ECBSU alumni

Current members

Nina Mueller, Research Intern (Apr 2023 - Jul 2023)

BSc. student of Marine Ecosystem and Fisheries Science, University of Hamburg, Germany

My main research interest is marine microbiology, especially the role of marine microorganisms in global cycles. During my time at OIST, I want to explore the microbiome of deep-sea foraminifera using FISH and confocal microscopy. In the past, I have worked on a modified dilution experiment to quantify the virus-induced mortality rate of phytoplankton in the Baltic Sea. I also participated in a research cruise on the RV Meteor where we sampled along the African west coast as part of the AtlanTIC project. I love exploring the outdoors, rock climbing, diving, and practicing martial arts.

Olha Sur, Research Intern (Apr 2023 - Sep 2023)

BSc. student of Biology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

I am excited about most aspects of the evolution and biology of microbial life. I am fascinated by protists and enjoy learning everything about them, especially their diversity and phylogenetic relationships. I have a lot of fun microscoping environmental samples. Endosymbiosis and eukaryogenesis are topics that interest me a lot, which is why I started off my studies by investigating the evolution of meiotic genes. For my internship in the Husnik Unit, I intend to study tiny stramenopiles, as well as to culture and identify symbionts of various large benthic foraminifera. Outside of the lab, I am interested in science fiction and enjoy delving into a wide range of art forms, from doodling to musical theater.

Vasyl Vaskivskyi, Research Intern (Oct 2022 - Jul 2023)

BSc. in Veterinary Medicine, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine
MSc. in Molecular Biology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine

I am interested in the evolution of plastids. Plastid is an ancient organelle that originated thanks to the endosymbiosis with photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Some modern organisms also happen to have similar symbioses. In my project, I want to use a protist that bears a photosynthetic cyanobacterial symbiont and compare it to a heterotrophic relative from the same lineage. My goal is to expose differences in gene expression that allow this symbiosis to arise and thrive. Before coming to OIST, I worked as an Imaging Bioinformatician at Wellcome Sanger Institute and HuBMAP Consortium in the UK where I focused on the development of processing pipelines for imaging spatial omics data such as CODEX, CellDive, MIBI, and IMS. In my free time, I enjoy getting lost in new places, hiking, computer graphics, and a bit of math.

Natkamol Jeamsinkul, Research Intern (Oct 2022 - Jul 2023)

BSc. in Biochemistry, King's College London, UK

My main research interests are in microbiology and cell biology. For my undergraduate degree, my dissertation was based on studying the functions of the potential mucin-degrading chitinase enzymes secreted from the pathogenic bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and how they may facilitate invasion into host cells. I have a great interest in microorganisms and would like to spend my time during this internship studying different protists and their symbiotic interactions. Apart from science I enjoy going on walks, reading, and doodling.

Bogdan Kiriukhin, Visiting Research Student (Apr 2023 - Sep 2023)

BSc. in Biology (Biotechnology), Siberian Federal University, Russia
MSc. in Biology (Genomics and Bioinformatics), Siberian Federal University, Russia
Ph.D student, Tyumen State University, Russia

I have started my path toward bioinformatics with thoughts of quitting biology. As a bachelor's student, I was interested in programming and data analysis. Luckily, I was introduced to bioinformatics. Since then, I have been working and improving as a bioinformatician. I am interested in the analysis of genomes and metagenomes of protists, gene functions and their possible interactions inside one organism as well as between hosts and their symbionts. I am also interested in the ecology of protists and I use the metabarcoding approach and molecular phylogenetics to investigate freshwater and marine communities of protists. Apart from work, I do boxing and play ice hockey.

Anastasia Borodina, Research Intern (Oct 2022 - May 2023)

BSc. and MSc. in Biology, Voronezh State University, Russia

My path in biology began with research in biophysics. As an undergraduate student, I studied the patterns of structural organization of glycosidases: internal cavities, tunnels, and pores in the composition of monomers and dimers of exo- and endoinulinases. As a master's candidate, I was inspired by research in the field of protistology, and my master's thesis was devoted to the study of morphology, ecology, and molecular phylogeny of telonemids. I am interested in reconstructing the phylogenetic tree and the early evolution of eukaryotes through genomic and morphological studies of protists, as well as in studying their biodiversity and ecology. Apart from my research, I am passionate about learning to play musical instruments, hiking, painting watercolors, and learning Spanish and Arabic.


Arno Hagenbeek, Ph.D. Student (Rotation Student May-Aug 2022)

MSc. in Bioinformatics, Wageningen University, Netherlands
BSc. & MSc. in Biology, Wageningen University, Netherlands


I am interested in microbial biology, particularly microbe-microbe and microbe-host interactions. I am especially intrigued by symbiotic microbiomes as they usually involve a complex network of interactions between the microbes as well as the hosting organism. Previously, I have analyzed microbiomes in a wide variety of organisms, ranging from Arabidopsis rhizosphere to the human intestine. For my Ph.D. thesis in the Husnik unit, I aim to map the microbiomes of microscopic marine invertebrates which remain highly understudied. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano, hiking, and martial arts.

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Yong Heng Phua, Ph.D. Student (Rotation Student May-Aug 2022)

BSc. in Biology, Hokkaido University, Japan

I have been working on different species of benthic dinoflagellates (Coolia, Ostreopsis, and Amphidinium spp.) during my undergraduate course. I have also worked for five months as a research intern in the Husnik Unit and started exploring the role of bacterial symbionts in diverse aspects of dinoflagellate biology (e.g. toxin production or photosynthesis). During my rotation, I plan to explore symbiotic interactions between marine dinoflagellates from Okinawa and their endosymbionts. When I am not working, I am usually cooking or hiking in the mountains.

