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Chloé Lahondère    (Principal Investigator)   (She/Elle)

I am a biologist interested in blood-sucking insects' thermal biology, physiology and neuro-ethology. I obtained my Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Tours (France) and pursued a PhD at the same university under the supervision of Prof. Claudio Lazzari. I then moved to Seattle to join the lab of Prof. Jeff Riffell in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. I joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech as a Research Assistant Professor in October 2017. 

I am affiliated with the Fralin Life Science Institute, the Global Change Center, the BIOTRANS program, the CeZAP program and the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech.

Link to my CV

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Helle Aronson   (Undergraduate Researcher)

Helle is a sophomore at Virginia Tech from Herndon, Virginia. She is pursuing a biochemistry degree with a biodiversity conservation minor. Outside of classes, Helle likes to travel, hike, kayak, and garden. 

Helle joined the lab in Spring 2023 and is working primarily with Helen.

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Shajaesza Diggs  (MS student)

Shajaesza obtained her BA in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry in 2021. She is the recipient of the Dean’s Diversity Assistantship and the Carter Fellowship. She is originally from Staunton, Virginia and enjoys all things related to Virginia Tech and being a Hokie as well as roller skating and traveling. 

Shajaesza was a lab tech and conducted research on mosquito rhythms and olfaction before joining the lab as a MS student in 2022. She is co-mentored with Dr. Clément Vinauger. 


Katelyn Domke   (Undergraduate Researcher)

Katelyn is a sophomore at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Animal and Poultry Sciences. She is from Richmond, Virginia. After graduation she plans to pursue a career in veterinary science. Outside of classes, Katelyn likes to hike, run, read, and attempt to knit.

Katelyn joined the lab in Fall 2022 and is working primarily with Joanna. 

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James Moloney   (MLBS REU)

Jimmy is a rising senior at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO.  He is majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and communication.  During the school year Jimmy leads a team studying gene expression in Xenopus laevis oocytes as is currently working to resolve the mechanism of the electromagnetic perceptive gene. In the Lahondère lab, Jimmy is working on a project focusing on mosquito-plant interactions. Outside of school, Jimmy enjoys weightlifting, playing intramural sports, and watching football.

Jimmy joined the lab in Spring 2023 and is working primarily with Forde.


Seyed Jalil Pasha (JP) Mirlohi   (Laboratory Specialist)

JP obtained his degree from technical school in Vienna, Austria. He moved to the US in 2000. He joined Virginia Tech in 2019 and started working as a team member in Dr. Tu's lab in the biochemistry department. When not in the lab, JP likes traveling and hiking.

JP joined the lab in June 2022. 


Helen Oker     (BS/MS student - Ut prosim Fellow)

Helen is currently pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with minors in Entomology and Chemistry. She has been involved in undergraduate research throughout her education at Virginia Tech, working with Dr. Carla Finkielstein in the Biological Sciences department and Dr. Samantha Harden in the HNFE department. In the future, she hopes to further her education and continue to work in disease vector and invasive species research. Outside of the lab, Helen enjoys getting outside, doing yoga, and baking.

Helen joined the lab in Spring 2021 as an undergraduate researcher, worked at a lab tech over the Summer and started the BS/MS program in Fall 2021. She is the recipient of a FURF and a GCC undergraduate research award. In 2022, Helen receives the inaugural Ut prosim fellowship.

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Joanna Reinhold      (PhD student)

Joanna is a fourth year Biochemistry Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech. She graduated from Wake Forest University in 2014 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. Joanna did undergraduate research in parasitology, surveying parasite load in centrarchid fishes under the supervision of Dr. Esch. She is interested in host-seeking behavior and potential pathogen transmission in certain species of mosquitoes that feed on ectothermic animals. Joanna is from Charleston, SC and moved to Virginia a few years ago.

Joanna volunteered in the lab during Summer 2018 before joining the PhD program in August 2018. 

