Monir's going away party
Monir's going away party

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Holiday party
Holiday party

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Apple picking!
Apple picking!

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Monir's going away party
Monir's going away party

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Frank O. Aylward

Frank grew up in rural southern Arizona and fell in love with microbes, ecology, and evolution as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. He went on to study microbial symbionts of leaf-cutter ants as a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Afterwards he conducted postdoctoral work at MIT and the University of Hawaii. He is an assistant professor in the Biological Sciences department.
Email: faylward _at_ vt dot edu



Anh D. Ha

Postdoctoral Researcher

Anh is originally from Vietnam, and finished her PhD at Oregon State University in 2019. She has experience working with bacteriophage comparative genomics and is working on several viral bioinformatic studies in the Aylward lab. 


Carolina Alejandra Martínez Gutiérrez

PhD Student (CV)

Carolina was born and raised in Baja California Sur, Mexico. She holds a bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a master's focused on Biotechnology and Microbial Ecology of Polyhydroxyalkanoate-producing bacteria inhabiting hypersaline microbial mats. Her main research interests include the evolutionary forces acting on streamlined marine genomes, patterns that dictate the structure of microbial communities, and the influence of microbes on global biogeochemical cycles. She enjoys hiking and books during free time.

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Alaina Weinheimer

PhD Student (CV)

Alaina's bio on the Virginia Tech Global Change Center

Alaina has a bachelor's degree in Biology from Penn State University and a master's in Marine Microbiology from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany. Her research interests include developing novel methods in computational biology to explore the structure and function of microbial communities, their metabolic and phylogenetic diversity, and their role in mediating environmental change.


Sangita Karki

PhD Student
Sangita was born and raised in Nepal. She holds a master’s degree in plant and soil science focused on soil microbial ecology from Tuskegee University, AL. She joined the Aylward lab in summer 2020. Her research interests include exploring evolutionary mechanisms of microbes, their activities, and their phylogenetic diversity. In the Aylward lab, she is studying genome evolution in giant viruses. She enjoys hiking and gardening during free time.


Paula Maria Erazo-Garcia

PhD Student
Paula is originally from Ecuador, where she earned her BS degree as an Engineer in Biotechnology at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. She was admitted to Virginia Tech through the Translational Plant Sciences Center recruitment program and joined the Aylward Lab as a rotation student in Spring 2022. Paula is enthusiastic about the interactions occurring across the tree of life, viruses, and their role in evolution. She will continue her research in viruses and green algae using wet-lab and bioinformatics approaches. Inspired by Virginia’s landscapes and wildlife, she now enjoys going for birdwatching walks.

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Roxanna Farzad

MS Student
Roxanna was born and raised in Isfahan, Iran. She got her BSc. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Isfahan. Being a microbiology enthusiast, she decided to continue her education to learn about the impressive and unknown world of the giant viruses. She joined the lab in Fall 2021.


Claudia Perez

MS Student
Claudia earned a Bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University. After working in a lab for a year, Claudia joined the VT-PREP program to begin pursuing a graduate education. Claudia is currently working towards a Master's degree in the Aylward lab, studying the phylogenetics of viral immunomodulatory genes.


Josh Stanton

Undergraduate researcher

Lab Alumni

Postdocs and grad students

Mohammad "Monir" Moniruzzaman. Postdoc 2018-2021. Now an assistant professor at the University of Miami

Nitin Nair. MS student, 2018-2020. Currently a Machine Learning Engineer, DeepSig. Inc.

Undergraduate Researchers

Megan Todd, Systems Biology 2020

Gavin Mucker, Systems Biology 2020

Ashleen Harris, Systems Biology 2020

Eric Getz, Microbiology, 2018