Amato Lab Members

Prospective Students: If you are interested in joining our lab, please read through the projects on our website as well as our recent publications, and then, send me an email with your CV, past research experience, and how your current research interests align with the lab. I can accept PhD students through the Anthropology Department at Northwestern University.  


Elizabeth Mallott

I received a BA in Biology and Music from Grinnell College and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research focuses on behavioral, physiological, developmental, and evolutionary changes related to faunivory in nonhuman and human primates. I have used molecular methods to investigate insectivory in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) and Weddell’s saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis), examined the interaction between diet, reproduction, and the gut microbiome in white-faced capuchins, and studied the influence of color vision phenotype on foraging partner preference in white-faced capuchins. In addition to my main research interests, I have been involved in projects using ancient DNA to examine human population migration. My work in the Amato Lab focuses on the contributions of the gut microbiome to primate energetic strategies and evolutionary changes in host-microbe relationships across primates. Outside of the lab, I volunteer at a nonprofit bike shop teaching people how to repair their bicycles, spend less time than I would like riding my bike, and play classical piano.

Lab Manager

Sahana Kuthyar

I completed a B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Science at Emory University, where I studied the zoonotic transmission of Giardia intestinalis at a human-wildlife interface in northern Argentina and characterized Giardia genotypes in black and gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya), humans, and domestic animals. I am interested in mapping the social transmission of microbes, both pathogenic and beneficial, between and within species as well as understanding how microbes act within a host in the context of health and disease. In the near future, I hope to attend graduate school to further explore these interests. Outside of work, I practice Indian classical dance, write corny jokes, and go to Harry Potter trivia nights.

PhD Students

Melissa Manus

I hold a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University and an MSc in Global Health from Duke University. Most recently, I was working on the microbiome of humans and domesticated cattle in Madagascar, and exploring links between human genetics, earwax, and the microbiome. My current research explores the microbiome in the context of human ecology, evolution, and health. This includes understanding the social transmission of microbes, and how changing lifestyles are impacting our health, as mediated by the microbiome. When I'm not doing science, I am running, playing soccer, or hiking with my dog.

Paula Maia

I hold a B.S. in Microbiology and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Maryland. Previously, I worked at NICHD in the molecular genetics of immunity, focusing on the role of BRD4 as an epigenetic regulator of the cell cycle and cancer growth. I led clinical trials in molecular pharmacology on sepsis and sepsis-associated coagulation disorders. Additionally, I have worked on point-of-care device trials for intensive care units, ORs, and outpatient centers and conducted FACS profiling and analysis of LVAD recipients experiencing post-implant bleeding. Currently, I am interested in how gut bacteria impact host inflammation and immunity, the interaction between host and microbial metabolic mechanisms, and the role of prebiotics, diet, and culture on the microbiota environment. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, reading about classical antiquity, and volunteering at the Field Museum.


Visiting Scientists

Yan Zeng

I am a visiting PhD student in Preventative Veterinary Medicine from Sichuan Agricultural University in Chengdu, China. I completed my Bachelor of Agriculture in Veterinary Medicine and my Master of Agriculture in Preventative Veterinary Medicine from Sichuan Agricultural University in Chengdu, China. My research focuses on the dynamics between mutualistic gut microbial communities and their hosts. I am particularly interested in understanding the composition and diversity of the gastrointestinal tract in herbivorous animals, and my current research is focused on the gut microbiome of wildlife. My hobbies include playing table tennis, cooking, and experimenting with photography.

Maria Luisa Savo Sardaro

I am a visiting Food Microbiology professor from San Raffaele University in Rome, Italy. I completed my Ph.D. in Genetics at Tuscia University and am now conducting research in food microbiology and molecular biology at Parma University in Parma, Italy. ‚ÄčIn my free time, I enjoy cooking, fermenting, and making (and eating!) sourdough pizza.


Nicolette McManus, honor’s thesis: Impact of habitat degradation on the gastrointestinal microbiota of black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)

Imogene Asa, honor’s thesis: Impact of food insecurity on the gut microbiome during pregnancy

Peter Finnegan

Ella Rubenstein

Wesley Shirola


Jeffrey Frankel, undergraduate student, honor's thesis: Going with your Gut: How a study in wild and captive nonhuman primates elucidates evolution of the human gut microbiome

  • Now: Pursuing a DVM at University of Pennsylvania

Tara Mittelberg, undergraduate research assistant

  • Now: Completing a Fulbright in Brazil

Brandy Parker, lab intern