Elaine Haase, MS, PhD

Research Professor
Faculty Page | ORCiD  | GOOGLE SCHOLAR 

Elaine began her career working as a clinical microbiologist performing bacteriology, mycology and parasitology assays. She went on to earn a MS degree in Medical Technology at the University at Buffalo studying antibiotic resistance in Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains from cystic fibrosis patients. She continued in research earning a doctoral degree in Microbiology and Immunology from UB focusing on the P2 porin protein of non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae from patients with otitis media. Through protein isolation by gel chromatography and the production of monoclonal antibodies, she was able to epitope map the P2 protein. She transitioned to the Department of Oral Biology in the School of Dental Medicine at UB serving as a research scientist and lecturer. One investigation focused on the identification, transcription, and gene regulation of flp fimbriae from the periodontal pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans.  Other research involved proteomic and transcriptomic studies of the interaction of commensal Streptococcus gordonii and its amylase-binding proteins with salivary proteins and other oral microbes. An understanding of the acquisition of these proteins among oral streptococcal strains has been gained through comparative genomics. Currently, she is working on the discovery of bacteriophages in oral microbes and their effect on oral ecology.

Cole Matrishin

PhD Candidate
PhD Program, dept of oral biology | T32 Fellow, PPBS ALUM ORCID  | GOOGLE SCHOLAR  | LINKEDIN

Cole graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 2020 with a B.S. in Biology.  At Kutztown, he conducted research on phage T7 and its therapeutic capabilities in eradicating food and biofilm contamination. Cole joined the Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) at University at Buffalo as a Presidential Fellow in the fall of 2020.  In the spring of 2021, Cole joined the Kauffman lab to complete his Ph.D. in Oral Biology where he was awarded an NIH T32 fellowship (2021-2023). In lab, he is currently working on uncovering the interplay between how Porphyromonas gingivalis phages shape and are shaped by the complex oral ecosystem.

Winifred Mei, MS

DDS Student
doctor of dental surgery program (DDS | GOOGLE SCHOLAR 

Winifred graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.S. in Biology and a second major in Sociology, and she obtained her Master’s of Science in Biology from Long Island University in 2021. Winifred’s passion for research started in high school and college. She is so passionate about research because of the process of discovery, and because it allows her the opportunity to apply her knowledge from the classroom to skills in the lab. Winifred is working on identifying and characterizing phages of oral Streptococcus using bioinformatic and culture based techniques.


Amruta Gajanan Bhat

Research Project Assistant
data science Masters program (MS), school of engineering and applied sciences | LINKEDIN github 

Amruta Bhat is a skilled professional who holds a BE degree in Information Science from PES Institute of Technology. With an extensive background as a Data Analyst at IQVIA for nearly 3 years and later as a Senior Data Analyst at MResult Services, she has acquired significant expertise in the field of Data Science. Currently pursuing an MS degree in Data Science at UB, Amruta’s experience in the PharmaSci and Healthcare domain has drawn her to the Kauffman lab, where she is currently a Research Project Assistant, optimizing bioinformatic pipelines and assisting fellow lab members with bioinformatics.

Jalak Upadhyay

Research Project Assistant
exercise science masters program (MS), SChool of public health & health professions | LINKEDIN 

Jalak is pursuing her MS in Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at UB. She is working as a Research Project Assistant in the Kauffman lab, where she is responsible for assisting with IRB protocols, grant proposals, other technical/research writing, research, and lab work. Jalak has a strong academic background and a passion for research. She earned a Bachelor of Physical Therapy from MGM Institute of Health Sciences in India. In addition to her academic achievements, Jalak also received the TATA Trust’s Medical and Healthcare Scholarship during her third year of undergraduate studies. Other than that, Jalak also has extensive experience in clinical practice, physical therapy, and research.

Jatin Chhabria

Research Project Assistant
Computer science masters program (MS), School of engineering and applied sciences | LINKEDIN github 

Jatin is a driven computer science professional currently pursuing an MS in Computer Science at UB. Jatin’s educational background also includes a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering from the Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India. With extensive professional experience, Jatin has worked as a Full Stack Developer at Linedata, showcasing his expertise in technologies like Python, Django, React.js, Node.js, and SQL. In his current role as a Research Project Assistant in the Kauffman Lab, Jatin is responsible for developing a comprehensive Data Management portal to facilitate the efficient storage and retrieval of experimental data.


Zachary Wu

Undergraduate Student

Zach is a rising sophomore pursuing his B.S. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. Zach joined the lab for the summer of 2024.

Victoria Radomski

Undergraduate Student

Victoria is a rising sophomore pursuing a dual-major in Biomedical Sciences and Neurosciences at the University at Buffalo. She is a seasoned researcher with Roswell Park, specifically studying Biomarkers present in Breast Cancer. She is concurrently involved with the UBMD Emergency Medicine Group as Telemedicine Coordinator. She performed administrative liaison duties at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Hospital in the Surgical Office, Anesthesiology and Audiology departments. On the weekends, she volunteers at the local Pediatric Urgent Care. She joined the lab in the spring of 2024 and has accepted the challenge of capturing a phage.

