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. Switching to marine systems for his postdoctoral work, Frank first went to MIT and then the University of Hawaii to continue his work on environmental microbiology, microbial genomics, and bioinformatics. He is an assistant professor in the Biological Sciences department.

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Mohammad (Monir) Moniruzzaman

Postdoctoral Researcher (CV)

Monir is originally from Bangladesh, and completed his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Monir is broadly interested in the molecular and evolutionary aspects of biotic interactions, and how anthropogenic activities shape the microbial landscape of the planet. In Aylward lab, he is studying the bacterial and viral phylogenomics.


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. 

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Nitin Nair

Master’s Student (CV)
Nitin Nair was born in India but raised in Muscat, Oman. He holds a bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering specializing in Software and Machine Intelligence. His primary academic interest is in modelling and understanding "-omic" data through the use of machine learning especially though the use of deep sequential models.


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.


Meagan Todd

Undergraduate Student

Meagan grew up in Suffolk, Virginia and is now in her junior year at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Systems Biology with a minor in Science, Technology, and Law. Meagan began working in the Aylward Lab during the summer of 2018, and is currently studying bacterial pan-genomics. She enjoys spending her free time hiking in the mountains surrounding Blacksburg.

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Gavin Mucker

Gavin grew up in both Elburn, IL and Phoenix, AZ, before moving out to Richmond, VA and is currently pursuing a degree in Systems Biology with a minor in Biology. In his spare time he enjoys hiking, traveling to see friends, visit breweries, and trying new restaurants.


Eric Getz (former member)

Microbiology major, class of 2018

Currently an ORISE fellow at the CDC


Interested in joining the lab?

For prospective grad students, you can check out the graduate programs at Virginia Tech:

Graduate program in Biological Sciences:

Genetics Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology:

Or feel free to contact Frank directly.