Lab Personnel

PhD Students

Nonno Hasegawa 


Nonno is an evolutionary biologist from Kanagawa, Japan. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Guelph in Canada, and discovered her passion for honeybees working as a research assistant at the University of British Columbia and Guelph. Nonno joined OIST as a research intern with the Laurino unit and later with the Mikheyev unit. Her research focuses broadly on the phylogeography and metacommunity genetics of species interactions in systems such as obligate pitcher plant arthropods and honeybee mites. In her free time, Nonno can be found on a surfboard, shredding waves along the Okinawa coast. 

Rahel Ruppli


Rahel is a molecular biologist from Switzerland, where she studied at the University of Bern. For her master's degree, she worked in allergy research with a focus on inhibitory mechanisms in human basophils. As a rotation student in our unit, she worked on questions concerning the phylogenetic patterns and ecological drivers of MHC diversity in primates. For her thesis, she is focusing on questions concerning ecoimmunology and landscape genetics in bats.

Arno Hagenbeek (Rotation, Jan-Apr 2022)


Arno is from the Netherlands, and studied microbiology and bioinformatics at Wageningen University. He has previously worked on topics such as bacteriophage genetics and antibiotic resistance evolution, but is particularly interested in understanding complex microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions. For his rotation project he is assisting with the analysis of the Azolla fern metagenome. When removed from his natural habitat (behind his computer), Arno enjoys hiking, reading, playing piano, or doing martial arts. 

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Su'ad Yoon

suad.yoon [at]

Su’ad spent her childhood between Oregon, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, and Nashville, TN. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Tennessee Knoxville gaining broad skills in botany, mycology, chemical ecology, ecosystem ecology, and invasion biology. For her PhD, she worked under the supervision of Matthew Forister and Angela Smilanich at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she examined how novel host plant use and ecological variation impacted immunological function in a local Great Basin butterfly, Lycaeides melissa. At OIST, Su'ad is working on microbially-mediated trophic cascades. She enjoys playing chess, painting, taking pictures of bugs, and making memes.

Dr. Sam Ross


Sam is a community ecologist with broad interests. Originally from Nottingham, UK, Sam got his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Leeds before moving to Trinity College Dublin in Ireland for a PhD on ecological stability. Sam’s work mostly addresses fundamental questions relevant to global environmental change, but his research methods and questions vary. Often though, he thinks about ecological stability, time series, community dynamics/food webs, and ecoacoustics. In his spare time, Sam can be found cruising around the island on his scooter (scoot scoot!), critiquing convenience store umeshu, or making waves as OIST’s worst DJ.

Research Technicians

Katie Saunders


Katie is from Texas and earned her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Texas at Austin. She studied mating behavior of horeshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) for her master's degree at the University of Florida. Katie has since worked in scientific publishing, seabird population monitoring, wild bird rehabilitation, and aquatic ecology research. Her hobbies include baking pies, knitting, and birdwatching. 

Unit Administrator

Shizuka Kuda


Shizuka hails from Okinawa but has spent time away from the island while studying in Kumamoto, Canada and the U.S. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Washington State University Pullman, and has since worked at the US Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Unum Insurance in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has worked at OIST for the past 10 years. Outside of the office, Shizuka enjoys performing Hawaiian Hula dance, CrossFit, and is currently learning how to play golf. 

Research Interns

Mika Takahashi


Mika earned a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Conservation in the US and a master's degree in Conservation Management of African Ecosystems from the University of Glasgow, where she works on the management of threatened African vultures. In her free time, Mika enjoys hiking, yoga, and napping with her cat. 


Zhuli Cheng (rotation student, 2021)


Zhuli is from China and is interested in evolutionary biology. She earned her bachelor’s in medical humanities at Peking University in China. For her master’s degree, she studied animal behaviour at the University of Exeter in England and worked on the behavioural ecology of social behaviours in rhesus monkeys. During her rotation, she phylogenetically characterized the Azolla fern microbiome.