Meet the Current Lab Memberss

Dr. Aisha Nazli

Research Scientist

Aisha received her MSc and MPhil from the University of Karachi, Pakistan and PhD from the University of Nottingham, England. Her PhD research examined gene expression and manipulation to study Listeria monocytogenes pathogenicity. She was awarded multiple accolades during her studies, including the Overseas Research Studentship (ORS), University of Nottingham Scholarship and Pakistan Commonwealth Scholarship. After completing her PhD, Aisha did a short postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nottingham. In 2001, Aisha moved to Canada and accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University, within the Mucosal Immunology in Intestinal Disease Research Program.


In 2005, Aisha joined the Kaushic lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed as a Research Associate and later progressed to the position of Research Scientist in 2009. Her research in the Kaushic lab focuses extensively on different aspects of host-pathogen interactions and host immune responses against several sexually transmitted pathogens, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In 2010, Aisha’s first HIV paper was published in a leading infectious disease journal, PLOS Pathogens. The novel impactful findings in this publication received international attention from both the news media and scientific community and has been accessed more than 21,231 times and cited more than 500 times.


Outside of the lab, Aisha enjoys spending time with family, along with painting, calligraphy, and gardening.

Dr. Christina Hayes

Research Associate

Christina is a passionate researcher with a particular interest in studying interactions between mucosa and microbiota. Christina finds extracting meaningful, compelling information from experiments and large datasets exciting and joyful, which continually fuels her curiosity and drives her to delve into further investigations.

In the Kaushic lab, Christina is the lab lead on a phase I clinical trial investigating the impacts of probiotics and estrogen on vaginal microbiota and inflammation. Trial enrolment has recently wrapped up, and she is eager to dive into data analysis! In addition to her research, Christina implements her organizational, interpersonal, and problem solving skills to keep the Kaushic lab running smoothly; if you need anything, she is the go to person. This includes addressing any issues that arise, facilitating training of new members, managing biosafety aspects of the lab, ordering supplies, maintaining lab inventories, performing financial and ethics administrative tasks, writing and editing scientific literature, as well as overseeing and mentoring students working on animal projects. Christina strives to be helpful and foster a collaborative and supportive atmosphere in the lab. Her days are filled with a rich diversity of tasks, and she find the research, helping colleagues, and being highly productive rewarding and fun.

Before joining the Kaushic lab in 2019, Christina briefly worked with Dr. Jane Foster (McMaster University) on microbiome, neurodevelopmental and immune focused research projects for the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network (POND) and Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression (CAN-BIND) in Research Assistant and Post-Doctoral Fellow roles. Christina also worked as a Scientific Researcher for McMaster University’s Axenic/Gnotobiotic Unit in 2018/2019. Christina completed her PhD from McMaster University in 2018, investigating  the impact of intestinal microbiome on the function and health of the gastrointestinal tract, under the supervision of Dr. Elena Verdu. Christina completed her BSc (Hons, with Distinction) in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT; 2011). At UOIT, Christina was awarded an NSERC Undergraduate Research Award for her thesis investigating changes in B cell surface marker expression following exposure to probiotic strains of Lactobacilli under the supervision of Dr. Julia Green-Johnson. Christina also worked with Dr. Brian Ikeda (UOIT) as a Research Assistant on a project examining charge transfer resistance changes of redox couples using different electrodes during her undergraduate studies (2008-2010).

When not in the lab, Christina enjoys spending time with her two kids and husband, but also loves to nap when possible because they are exhausting. To stay sane, Christina likes to dance and go thrifting.

Nuzhat Rahman

MSc Candidate

Nuzhat joined the Kaushic lab in Fall 2020 under the Medical Sciences graduate program and is currently a second-year master’s student. Her project is focused on creating human vaginal microbiota associated mouse models that can be used to assess the effect of the vaginal microbiota composition on outcomes associated with viral sexually transmitted infections. Currently, she is looking at the effect of eubiotic and dysbiotic vaginal microbiota on HSV-2 infection and working on determining the mechanism of how the vaginal microbiota affects HSV-2 infection.

Nuzhat graduated from the University of Alberta in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Immunology and Infection. During her degree, she completed an undergraduate project in Dr. David Evans' lab looking at the role of the H3L protein in poxvirus plaque size and infectivity.

In her free time, Nuzhat enjoys trying new recipes, reading, and travelling.

Amanda Bakke

MSc Candidate

Amanda graduated from the University of Guelph in 2019 where she majored in Biochemistry. During her undergraduate research project she worked with Dr. Rod Merrill, looking at plant tinctures as antimicrobials for the treatment of Streptomyces scabies, a pathogenic bacteria and causative agent of common scab disease in tuberous crops. Amanda joined the Kaushic lab in 2020 under the Medical Sciences Graduate Program. Using her Microbiology background, Amanda’s project will investigate biofilm formation among bacteria commonly associated with Bacterial Vaginosis, an infection which increases susceptibility to HIV in the female reproductive tract.


In her free time Amanda enjoys reading, music and travel.

Ingrid Schwecht

Undergraduate Research Student

Ingrid is a fifth year student in the Biochemistry Program at McMaster University in the Biomedical Research Specialization. Ingrid began in the lab as a volunteer and then completed a 3rd year co-op placement in the lab, where her hard work and positive attitude earned her the Co-op Student of the Year nomination. Ingrid then completed her fourth year thesis project in the lab. Currently, Ingrid is completing her fifth year co-op placement as a part of the Kaushic Lab. Ingrid is currently investigating the effects of the microbiome and microbial metabolites on Vk2 cells. Ingrid has recently been awarded the Best Undergraduate talk at the 2022 McMaster Immunology Research Centre Perey Symposium. 


In her spare time Ingrid enjoys traveling, going to rock concerts, playing the guitar and cheering on her favourite sports team the Toronto Raptors!


Past Lab Members

Post Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Fangming Xiu 

Dr. Uladzimir (Vova) Karniychuk 

Dr. Matthew William Woods 

Dr. Jocelyn Wessels 

Dr. Allison Felker

Lab Technicians

Amy Gillgrass

Jillian Wong

Dr. Hong Jiang

Erin Walters

Maeve Cooper

Kristen Mueller

Sussan Kianpour

PhD Graduates

Dr. Kristy Roth

Dr. Jessica Kafka

Dr. Victor Ferreira

Dr. Varun Anipindi

Undergraduate Students

Yung Lee

Padmaja Sreeram

Lianna Braham

Alexia Kim

Oscar Chan

Ghaznia Khan

Chris Gunst

Olivia Chan

Karen Ho

Nishant Heryani

Emma Yu

Ryan Chow

MSc Graduates

Sudha Bhavanam

Sameer Kassim

Sherie Fernandez

Erin MacDonald

Sara Dizzell

Danielle Vitali

Jeffrey Lam

Andrew Rempel

Philip Nguyen

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Jenna Ratcliffe

Research Coordinator


Haley Dupont

MSc Graduate


Sidney Pa

MSc Graduate


Ramtin Ghasemi

MSc Graduate

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Tushar Dhawan

MSc Graduate

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Dr. Puja Bagri

PhD Graduate