Principal Investigator


     Abhishek Shrivastava, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Life Sciences
The Biodesign Institute 
Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 85287 
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.
I teach a course titled Programming for Biologists (BIO/MIC 498/591). This course imparts a functional knowledge of Python. Outside the lab, I enjoy tennis, cricket, volleyball, and random walks. 
 Students and Postdocs (by alphabetical order)



Maxim Averbukh

Undergraduate Researcher

I am a Junior studying Biochemistry with a certificate in Computational Life Sciences and a minor in Biological Sciences. I am very interested in furthering research in the field of microbiology and biochemistry with a focus on improving human health and quality of life. I am also very passionate about teaching and currently facilitate and mentor 3 ASU 101 classes. After graduation I am planning on getting a PhD to reach my goal of pursuing research and hopefully aim to teach at a research-focused university. Outside of school, I enjoy travelling and exploring beautiful hikes in Arizona and neighboring states.



Claudia Brouwer

Undergraduate Researcher

I am a senior from Phoenix, AZ majoring in Medical Sciences. I am interested in biological sciences research specifically in Microbiology. After graduation I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in biological sciences to further my knowledge and ultimately obtain a PhD. Outside of the classroom I enjoy reading, painting, and cooking and baking new things.




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.



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

Undergraduate Researcher

I am a Junior majoring 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, PhD

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.



Madeleine Zheng
Undergraduate Researcher

I am a freshman from Tucson majoring in Biochemistry and completing the Honors Program through Barrett, the Honors College at ASU. I love problem-solving as well as finding practical applications of science, and my research interests include computational biology/microbiology. Outside of the classroom, I spend most of my time either throwing discs with the ASU Women's Ultimate Frisbee team or reading self-help books. In the future, I aspire to work as a physician with Doctors Without Borders serving people in low-resource settings.