Group Picture April 2018
From left to right: (back row) Sara, Sabrina, Reid, Annie; (middle row) Yeon Soo, Annanya, Anna; (front row) Mina, Caroll, Rebecca, Ludmilla Aristilde

For more information on academic interests and personnel of the lab please follow the links for principal investigator, current members and alumni or scroll down below.


Ludmilla Aristilde, Ph.D.

Faculty Profile
2012–Present, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University
2017, Invited Professor by the Université Grenoble-Alpes, Institut des Sciences de la Terre, Grenoble, France
2015, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Faculty Fellow
Graduate Field Memberships: (1) Biological and Environmental Engineering; (2) Environmental Toxicology; (3) Soil and Crop Sciences; (4) Microbiology; (5) Geological Sciences.

2009-2012, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University
2008-2009, Fulbright Scholar, Grenoble, France
2008, Ph.D. Molecular Toxicology, University of California-Berkeley
2004, M.S. Environmental Engineering, University of California-Berkeley
2003, B.F.A. Fine Arts, Cornell University
2003, B.S. Science of Earth Systems, Cornell University

I am interested in the mechanisms responsible for the behavior of organic molecules in the environment. The activities in my research group apply both experimental and modeling approaches to elucidate the mechanisms that control the physical and biological fate of these molecules. Our current projects investigate bacterial metabolism of natural organic substrates, interactions of organic contaminants with natural particles, bacterial response to organic contaminants, and nutrient-cycling extracellular enzymes.

Contact Information:
Cornell University, 214 Riley Robb


Annaleise Klein

Postdoctoral Associate, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2016-Present

Ph.D. Biogeochemistry, La Trobe University, Australia, 2016
B. Sc. in Environmental Management and Ecology (with Honours), La Trobe University, Australia, 2009

I am currently intrigued by the interactions of organic ligands with mineral substrates at the molecular level, in particular how the stereochemistry changes between the organo-mineral and metal-ligand complexes. My research involves combining spectroscopic and metabolomic techniques, along with molecular modelling, to understand the drivers behind organo-mineral interfacial interactions important in environmental chemistry and environmental engineering processes.


Sabrina Kelch

Ph.D. Student, Soil and Crop Sciences, 2016-Present

B.S. Natural Resources and Environmental Science, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, 2016

I am interested in understanding how the chemistries of microbial and plant organic secretions influence their fate within the soil matrix, with respect to their interactions with minerals. I am particularly interested on how the different fates of these organic molecules affect soil physical properties such as soil moisture retention and soil aggregation.

Rebecca Wilkes

M.S./Ph.D. Student, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2016-Present

B.S. Biology, Washington and Jefferson College, 2015

I am interested in cleaning up the environment using bioremediation techniques. I am particularly interested in the mechanisms underlying microbial degradation of plastics in different environmental matrices.

Mina Sohltalab

Ph.D. Student, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2017-Present

B.S. Cell and Molecular Biology, Shahed University, Iran, 2011
M.Sc. Cell and Molecular Biology, Shiraz University, Iran, 2015

I am interested in studying enzyme-catalyzed reactions. Understanding the molecular basis of the enzyme structure-function relationship is required to predict catalytic activities and inform protein engineering. I am currently studying beta-glucosidase, which catalyzes a rate-limiting step in carbon turnover in terrestrial ecosystems and in engineered biofuel production.

Michael Glaser

M.S. Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2018-Present

B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland-College Park, 2018

I am interested in the fate and transport of environmental contaminants from the perspectives of both hydrology and environmental chemistry, especially relating to ubiquitous and overlooked contaminants which may impact public health. In the future I hope to aid in the refining of bioremediation techniques, which employ in-situ bioreactors containing organic carbon and microbes to degrade target groundwater contaminants.


Caroll Mendonca

Research Technician, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2017-Present

M.Eng. Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, 2017
B.Eng. Biotechnology, Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore, India, 2016

My current research focus is to study the major metabolic pathways controlling the metabolism of mixed substrates by soil bacteria in response to nutrient-limited conditions. My long-term interest is to solve environmental problems using biological, socio-economical, pollution, and public health perspectives.

Sarah Madarshahian

Research Technician, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2018-Present

M.Sc. Analytical CHemistry, Birjand University, Birjand, Iran, 2005
B.S. Applied Chemistry, Azad University of Arak, Arak‐Iran, 2002

I am interested in mass spectrometry methods and instrumentation. My current research focuses on developing methods to profile the structural diversity of amino acids and peptides in organic secretions.



