Lab Members

Ripan S. Malhi

Ripan S. Malhi

Principal Investigator

Ripan S. Malhi is a Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with affiliations in Anthropology, School of Integrative Biology, American Indian Studies and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. His research areas include partnering with Indigenous communities of North America to use genomic variation to infer the evolutionary histories of Indigenous peoples of the Americas including the impacts of European Colonization. Along with his research, Dr. Malhi uses his time to help make scientific research more inclusive. He is Co-Director for both the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) USA program and the Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Studies (IDEAS) program. Dr. Malhi is also Editor of the journal Human Biology and Associate Editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Prior to his position at University of Illinois, he co-founded and served as the CEO of Trace Genetics, Inc., a biotechnology company located in the greater San Francisco area. Dr. Malhi received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Davis. Lastly, but most importantly, he is the father of twins (Rana and Sonhi) and partner to their amazing mother (Alison).
Send email at malhi@illinois.edu

Alida de Flamingh

Alida de Flamingh

Postdoctoral research fellow

Alida is a postdoctoral researcher at UIUC that collaborates with the Malhi Lab on ancient DNA projects. Her research focuses on the genetics and genomics of modern and ancient wildlife, including modern and ancient African elephants, 2000-year-old salmon from Alaska, ancient lions from South and East Africa, and ivory from a 16th century shipwreck. Alida is especially passionate about wildlife conservation and the human-wildlife interface.  Alida’s extracurricular interests include artistic ventures into drawing, fabric art and silversmithing, and she also enjoys travelling and spending time in nature.

Send email at deflami2@illinois.edu

Mary P. Rogers-LaVanne

Mary P. Rogers-LaVanne

Postdoctoral ressearch fellow

Mary Rogers-LaVanne is a biological anthropologist specializing in epigenetics and reproductive ecology. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She conducts research on the connections between lived experiences and biological outcomes by investigating the relationships between 1) historical trauma and gene methylation, 2) childhood stressors, epigenetic traits, and reproductive hormone variation, and 3) childhood social support and life history trait timing. She works in partnership with Alaska Native Peoples, Polish and Polish American women, and American adolescents in order to achieve these research goals. She has training in community-based research methods and aims for her research studies to benefit science and society. You can learn more about her work on her website and google scholar.

Send Email at rogers10@illinois.edu

Maria Louisa Cox

Maria Louisa Cox

Graduate Student

Maria’s research interests are human genetics, immunology, and host-pathogen interactions. She is interested in how interdisciplinary approaches can aid in answering questions that are relevant to multiple fields. Her current research focuses on large scale epidemics through time. Looking at multiple disease events allows for a better analysis of hidden heterogeneity in risk of mortality as well as disease expression, and how these specific disease events can create selection pressure. In her free time Maria enjoys reading, puzzles, outdoor activities, and fostering cats.

Send Email at mlcox3@illinois.edu

Shay-Akil McLean

Shay-Akil McLean

Graduate Student

Shay-Akil McLean (@Hood_Biologist) is a Queer Trans man racialized as Black, on stolen Indigenous land, an educator, organizer, writer, public intellectual, human biologist, anthropologist & sociologist. Shay-Akil is currently Ph.D. candidate at the UIUC School of Integrative Biology’s Program for Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation (PEEC). Shay-Akil studies Du Boisian sociology, STS/HASTS, race/ism, human health demography, evolutionary genetics, & theoretical population genetics. He holds degrees in biological anthropology (BA & MA) & sociology (BA & MA) which he uses to study bioethics, medical ethics, philosophy of biology, population genetics, evolutionary theory, health inequities, & knowledge production. As a developing scholar, Shay-Akil studies how systems of human practices produce the differential distribution of health, illness, quality of life, and death. He is also the founder of the free political education website decolonizeallthethings.com & the scientific ethics website decolonizeallthescience.com.

Send Email at samclea2@illinois.edu

Sana Saboowala

Sana Saboowala

Graduate Student

I am a PhD candidate in the program for evolution, ecology, and conservation biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I study the ways in which trauma is physically embodied. Currently, I am looking at the potential epigenetic effects of border creation during the Partition of South Asia in 1947 using molecular methods and oral histories.  More broadly, I aim to take a multidisciplinary approach to research, drawing on the humanities to more deeply answer questions that are traditionally seen as scientific.  My interests include epigenetics, science and technology studies, queer and feminist theories, memory, museum studies, and borderland studies. I also am passionate about education and run a blog to help undergraduate students study. In my free time I like to travel, read, and eat ice cream. My blog can be found here.

Email me at sanas4@illinois.edu

Sahara Vilchis

Sahara Vilchis

Graduate Student

My name is Sahara I am a single parent of two kids. I was born and raised in Southern California, although I briefly grew up in Mexico City as well. This is my first year as a PhD candidate. I am an ASPIRE and NSF Fellow. My research interests are in the peopling of the Americas and in decolonizing science. Aside from being a regular reader and writer, I also like to play with my kids, hike, skateboard, ride my bike, draw, paint, and was involved in a danza Azteca group at home in California.

Email me at szv2@illinois.edu

Karthik Yarlagadda

Karthik Yarlagadda

Graduate Student

I am a PhD Candidate in biological anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I study how factors like diet, environment, and social behavior influence the microbiome composition and function. Due to the numerous influences on the microbiome, it is frequently helpful to control for as many variables as possible to isolate the factors I’m particularly interested in. As a result, I work with the microbiomes of dogs and vampire bats, both as proxies for humans. By isolating contributions of specific factors to microbial variation in model organisms, I hope to better demonstrate how large scale, multivariate shifts like industrialization alter microbiome composition and function. Outside of my research, I enjoy reading, writing, and playing video games.

Email me at yarlaga2@illinois.edu

Share This