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Javier Tejeda Mora, PhD Student

BSc. in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, UNAM, Mexico


I am interestred in the underlaying paterns that hide within the sea of information that recent techniques have allowed access to. I did my bachelor thesis project at CICESE in Mexico where I was introduced to metabolomics. I analyzed data from metabolites of a wide range of microorganisms. During my PhD in the Husnik Unit, my aim is to perform metabolomics analyses that will help to elucidate diverse host-symbiont interactions. Outside of work I enjoy sports (mainly those that involve a raquet) and videogames

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Vera Emelianenko, Ph.D. student (Rotation Student Jan - Apr 2023)

BSc. in Biology, Moscow State University, Russia


I am broadly interested in marine invertebrates and their relationships with symbionts. During my rotation, I will compare Symbiodiniaceae distribution across different hosts (corals, foraminifera, possibly clams) and environments (seawater and sediment). Besides that, I am extremely curious to know what kinds of animals you can find in different environments around Okinawa, so I’ll be also helping with Arno’s project exploring marine and mangrove meiofauna. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, snorkeling, and diving (still haven’t done it much in Okinawa!), also trying to learn photography and social dancing (such as salsa and west coast swing).

Pradeep Palanichamy, PhD Student

MSc. in Applied Microbiology, Vellore Institute of Technology, India
B.Tech in Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India

I have a long-term scientific interest and fascination for insect-microbe symbiosis because it can provide novel avenues for the control of agricultural pest insects through targeted manipulation of the symbionts or the insect-symbiont associations. In particular, I am interested in studying the functional role of bacterial endosymbionts and other microbes in insects adaptation, nutrition, defense, metabolism, detoxification, immune functions and pest control. Insect symbionts can be also interesting sources of biotechnological applications. In the Husnik Unit, my research focuses on the interplay between scale insects and their symbiotic microbes using microscopy, molecular and omics techniques. Apart from work, I enjoy cricket, football, table tennis and playing video games.

Maria Eduarda Alves dos Santos, JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD in Marine Science, University of the Ryukyus, Japan
MSc. in Coastal and Oceanic Systems, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil
BSc. in Oceanography, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil

I am interested in understanding the processes that shape the origin and distribution of marine species. Currently, my work focuses on the two most common protists associated with corals: dinoflagellates of the family Symbiodiniaceae and the apicomplexan lineage of corallicolids. My research combines fieldwork and different “omics” approaches, including genomics, transcriptomics, and spatial metabolomics, to shed light on the diversity and functions of these symbioses. I have worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Ryukyus and as a visiting fellow at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands. I am passionate about Brazilian music, good beer, and summertime (even better when combined).

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Courtney M. Dunphy, JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, Northeastern University, USA
BSc. in Environmental Sciences, University of Texas, USA

I am broadly interested in coral reef microbial ecology and how bacteria and other microorganisms interact with and regulate coral reef ecosystems. Specifically, how coral-associated microbial communities across coral species provide resistance and resilience to both anthropogenic and environmental stressors from the perspective of genetics, spatial patterns, and functional diversity. In particular, my research at OIST relates to uncovering the underlying mechanisms structuring coral microbiomes and elucidating their functional contributions to coral host health and climate resilience. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me hanging out with my dog, Chopper, hiking, biking, and/or exploring any and all food and beverage scenes.

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Jinyeong Choi, NRF Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PhD & MSc. in Entomology, Seoul National University, South Korea
BSc. in Applied Biology, Kangwon National University, South Korea

I am interested in the evolution of plant-feeding insects and their microbial symbionts. Specifically, my research focuses on understanding the role of symbiont replacements and host niche expansion on diversification of scale insects. Previously, I have studied the taxonomy and phylogeny of scale insects, especially mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) and soft scales (Coccidae). In my research, I try to combine comparative genomics, microscopy, insect systematics, ecology, and phylogenomics to approach my scientific questions. To have even more fun, I enjoy outdoors activities such as swimming, skin diving, fly fishing, as well as collecting scale insects!

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Dewi Langlet, Staff Scientist

PhD & MSc. in Environmental Sciences, Angers University, France

I am interested in the role of protists in benthic biogeochemical cycles. My research is especially focused on the effects of anthropogenic disturbances such as anoxia, heatwaves and microplastic pollution on foraminifera and their symbionts. I am studying their ecology, metabolism, behavior as well as their impact on sediment geochemistry to better understand their role in benthic ecosystem functioning. I previously worked as a JSPS fellow at JAMSTEC and as a postdoctoral researcher at Lille University. Besides science, I enjoy rugby, photography, and playing board games.

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Yumiko Masukagami, Research Technician

PhD in Veterinary Microbiology, University of Melbourne, Australia
BSc. in Veterinary Science, University of Miyazaki, Japan

I am interested in host-symbiont interactions and reductive genome evolution in bacteria. My research focuses on how the simplest self-replicating bacteria such as Mycoplasma spp. persist in the host and how bacteria become symbiotic in the host cells. I previously worked as a postdoc at the National Institute of Animal Health in Tsukuba and in the Membranology Unit at OIST. Apart from science, I enjoy my time with family and our cats, badminton, and exploring Okinawa.

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Sachie Matsuoka, Research Unit Administrator


I've been working as an RUA ever since I moved to Okinawa in 2013. I'm grateful for the chance to be a part of ECBSU, and hope to contribute to unit operation in some way. I'm interested in all living creatures (particularly birds), folk crafts, farming, and marine activities.