Find here pictures and bios of current members and past members of the RIPLRT.


Current members of the RIPLRT

Past mentees of the RIPLRT


Current members of the RIPLRT

Dr. Rivera-Mariani

Dr. Félix E. Rivera-Mariani (Principal Investigator). Dr. Rivera-Mariani is an expert immunologist, microbiologist, aerobiologist, and computational biologist. Dr. Rivera-Mariani, in addition to carrying out scientific research, teaches biochemistry, immunology, and molecular genetics. Among the academic credentials of Dr. Rivera-Mariani include a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry (Southeastern Louisiana University under an athletic scholarship), Ph.D. in Microbiology and Medical Zoology (School of Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus), post-doctoral fellowship in Environmental Health Sciences (the Bloomberg School of Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University), and Science Teaching Fellowship (American Society for Microbiology).

Dr. Rivera-Mariani is also a strong supporter of reproducibility in sciences and thus has gained specializations in Data Science, Genomic Data Sciences, Executive Data Science, Software Development (Johns Hopkins University), Systems Biology (Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai), and Bioinformatics (University of California at San Diego). Through these specializations, Dr. Rivera-Mariani has developed an extensive expertise as a programmer in the R, Python, and Matlab computer languages.

With the RIPLRT, Dr. Rivera-Mariani seeks to mentor students and young researchers in the different pipelines and epicycles of scientific research, and through the Respiratory and Immunology Project and Laboratory Research Team (RIPLRT) by providing further insight into the immunotoxicology of airborne pollutants of different chemical origins. He has published extensively in this line of research (click here for additional information).

Click here to view Dr. Rivera-Mariani’s C.V.


Lorraine N. Vélez-Torres

Lorraine Torres-Vélez (Ph.D. candidate - University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus). Lorraine is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. She earned her master’s degree in Public Health with concentration in Epidemiology in 2015, identifying the risk factors affecting the quality of life of residents in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. In 2014 she received a double major in Industrial Microbiology and Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. During her undergraduate education, she worked in the Symbiosis Laboratory of Dr. Cafaro investigating the antifungal capacity of Actinobacteria associated to the exoskeleton of the termite Nasutitermes costalis. She’s currently working in her research thesis at the Mycology Laboratory of Dr. Bolaños, studying the effect of Hurricane María in the indoor concentration of fungi and the health outcomes of the habitants.

Currently, she’s the President of the Microbiology Chapter of her campus where she promotes and organizes professional and educative outreach activities for the community. Outside academia, Lorraine enjoys dancing salsa, visiting new restaurants and kayaking.

Because Dr. Rivera-Mariani is a member of the thesis committee of Lorraine, she was invited for and completed a one-week training with the RIPLRT to learn the different human-based immunological approaches we implement in environmental health studies. Also, she trained on the experimental planning and design, project management and execution, as well as data management and analysis we implement when deploying human-based immunological approaches to study the respiratory health risks resulting from human exposures to air pollution. Lorraine will be implementing in her thesis studies the skill sets she will learned with the RIPLRT.

Click here to view Lorraine’s C.V.


Xaymara Hernández-González

Xaymara Hernández-González. Xaymara is from a small town (Humacao) located in the east coast of Puerto Rico. She completed a Bachelor degree in Microbiology at the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao. During her undergraduate years, she had the opportunity to participate in research investigations trying to isolate potential antimicrobial producing bacterias and nitrogen fixing bacterias. She was part of the Student Microbiology Chapter and the American Student Medical Association. Right now, Xaymara is a third year graduate student at University Of Puerto Rico-Medical and Science Campus. She is completing a M.S. in Microbiology and Medical Zoology. Currently, she is working on her thesis project at the Mycology Laboratory of Dr. Benjamin Bolanos. Her thesis investigations focus on investigating the role of aeroallergens such as pollen and fungal spores in the susceptibility to acquired Covid-19.

During the past three years, she had the opportunity to collaborate in the project "Taking a breath after Hurricane Maria" taking air samples from water damaged houses and identifying fungus captured from the air samples. Also, she is working in analyzing data from air samples captured from houses located in the community of Pinones in Loiza, Puerto Rico. Currently, she is part of the directive of the Microbiology Chapter at the UPR-RCM and is the representative of the master students at the graduate committee. Besides academia, Xaymara enjoys exercising, doing road trips and reading. She pursues to continue graduate studies.

Click here to view Xaymara’s C.V.



Past mentees of the RIPLRT


Ana Pérez

Ana Pérez. Ana Perez is originally from Cuba. She graduated from the University of Florida (UF) in 2020 a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She also worked on an animal neuroanatomy research project at Miami Dade College and co-authored a publication about Microbiology in agriculture at UF. She is currently a Medical Scribe and a Hospice volunteer. She obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2022, and was a member of the RIPLRT during the fall of 2021 and earling spring of 2022. Ana is currently in the application cycle for Med School.

