People

PI: Andrea Swei, PhD

Associate Professor Biology

aswei -at- sfsu.edu

Postdoctoral scholar

Heather Broughton, DVM, PhD

heatherbroughton85 at sfsu dot edu

Dr. Broughton received her bachelor’s degree in Animal and Veterinary Sciences from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and a PhD in Integrative Biology – Disease Ecology from Oregon State University. Her current and past research examines parasite/pathogen dynamics in host species and populations through the lens of One Health, ecoimmunology, and coinfection assemblages/host infracommunities. 

Graduate students

Shannon Summers

Shannon earned her B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida where she conducted an individual research project on the coevolution of morphological features in butterflies. She worked as a field technician for USFWS in Arkansas leading bird surveys and worked with Dr. Andrea Swei as her field technician before joining the lab. She is interested in the links between biodiversity and disease prevalence. At San Francisco State University, Shannon is examining the relationship between phylogenetic diversity in wildlife communities and Lyme disease risk.

Alice Truong

Alice earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of the Pacific, where she studied the zebrafish UPR pathway in Doug Weiser's Lab. After working as a field sampler for The Wine Group, she decided to pursue her M.S. in something that was both molecular and ecological and joined the Swei Lab. Alice is interested in comparing the efficacies of a reservoir-targeted recombinant OspA oral bait vaccine against different strains of the Lyme disease pathogen.

Mariah Cuyson

Mariah earned her B.S. in Microbiology and Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University, where she discovered her interests in studying vector-borne pathogens as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Andrea Swei’s lab. She is interested in studying the link between the ecology of emerging infectious diseases and public health. Continuing her research as a graduate student, Mariah’s project will focus on the impact of host blood meal on tick microbiomes by developing a multi-species analysis on reptiles and rodents.

Yuri Mahmoud

Yuri earned her B.S. in Physiology from San Francisco State University, where her love for disease ecology was ignited. As a Genentech scholar, Yuri conducted Marine disease ecology research on sea star wasting disease along the California coast. Soon after, she was introduced to KSHV research, and found herself engulfed in the beauty of cell biology and is now focusing on protein expression levels and understanding chemotaxis of Borrelia burgdorferi as a master's student.

Maxwell Newton

Max earned his B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He remained in Alaska for an additional two years working with the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management on various mammalian and aquatic based research projects including Dall sheep, wolves, bears, moose, and salmon. After returning to his hometown in San Diego, he continued to further his professional research experience working with the United States Geological Survey conducting small mammal and amphibian research. He is interested in examining biotic and abiotic factors that influence mammalian ecology, specifically involving inter and intra species interactions. Currently at San Francisco State University, he is examining the efficacy of introducing an oral vaccine to reduce the prevalence of Lyme disease in small mammal hosts. 

Alexander Esquivel

Alexander Esquivel earned his B.S. in Physiology at San Francisco State University. His love for animals and biology led him to become part of Dr. Sarah C. Cohen marine ecology lab as an undergraduate where they studied Lesptasterias distributions prior to and following the epidemic of wasting disease . His curiosity in microcopy and cell biology then took him in a different path where he joined Dr. Blake Riggs Lab where he studied the role of MicroRNA Mir-190 in cell fate determination and programmed cell death. 

Anahei Lara

Anahei earned her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in zoology from SFSU in 2023. As an undergraduate Genentech scholar, Anahei conducted research focusing on the evaluation of concentration sensitivity in the droplet digital PCR machine (ddPCR) employing Borrelia burgdorferi positive samples as the focal point. Continuing on in Dr. Andrea Swei’s lab as a graduate student, Anahei is interested in conducting research on the genetic variability of the outer surface protein A (OspA) within the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete. 