Tálita Santos, DDS, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate
Tálita has the long term goal of understanding how innate immune cell activity interfaces with essential (patho)physiological functions in the oral cavity. She is currently working on the question of how bacteriophages affect oral microbiome ecology and immune response signaling. She loves using imaging tools to answer phenotype questions and is currently working on expanding her toolkit to include bioinformatics approaches to ask questions and predict outcomes. She also has a strong interest in science communication with a focus on illustration. Outside the lab, her hobbies include reading, singing, walking and enjoying the Niagara Falls.

Ashley Miles

PhD Student

Ashley completed her Bachelor’s in Medical Laboratory Science at the University of Vermont in 2019. In her final semester at UVM she worked as a public health intern at the UVM Vaccine Testing Center where she discovered her interest in researching the microbiome with Dr. E. Ross Colgate. After graduating from UVM she served as a Clinical Research Coordinator with the group working on testing vaccines for diseases such as Dengue and Zika viruses and later on at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She longed to return to microbiome research however, and joined UB as a PhD student in 2023 after working at the UB Microbiome Center in the lab of Dr. Patricia Diaz. She is passionate about uncovering the mysteries of the microbiome and revealing how different environmental perturbations impact a microbial community structure, virulence factor expression, and the movement of mobile genetic elements. Outside the lab Ashley enjoys reading, learning to code, taking care of her Cat named Sullivan, travelling, and hiking.

Previous members

Anica Acuña

Undergraduate Student | Summer 2023
National summer undergraduate research project (NSURP), vassar college

Anica’s home institute is Vassar College, where she double majors in Biochemistry and Drama. During the summer of 2023, Anica learned and applied bioinformatic approaches for searching for phages infecting Porphyromonadaceae hosts in oral metagenomes. She presented her findings in an award-winning talk at the NSURP Symposium, and plans to present her work at ABRCMS in the fall.

Justin Villodas

Master’s Student | Fall 2021 – Spring 2023
MASTER OF arts  PROGRAM (MA), ub dept of biological sciences

Justin graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2021 with a B.S in Biology. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he continued his education at UB and pursued his master’s degree in biological sciences. While pursuing his master’s degree, Justin worked in the lab using bioinformatic approaches to uncover and characterize phages of the oral commensal Streptoccocus sanguinis.

Kayla Rue

Undergraduate Student | Spring, Summer, & Fall 2022

Kayla majored in Biology at UB and is graduating spring of 2023 . In lab Kayla worked on helping characterize new model systems for the study of phage-bacteria interactions in oral microbes. She presented her work as an award-winning poster at the summer 2022 CSTEP Research Poster Symposium.

Shirley Barrera

Master’s Student | Summer 2021 – Spring 2022
Master OF Science Program (MS), UB dept of Microbiology & Immunology

Shirley graduated from SUNY Old Westbury in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology. During her time at UB, Shirley worked in the lab on discovering and characterizing phages of oral Tannerella, using both bioinformatic and culture-based approaches. She graduated with her Master’s in Spring of 2022, and started her PhD in the Drexel University Microbiology and Immunology PhD Program in Fall of 2022.

Mark DeSimone

Master’s Student | Summer & Fall 2021

Mark graduated from Niagara University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biology. During his time at UB, Mark worked in the lab on discovering and characterizing phages of the oral commensal Corynebacterium, using both bioinformatic and culture based approaches.

Waseem Mir

DDS Student
doctor of dental surgery program (DDS), UB SDM

Waseem graduated from Stony Brook University in 2012 with a B.S. in both Biology and Computer Science after which he worked for several years in industry as a software developer. While at Stony Brook, Waseem tested a hypothesized novel inducible gene expression system based on virus-derived genetic elements as part of a larger project to mass produce replicon vaccines against polio. Waseem is currently working on identifying and characterizing phages of oral Prevotella using bioinformatic approaches.

Marissa Camacho

Undergraduate Student Summer 2021
CLIMB UP for Summer Research Program (CLIMB), The college of wooster

Marissa’s home institute is The College of Wooster, where she is majoring in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. During the summer of 2021 Marissa worked on uncovering prophages in the oral commensal Neisseria lactamica using bioinformatic approaches. She presented her findings as a poster and oral presentation at the UB CLIMB UP Summer Research Symposium in August 2021.

Laura Peña-Serrano

 Undergraduate Student Summer 2020
National Summer Undergraduate Research Project (NSURP), University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez

Laura’s home institute is the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez, where she is majoring in animal sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences with a minor in pre-veterinary medicine. During the summer of 2020 Laura worked with the group (remotely) to explore, discover, and annotate internal virion proteins in phages. She presented her work as a narrated poster at the national ABRCMS meeting in November of 2020.