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Bella Roeske      (MLBS REU)

Bella is a rising senior at Emory University studying Environmental Health. Her research in the Prokopec Lab at Emory looks at mosquito-borne disease and the intracellular bacterium Wolbachia in Aedes aegypti as a form of vector control. Bella's project at VT focuses on mosquito-ectotherm interactions. Outside of coursework and research, she enjoys reading, crocheting and sewing, and taking walks with her three-legged cat, Charles. 

Bella joined the lab during Summer 2023 and works with Joanna and Chloé.

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Eva Snaith   (Biochemistry Summer Fellow)

Eva is a senior at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Biological Sciences. She hopes to continue her education after graduation and ultimately continue working in research. She is particularly interested in biochemical mechanisms of behavior, as well as the study of infectious diseases. She was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, and before transferring to Virginia Tech played college soccer and basketball. She enjoys baking, yoga, and reading in her free time!


Eva joined the lab in Summer 2023 and is working primarily with Dr. Lahondère. She is the excited recipient of a summer biochemistry research fellowship and loves the multidisciplinary approach the Lahondère Lab applies to its research!


Forde Upshur, MS      (PhD student - GCC IGC Fellow)

Forde Upshur obtained his Master's degree in Biochemistry at Virginia Tech. He graduated from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry and a minor in Chemistry. He did his undergraduate research at UVa under the supervision of Dr. Brown, working to develop a promoter database for the entire human genome. Forde is looking to gain a diverse array of experience and knowledge during his time as a graduate student, particularly in the fields of biochemistry, chemistry, and behavioral ecology. He also plays guitar and sings and is currently in the process of starting a band. 

Forde joined the program in August 2018, rotated in the lab and officially joined in November 2018 as a Master's student. He graduated in May 2020 and is pursuing his PhD in the lab. Forde is a GCC IGC Fellow. 

International and National Visitors

Martina Carlassara, PhD Student - University of Pavia, Dr. Mariangela Bonizzoni's lab - Travelling Fellowship, The Company of Biologists - Fall/Winter 2021

Dimitri Wangrawa, Assistant Professor - Fullbright Scholar - University Norbert Zongo - Bukina Faso - 2021

Summer interns and REU students

Aqsa Fazal, SURF / GCC Student - Hollins College - Summer 2022

Mik Fehlman, REU VT REEL - Penn State University - Summer 2021

Ella Halbert, REU MLBS - Oberlin College - Summer 2022

Megan Roark, REU MLBS - UV wise - Summer 2021

Lab Alumni

Louna AbdallaUndergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2021-2022

Zach Baker, Summer Lab and Field Assistant - 2020

Elizabeth Bose, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2018-2019

Ross Choate, Undergraduate researcher (Biological Sciences) - 2020

Danielle David, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2022

Shajaesza Diggs, Lab tech - 2021-2022

Darren Dougharty, Lab tech - 2020-2021

Lauren Fryzlewicz, Master Student and Technician (Biochemistry) - 2019-2021

Cameron Hart, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2018-2019

Sydney Fogleman, Undergraduate researcher (Biological Sciences) - 2021-2022

Chris Logan, Undergraduate researcher (Biological Sciences) - 2021-2022

Vansh Parikh, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2021-2022

Rachel Porter, Undergraduate researcher (BSI / Entomology) - 2022

Aley Savory, Undergraduate researcher (Chemical Engineering) - 2019-2020

Ryan Shaw, Undergraduate researcher (Biological Sciences) - 2019-2020

Anaïs Tallon, Post-doctoral associate - 2021-2022

Sarah Tartabini, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - 2018-2020

Taj Valliani, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry) - Fall 2022 

Morgen VanderGiessen, Lab Tech and MSc student (Biochemistry) -  co-mentored with Clément Vinauger - 2018-2021

Ashlynn VanWinkle, Undergraduate researcher (Biochemistry / Chemistry) - 2020-2021

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