Our Team

Check out open positions in our research group!

Principal Investigator

Qiyun Zhu

This is Qiyun (pronounced as “chee-yeun”), an Assistant Professor at the School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, since August 2020. Prior to this appointment, I completed postdoctoral training at UC San Diego with Dr. Rob Knight. My academic background is multidisciplinary, with research experience and interest in bioinformatics, phylogenetics, microbiology, comparative genomics and molecular biology. I study both computational and biological questions, and strive to expand understanding of the microbial world through its multiple levels: genes, genomes, lineages, communities, hosts, and environments.


Graduate Students

Sai Jahnavi Vemula

I am a Master’s candidate in the Qiyun Lab, where I am combining my expertise in biomedical informatics and applied microbiology to tackle diseases through the microbiome lens. I am interested in uncovering how microbial factors influence health conditions, aiming to pave the way for new therapeutic insights. My work exemplifies a seamless blend of technology and biology, driven by a passion for making a difference in healthcare.


Zhu Xing

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Biological Science (Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology) and Global Health. I am a new member of the Qiyun lab. I am interested to learn about microbiology and bioinformatics. I am still exploring possible future careers with an interest in biomedical science. Currently, I am assisting Daniel with the Cydrasil project.


Henry Secaira Morocho

I joined Qiyun lab in the 2021 Fall for my Ph.D. research. I am a biologist with a multidisciplinary background, which has shaped my interests at the interface of evolution, bioinformatics, microbiology, and systems biology. Currently, I am Bioinformatics and Computational Biology master’s student in Spain, and I am working on a research project that focuses on the network analysis of deep sequencing data to understand the adaptive responses of viral populations to varying environments under the supervision of Dr. Susanna Manrubia.


Undergraduate students

Raeed Azom

I’m a senior studying Computer Science. As a Barrett Fellow at the Qiyun Lab, I’m currently working on enhancing the scikit-bio software. I love tackling complex problems through the medium of code, and working on scikit-bio allows me to engage with these kinds of problems daily. It’s a ton of fun, and knowing that our work will benefit researchers not just at ASU but throughout the larger scientific community makes working on this project all the more rewarding.


Aryan Vinod Keluskar

I am a rising junior majoring in Computer Science, with a minor in Statistics. I love to meet wonderful people; develop impactful software; and to innovate & inspire! What started out as exploring my interest, coding has allowed me to meet the most soulful people of my life, as well as contribute to the social good of the communities that raise dreamers such as myself. Writing code for scikit-bio is certainly a stepping stone for me to understand the nuances of professional software development and developing libraries for the community.


Nirmitha Hamsanipally

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Data Science, with a focus in Mathematics. As a past pre-health student, I am particularly fascinated by how machine learning algorithms can be applied to analyze complex biological data, uncovering patterns that can lead to new insights. I also enjoy creating intuitive visualizations that make data more accessible and understandable. Currently I am working on improving scikit-bio as a Barrett College Fellow.


Paarth Batra

I’m currently an undergraduate pursuing a BS in Computer Science. Strong passion for deep learning and neural networks, and mature programming experience through personal projects and internships at DoS. New researcher for Qiyun Lab (S24) developing and maintaining scikit-bio, focused on integration of LLM technologies with existing library features.


Chris Tapo

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Mathematics and interested in the application of combinatorics and algebra to computational biology and bioinformatics. I am excited to be a part of this lab, where I plan to study the relationship between combinatorial structures and optimization problems in phylogenetics. Currently, I am working on the implementation of algorithms used for phylogenetic inference.


Hibah Usmani

I am an undergraduate student studying Mathematics and pursuing a certificate in Computational Life Sciences. As a part of this lab, I hope to expand my knowledge on bioinformatics and apply it to my honors thesis. This thesis is related to the evolution of halogenases in cyanobacteria with Dr. Brett Neilan from the University of Newcastle.


Ruhie Bakshi

I am an undergraduate student pursuing degrees in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, as well as Data Science. I am also minoring in Sustainability. I am thrilled to be part of this lab, where I am conducting research for my honors thesis. It has allowed me to dive deeper into my multidisciplinary background to use data-driven methods to address complex biological problems.


Seth Rice Nulty

While I am currently pursuing Neuroscience and Computer Science undergraduate degrees at ASU, I gravitated towards microbiome research in the context of the complex role of the microbiome-gut-brain axis in brain function and neurodegenerative disease. After taking Dr. Zhu’s Introduction to Computational Molecular Biology, I was shown the power of applying computational approaches to address biological problems involving large-scale data analysis and I developed a strong interest in the field of bioinformatics. With the Qiyun lab, I am currently gaining experience in building machine learning software packages that bring efficiency to the process of analyzing metagenomic data.


Matt Aton

I am an undergraduate student majoring in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology and minoring in Data Science. I am interested in developing my bioinformatics skillset specifically with regards to software development, statistical analysis, and machine learning. My future is wide open, and I am currently working on a project involving feature engineering for machine learning applied to microbiome datasets.



Daniel Roush

Postdoc, Fall 2020 - Fall 2022

Daniel did his Ph.D. work with Dr. Ferran Garcia-Pichel at ASU. He made significant contributions to the development and adaptation of bioinformatics approaches for microbiome analysis (most notably the Woltka project), the study of host-associated and environmental microbiomes, and the management of lab activities and facilities. He also continued to study Cyanobacteria diversity and phylogeny. After completing postdoc training, he joined Native Microbials as a Microbiome Field Scientist.


Abhinav Chede

High school student, Fall 2021 - Fall 2022

Abhinav was from the BASIS Chandler high school. With his interest and skills in machine learning, data mining and software development, he made valuable contributions to the projects of cell size evolution and metagenome binning in the Qiyun lab. He was admitted to Brown University in 2023.


Wanxiang Liu

Graduate student, Fall 2022

Wanxiang obtained an M.S. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Saint Louis University. He performed sequence data processing, microbiome community analysis and host trait prediction using a phylogenetic tree. He continued to explore opportunities in the Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. program at ASU.

Hasti Asrari

Undergraduate student, Fall 2022

Hasti had a short experience in the Qiyun Lab, contributing to literature review and education regarding host-associated microbiomes. Meanwhile she studied black widow spider microbiomes under Dr. Chad Johnson’s mentorship. She received the honor of New College’s Outstanding Undergraduate (spotlight video). After graduation, she started her Ph.D. study in Marine and Environmental Biology in the University of Southern California.


Noah Pacheco

Undergraduate student, Spring - Fall 2022

Noah majored in biochemistry (medicinal chemistry). He studied the methodology of molecular phylogenetics. He was exploring a career in biomedical sciences.

Ping-Han Huang

Intern, Summer 2022

Ping-Han is a Ph.D. student in Statistics at ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. Her area of focus is functional data analysis and experimental design. In addition to her work in statistics, She has research experience in analyzing gene expression data and investigating the relationship between metastatic cancer and human endogenous retrovirus. She looks forward to expanding horizons in bioinformatics and exploring the gene-disease associations through various statistical models.

Julian Yu

Postdoc, Fall 2020 - Spring 2021

Julian did her Ph.D. work with Dr. C Ryan Penton at ASU. Her work in the Qiyun Lab included the development of a bioinformatics approach for community analysis of metagenomic data, the analysis of honey bee metagenomes, and the setup of a molecular biology lab. She became a Bioinformatician and Microbiome Scientist at Heliae Development.