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Rodolphe Barrangou

Todd R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research

Hometown: Paris, France

Past Education: BS Biological Sciences, Rene Descartes University, Paris, France; MS Biological Engineering, University of Technology in Compiegne, France; MS Food Science, NC State University; PhD Functional Genomics, NC State University; MBA, Executive Business Administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rodolphe has worked on beneficial microbes, focusing on the occurrence and diversity of lactic acid bacteria in fermented foods and as probiotics. Using functional genomics, he has focused on uncovering the genetic basis for health-promoting traits, including the ability to uptake and catabolize non-digestible carbohydrates. He spent 9 years at Danisco-DuPont, characterizing probiotics and starter cultures, and established the functional role of CRISPR-Cas, as adaptive immune systems in bacteria. He has focused on establishing the molecular basis for their mechanism of action, as well as developing and applying CRISPR-based technologies for genotyping, building immunity and genome editing.



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Sarah O’Flaherty

Hometown: Wicklow, Ireland

Past Education: BA (Mod) Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin Ireland; PhD Microbiology National University of Ireland, University College Cork, Ireland

Sarah’s graduate research concerned the study of bacteriophage and lysins as potential anti-microbial agents against Staphylococcus aureus. Sarah moved to the United States from Ireland after obtaining her Ph.D and joined the laboratory of Dr. Todd R. Klaenhammer as a postdoctoral research associate where she researched functional genomics of lactic acid bacteria and probiotic-host interactions. Currently as a senior research scientist, she continues research on functional genomics, probiotic-host interactions, developing the murine research platform, and is the lead scientist for the vaccine program which focuses on mucosal vaccine delivery systems using lactic acid bacteria.  Her research also involves methods to improve on existing genetic systems and to identify new antigen and therapeutic targets. Sarah provides research assistance and supervision to staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate and international visiting students across various research topics.



Matthew Foley

Hometown: Buffalo, New York

Past Education: Microbiology & Immunology BS, University of Rochester; Microbiology & Immunology PhD, University of Michigan

After his PhD, Matthew worked as a postdoctoral fellow studying Clostridium sp. and bile salt hydrolases. He joined the Barrangou Lab in 2021 as a staff scientist. Matthew is interested in understanding how CRISPR-Cas can be used to promote bacterial engraftment and ameliorate disease, and how bile acid altering enzymes can be used to manipulate the bile acid pool, microbiota, and host physiology. Outside of the lab he loves cooking and weightlifting.

Graduate Students

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Meichen Pan (Echo)

Hometown: Qingdao, China

Past Education: BS Food Science, University of Wisconsin- Madison; MS Food Science, North Carolina State University

Echo conducted undergraduate research at University of Wisconsin – Madison on probiotic efficacy in human health. She recently joined the CRISPR lab in fall 2017 to study LAB related to vaginal health and CRISPR application on improving probiotic efficacy. She is interested in the food industry and had two internships with Sargento and J.M. Smucker. She is hoping to utilize her skills and knowledge to produce better probiotic products to benefit human health in the future.


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Avery Roberts

Hometown: Durham, North Carolina

Past Education: BS Genetics, North Carolina State University

Avery completed a Bachelor’s in Genetics with a minor in Biotechnology at North Carolina State University. As an undergraduate, he conducted research on developing a transient CRISPR-Cas9 expression system for genome editing in cassava. He then transitioned to industry and worked as a scientist generating cell-based assays for compound toxicity testing. Avery joined the CRISPR Lab in March, 2019, and his research currently involves characterizing CRISPR-associated transposons, engineering bacteriophages, and exploring CRISPR-Cas system functionality within lactic acid bacteria.


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Kalani Gast

Hometown: Fort Pierce, FL

Past Education: BS Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida

Kalani completed a Bachelor’s in Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida. As an undergraduate, she studied the effect of the herbicide Paraquat on the gut microbiome in Drosophila melanogaster. She transitioned into industry by working as a microbiologist screening foods for pathogens that cause food-borne illness. Kalani joined the lab in July 2021, and is currently interested in probiotic bacteria, CRISPR-Cas systems, bacteriophage, and the gut microbiome.


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Ourania (Rania) Raftopoulou

Hometown: Athens, Greece

Past Education: BSc in Crop Science & MSc in Food Science, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece

Rania completed her Bachelor’s in Crop Science at the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece. As an undergraduate, her research focused on the identification of endemic epiphytic yeasts from pistachio nuts that could be applied as biological agents for the control of aflatoxins. Afterward, she completed her MSc in Food Science at the same university in Greece. Her Master’s was focused on two main objectives: a) creating machine learning models for the estimation of chicken spoilage through multispectral imaging and, b) evaluating the growth of Listeria monocytogenes in chicken nuggets using mathematical models. Rania started her Ph.D. in Microbiology in 2019 and worked for three years on assessing the impact of the biofilm lifestyle on the virulence of Listeria monocytogenes and its behavior on apples. She joined our lab in April 2022 and is currently working on bioengineering probiotic bacteria using CRISPR.



