Principle Investigator

Dr. Marlies Meisel is the principal investigator of the lab. Marlies is passionate and eager to dissect the impact of systemic commensal signals on the immune system during health and disease. 

Marlies is a cellular Immunologist, has a strong background in Nutritional Sciences (M.S.), received her PhD from the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria in 2012, and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago (Lab of Dr. Bana Jabri) in 2018. She started her lab at the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Immunology in October of 2018. 

Marlies does not only work with microbes in the lab; also at home she utilizes the power of microbes to brew her own beer, kombucha and sourdough bread. Besides that Marlies is a passionate triathlete and outdoor fan.


Graduate Student

Alex McPherson is a PhD student in the Graduate School of Public Health, pursuing her doctoral degree in Infectious Diseases & Microbiology. Her research interests focus on the microbiome’s ability to protect against infectious pathogens and its impact on host immunity.

Originally from Massachusetts, she received her Bachelor of Science degree from Bucknell University and worked as a clinical researcher in NYC, before moving to Pittsburgh for graduate school.

A fun fact about her is that she played men’s ice hockey in college and is now an avid Penguins fan.



Dr. Chhavi Goel received her PhD in Biological Sciences with specialization in Allergy and Immunology from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, India in 2015. During her doctoral degree, she investigated the role of protease allergen in mediating human dendritic cell polarization and consequent T cell immune responses for potential in allergen-specific immunotherapy. Subsequently, she joined as a research faculty at Amity University, India where she worked on investigating inflammatory molecules in gestational diabetes mellitus. She also taught basic and specialized immunology courses for graduate and post-graduate programs. Her future interest is to explore the role of host intrinsic signals that regulate immunity and inflammation in health and disease.
In her free-time, she loves listening to music, meditate and spending quality time with family and friends.


Research Technician

Interests: I am fascinated by enzymes and how their function contributes to pathology. I am starting to learn to program and better understand computer science because the way 1's and 0's work to make modern life possible is a topic I like to learn more about. Also, I am incredibly bad at doing daily housekeeping things at home and would like to automate them, one-by-one. 

Fun fact: I enjoy reading non-profit hospitals' 990-EZ tax return forms because I find them interesting. I often use this to win "I am the most boring person in the world" arguments. 


Research Technician

Mackenzie Bender recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Biology and Philosophy. Her main focus of interest is genetics and regulatory pathways of gene expression, though she also loves microbiology. She hopes to one day go to graduate school for genetics and become a professor. Her other interests include spending time with friends, cats, and swimming. One fun fact about her is that she has gone skydiving and is desperate to go bungee jumping next!


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