Team

Jose Ordovas-Montanes
Principal Investigator

Jose grew up in a Spanish household within the Boston area, circling the perimeter with high school in Framingham, MA, college at Tufts University, and graduate studies in the Harvard Immunology program. During his undergraduate, Jose worked in human immunology labs at Biogen Idec, University College London, and Children's Hospital Boston, where he focused on monogenic immune deficiencies. For his PhD work, Jose trained with Uli von Andrian, studying how the nervous system and the immune system function together as the principal sensory interfaces between the internal and external environments.

Due to his problem of reading a lot, having ignored epithelial cells, and wanting to return to the human system, he decided to take the plunge into the field of single cell genomics to be able to work on all cell types, all the time. As a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Laboratory of Alex K. Shalek at MIT, the Broad, and the Ragon Institute, he began charting maps of human gut and airway, and discovered how human stem cells can be shaped by, and remember, inflammation. He was supported by a great team of undergraduate students, graduate students, and technicians.

Amanda Hornick
Graduate Student, Harvard-MIT HST Program

Amanda is a graduate student in the lab. Returning to the Greater Boston Area, where she grew up, from the University of Rochester (U of R) with a degree in biomedical engineering, she is pursuing a PhD in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics through the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. At the U of R, Amanda also concentrated in cell and tissue engineering and minored in computational biology. She worked in David Dean’s lab at the U of R Medical Center, researching the safety of in vivo gene delivery via electroporation and the specificity of nuclear localization sequences. During the summers of 2017 and 2018, Amanda worked in George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School. In summer 2017 – as a Harvard-Amgen Scholar – she researched how cancer cells can be selectively killed by inducing synthetic lethal mutations into them using CRISPR. In summer 2018 – as an intern – she evaluated whether base editors that avoid nicking DNA can increase the survival of highly edited cells.

As a graduate student, Amanda is interested in applying her experience with genetic engineering, in combination with new computational and wet lab methods, to understand the mechanisms behind food allergies and autoimmune diseases better and ultimately create therapies for them. Beyond the lab, Amanda enjoys singing, dancing, writing poetry, composing music, and going for long walks.

Elena Christian
Rotation Student, HMS Immunology
Elena grew up in the historic town of Manassas, Virginia. After high school she moved farther north to attend Pennsylvania State University where she majored in Immunology and Infectious Disease. As an undergraduate she worked with Timothy McNellis to characterize the transcription factor PtxR in Erwinia amylovora a gram negative bacterium that is the causal agent of Fire Blight, a disease that primarily affects apples and pears. After completing her undergraduate studies in 2017 she sought out opportunities that would allow her to combine immunology and genomic approaches. Thus she continued to travel north to work under the guidance of Aviv Regev and Vijay Kuchroo at the Broad Institute where she used single-cell RNA-sequencing to unravel T cell fate choices, exhaustion in cancer, and epigenetic regulation. Now as a graduate student she is excited to apply the skills she has learned to explore immune and stromal cell fate potentials in tissues in the context of allergy or autoimmune disease. When she is not in the lab, she enjoys rock climbing, trivia, and rhythm games.

Joshua de Sousa Casal
Rotation Student, HMS Immunology
Josh is a current rotation student joining us from the faculty of Immunology at Harvard Medical School. Prior to coming to the United States for school, Josh grew up just outside of the city of Toronto, Canada, in the small town of Stouffville, Ontario. For his undergraduate studies, he attended the University of Toronto where he did a specialist degree in immunology. During this time, he worked in the lab of Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, and investigated the stromal signals involved in early T cell commitment and aided in the development of a new technology for the generation of T cells from various stem cell sources. As a PhD student, Josh aims to continue his work to understand the role of stromal-immune cell cross talk, but in the context of barrier protection and chronic disease. He is extremely interested in understanding the role of the immune system in stromal development and how these interactions and environments change throughout life. Outside of science, Josh is an avid basketball fan and in his free time he enjoys sport climbing, reading, and baking a variety of breads.

Peter Lotfy
Rotation Student, HMS Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Peter comes to the lab from Southern California, where he grew up and attended UC San Diego (UCSD) for his BS (Physiology & Neuroscience) and MS (Biology) degrees. At UCSD, Peter worked with Larry Goldstein, modeling neurodegenerative diseases in human stem cell-derived neurons and glia and developing methods for performing genome-wide CRISPR screens in these cell types. He then joined the lab of Patrick Hsu at the Salk Institute, where, as a research technician, he contributed to the metagenomic discovery, characterization, and application of novel RNA-targeting CRISPR systems. As a graduate student, Peter is interested in expanding on and integrating his background in genome editing, technology development, neurobiology, and stem cell biology to study mechanisms and potential therapeutic opportunities in inflammatory diseases. Outside of lab, Peter loves watching basketball, reading, and listening to podcasts.

Benjamin Doran
Computational Research Associate, Shalek and Kean Labs
Benjamin is a research technician in the Shalek Lab and Kean Labs supporting a joint project to develop novel single-cell computational approaches to apply to outstanding problems in basic and applied inflammatory diseases. In collaboration with the Kean Lab, he is currently exploring pediatric inflammatory bowel disease, searching for key disease signatures.

Before working at MIT, Benjamin studied data science and biology at Harvard University, and worked on motif discovery algorithms for transcription factor binding sites. In his free time Benjamin enjoys snowshoeing, photography, and cooking spicy food.

Marko Vukovic
Research Associate, Shalek Lab
Marko is a research technician in the Shalek Lab, who is helping the Ordovas-Montanes Lab to establish best practices for single-cell RNA-sequencing and all-around lab culture. Marko stands for empathy, inclusivity, diversity, and anything that allows all good and curious people to enter science and be in science. His research interests include lymphocyte development, immunological memory beyond lymphocytes, neuroimmunology, and high-throughput technologies.

Outside of science, Marko appreciates literature, judo, Tracy Chapman and Manu Chao, The Art Assignment and Atlas Pro (YouTube). He grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina; went to UWC Mostar and Tufts University.

Faith Taliaferro
Research Associate
Faith is a research technician in the lab. Having decided that she was tired of constantly perfect weather and not having to own winter clothing, Faith attended the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her B.S.E. in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics. Before joining the lab, she worked in the lab of Lawrence Brass at Penn, creating computational models in order to study how molecular transport within a hemostatic mass is affected by changes in mass microarchitecture. She is excited to dive into the world of inflammation and looks forward to studying more human-facing concepts as opposed to those found primarily in physics textbooks. Outside of lab, Faith enjoys taking public transit to new places, listening to podcasts, doing DIY crafts, and reading too much about skincare.

Martin Axegard
Visiting MS Student, Ordovas-Montanes and Shalek Labs
Martin is a visiting Swedish medical student with an interest in immunology and methods development. After high school he obtained a BS in Biotechnology from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. His own personal encounters with autoimmune diseases made him enroll in Med School, to better understand what drives disease onset and remission. In the Shalek and Ordovas-Montanes lab he works to develop tools to describe cellular diversity, their functional roles and shifts in response to disease from scRNA-data. He grew up in Sweden and joined the ranks of amateur mycologists at a very young age. He still has the logbooks of all his finds, dating back to when he was 5. He is an avid choir singer, with a bass voice deep enough to hit notes lower than the piano. His backup plan is a career in opera. When not mushroom hunting or singing with friends, in his free time Martin makes forays in to archives, scanning, transcribing and posting correspondence between influential scientists from centuries past.

Being interested in both history of science and nature & wildlife, maybe it’s not weird that his dream destination is the Galapagos islands where giant tortoises can be found.