh, MSc Student
Colin Bruce, PhD Candidate, Biochemistry Graduate Program

Colin is a PhD student who joined the Stearns lab in September 2019. Colin’s research focus is on the effect of dietary fibre consumption on the infant gut microbiome. Prior to joining the Stearns lab Colin did his undergraduate studies at the University of Victoria where he completed a BSc. (Hon.) in Microbiology. Outside of the lab Colin enjoys rock climbing, hiking, camping, and watching movies.
Recently he won the first place in oral presentations at the MSc level at the biochemistry and biomedical sciences research symposium.

Salman Reza, PhD candidate

Salman completed his MSc in Experimental Medicine in 2014 at the University of Alberta, where he worked on metagenomic analyses of viruses in fecal samples of inflammatory bowel disease patients. After his masters, he worked as a Teaching Support Technician at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary. In 2021, he joined the Stearns lab as a PhD student where he is exploring bacterial interactions and their impact on bacterial succession in the developing infant gut microbiome.


Chiara Homann, MSc Research Assistant

Chiara recently finished her MSc in Medical Science under Dr. Stearns’ co-supervision investigating the changes occurring in the infant gut microbiome after solid food introduction and is now working in the Stearns Lab as a research assistant. Instead of being physically present in the lab, she mostly works on the bioinformatics/statistics side. When she isn’t working, she enjoys a good fictional book or working out – preferably in a real gym. 

Sarisha Philip, BSc Research Assistant

Sarisha recently graduated from the Arts and Science Undergraduate program at McMaster University. She joined our lab in the summer of 2018 then completed her 4th year thesis where she characterized mysterious bacterial colonies from the infant gut. She now works as a research assistant supporting a number of projects. With her free time you’ll likely find her reading or binging through a variety of baking/cooking videos that she hopes to try out soon but will probably put off.

Undergraduate Students

Alan Minkovich,
Co-op student

Alan Minkovich is an undergraduate student in year 3 of the Biochemistry and Biomedical Research Co-op program. He joined us on a co-op work term in January 2021 to help develop a bacterial strain library and assist in experiments done in the lab to define baby gut microbial interactions. When not in the lab, he can be found in the McMaster University Jazz Band rehearsals (still going strong–despite the pandemic–over Zoom) or trying to get through the whole catalogue of movies on Netflix.

Moiz Lakhani is a second-year student in the Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) Program at McMaster University. As part of the third year Bachelor of Health Science project course, Moiz worked on a clinical research project to implement a novel phylogenetic method to investigate the fine-scale relationship between substrate nutrients and the microbiome within the infant population. Moiz was recently awarded both the Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) Summer Research Scholarship and Mitacs Research Grant to continue his work over the summer.

Moiz Lakhani, 2nd year undergraduate student
Colton Mak, third year undergraduate student

Colton Mak will be entering his third year of the Honours Neuroscience program at McMaster in the upcoming fall. As part of his project course, he will be investigating the phylogenetic placements of P. sordelli isolates and the carbohydrate-use genes that enable them to coexist with fibre fementers in the gut. In his free time he enjoys reading novels and playing videogames.


Sara Dizzell, MSc Research Assistant

Lucas Flett, MSc, Computational Sciences and Engineering

Luna ElDakiky, Masters student, Medical Sciences

  • Sonya Cui
  • Nurefsan Davulcu
  • Clara Long
  • Laura Hogg
  • Katina Zheng
  • Justyna Zukowski
  • Nour Alyousef
  • Emily Johnston
  • Andrea Nunez
  • Aman Patel
  • Vivek Philips
  • Aelita Huang, 4th year thesis Biochemistry (graduated class of 2020)
  • Madison Kim, 4th year thesis BDC (graduated class of 2020)
  • Sevil Tabrizi Miandoab, 4th year thesis in Biochemistry (graduated class of 2020)
  • Sarisha Philip, project course Arts and Science (graduated class of 2020)
  • Miguel Vázquez Moreno, Co-supervised with Miguel Cruz, Mexican Social Security Institute (graduated 2020)