Timara Vereen

Timara earned her B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Psychology, and minor in Chemistry from the College of Charleston, where she conducted a research project on the Effects of the Eastern Mud Snail (Ilyanassa obsoleta) on Community Structure of Benthic Microbes. As a REU scholar, Timara worked within a marine lab conducting experiments both in and outside of the laboratory. Research sparked her love for understanding the connectivity between human, organismal, and environmental interactions in association to the fields of molecular biology and disease ecology. She is interested in studying animal behavior in association with the intersection between immunology and disease, environmental studies, and public health as a master’s student.

Gerardo Ramos

Gerardo earned his B.S. from CSU Monterey Bay in Environmental Science. As a master's student in Integrative Biology, he is interested in studying the ecological implications of invasive plants on the risk of tick-borne pathogens. 

Undergraduate research assistants

Myka Villegas

Adriel Evaristo, SF Build scholar

Erika Ono-Kerns

Annabelle Cervantes

Chloe Ettinger

Past Master's students

Grace Shaw (2022) Thesis: "Habitat connectivity and transmission dynamics of tick-borne diseases"

Jacoby Clark, NIH RISE fellow (2022) Thesis: "Climate influences pathogen and endosymbiont abundances in the Pacific Coast Tick."

Vincent Mai (2022) Thesis: "Molecular and niche modeling approaches to identify potential amplifying hosts for an emerging tick-borne pathogen Rickettsia 364D, the causative agent of Pacific Coast Tick Fever "

Marie Lilly (2021) Thesis: "Modeling the role of host diversity and habitat fragmentation on pathogen genotypic diversity"

Kacie Ring (2020) Thesis: "Vector transcriptomics and pathogen transmission"

Arielle Crews (Spring 2020) Thesis: "Drivers of genotypic variation in the Lyme disease pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi"

Jordan Solomon, NIH RISE fellow (Spring 2020) Thesis: "Parasite aggregation interactions within small mammal hosts"

Samantha Sambado (Spring 2019) Thesis: "Elucidating the enzootic cycle of an emerging tick-borne disease, Borrelia miyamotoi, in Northern California"

Lisa Couper (Spring 2018) ​Thesis: "Determinants of vector competence for Lyme disease"

Kerry O'Connor (Fall 2018) Thesis: "Epidemiology of tick-borne parasites" ​​

Jessica Kwan (Spring 2016) Thesis: "Ecological determinants of  Ixodes pacificus microbiome"

Betsabel Chicana (Spring 2017) Thesis: "Transcriptomics of Borrelia burgdorferi and characterization of species -specific microbiome"

Past undergraduate students

2022-Thalia Fangon (Genentech Scholars Fellow), Joel Villalpando (CDC ORISE fellow), Isabella Mayotorena, Kymber Gastinelli, Kathy Hernandez, Maria Elysandra Concepcion, Georgia Hartmen, Mariah Cuyson, Bryan Hicks, 

2021-Danielle Peterson, Sydni Mullen

2020- Nghia Nguyen, Monika Koczela-Stillman, Myles Peecher, Sophie Grengorius, Serena Barasi (Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Fellow), 

2019- Thor Olsen, Adrienne Almarinez, Eric Seredian, Adrian Barrera-Velasquez, Rachel Grgich, Sukhman Sidhu, Laura Ann Hughes (NSF REU fellow on Career grant), Samira Ghazi, David Steckham

2018- Marick Buenafe, Steven Sun

2017-Vanessa Cabrera, Tiffany Hong, Jordan Salomon, Vahe Haroutounian, Phillip Galicinao, Amy Shon, Ives Rdialul (NIH Bridges to Baccalaureate fellow), Sarina Benavidez (NSF REU fellow)

2016- Shivang Mehta, William O'Neill, Joyce Ma, Jonathan Bertram, Enxhi Tahari (LSAMP fellow), Matthew Kumar (NIH Bridges to Baccalaureate fellow)

​2015- Arnold Shir, Caitlin Miller, Liliana Cerna (NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate fellow)

2014- Arturo Ruvalcaba (NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate fellow), Stacey Porciuncula

2013- Kadie Ann Williams (LSAMP fellow)