Irene Sarri

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Class of 2019

Research Topic: Trapping of organic contaminants by mineral particles
Lab Mentor: Ludmilla Aristilde and Annaleise Klein


Anne Werner

Biological Sciences
Class of 2020

Research Topic: Nutrient-dependent bacterial carbon metabolism
Lab Mentor: Ludmilla Aristilde and Caroll Mendonca


Yeonsoo Park

Environmental Engineering
Class of 2020

Research Topic: Organic nutrient cycling and recovery
Lab Mentor: Ludmilla Aristilde


Ananya Gangadhar

Environmental Engineering
Class of 2020

Research Topic: Environmental chemistry and engineering of mineral nanoparticles
Lab Mentor: Ludmilla Aristilde


Bridget Childs

Environmental Engineering (BEE)
Class of 2021

Research Topic: Physical and biological mechanisms in plastic degradation
Lab Mentors: Rebecca Wilkes and Ludmilla Aristilde


Postdoctoral Researchers and Visiting Scholars

Krista Barzen-Hanson, Postdoctoral Researcher, February 2017-December 2017. Next position: Assistant Professor, Elmira College, Elmira, NY
Cloelle Danforth, Visiting Scholar, December 2016-May 2017. Current Position: Fellow at Environmental Defense Fund
Hua Wei, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, September 2012-December 2014. Next position: Research Chemist at 3M, St Paul, Minnesota
Baoquan Xie, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, September 2012-August 2013. Next position: postdoc at KAUST-CU Center for Energy and Sustainability, Cornell University

Graduate Student Researchers

Trevor Cross, PhD. Student, Microbiology Rotation Student, November 2017-February 2018.
Sean Murphy, PhD. Student, Microbiology Rotation Student, August-November 2017.
Caroll Mendonca, M.Eng. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, August 2017. Next position: Research Technician, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University
Tracy Youngster, M.S. in Soil and Crop Sciences, August 2017. Next position: Ph.D. student in Soil Ecology at Rutgers University
Julie Wushensky, M.Eng. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, May 2017. Next position: Research Associate at Beyond Meat.
Matthew Kukurugya, M.S. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, January 2017. Next position: Bioanalytical Research Associate at Calico Labs.
Fanny Okaikue-Woodi, M.Eng. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, August 2016.
David Flannelly, M.S. in Environmental Toxicology, May 2015. Next position: Teaching Certificate Program at Ithaca College.
Johnny Huynh, M.Eng. in Environmental Engineering, Spring 2015. Next position: Chemist at Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Ed Park, Research Trainee/Student Spring 2014-Winter 2015
Samantha Sasnow, M.S. in Biological and Environmental Engineering, Summer 2014. Next position: Engineer at CRA (Conestoga-Rovers & Associates)
Amy Pochodylo M.S. in Environmental Toxicology, Spring 2014. Current position: Teaching license candidate in Integrative Science at Otterbein University

Research Technicians

Paloma Spina, Research technician: February-May 2017. Undergraduate Researcher: August 2014-December 2016. Next position: Engineering Intern at Anchor QEA Engineering Firm
Michael Reed, Research technician: January-May 2017. Undergraduate Researcher: January 2015-December 2016. Next position: Graduate student in Biotechnology at Northwestern University
Fanny Okaikue-Woodi, Research technician: August 2016-April 2017. Undergraduate Researcher: January 2014-December 2014.
Sabrina Kelch, Research technician: Summer 2016. Next position: joined the group as a graduate student in Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Stephen Galdi, Research technician: Summer 2016. Undergraduate Researcher: January 2014-June 2016. Next position: Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Thalia Aoki, Research technician: August 2013-May 2015. Undergraduate Researcher: January 2014-June 2016.

Undergraduate Researchers

Reid Balkind, June 2016-May 2018
Zoe Maisel, June 2016-May 2017
Valerie Katz, January 2016-May 2017
Michael Reed, January 2015-December 2016
Paloma Spina, August 2014-December 2016
Juan Guzman, May 2015-May 2016
Stephen Galdi, January 2014-June 2016
Clayton Sasaki, January-May 2016
Thalia Aoki, August 2013-May 2015
Sho Yoshitake, August 2013-May 2015
Fanny Okaikue, January-December 2014
Kate Duffy, January-December 2014
Meryl Kruskopf, May-August 2014
Theresa Chu, January-August 2014
Michelle Bowen, January-May 2014
Ed Sharood, January-May 2014
Suzy Struckman, January-May 2014
Rachel Whiteheart, January 2013-December 2013
Micaella Zubkov, January-May 2014
Carolyn Strock, June-August 2013
Michelle Walther, June-December 2013