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Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, Ph.D.
Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz grew up in rural Arizona and is a first-generation college student that received her bachelor's degree from Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, CO and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX in the Experimental Pathology Program. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology with Dr. Charles Arntzen. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz joined the University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix in 2009 as the Hematology/Oncology Block/Course Director in the preclerkship medical curriculum until 2017. She is a tenured Associate Professor in the Departments of Basic Medical Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology and became the Director of the Women’s Health Microbiome Initiative at the College of Medicine-Phoenix in 2017 and currently directs the Women’s Health Research Program. In 2021, she became the co-Director of the Reproduction, Endocrine, & Behavior Through the Lifespan (REBLS) in the COM-Phx medical program. Her research program is focused on understanding the microbiome and host-microbe interactions in the female reproductive tract as it relates to oncologic, reproductive, gynecologic health outcomes and health disparities. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz utilizes clinical biospecimens, animal models and an innovative 3-D bioreactor system to study human epithelial and immunometabolic responses to microbiota at this site and has a long-standing interest in enhancing women’s health outcomes through translational research. She has been funded by NIH through NIAID, NCI, and the Office of Research in Women’s Health and foundations including the Flinn Foundation, Alternatives Research Development Foundation, Mary Kay Foundation and most recently the Women Inspiring Science and Health through the BannerHealth Foundation. Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz enjoys interacting with the media to disseminate research findings and has been interviewed by news outlets including NPR/KJZZ Radio, Forbes Magazine, and others. She has also participated in documentaries and podcasts. She has been recognized by numerous awards including as a member of the “40 under 40” Class of 2018 by the Phoenix Business Journal. The award recognizes leaders in their organizations that are making a difference in their companies/organizations, as well as their greater community.
Assistant Research Scientist
Paweł Łaniewski, Ph.D.
Dr. Paweł Łaniewski is an Assistant Research Scientist in our laboratory. He received his Ph.D. degree in Microbiology from the University of Warsaw (Poland). After completing his Ph.D., he held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He joined Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz's research team at the University of Arizona in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and has been promoted to an Assistant Research Scientist in 2018. He is a trained bacteriologist with extensive experience in microbiology, molecular biology and mucosal immunology. He has significant experience in culturing fastidious anaerobic microorganisms (including bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria and vaginal health-associated Lactobacillus spp.), rotating wall vessel bioreactor technology, and studying host-pathogen interactions using in vitro cell culture models. Dr. Łaniewski also has extensive experience in studying mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis and host defense using animal models, including mouse models of viral and bacterial genital infections. Furthermore, he has expertise in translational clinical research in the area of gynecologic oncology. Dr. Łaniewski has a deep interest in studying vaginal microbiota-host interactions and impact of microbial communities on female reproductive health and physiology, particularly gynecologic cancer.
Nicole Jimenez, Ph.D.
Nicole Jimenez graduated in 2014 from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Microbiology. In 2015, she moved to Richmond, Virginia for Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program, a program funded by the National Institutes of Health. In 2016, she joined VCU’s School of Medicine Biological Sciences Doctoral Portal program(BSDP) and recently defended her Ph.D. for the Microbiology and Immunology Department. Her graduate work was centered on microbiome research working with VCU’s Vaginal Microbiome Consortium (VMC). Her research for the VMC encompassed comparative genomics of vaginal bacteria especially Bifidobacterium species, understanding correlations between the vaginal microbiome reproductive health and disease, as well as maternal-infant microbial transmission. In addition to Nicole’s scientific work, she is a strong advocate in higher education in regards to implementation of programs around the topic areas of diversity, inclusion and mental well-being. She joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in Summer of 2021 and will be using both her passion for advocacy work and science to assist with vaginal microbiome research of understudied gynecological conditions with a focus on health disparities within the Latinx and Native American communities.
Clinical Research Coordinator III
Erika Flores, B.S.
Erika Flores graduated from Arizona State University with B.S. degrees in Health Sciences (Pre-Professional), Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cells, and Developmental Biology), and Psychology. She has two years of research experience from the Psychology Department at Arizona State University and become involved in clinical research in 2019, working on Maternal Fetal Medicine and Vaccine Development studies. Erika joined the University of Arizona as Clinical Research Coordinator II for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in June of 2021. Her research interests include health disparities and social determinants of health—especially amongst those who are underprivileged and underrepresented. Erika hopes to use her Spanish-speaking skill to help drive the goal of diversifying clinical research among women. She hopes to attend medical school soon.
Emerald Bell, B.S.
Emerald Bell is a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona, College of Nursing-Tucson. She earned her A.A.S. in Nursing from Gateway Community College in 2010, before pursuing her B.S. in Nursing from Grand Canyon University in 2014. She has worked in healthcare for the past 16 years, with the first five years in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her graduate work is centered on understanding correlations between the microbiome, gynecological diseases, and mental health disorders. She is passionate about combining her experience as a nurse, with her graduate work, to provide a translational approach to women’s health and microbiome research. She joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in 2021.
