Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ruth Richardson 

I am an associate professor with a background in chemical engineering (BS) and environmental engineering (PhD).  My general research interests are in understanding the behavior and activities of microorganisms in complex communities – and using molecular biological tools to explore these communities.  The systems my lab group studies are dechlorinating communities, biofuels, and wastewater bioreactors.  In Ithaca, I also spend some time playing sports and I enjoy a wide range of music and dance.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Graduate Researchers

Tiffany Lee presents her research at the Engineering Learning Initiatives

Nan Wang (3rd year, PhD student). I’m a PhD student who joined the Richardson lab in August, 2019. I’m from CEE – Environmental Process. My research focus is Cyanobacteria Harmful Algae Blooms, focusing on the ecology aspects. During my spare time I enjoy ping-pong, swimming, hiking, and cooking.

Undergraduate Researchers

Amir Omar

Susie Foster (Junior, BS in Environmental Engineering). I’m an Undergraduate Environmental Engineer who joined the lab in December of 2020. I am testing beaches for traces of human and animal associated DNA using qPCR, my research is specifically interested in the beaches in Puerto Rico. During my free time I like sailing, hiking, and drawing.

Amir Omar

Kelly Xavier (Senior, BS in Computer Science). I am an undergraduate majoring in Computer Science who joined the lab in January 2019. I am currently coding an application to aid in the analysis of harmful algal blooms. During my free time, I like skiing, playing the drums, and watching movies with friends.

Amir Omar

Valerie Aubley (Senior, BS in Biological & Environmental Engineering). I’m an undergraduate majoring in Biological & Environmental Engineering and joined the lab in June 2020. In the lab, I carry out fluorescent microscopy and handheld scoping to compare the composition of different algal blooms. I also work with Kelly on creating an image-based coding program that identifies bloom toxicity. Outside of the lab, I’m a part of Cornell’s Gymnastics team and love to hike, run and surf.

Lab Alumni


  • Dr. Yolanda Brooks (2016-2018) Currently Assistant Professor at St. Joseph’s College of Maine
  • Dr. Catherine Spirito (2018) Currently Assistant Teaching Professor at University of Maryland
  • Dr. Kurt Rhoads (2010-12), co-advised with Beth Ahner, BEE; currently Assistant Professor, Case Western University
  • Dr. Jeff Werner (2008-10); currently Associate Professor at SUNY Cortland and Adjunct BEE Dept, Cornell
  • Dr. Robert Morris (2006 – 2008) co-advised with Prof Steve Zinder; currently Associate Professor, University of Washington

Grad Students:

  • Egidio Tentori (PhD 2021) Currently employed in environmental consulting
  • Andrew St. James (PhD 2021) Currently Assistant Teaching Professor, Wake Forest University
  • Cristina Fernandez-Baca (PhD 2018) Currently AAAS Science and Policy Fellow, Washington, D.C.
  • Emma Mosier (MEng 2018)
  • Lingzi Xia (MS 2019), employed in public sector in China
  • Yating Li (MS 2019)
  • Anne Otwell (PhD 2016) Currently AAAS Science and Policy Fellow, Washington, D.C.
  • Tiffany Lee (MEng 2017)
  • Cresten Mansfeldt (PhD 2014), NSF Graduate Fellow, currently Assistant Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Gretchen Heavner (PhD 2013), employed in environmental consulting
  • Annette Rowe (PhD 2011), NSF Graduate Fellow, currently Assistant Professor, University of Cinncinnati
  • Brian Rahm (PhD 2008), currently Director of the Water Resources Institute of NY
  • Jing Zhao (MS 2016),
  • Amber Li (MS 2016),
  • Qiaochu Wang (MS 2015),
  • Yitian Sun (MS 2014),
  • Xian Zhang (MS 2012)
  • Prayut Bhamawat (MS 2011),
  • Brendan Lazar (MS 2006),
  • Rohit Gupta (MS 2003),
  • JinGi Hong (MS 2006),
  • Crystal Powers (MS 2007; co-advised with Norm Scott, BEE)


  • Erica Gardner (2018)
  • Amir Omar (2018)
  • Justin Bae (Biological Sciences, 2018)
  • Jesse Pollard (2018)
  • Fiona Woods (2017)
  • Andrew Kim (2017)
  • Fanny Okaikue (2016)
  • Walker Grimshaw (2015)
  • Ethan Keller (2015)
  • Larry Ge (2015)
  • Alyson Gruber (2015)
  • Amiel Middelman (2015)
  • Vandana Swaminathan (2014)
  • Alex Hernsdorf (2014)
  • Garrett Debs (2014)
  • Bridget Hegarty (2014)
  • Melissa Hartleb (2014)
  • Nicholas Parisi (2014)
  • Sage Hellerstedt (2012)
  • Ju Khuan Pan (2012)
  • Vishal Bhagwanas (2012)
  • Micheal Degan (2010)
  • Ryan Walter (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2009)
  • Eric Kopache (Biological Engineering) (2009)
  • Jessica Oribabor (Civil & Environmental Engineering) (2009)
  • Kaitlin Hanley (Biological Enigneering, 2008)
  • Melina Diaconis (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2008)
  • Ting Daphne Ng (Chemical Engineering, 2008)
  • Micheal Gifford (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2007)
  • Scott Duda (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2007)
  • Christine Tran (Chemical Engineering, 2007)
  • Kenneth Sauer (Biological Engineering, 2008)
  • Rami Zahr, (Chemical Engineering, 2007)
  • Jan Ma (Chemical Engineering, 2007)
  • Shubha Bhar (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2006)
  • Morgan Rog (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2006)
  • Asha Marathe, (Chemical Engineering, 2005)
  • Alana Jonat (Microbiology, 2005)
  • Emily Warren (Chemical Engineering, 2005)
  • Lindsay Ellis (Civil & Environmental Engineering, 2005)
  • Mindy Sun (Biological Engineering, 2005)
  • Orvill Delatorre