Brie Perdue

Brie Perdue. Brie is from a small beach town called Gulf Breeze, FL and is a graduate from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University (class of 2021). She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Biology from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. She obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and was a member and leader of the RIPLRT in fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021. Brie is currently in DO School.


Chevine Johnson

Chevine Johnson. Chevine, from Miami, FL, is a graduate from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences program at Larkin University (class of 2021). Chevine earned a B.S. in Chemistry, specialized in Biochemistry at Barry University. She obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and was a member of the RIPLRT during the faLL of 2020 and spring of 2021. Chevine is in the application cycle for Med School.


Henna Patel

Henna Patel. Henna is from Central Valley California. She grew up in a small town known as Bakersfield. She obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and she was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Henna is currently in Dental School.


Karoline Alves

Karoline Alves. Karoline Karoline is from Fort Lauderdale FL. She graduated from University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Psychology, and obtained an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and and she was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Karoline is seeking to become a Physician Assistant.


Summer Paris Vanitvelt

Summer Paris Vanitvelt. Summer, from Flint, Michigan, earned her B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University while also completing her prerequisites for dental school. She obtained an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and she was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Summer is seeking to become a dentist.


Krystal Ramsaran

Krystal Ramsaran. Krystal is a first generation American of West Indian heritage. From Plantation, Florida, she earned her B.A in Biology, earned an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and and she was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Krystal is currently in Med School.


Stevanie Robinson

Stevanie Robinson. Stevanie is a native of Florida, from the Fort Lauderdale area. She obtained an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and she was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. Stevanie is currently in Med School.


Christian Ramos

Christian Ramos. Christian, from Miami, FL, is a first generation student of Hispanic descent. During his time at the RIPLRT (fall of 2020 to spring of 2021), we was one of the co-leaders He recently graduated from our M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2021, and is currently in Med School.


Hayat Srour

Hayat Srour (Research Assistant and Lab Manager 2018 - 2020). Hayat, from Detroit, Michigan, is also a graduate from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2018. Hayat was a member of the RIPLRT from 2017 to 2020: from 2019 to 2020, she became the lab manager. She continue to work in healthcare, and she is seeking to become a Physician Assistant.


Adria Guajardo

Adria Guajardo (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) is originally from Texas, she obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2020. She was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020. Adria is seeking to become a Physician Assistant.


Ariel Stateman

Ariel Stateman obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2018. She was among the founders of the RIPLRT: was a member and co-leader in 2018. She is currently a Research Associate in the state of Illinois.


Bhavikkumar Patel

Bhavikkumar Patel obtained his M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2020. Vik was a member of the RIPLRT in the fall of 2019. Vik is currently in Pharmacy School.


Donna Oh

Donna Oh (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) was a former co-leader in the RIPLRT from the fall of 2019 to spring of 2020, and she is originally from Anchorage, Alaska. She obtained her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in 2019, and she is currently in DO School.


Joshua Baguley

Joshua Baguley is originally from Indonesia, a former co-leader of the RIPLRT (2018-2019), worked at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and he is currently in DO School.


Kylie Daguio

Kylie Dagiuo (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) is originally from Hawaii, and she was a member of the RIPLRT from 2019 to 2020. Kylia is currently in DO school!


Naziba Nuha

Naziba Nuha (Summer Intern - 2019) is a former summer intern, and she is currently a junior at Nova Southeastern University and she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Biology and Mathematics with a minor in Chemistry.


Nicole Benavides

Nicole Benavides (Graduate Research Assistant 2019 - 2020) was a former co-leader in the RIPLRT (spring of 2019 to fall of 2020), is originally from Virginia. Nicole is currently in the application cycle for Pharmacy School.


Ruslan Fomentko

Ruslan Fomenko (Research Assistant). Ruslan graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences (2018), and was a member of the RIPLRT from 2018 to 2019. Ruslan is currently in Dental School.


Shandra Bellinger

Shandra Bellinger graduated from the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences (2018), was a member of the RIPLRT in 2018, and she is currently in Med School.


Shana Zadron

Shana Zadron (Graduate Research Assistants 2019 - 2020) is originally from Afghanistan, and moved at a young age to the US. Shandra was a member of the RIPLRT from the fall of 2019 to the spring of 2020. Currently, Shandra is in Med School.


Summer Pellechio

Summer Pellechio was a research assistant for the RIPLRT throughout 2019. Summer is currently in Phyican Assistant School.


Tanha Rahman

Tanha Rahman (Summer Intern - 2019). Similar to Naziba, Tanha is also an undergraduate (third-year) student at Nova Southeastern University. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Biology (pre-medicine track) with a minor in International Studies.






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