Rachel Mendoza, MPH
Rachel Mendoza is a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix. She earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Women and Gender Studies from Arizona State University in 2017. Following her graduation, she became an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic at Valleywise Health and conducted research regarding prenatal health education for refugee expectant mothers. She then pursued her Master of Public Health at the George Washington University and graduated in 2020. Rachel is interested in reproductive health and health disparities in Arizona and beyond.
Jacob Shaner, B.S.
Jacob Shaner is a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from Brigham Young University in 2020. He worked as an undergraduate research assistant studying host-guest chemistry in the gas phase using Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS). Jacob joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in July 2021. He is interested in researching the microbe-microbe interactions in the pelvic microbiota and how they apply to health outcomes in the community.
Nina Gautam, B.S.
Nina Gautam is a first-year medical student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix. She earned her B.S. in Human Biology and Society with minors in Global Studies and Environmental Systems and Society from UCLA in 2021. She worked as an undergrad research assistant studying relationships between inflammatory responses and gut microbiome composition, and coordinated a clinical research project on IBD for a startup company. Following graduation, she worked in an internal integrative medicine clinic in Los Angeles. In the Herbst-Kralovetz lab, Nina is interested in investigating hallmarks for specific disease states, in the hopes of being able to clinically apply the findings through preventative screenings in the future.
Phoebe Crossley is a biomedical sciences undergraduate student at the University of Bath, completing a year-long placement at the Herbst-Kralovetz laboratory as part of the Bath placement program. She hopes to pursue a PhD in microbiology or immunology, with a focus on women’s health, after graduating from University of Bath in 2024
Vianney Mancilla is an undergraduate student majoring in Global Health with a minor in Biological Sciences at Arizona State University. Her ultimate goal is to earn her MD-MPH and become a primary care physician to prevent and treat illness in underserved communities in Arizona. She joined the lab in 2022 and is passionate about women’s health and its intersection with minority communities.
Hajer Rahee is an undergraduate student studying anthropology and molecular biosciences & biotechnology at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. She is expected to graduate in May 2023 and intends to pursue a PhD into her passions of women's health and women's rights after graduation.
Michelle Aminov is an undergraduate student studying human psychology with an emphasis in pre-med at Arizona State University. She is on track to graduate in the spring of 2024. Her long-term goal is to attend medical school where she hopes to match into an OB/GYN program. She is dedicated to educating women of all backgrounds about their bodies and health. Her main purpose is to be an obstetrician and deliver babies. She joined the Herbst-Kralovetz lab in the summer of 2022 where she intends to learn more about women’s health research as it relates to her passion.
Masahiro Ito, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor at Kitasato University (Japan)
Jason Maarsingh, Ph.D - Castle Biosciences Inc.
Zehra Esra Ilhan, Ph.D. - INRA French National Institute for Agricultural Research (France)
Andrea Throop, Ph.D. - Technical Director at LabCorp
Clinical Research Coordinators
Elisa Martinez, MBA, CCRC - HonorHealth
Alice Treuth, B.A. - Medical student at Emory University
Regina Montero, MSN, RN, CNOR - Retired
Alicia Muhleisen, MD
Rebecca Ludwig, MD
Victoria Yarbrough, MD
Alison Goulder, MD
Jameson Gardner, Ph.D. - Graduate student at Brigham Young University Law School
Anna Tuzimek, M.S.
Wioletta Piotrowska, M.S.
Sylvie Doerflinger, M.S., Ph.D.
Darwin Tsinajinnie, B.S.
Sean Winkle, B.S.
University of Bath Placement/Exchange Program
Georgia Lorentzen (2021-2022)
Ross McKenzie (2020-2021)
Mary Salliss (2019-2020) - Ph.D. student at Newcastle University (UK)
Kimberley Owen (2018-2019) - MRes student at Imperial College London (UK)
Ellen Wilkinson (2017-2018)
James Baker (2016-2017) - Ph.D. student at University of Manchester (UK)
Michael Khnanisho, B.S. (2019-2022), Camryn Garza, B.S. (2019-2021), Sylvia Karjala, B.S. (2019-2020), Tess Alexander, B.S. (2017-2019), Natalie Thomas, B.S. (2018-2019), Sara Stowers, B.S. (2016-2018), Dani Krasinski, B.S. (2016-2018), Ryan Smith, B.S. (2015-2017) - Medical student at Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, Greg Frasco, B.S. (2016-2017), Natalie Van Ert, B.S. (2016-2017), Adriana Gomez, B.S. (2015-2016), Geoff Hire, B.S. (2015-2016)
High School Summer Interns
Elena D'Avanzo (2019), Cynthia Ianova (2018), Anamika Basu (2017), Jasmin Menjivar (2016)