John Beckley

Hometown: Congers, NY

Past Education: BS Biochemistry Boston College; MS Microbiology Illinois Institute of Technology

John completed his Bachelor’s in Biochemistry at Boston College and spent over 10 years in the food and beverage industry before transitioning back to academia for his Master’s in Microbiology at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  Working as a food safety consultant, he provided scientific and regulatory support for the industry in the US and abroad.  John joined the lab in August 2022 and is currently interested in developing CRISPR technology, engineering bacteriophages, and studying the gut and soil microbiomes.


Emma Jager

Hometown: Efland, North Carolina

Past Education: BS Microbiology, BS Mathematics, NC State University

Emma completed Bachelor’s degrees in Microbiology and Mathematics at NC State University before transitioning to industry and working as a production scientist in a fermentation department. As an undergraduate she participated in a summer research experience learning about modeling biological systems, and spent a semester searching for an elusive RNase P gene in the genome of an archeote. She joined the lab in January 2023 and is working on better understanding lactobacillus-bacteriophage dynamics.

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Grace Fuller

Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi

Past Education: BS in Environmental Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi; MS in Agronomy with an emphasis in Weed Science from Mississippi State

As an undergraduate student, Grace performed a point-center quarter analysis of Ragland Hills, a mixed forest association outside of Hattiesburg, MS.  During her time as a graduate student at Mississippi State, she researched the allelopathic potential of chromosome substitution (CS) cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) lines. After receiving her master’s degree, she worked in the Biology Department of Mississippi State as a lab manager. There, Grace worked on transforming Elephant Grass (Miscanthus ssp.) to increase its efficacy as a bioenergy crop. Currently, Grace is interested in learning more about CRISPR-Cas Systems and how different systems can be used to edit bacteria and plant species of interest.

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Jiyong (Tim) Shin

Hometown: Seoul, South Korea

Past Education: BS Food Science and Biotechnology, Kyung Hee University, South Korea; MS Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tim completed a Bachelor’s in Food Science and Biotechnology at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. As an undergraduate, his research focused on developing various amplification-based detection methods for lactic acid bacteria strains and allergens. Following that, he completed his MS in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His Master’s research was centered on developing CRISPR/Cas12a-based systems for detecting antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Tim joined the lab in August 2023 and is currently interested in the applications of the CRISPR-Cas system in probiotic bacteria.

Undergraduate Students

Kendall Malmstrom

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Education: BS in Biochemistry, BS in Genetics (2024), North Carolina State University

Kendall is working to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry and Genetics. She joined the lab in December 2021 as a student lab helper. She now is an undergraduate researcher and assists graduate students in their studies of genetic engineering of probiotic bacteria.



Sydney Baker

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Education: AS,  Wake Technical Community College; BS Microbiology and Minor in Biotechnology (2024), North Carolina State University

Sydney is working to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology and Minor in Biotechnology. She joined the lab in May 2023 as an undergraduate researcher assisting graduate students with characterizing and testing CRISPR-Cas systems. She is interested in exploring the uses of Cas12a systems in probiotic bacteria.

Former Lab Members

Name Dates in Lab Position in Lab Employer Position
Katheryne Daughtry 2014-2015 MS Food Science Silesia Flavors R&D Scientist
Brant Johnson 2012-2016 PhD Microbiology Novozymes Scientist
Kurt Selle 2013-2016 PhD Functional Genomics Locus Biosciences, Inc  Scientist
Jeff Hymes 2014-2016 MS Food Science Symberix Associate Scientist II
Joakim Andersen 2014-2016 Post-Doc SysBio Post-Doc
Mia Theilmann 2015-2016 Visiting Student University of Denmark PhD Student
Emily Henriksen 2013-2016 Research Specialist
Emily Stout 2014-2016 MS Food Science Glanbia Cheese Scientist I
Cassandra Cañez 2016-2018 MS Functional Genomics Merck Research Laboratories- Cambridge ESC Scientist
Allie Crawley
2013-2018 MS Food Science
PhD Functional Genomics
AgBiome Scientist
Regan Lane
2017-2018 Undergraduate Assistant FastMed Urgent Care Clinical Assistant
Stefanie Andersen 2018-2019 PhD Bioinformatics
Allie Fulp 2018-2019 MS Food Science
Katelyn Brandt 2015-2019 PhD Functional Genomics BASF
Courtney Klotz 2015-2019 PhD Functional Genomics Sanofi Genzyme Senior Manager Dupilumab Publications
Elice Kitchen-McKinley 2018-2019 BS Bioprocessing Sciences
Natalia Cobián Fernández 2019-2020 Staff Scientist
Claudio Hidalgo Cantabrana 2016-2020 Post-Doc MicroViable Therapeutics CSO-CEO
Yong Jun Goh 2005-2021 Staff Scientist AgBiome Senior Microbiologist
MaryClaire Chamberlain 2019-2021 MS Food Science McCormick Scientist I
Victoria Bartlett 2019-2021 BS Genetics Graduate School
Matt Nethery 2016-2022 PhD Functional Genomics Life Edit Data Scientist II
Rosemary Sanozky-Dawes 1998-2022 Research Associate Retired
Daniel Spang 2021-2023 BS Chemical Engineering Resilience Cell Expansion Manufacturing Technician I
Navjot Kaur 2023-2023 Visiting Scholar Plaksha University Assistant Professor
Meichen (Echo) Pan 2017-2023 MS Food Science; PhD Genomics Eli Lilly Nuclease Advisor