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 senior working towards an undergraduate degree in Forensic Science at Penn State. She is also minoring in Anthropology and has previously worked with Dr. Mark Shriver 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 first-year undergraduate student studying Biology with minors in Geosciences and English. She is interested in using aDNA to explore phylogenetic relationships between microbial species for insight into how they, and their connections to human health, have changed over time and space. After her undergraduate degree, she hopes to apply similar research to conservation efforts.

Samantha Gaidula

Undergraduate Researcher

Samantha is a second-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 third-year 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.

Iyunoluwa Jesudemilade

Graduate Student

Iyunoluwa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology from the University Of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is interested in understanding the relevance of biological anthropology in understanding past pathologies as they relate to natural and cultural phenomena. Using aDNA, stable isotopes and microbiomes, Iyunoluwa intends to investigate the the dynamics of disease, dietary patterns and geographical history of human populations in West Africa.

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.

Grace Bowland

Graduate Student

Grace is interested in researching the human oral microbiome and its connection to diet and disease by examining the effects of rapid diet shifts, particularly from subsistence foraging to industrial diets. In studying the relationship between microbes and hosts, she aims to identify mediating factors which may reveal the links between microbial communities and complex cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

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 interested in studying the oral microbiome to gain insights into the evolution of systemic diseases in conjunction with the human immune system. Because most infections do not manifest pathological lesions in bones, child deaths in archaeology are still largely a mystery. Using dental anthropology and paleopathology, she wants to explore speculations of infectious diseases in the children demographics seen in archaeology. She aims to bridge the gap between children’s archaeology with paleoepidemiology using aDNA found in dental calculus. .

Abby Gancz

Graduate Candidate

Abby is a third year 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.