Our Team Members

Laura S. Weyrich

Principal Investigator

My research focuses on microbiome adaptation and evolution in different ecologies. I use a mixture of ancient DNA, anthropological microbial genomics, and experimental models to explore and identify mechanisms of microbial community change and adaptation and translate these mechanisms to improve the world around us today.

Nicole E. Moore

Researcher (Ancient DNA)

Nicole has a research interest focused on the change in the microbiome and the virome over time in different cultures and environments. She also has an interest in method development, specifically developing or updating approaches to improve efficiency and effectiveness in our research projects as technology changes. Nicole has a background in metagenomic research used in pathogen and viral discovery applications, as well as next-generation sequencing. Nicole also manages the day-to-day running of the microARCH labs, as well as doing research.

Sam Muller


Sam is a researcher with an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science from Penn State. In addition to working with the MicroARCH team, she also works with Dr. Mark Shriver on researching human phenotype variation. Her research interests include both aDNA and microbiome sequencing techniques and their applications to modern forensics. She hopes to attend medical school with the eventual goal of becoming a forensic pathologist.

Ava Gabrys

Undergraduate Researcher

Ava is a junior studying Biology with a focus in Genetics and Developmental Biology. Her research uses ancient DNA to explore oral streptococcus bacteria in British populations and their relationship to human health, including tooth decay. After her undergraduate degree she plans to attend graduate school and pursue research in the evolutionary sciences.

Samantha Gaidula

Undergraduate Researcher

Samantha is a third-year undergraduate student studying General Science with an interest in health-related professions and a minor in Psychology. Samantha’s research interests include DNA and microbiome sequencing and how these can be applied to modern human health. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend medical school with the future goal of studying pathology in a research setting.

Matthew Caissie

Undergraduate Researcher

Matt is a senior undergraduate studying for a degree in General Science with a concentration in Biology. He is on track to pursue his MBA at Penn State upon completion of his undergraduate degree. He has experience working as a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry and will be researching the oral microbiome with the goal of improving global health outcomes. He hopes to eventually enter a career within healthcare or pharmaceuticals.

Meghan Malloy

Undergraduate Researcher

Meghan is a senior in the IUG program studying Anthropological Sciences with a focus on biology (BS) and Classic & Mediterranean Studies (BA). She also is in her first year of her Anthropology MS. Her interests fall upon comparative studies of aDNA in different countries and how it can be interpreted to their modern day populations. She plans on pursing a PhD to engage in further microbial research after graduating from Penn State.

Grace Nicole Blaha

Undergraduate Researcher

Grace is a fourth-year undergrad triple majoring in Anthropological Science with a focus on Archaeological Science, Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, and Human Resources. She is interested in the migration of ancient peoples, particularly at the end of the Late Bronze Age. After her undergraduate degree, she is planning to pursue a masters and PhD in hopes of pursuing a career focusing on bioarcheology.

Allison Claire Ham

Postdoctoral Researcher

Allison holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina, and her research is motivated by questions surrounding the physiological and behavioral mechanisms that produce sexual variation in health outcomes across diverse cultural, ecological, and temporal contexts. Allison’s postdoctoral research combines paleodemographic and biomolecular methods to 1) explore the effects of demographic factors (age and sex) on the diversity and composition of the human oral microbiome and 2) investigate how variation in microbiota diversity and composition effects sex-based health outcomes, as manifested in variation in risks of mortality. Allison aims to expand our understanding of the environmental, biological, and cultural factors that are driving sex-based health disparities both in the past and present.

Iyunoluwa Jesudemilade

Graduate Student

Iyunoluwa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology from the University Of Ibadan, Nigeria. Using ancient DNA techniques, oral microbiome, and embedded starch grain analyses of dental calculus, she is interested in understanding the impact of the Atlantic era (slave trade and colonialism) on diet, oral microbial profile, and the overall health status of West African populations and how this translates to health disparities of Africans/Black Americans in the diaspora.

Crystal Crabb

Graduate Student

Crystal holds a B.S and M.A in Anthropology from Texas State University. She is interested in the human oral microbiome and its relation to the manifestation of inequality and environmental stress within human dentition, particularly focusing on periodontitis within Hispanic and Latinx populations. In studying the evolution of microbes within Hispanic and Latinx communities, she aims to understand the impact of environmental stress and its relation to heredity and the oral microbiome.

Sterling Wright

Graduate Student

Wright studies the oral microbiomes of archaeological and living populations. His research focuses on populations in Romania, Serbia, Portugal, and Georgia. He applies aDNA and anthropological techniques to gain insights into the microbes in dental calculus. These efforts elicit new information about human variation and how it intersects with several human cultural aspects, such as health, demographics, diet, and behaviors.

Christine Ta

Graduate Student

Christine is a graduate student interested in how cultural practices introduced or spread during the Great Acceleration (post World War II) have impacted the human microbiome, specifically the increased and expansive use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents. As antibiotic resistance is a rising global concern, Christine aims to contextualize the evolutionary history of antimicrobial resistance genes within the oral microbiome in hopes of understanding the potential link between antibiotic use and the shift in disease landscape in the last 70 years observed in modernized societies with a deep history of industrialization.

Abby Gancz

Graduate Candidate

Abby is a graduate student working with Dr. Weyrich. She recieved her bachelors degree in public health and anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019. Her research focuses on the applications of ancient oral microbiomes to paleoepidemiological research. Her current research focuses on the intersections of systemic disease, frailty, and microbes in ancient populations.