Principal Investigator

Maureen Coleman

Associate Professor


I grew up near the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario in upstate New York. I didn't know any scientists growing up, but I fell in love with ecology, evolution, and microbiology as an undergrad. I did my Ph.D. at MIT studying genome evolution in Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic organism on Earth. I then did a postdoc at Caltech where I learned a lot about microbiology and genetics. My current research interests include microbial adaptation to climate change and virus-host coevolution.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Michael Henson

Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Marine Microbial Ecology


My research has focused on examining the intricacies of diversity, genomics, and community dynamics to better understand the impact of disturbances on ecosystem and evolutionary processes. My dissertation explored the physiology, genomic composition, and evolutionary histories that influence microbial distribution in coastal and freshwater environments. As a Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, I am combining cultivation-based experiments with a mutagenesis approach to investigate the importance of fine-scale diversity for local adaptation and population stability in a globally distributed cyanobacterium.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, hiking, backpacking, scuba diving, and Crossfit.

Benjamin Calfee

Simons Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Marine Microbial Ecology


My research focuses on determining how resource competition, viral pressures, and microbial interactions influence the ecology of aquatic ecosystems. Through these lenses I explore the factors controlling the population dynamics of marine picocyanobacteria, Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus.

Graduate Students

María D. Hernández Limón

My undergrad major was Geo-Biology and since then I have been curious about the interaction between biology and its surroundings. More precisely I want to conduct research that brings us closer to understanding how microbes shape and are shaped by their environment. This had led me to conducting research on the Great Lakes microbial community and its potential response to climate change.

I am happy to answer questions about STEM or to talk about my experience as a first generation and woman in STEM.

I like organizing outreach events for younger students and participating in student organizations. I also spend time playing games like Among Us and Wordle!

Raechel Hearth

Ph.D. Student

Raechel joined the lab in Fall 2022. She completed her MS at DePaul University where she studied fungal diversity and dispersal.


Sara Paver

Research Specialist

Sara earned her Ph.D. in aquatic microbial ecology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. She joined the Coleman lab as a postdoc and played a critical role in building our Great Lakes time series. Sara's current work focuses on the ecological genomics of picocyanobacteria in the Great Lakes.

Hanna Renedo

Research and Communications Assistant

The goal of my work in the Coleman Lab is to develop visuals that aid research communication for audiences both within and beyond the scientific community. Recognizing the importance of effective science communication after earning my BA in biology at Bowdoin College, I am interested in how illustration, graphics, and other visual forms can help make science more understandable and accessible. I am thrilled to be part of the lab and have the opportunity to work at the intersection of science, visual arts, and design.

Outside of work, my interests include playing music, watching Lake Michigan in the winter, and hot coffee on hot days.


Zoey Papka

Undergraduate Student

I am a third-year environmental science & biology major at UChicago. I am interested in environmental microbiology. In the lab, I am looking at how salinity affects the growth of Synechococcus.

Jessica Rodriguez

Undergraduate Student

I was drawn to microbiology because I like the idea that something so small can have such a large impact. I wrote a senior thesis in the Coleman Lab quantifying the abundance and diversity of cyanobacteria in Lake Superior using flow cytometry. Now I am a full time research intern supported by NSF GEO-REPS.

I enjoy embroidering in my free time!

Anna Warsaw

Undergraduate Student

I'm an undergraduate student studying biology and environmental science and specializing in ecology and evolution. I'm interested in aquatic microbial ecology, especially as it relates to climate change. I am pursuing a senior thesis with Dr. Emil Ruff at MBL.

Lab Alumni

Justin Podowski, Ph.D. 2022: Assistant Data Scientist at the Data Science and Learning Division at Argonne National Laboratory

Gabriel Vargas, Ph.D. 2020: Postdoc in the Currie Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Petra Byl, undergraduate: Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii

Xiufeng Ma, Ph.D. 2017: Senior Data Scientist at Octane

Daniel Muratore, undergraduate: Ph.D. Georgia Tech, postdoc Santa Fe Institute

Sean Gibbons, Ph.D. 2015: Associate Professor, Institute for Systems Biology

Kate Campbell, technician: Ph.D. candidate in viral ecology, Texas A&M Galveston

Jesse Black, technician: M.S. University of Hawaii, fisheries researcher

Sarah Giuliani, lab manager: Ball Horticultural Company

Shane Coffield, undergrad: Ph.D. UC Irvine, postdoc NASA Goddard Biospheric Sciences

Maitreyee Mukherjee, postdoc 2013-2015: Assistant Professor of Biology, West Texas A&M University

Kyra Grantz, undergraduate: Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University

Didi Bojanova, undergraduate: PhD. candidate in geobiology, University of Southern California

Rachel Folz, undergraduate: M.D. Thomas Jefferson University, Assistant Professor Rush University Medical Center

Michael Kang, technician: M.D. UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine

Naama Dekel-Bird, technician: Ph.D. Weizmann Institute, postdoc Merck