Principal Investigator


Luis R. Martinez, Ph.D., MBA

Luis was born and raised in Ponce, PR and lived close to 20 years in New York City. He earned his B.S. in Industrial Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, his M.S. in Microbiology from Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY, and his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.


Research technician


Shivani Dave

Shivani was born and raised in New York. She recently earned a B.S. in Biology at the University of Florida, with a minor in soil and water science. Her previous research experience involve the use of mesenchymal stem cells to regenerate oligodendrocytes in people with multiple sclerosis. Shivani will be attending medical school in the future.


Post-doctoral scholars

Claudia Charles-Nino

Claudia Charles-Niño, Ph.D.

Claudia was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México. She earned her B.S. in Clinical Chemistry from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León. She lived in Ciudad de México for eight years, where she obtained M.S. and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the National Autonomous University of México. In addition, she was an associate professor at the University of Guadalajara for nine years before arriving to the lab in 2021.


Vanessa Enriquez, Ph.D.

Vanessa was born in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico and grew up in Perryton and El Paso, Texas. She is a first-generation college student who earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Biomedical Concentration in 2016 and her Ph.D. in Biosciences in 2021 from the University of Texas at El Paso. She is supported by the UFCD’s Comprehensive Training Program in Oral Biology (NIH NIDCR Award # T90DE021990/R90DE022530).


Mohamed Hamed, Ph.D.

Mohamed earned his B.S. in Veterinary Medical Science from Mansoura University in Egypt. He also obtained his M.S. and Ph.D. in Pathology from Mansoura University. Then, he pursued postdoctoral trainings in the Department of Neuropharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Granada in Spain, the Department of Biology at the University of York in the United Kingdom, and the Department of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida, USA.


Graduate students

Adriana G. Morales Rivera

Adriana G. Morales Rivera

Adriana was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She moved to Tampa about four years ago. She completed her bachelor’s in Microbiology at the University of South Florida in December 2019. Afterward, she obtained her master’s in Medical Sciences with a concentration in Molecular Medicine at the same institution in August 2021. Her master’s research focused on the chemotaxis of immunosuppressive myeloid cells in murine pancreatic cancer. She is a first-year doctoral student in the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program. Her concentration is Immunology and Microbiology.


Undergraduate students


Christopher Alvarado

Christopher was born and raised in Naples, Florida and is currently at the University of Florida pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology & Cell Sciences with a minor in Anthropology. After completing his undergraduate degree, he hopes to either attend medical school and become a physician or pursue a PhD in Microbiology. 

ResearchHeadshot (1)

Brian Delgado

Brian was born in West Palm Beach, Florida and raised in Coral Springs, Florida. He is a third-year student pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Health Disparities in Society at the University of Florida. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he plans on attending medical school for a career in Cardiology. 


Danielle Elliott

Danielle was born in Silvis, Illinois and later, raised in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. She is currently studying Biology at the University of Florida and is an employee at UF Health Heart, Vascular and Neuromedicine Hospital. After completing her undergraduate degree she hopes to attend medical school and eventually train to become a hematologist. 

Sebastian Guerra

Sebastian Guerra

Sebastian was born and raised in Miami, Florida and is currently a Microbiology and Cell Science major with a Material Science minor at the University of Florida. After attaining his Bachelor’s degree, he hopes to continue his academic career at a graduate program in a biology-related field.

Melissa Munzen

Melissa Munzen

Melissa was born in New York and was raised in the Midwest. She is working on a bachelor’s degree in Music for Piano Performance, as well as a B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Science. After graduating, she plans on attending dental school to pursue a career in dentistry. 

Jordan Rodriguez

Jordan Rodriguez

Jordan was born and raised in Miami, Florida and later, moved to Port Saint Lucie, Florida for one year. During his time in Port Saint Lucie, he became certified as an EMT. He is now part of the NIH SF2UF: A new Bridges to the Baccalaureate program (5R25GM115298-05) at Santa Fe College, and hopes to transfer to the University of Florida. After attaining his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology he plans to attend medical school for a career in Emergency Medicine. 

Nalani Starcher_Original

Nalani Starcher

Nalani was born and raised in South Florida and is currently at the University of Florida pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with a minor in Public Health. After completing her undergraduate career, she intends on going to dental school and becoming a general dentist in South Florida.  

%d bloggers like this: