Current Researchers

Jane Hill, Ph.D

Jane Hill, Ph.D

Principal Investigator

Contact: email: jane.e.hill@dartmouth.edu; telephone: 603-646-8656

Education: Ph.D. Yale University, B.S. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Research: Using breath to diagnose disease; molecular signaling within and between species

Biography: Jane grew up in rural New South Wales, Australia. Her high school years were spent in Grenfell, the birthplace of the famous Australian poet Henry Lawson. After moving to the US and finishing a BS in Chemical Engineering and technical MBA (both at Rensselaer), she ran a small bioremediation company in central New York State for a few years. However, she wanted to know more about the microorganisms that underpinned the transformations of pollutants in the soil. So, she completed her PhD at Yale University with Water Treatment Technologist Menachem Elimelech and then worked with Biotechnologist Jordan Peccia at Yale for her post-doctoral experience. She spent over a decade measuring and evaluating how organic phosphorus compounds were cycled in the environment before turning her attention to infectious diseases and metabolomics. In her spare time, Jane likes to play tennis, hike with her dog, garden, skijor, read books and poetry, play music, travel ... and ponder microbes. When possible, she would like to continue learning how to kitesurf ... even though it scares her half to death.

Agi Smolinska

GIORGIA PURCARO, PH.D

RESEARCH SCIENTIST

Contact: email: giorgia.purcaro@dartmouth.edu; telephone: +1 603-646-0743

Education: Ph.D. in Food Science, University of Udine (Italy)

Research: Determination of breath biomarkers for viral infection.

Biography: She took her PhD in Food Science in 2008. Her research was mainly focused on the optimization of rapid and reliable sample preparation methods for food contaminant analysis. As a PhD student, she spent 6 months at the RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), where she was first introduced to the fabulous world of GC×GC. As post-doc she worked at the University of Messina. She has contributed to the development and understanding of the exciting and powerful field of comprehensive chromatographic techniques (i.e. GC×GC, LC×GC). She exploited different interface and detection systems, for the investigation of natural complex food matrices. She was Assistant professor at the University of Udine, where she was Principal Investigator of a three years research project oriented toward the introduction of innovative comprehensive analytical techniques in the field of food contaminants analysis. After this experience she was R&D director of Chromaleont srl (a start-up of the University of Messina) where she coordinate many projects related to innovative analytical techniques in many fields of application. Her work in the GC×GC field was recognized in 2010 and 2015 with the Leslie Ettre award and the Phillips award, respectively.

In her spare time, Giorgia likes to read books, travel, practice yoga, play volleyball and any kind of board games. She loves tasting new food and enjoy good wine with friends!

Lionel Blanchet

MARCO BECCARIA, Ph.D

RESEARCH SCIENTIST

Contact: email: marcobecos@gmail.com

Education: M.S. in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Technologies, University of Messina (Italy). Ph.D. in Food Chemistry and Safety, University of Messina (Italy)

Research: Determination of breath biomarkers for tubercolosis.

Biography: After his Ph.D., he was a Post-Doc Researcher in University of Messina until 2015 and then he was appointed as LC-MS Specialist in Chromaleont Srl, a strat-up of the University of Messina. He joined the Hill lab in September 2016. As a PhD student, he spent 6 months at University of Pardubice (Czech Republic), working in collaboration with Prof. P. Jandera. In close collaboration with Prof. P. Dugo and L. Mondello, Marco has contributed to the development of analytical methodologies for the authenticity and characterization of food samples by using conventional (LC, GC) and non-conventional chromatographic techniques (LC×LC, LC×GC, UHPLC), coupled with different MS analyzer (Q-MS, QqQ-MS, IT-TOF-MS, Q-TOF-MS). Moreover, Marco studied in deep the chromatographic behavior of lipid species by using different LC stationary phases (RP, NP, HILIC, silver ion & silver thiolate chromatographic material) and their fragmentation under atmospheric pressure ionization techniques (ESI, APCI, MALDI) in lipidomics field.

In his spare time, Marco loves to play different musical instruments (mainly guitar), read fantasy books, and organize party with friends to experience high quality food and wine hyphenation (FOOD×WINE)!

Lionel Blanchet

Flavio Antonio Franchina, Ph.D

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE B

Education: Ph.D. in Food Chemistry and Safety at University of Messina (Italy)

Research: breath analysis using GC×GC-MS in mycobacteria-associated infections

Biography: Flavio received his M.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Messina, in 2010. Right after, he started the PhD course in food chemistry and safety at the analytical/food-chemistry division, in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the same University, where he continued for a post-doc period until 2015. During his time there, his research was devoted to the development of advanced analytical techniques (chromatographic and mass spectrometric) for the evaluation of complex matrices (food, biological, flavour&fragrance, petrochemical). After a brief experience in a private company as GC-MS specialist, Flavio joined the Hill group in May 2016, and his research is now devoted to breath analysis using GC×GC-MS in mycobacteria-associated infections. Outside of the lab, Flavio loves playing tennis, soccer, and practicing yoga.

Lionel Blanchet

PIERRE-HUGUES STEFANUTO, Ph.D

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Education: Ph.D. in Sciences, University of Liège (2016).

Research: Discovery of breath biomarkers in the immunocompromised.

Biography: PH Stefanuto received his M.S. Chemistry from the University of Liège, in 2011. After his master, he conducted a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in the Organic and Biological Analytical Chemistry group of the University of Liège. His thesis was based on the method development for complex volatile mixtures characterization for forensic applications. He is currently a Marie-Curie COFUND postdoctoral fellow co-funded by the European Union and the University of Liège.

He is currently a visiting scientist in the Thayer school of Engineering at Dartmouth College, USA. His research project is based on the development of breath-based diagnostics for fungal infections in lung transplant recipients.

Chris Rees

Chris Rees

M.D.-Ph.D. Candidate

Education: B.S., Biology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (2012)

Research: Detection of antibiotic resistance in multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens.

Biography: Chris was born in Hammersmith in the United Kingdom and grew up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a major in biology and minors in biochemistry and history in 2012, and is currently in his 5th year of the MD-PhD program at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He is currently affiliated with the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) program for his PhD. As an undergraduate student, his research interests involved both microbiology and synthetic organic chemistry, with the aim of developing novel antimicrobial compounds. Upon joining the Hill lab, he became interested in the use of advanced analytical techniques for the detection of antibiotic resistance in multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens, which represent one of the most rapidly-growing threats to public health on the global scale. Outside of the lab, Chris volunteers at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction, Vermont, and remains involved with the medical school, serving on Geisel's Medical Education Committee as one of the MD-PhD representatives and on the admissions committee for the MD-PhD program. He is also an avid hiker and kayaker.

Ted Mellors

Ted Mellors

Ph.D. Candidate

Education: B.S., Environmental Engineering, University of Vermont (2011)

Research: Development of breath based diagnostics for Microbacterium tuberculosis.

Biography: Ted grew up in Hingham Massachusetts and received his BS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Vermont. He is a PhD candidate at the Thayer School of Engineering and joined the Hill Lab in 2013. His research interests include the development of breath based diagnostics for various respiratory diseases, specifically Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. Outside of research, his hobbies include sailing, skiing and fishing.

Mavra Nasir

Mavra Nasir

Ph.D. Candidate

Education: B.S., Biology, McGill University (2012); M.S., Bioinformatics, New York Univeristy (2014)

Research: Analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCS) produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus infection in cystic fibrosis patients using GCXGC TOFMS. Development and application of machine learning methods for fingerprinting VOC profiles.

Biography: Mavra was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. After graduating from McGill University in Canada, she enrolled in New York University to earn her master's degree in Bioinformatics. She joined the Hill Lab in 2015 as a PhD student and is affiliated with the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) department. Her current project is focused on developing breath-based diagnostic for cystic fibrosis patients with polymicrobial lung infections.

Madeleine Haff

ALISON BURKLUND

PHD Candidate

Education: M.Eng., Bioengineering, UC Berkeley; B.S., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University.

Research: Early diagnosis of sepsis.

Biography: Alison was born and raised in Livermore, California. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, she returned to the Bay Area to earn a Master's degree from UC Berkeley. Alison is excited to be a part of the PhD Innovation Program at Thayer, and sources inspiration from the clinical applications and global context of the engineering discipline. 

Madeleine Haff

CARLY Bobak

PHD Candidate

Education: MSc. In Applied Mathematics, University of Guelph. BA in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, University of Guelph.

Research: Integrate publicly available data to identify disease biomarkers

Biography: Carly was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Canada where she completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in applied mathematics. Her academic research has always been focused on building mathematical and statistical models to study biological phenomena, and she joined the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences program in 2016 to further explore applications in the biomedical sciences domain. Her current research uses publicly available data from heterogenous studies to identify disease biomarkers using techniques from machine and statistical learning. She also enjoys hiking mountains with her trusty golden retriever sidekick.

Madeleine Haff

Marek Svoboda

M.D.-PH.D. Candidate

Education: B.A., Neuroscience & Behavior, Columbia University (2014)

Research:Discovery of breath biomarkers in mild traumatic brain injury.

Biography: Marek grew up in Zlín, Czech Republic and attended a boarding school in Prague before he went to Columbia University in the City of New York, majoring in neuroscience and behavior, during which he also spent one semester studying “abroad” in Paris. Before coming to Dartmouth, his scientific interests spanned research of habit in rats with Dr. Balsam, and transcriptional regulators in neural stem cells with Dr. Wichterle. He is currently in his 3rd year of the MD-PhD program at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, having joined Hill lab in the fall of 2017 affiliated with the Quantitative Biomedical Sciences (QBS) program. Outside of research, Marek leads the Science Scholars enrichment elective for medical students at Geisel, writes a blog for international pre-medical students, and attends the Restorative Justice Panel in White River Junction. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis, traveling, room escape games, and when the time is truly free, getting bored at least a little.

Victor Borza

Madeleine Haff

MD CANDIDATE

Education: B.S., Biology and French, Williams College (2011)

Research: infant-mother signalling.

Biography: Maddy grew up in Concord, MA, and attended college in the Berkshires. After graduating, Maddy worked in a microbiology and immunobiology lab in Boston for three years, where she helped investigate both the pathogenicity of certain bacteria, as well as the host response to infection. Now Maddy is a third year medical student at the Geisel School of Medicine. Outside of class and lab, Maddy enjoys anything that gets her outside, including running, kayaking, biking, and hiking.

Stephanie Her

Victor Borza

JUNIOR SCIENTIST

Education: Prospective B.A. and B. Eng., Biomedical Engineering, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Detection of P.aeruginosa infection in patients of Cystic Fibrosis

Biography: Victor grew up just south of Nashville, Tennessee and attended University School of Nashville before enrolling at Dartmouth in fall 2014, where he is pursuing a major in biomedical engineering. His research interests include microbiology, structural biology, and biomedical engineering applied to diagnostics, therapeutics, and biomaterials. Outside of classes and research, Victor is a teaching assistant and peer tutor, involved with Dartmouth Humanitarian Engineering, scholarship chair of his fraternity, vice president of Dartmouth's QuizBowl team, and enjoys hiking and making pizza.

Alison Clarke

Stephanie Her

JUNIOR SCIENTIST

Education: Prospective B.A., Biology, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Detection of P.aeruginosa infection in patients of Cystic Fibrosis

Biography: Stephanie grew up in small-town Pullman, Washington State where she attended Pullman High School before enrolling at Dartmouth College in the fall of 2014. She is currently a junior pursuing biology and computer science. Her research interests include computational biology and structural biology in the context of the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Outside of class and lab, Stephanie is a teaching assistant for Dartmouth’s department of computer science, a member of Alpha Xi Delta, and enjoys running and hiking.

Lloyd May

Lloyd May

JUNIOR SCIENTIST

Education: Prospective B.E Analytical Engineering, B.A Engineering Science modified with Economics, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Development of breath based diagnostics for paediatric TB.

Biography: Lloyd was born and raised in Carletonville, a small mining town in central South Africa. He is a short sprinter on the Varsity Track & Field team, an Undergraduate Advisor in the School House community and has a strong interest in economics, statistics and analytics. Outside of the lab, he enjoys writing songs and performing with various musical groups.

Arielle Isaacson

Arielle Isaacson

JUNIOR SCIENTIST

Education: Prospective B.A., Neuroscience, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Biomarkers for Multiple.

Biography: Arielle grew up in Lexington, MA and matriculated to Dartmouth College in the fall of 2014. She joined the Hill Lab as a freshman through the WISP program, and continued research in the lab through the Sophomore Science Scholars Program and Presidential Scholars Program. Arielle is on the pre-medical track and plans to pursue a career in pediatric medicine and global health. Outside of class and lab, she is a member of the Dartmouth Triathlon Team, a peer tutor, and enjoys any outdoor activity, especially hiking, skiing, and paddleboarding.

Valentina Sedlacek

ALEXA LEWIS

Undergraduate Apprentice

Education: Prospective B.A./B.E., Biomedical Engineering, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Assessing genetic relatedness of various isolates of antibioitc-resistant and -susceptible Klebsiella pneumoniae

Biography: Alexa grew up outside of Phoenix, Arizona and matriculated at Dartmouth College in the fall of 2014. She began doing research with the Women in Science Program in the winter of 2015, continued with the Sophomore Scholars Program, and joined the Hill Lab as a Presidential Scholar in the summer of 2016. Outside of research, she is involved in the Dartmouth College Aquinas House, the Thought Project LLC, and the Dartmouth Outing Club. She also loves to read and cook.

Rocco Morra

KATHERINE R. KANE

Undergraduate Apprentice

Education: Prospective B.A., Biology and French, Dartmouth College (2020)

Biography: Katherine was born and raised in the temperate rainforest of Juneau Alaska and matriculated to Dartmouth in the fall of 2016. Katherine is interested in public health and cool science. In her free time, she likes to cook, play guitar, and get outside.

Sumita Strander

KATIE GOLDSTEIN

Undergraduate Apprentice

Education: Prospective B.A., Biology and Spanish

Biography: Katie grew up in San Francisco, California. She loves to read, especially in Spanish, play with her dogs (a Cocker Spaniel named Tippy and a pug named Humphrey), watch Netflix (Black Mirror and The West Wing are in current rotation), and desperately try to whistle. She was that ’20 who signed up for three hundred clubs at the beginning of the year club fair; outside of the lab, Katie is involved in Ski Patrol as part of their Apprenti Class, DREAM, and Hillel. In addition, she loves to talk about herself in the third person, especially on lab websites.

Paul Kim

Orkan Sezer

Undergraduate Apprentice

Education: Prospective B.A. in Biomedical Engineering

Biography: I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. German is my first language. I graduated from Hisar School in 2016 and am a Dartmouth Class of 2020. I am interested in biology and math, and the core sciences in general. Aside from the academics, I enjoy mythology and painting, and I have two published books on Anatolian and Greek myths. At Dartmouth, I am a member of the Fencing Club and get stabbed a lot.

Paul Kim

Pooja Sikka

Undergraduate Apprentice

Education: Prospective B.A., Neuroscience and French, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Infant-mother signaling.

Biography: Pooja is from Acton, Massachusetts and is currently in her fourth year at Dartmouth, majoring in Neuroscience and
minoring in French with a pre-health focus. In addition to her research at the Hill Lab, she enjoys assisting patients with shared decisionmaking
through Patient Support Corps at DHMC. She also is part of ASPIRE, MedLife, and Random Acts of Kindness. In her free time,
Pooja loves to go on walks with friends, play ultimate frisbee, watch Game of Thrones, and eat food.

Paul Kim

SHANNON KOSSMANN

Undergraduate Apprentice

Shannon was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a member of the Dartmouth undergraduate class of 2020. An internship with Los Alamos National Laboratories in their Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation division led to a growing interest in engineering in which she is excited to have the opportunity to explore further.  She is a member of the women's crew team and plays violin at Dartmouth. Other interests include Irish dancing in which she is a national champion and has won several awards internationally, performance, horseback riding, and history/classics. 

Paul Kim

SHASHWAT KALA

JUNIOR SCIENTIST

Education: Prospective B.A., Environmental Studies major, Hispanic Studies minor, and Chemistry minor, Dartmouth College (2018)

Research: Creating a biorepository of bacterial isolates cultured from sputum samples from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to analyze the similarities and media-specific volatiles produced in vitro and ex vivo.

Biography: Shashwat (Shash) Kala was born and raised in Waterford, CT and attended Waterford High School before coming to Dartmouth in 2014. He is pursuing an Environmental Studies major and is on the premedical track. Outside of the lab, Shash enjoys dancing and is the co-director of a hip hop dance group on campus.

Lab Alumni

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS

LIONEL BLANCHET, Ph.D
Current position: Data scientist, Philips, Eindoven (The Netherland)

AGI SMOLINSKA, Ph.D
Current position: Postodoctoral fellow, Maastricht University (The Netherland)

HEATHER BEAN, Ph.D
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Arizona State University (School of Life Sciences)

INMA SAMPEDRO, Ph.D
Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of Granada (Spain)

YONGTAE AHN, Ph.D
Research: Motility and Adhesion of Pathogens
Current Position: Assistant Professor, Gyeongnam National University of Science and Technology (Korea)

FIONA BAIRD, Ph.D
Research: Microgravity effects on bacterial virulence and lunch cell immune responses.
Awards and Honors: Australian Postgraduate Award (2004), RMIT University OHS Award (2008), Deakin University Teaching Excellence Award (2010).

BROOK CLINTON, Ph.D
Research: Investigating iron uptake mechanisms and regulation in P.aeruginosa in the lung environment, particularly in relation to cystic fibrosis/nosocomial infections and biofilm formation.

YIN-MING KUO, Ph.D
Research: Rapid Determination of Volatile Organic Compounds during Bacterial Growth by ESI-MS.
Current Position: Postdoctoral fellow, Fox Chase Cancer Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Ph.D DEGREE GRADUATES

COURTNEY GILES, Ph.D
Research: The role of plant and bacterial organic anion production in soil phytate solubilization and cycling.
Awards and Honors: UVM James M. Jeffords Center Graduate Research Fellow (2010-2011), UVM School of Engineering, Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award (2011)

JIANGJIANG ZHU, Ph.D
Research: Development and Application of Secondary Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (SESI-MS) for Rapid Pathogenic Bacteria Detection via Their Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Profiling.
Awards and Honors: Donghua University Minor Scholarship for Graduate Student (2006), Donghua University Preeminent Student Leader Award (2002)
Current Position: Senior Fellow, University of Washington

MS DEGREE GRADUATES

KRISTI HERZER
Research: Stress response of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to low shear altered gravity conditions using high aspect ratio bioreactors.
Current Position: Environmental Analyst, State of Vermont

JAIME JIMENEZ-DIAZ
Research: The impact of microgravity-grown Pseudomonas aeruginosa on human lung cells.

NICK JOHNSON
Research: Improving estimates of bioavailable P using enzyme systems.

JOSHUA TYLER
Research: Advanced and Integrated Model of Phosphorous Loading from High Runoff Events.
Awards and Honors: Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Honors Society, University of Vermont Chapter (2009-2011), Chi Epsilon, Civil Engineering Honors Society, University of Vermont Chapter (2009-2011), Knight Engineering Scholarship (2009-2011), R Swenson Scholarship (2008-2011), URECA Summer Research Grant (2009), Barrett Foundation Summer Research Grant (2008)

YIJIAN ZHENG
Research: In vitro selection of structure-switching signaling aptamers binding to 2-aminoacetophenone.

MEDICAL STUDENTS

PIERRE GALEA
Research: Identifying between species volatile chemical signals.

VISITING FACULTY

RAYMOND HOZALSKI, Ph.D (University of Minnesota)
Research: DNA aptamer development for small molecules.

VISITING STUDENTS

DI'VENNCI LUCAS (Stanford University)
Research: Phenotypic characteristics of P. aeruginosa clinical isolates from cystic fibrosis patients.

CHRIS ANIMASHAUN (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Research: Chemotaxis of P. aeruginosa towards 2-aminoacetophenone.

BACHELOR-LEVEL APPRENTICES

PAUL KIM
ResearchIdentifying volatiles in the human blood volatilome.

SUMITA STRANDER
Research: Elucidating the volatile organic compounds in human breast milk

ROCCO MORRA, Jr.
Research: Characterization of volatiles produced by common urinary pathogens when grown in urine as potential diagnostic markers in the context of UTIs (Honors Thesis project)

ALISON CLARKE
Research: The role of Pseudomonas aeruginosa chemotaxis in pathogenesis in clinically relevant scenarios; identifying chemoattractants and matching them to Pseudomonas chemoreceptors

VALENTINA SEDLACEK
Research: I am currently working on the Polyamines Project. Previous literature has shown that amino acids play an important role in bacterial pathogenesis. My research project is evaluating Pseudomonas aeruginosa chemoattraction towards Arginine metabolism-derived compounds.

JARED HINRICHS
Honors Thesis Research: Detection of Legionella Volatile Metabolite Fingerprint Using Electrospray Ionization - Mass Spectrometry.
Awards and Honors: Barrett Scholarship (2009), URECA award (2009).

JOHANNA MAYERHOFER
Research: Purification and Characterization Of Phytase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA01

CAROLINE MCMANUS
Research: Development of a Mass Spectrometer Technique to Detect Bacterial Pathogens in Humid Environments, particularly Legionella pneumophila.
Awards and Honors: Barrett Scholar (2008), URECA scholar (2008-2009).

KATIE MEDREK
Research: Volatile database creation and webmaster.

MARK SUOZZO
Honors Thesis Research: Removal of Phosphorus in High Strength Wastewater using Enhanced Biological Removal in a Membrane Bioreactor.

FRED NAUMANN
Research: Investigating the volatile metabolic biomarkers of tuberculosis to improve and speed detection.

JUSTIN PALUBA
Research: Bacterial adhesion and motility.

STUART SUTHERLAND
Research: Identifying between species volatile chemical signals.

ERIC VAUGHAN
Research: Chemotaxis of bacteria towards phosphorylated compounds.

DAVID ZHANG
Research: Determining the impact of motility on bacterial adhesion process and swimming behaviors.

TECHNICIANS

MARY STEPHENSON