Principal Investigator


     Abhishek Shrivastava, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Life Sciences
The Biodesign Institute 
Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics
Center for Biological Physics
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85281 
Email:   CV


I like developing experimental & computational approaches to solve questions related to the microbiome, biofilms, collective motion, chemotaxis, molecular motors, and protein secretion. During my Postdoctoral training at Harvard University, I became interested in figuring out the factors that shape spatial structure of the human microbiota. We found that motile microbes of the phylum Bacteroidetes that are abundant in the human oral microbiome carry other non-motile bacteria as cargo and shape developing biofilms. Alongside, we also found a molecular rack and pinion machinery that couples with a bacterial Type 9 Secretion System (T9SS) and enables surface navigation. 

My lab at Arizona State University combines biology, physics, and computer science to answer curiosity-driven questions that are mostly related to the Microbiome and Microbial systems biology. Many recent reports show that changes in the human microbiome correlate with the occurrence of periodontal disease, oral and colorectal cancers, obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We aim to find why and how the microbiome correlates with the above diseases and how we can use this information to design therapeutic strategies. On the Microbial Systems Biology front, we are interested in finding the nuts and bolts of a molecular rack and pinion machinery, driven by the T9SS. Please check the research section of this website for detailed information.
In spring, I teach a course titled Programming for Biologists (BIO/MIC 498/591). This course imparts a functional knowledge of Python and MATLAB. In fall, I teach a course titled Biology of microorganisms (MIC 220). Outside the lab, I enjoy tennis, cricket, volleyball, and random walks. 
 Students and Postdocs (by alphabetical order)



Cole Calderon

PhD Student

 I am interested in understanding how the dynamic and diversely abundant microbiomes play a role in human health. The scope of this mutualistic relationship that has developed throughout the millennia of human evolution has gone widely unnoticed. Apart from my personal interest, my infatuation with this sub-discipline stems from my previous research on microbial ecology and the microbiome of C. elegans during my undergraduate at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

For my doctoral thesis at the Shrivastava lab, I am interested in understanding the factors that affect spatial organization of the human oral microbiome. My long term life goal is to be able to look back at my academic and personal experiences and be proud of who I became to be. During my free time, I read books on diverse topics.



Jitendra Gosai

Postdoctoral Fellow

I am passionate about understanding how microbes associate with complex hosts; some of the shared principles driving a myriad of such relationships intrigue me especially. I am currently investigating secretion, motility and biofilm-dynamics in members of Flavobacteriaceae. For my research, I use tools from protein biochemistry, genomics, microscopy and computation biology. For my PhD, I studied  host-rhizobium interactions with a focus on the network that controls their communication.




Emma Henderson

PhD Student

The wide array of microbial communities and the level of complexity to which such small organisms can achieve has been such a fascinating topic to me. During my undergraduate research career at Illinois State University, I focused on the metabolism taking place within Staphylococcal species. I have now transitioned into the secretion system mechanisms that bacterial species utilize in order to carry out particular functions. Understanding how these secretion systems comes from  unicate with one another within the bacterial cell is the main focus of my research.

In my free time I enjoy doing puzzles, golfing, and enjoying the Arizona sun!





Kaxandra Nessie

Undergraduate Researcher

I am a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Medical Microbiology with a certificate in Evolutionary Medicine. I am also in Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. My interests are in understanding the microbial world, especially in relation to human health and disease. In the future, I hope to work in medicine as a pathologist and spend some time travelling around the world. During my free time, I love jamming to music, watching movies, and painting. 



Nichith K Ratheesh

PhD Student

The multifaceted interaction of microbiome with the human world has always fascinated me. The extent to which some microbes are humankind's friend and how some microbes can cause catastrophic health and environmental hazards made me curious to study these miniscule microscopic entities. It was during my undergraduation that I was first introduced to the world of microorganisms. Even though they tend to look like single-celled simple entities, their world is so complex- some species can survive in extreme conditions, they can interact with each other and coordinate their actions while being opportunistic at times. The possibility of exploring and discovering the yet to be identified capabilities of microbes which can have a positive impact on humanity and the environment makes it even more alluring for me to study this microscopic world.

During my masters degree at the University of Glasgow, UK, I started working on microbial genomics and got interested in microbial biophysics. At ASU, I plan to study the spatial arrangements of human gut and oral microbiome. My long term goal is to look beyond the confines of traditional disciplines, to perceive the bigger picture, and to have an exciting career in interdisciplinary research. As an expression of my exploratory nature, I practice skydiving, judo, cricket and trekking.



Sofia Rocha

Master's Student

I am  a 4+1 master's student in Biology. For my undergraduate,  I majored in Microbiology with a minor in Spanish. I am fascinated by the unseen world and love to look at the world at the microscopic level. I am currently a Peer Success Coach with AmeriCorps and a Community Assistant at Palo Verde West. When I am not studying, I like to hike with my dogs and family.



Abhishek Trivedi 

Postdoctoral Fellow

Google Scholar Link

I am interested in fundamental microbiology research. My PhD research focused on the nature of exo-polysaccharides present in Mycobacterium tuberculosis biofilms. I found that cellulose is present in M. tuberculosis biofilms and cellulose aids the attachment of M. tuberculosis to the substratum (Trivedi et al., Nature Communications, 2016).

During my Postdoctoral research at the Shrivastava lab, I am interested in learning about the mechanisms of bacterial locomotion and protein secretion. My current project focuses on identifying the mechanism via which the bacterial type 9 secretion system couples with the gliding machinery. My long term career goal is to transition to an academic position. Outside the lab, I keep myself engaged by reading literature, playing table tennis, running, and cricket.



Amanda Zdimal

Postdoctoral Fellow

The ability of bacteria to form polymicrobial communities, promoting intra- and inter-species communication and coordinated behaviors has always fascinated me. My background is in bacterial biofilm research, I received my PhD in Microbiology from Binghamton University in Upstate NY in March 2021. I worked under the mentorship of David G. Davies, and my project focused on bacterial infections in carotid atherosclerotic lesions. I investigated the distribution of bacteria within carotid plaques extracted from humans with advanced atherosclerosis, while also studying biofilm dispersion and enzyme release in multi-species biofilms.

I am excited to have joined the Shrivastava lab to pursue microbiome research. The fact that the human body contains approximately similar numbers of microbial and human cells has piqued my interest in the human microbiome. I am especially curious about the interactions between bacterial cells, their products, and the underlying mechanisms that influence health and wellness in humans. My current project aims to characterize the spatial and temporal distribution/development of polymicrobial communities present in the oral cavity. Since the oral microbiome has been implicated in numerous diseases extending beyond the mouth, information regarding the microbial profile and development of community structure may provide new insights into the mechanisms by which oral bacteria dictate healthy and disease states in humans.




Lab Alumni



Maxim Averbukh



Claudia Brouwer



Madeleine Zheng