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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


Helle Aronson   (Undergraduate Researcher - 2023 SURF Fellow)

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. She is an incoming BS/MS student in the lab. 


Shajaesza Diggs  (Lab Tech)

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, graduating in 2024. She is now a lab tech again. 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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Sarah Garcia    (REU student - MLBS)

Sarah is an upcoming senior at Cornell University from Long Valley, New Jersey. She is pursuing a degree in Entomology and is especially interested in medical entomology, mosquito biology and insect behavior. In the future, she hopes to pursue graduate entomological research. In her free time, you might find Sarah hiking, listening to music, playing guitar, or hanging out with their pet hognose snake, Nessie.


Sarah joined the lab in Summer 2024 as an undergraduate researcher through the Mountain Lake Biological Station REU program. She works with Forde and Chloé on mosquito-plant interactions.


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. 

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Joanna Reinhold      (Post-doc)

Joanna obtained her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Virginia Tech in 2023. 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 and then the lab as a post-doc in 2023. 

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Gavyn Sanford    (Summer Lab Technician)

Gavyn is a junior here at Virginia Tech. He is majoring in biological sciences with a minor in psychology. He would like to attend medical school after completing his undergraduate degree. Outside of academics, he really enjoys volunteering, traveling, cooking, roller skating, and reading.  

Gavyn joined the lab during Summer 2024. He is co-mentored with Dr. Gillian Eastwood (Entomology, Virginia Tech).

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SaGia Singh      (Undergraduate Researcher)

Gia is a Junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Biochemistry. She is from Fairfax, Virginia. Her career goals consist of working in drug development for a pharmaceutical company. Her goals are to gain a better understanding of biochemical laboratory techniques and possibly work towards obtaining a PhD. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, traveling, and being outdoors.  

Gia joined the lab during Fall 2023 and works with Forde.


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

James Moloney, REU MLBS - Trauman State University - Summer 2023

Megan Roark, REU MLBS - UV wise - Summer 2021

Bella Roeske, REU MLBS - mory University - Summer 2023

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

Helen Oker, Master Student (Biochemistry) - 2021-2023

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

Eva Snaith, Undergraduate researcher (Biological Sciences and Biochemistry) - 2023-2024

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 Master Student (Biochemistry) -  co-mentored with Clément Vinauger - 2018-2021

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

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