Lab Members

Graduate Students:

RadwaRadwa Hanafy started as a volunteer in the Youssef lab in summer 2015. She then officially started as a PhD candidate in the Fall of 2015. Radwa’s project is centered on isolating and characterizing novel anaerobic fungal strains from the feces of ruminant and non-ruminant herbivores. Radwa’s efforts have resulted in obtaining several isolates from sheep, goat, and cow feces. She is currently working on characterizing those isolates to decipher the anaerobic fungal genus they belong to. Radwa’s volunteer work during the summer will be published in Genome Announcements.


ShelbyShelby Rice joined the Youssef Lab in the Fall of 2014. She is currently working on analyzing the transcription of focal adhesion genes in Orpinomyces C1A and studying the relationship between focal adhesion and zoospore flagellar assembly. Studying the expression of FA genes in Orpinomyces will greatly help with studying early evolutionary events in Neocallimastigomycota divergence from their ancestors. Shelby has developed and is currently optimizing a flooding protocol for Orpinomyces C1A zoospore release. She is also in the process of developing a germination strategy for collected spores to be employed in future RNAi studies. Shelby’s work will result in 3 publications.


CroppedKristina Baker joined the Youssef lab in the spring of 2015. She is working on microbial community characterization in Grand Lake with special emphasis on the change in microbial community before during and following algal blooms and lake stratification. In collaboration with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), where Kristina spent her summer as an intern, she was able to collect, filter, and extract DNA from several locations in the Grand River. She characterized the microbial community in these samples  with the goal of finding a relationship between algal blooms and lake stratification and certain bacterial phyla abundance. This work is currently under review.


 Britny Johnson information coming soon.

ChelseaChelsea Murphy joined the Youssef lab in the Spring of 2015. She worked on a joint project with Dr. Erika Lutter where she quantified the expression of several virulence genes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa isolates from adult CF patients. Chelsea’s work resulted in a publication in Genome Announcement. During the Fall of 2105, Chelsea worked on an ambitious project for enriching for algal detritus-degrading community. Chelsea set up enrichments using anaerobic sediments, stratified lake water, as well as wastewater treatment sludge as inoculum and several algal cell wall components as carbon sources. Enrichments with the above inocula and several algal strains have also been prepared. Her work is now published in Peer J.


Previous Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows:

JessicaDr. Jessica Morrison joined the Youssef lab as a post-doctoral fellow in May of 2015, right after receiving her PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Jessica is working on purification and characterization of novel lignocellulolytic enzymes from the anaerobic fungus Orpinomyces C1A. She has successfully cloned and over-expressed 8 enzyme-coding genes that show comparable or higher activity to known bacterial or aerobic fungal counterparts. She is currently working on designing enzyme cocktails tailored towards plant substrates, e.g. Switchgrass, and Corn Stover, degradation. Her work will result in 3 publications.

Graduate Students:

ElsaElsa Lameira joined the Youssef Lab in the Spring of 2014 as a Fulbright Scholar and completed her Masters degree in May 2015. Elsa worked on characterizing the microbial community in cystic fibrosis sputa samples, and compared the lung microbiomes of children, adolescent, and adult patients. Elsa is currently teaching in Mozambique. More information soon to follow.




AbhayaAbhaya Ranganathan joined the Youssef lab in the Fall of 2013 working towards getting her PhD. She started working on the Biofuels project using Orpinomyces C1A to maximize sugar production from plant biomass. Cocultures of C1A and the ethanol-producing E coli strain KO11 resulted in bioethanol production from Corn Stover, Switchgrass, and Mixed Prairie. She is working on getting her manuscript out to Appl. Environ. Microbiol. Abhaya is currently working on analyzing single cell genomes of WWE1, a bacteria phylum with no cultured representatives. Abhaya’s single cell genomes analysis will result in 1 publication..



SCov SelfieSuzanne Coveley joined the Youssef Lab during the Spring of 2014, where she worked on characterizing the rare bacterial community in Zodletone Spring sediment and its response to changes in salt concentration and temperature. In the Summer of 2014 she helped with the biofuels project where she learned the anaerobic technique of growing Orpinomyces C1A, DNA extraction, RNA extraction, reverse transcription, and cloning. Her work on the rare biosphere in Zodletone was published in PeerJ. Suzanne graduated in May 2015.  


Andres smallerAndrés Eduardo Guerrero Criado has studied in Venezuela, the United States, and Spain. As an undergraduate of Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology and Genetics / Biochemistry at Oklahoma State Universit,y he was involved in research in bioinformatics, phylogeny (research published in the J. Adv. Res.), microbial ecology and protein structure elucidation under Dr. Noha Youssef during Fall of 2013, Spring of 2014, and Fall of 2014. In addition, at Washington University in St. Louis Medical School he collaborated with Dr. Jean Schaffer and her Diabetic Cardiovascular Disease Center studying the role of RNASET2 in oxidative stress.

Ashlee Hawkins information coming soon.



Alexandra L. McCully graduated summa cum laude in 2013 from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of  Science degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She trained as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Noha Youssef during the Fall of 2012 and Spring of 2013 to investigate salt adaptation strategies in halophilic microorganisms (research published in ISME J.) and analyze phylogenetic assignments within the domain Bacteria (research published in the J. Adv. Res.). Currently, she is working towards her PhD at Indiana University studying microbial metabolic interactions and biofuel production. 


OliviaOlivia Smith was a member of the Youssef lab since the Summer of 2014. She was working on the biofuels project employing Orpinomyces C1A for ethanol production from different plant biomass. She maintained Orpinomyces C1A by repeated subculturing, and established enzyme assays for all C1A cellulose-, and hemicellulose-degrading enzymes. She worked on optimization of coculturing with E. coli strain KO11 for bioethanol production from plant biomass. Her work is currently under review for publication in Frontiers in Microbiology. The coculture work will also warrant another publication. Olivia graduated in May 2016 and is now pursuing a medical degree.


brandiBrandi Steidley worked with Dr. Noha Youssef during the Spring and Summer of 2010. During her time in the lab she worked on identifying novel phylogenetic lineages in Zodletone Spring sediments, an anaerobic sulfur and sulfide-rich spring in Southwestern OK. Her work was published in Appl. Environ. Microbiol. She graduated with a BS in Microbiology at OSU in 2010 then joined the graduate program at Ohio State University, where she got her masters and is now employed at the Richter International Lab at Columbus, OH.