Dr. Erica Majumder

Principal Investigator

I have a PhD in Bioinorganic Chemistry and am interested in deciphering the mechanisms of novel microbial metabolisms that drive aspects of environmental sustainability. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy playing the cello in a community orchestra, reading and exploring the trails around Madison by foot, bike and kayak.

Dr. Liyuan Hou (Joanna)


As a researcher, my interests include three research themes: (1) degradation mechanisms and products of non-biodegradable plastics; (2) interrelationship among the microplastics and environmental microbes; (3) converting wastes into biodegradable plastics. “Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.” I aspire to both investigate and create. As a female engineer, my long-term goal is to strike a balance between doing research and applying my findings and theories in practice in such a way that ultimately impacted the world. In my spare time, I love hiking, painting and designing jewelry and acrylic nails.

Personal webpage:

Fuad Shatara

Graduate student: Environmental Chemistry and Technology

I received my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with minors in both Environmental Science and Mass Communication. My research interests are in environmental health, and I aim to find ways to bridge various fields of sciences to study how humans are influencing different natural systems. Currently, my research is focused on the interactions between plastics and microbes in the Great Lakes. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy video games, hammocking, hiking, and anything that involves being on or near water.

Damayanti Rodriguez Ramos

Graduate student: Microbiology Doctoral Training Program

Hello I am Dama! I did my undergraduate in the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico, Aguadilla Campus. During my undergraduate I majored in Biotechnology and did minors in Microbiology and Biology. My current research project is to study the interaction between plastics and microorganism in landfills. Further, investigate plastic-associated microbial community structure and activities located in such environments. When I am not in lab, I like to go the thrift stores, visit parks and watch cooking shows.

Chamia Chatman

Graduate student: Molecular & Environmental Toxicology

Hello, I’m Chamia. I have a B.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. My current research is focused on the interaction between pathogens and plastics in drinking water. When I’m not in lab I enjoy reading, dancing and working on crossword puzzles.

Robbie Mejia

Graduate student: Integrated Program in Biochemistry

Hey, I’m Robbie! I got my B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University, Long Beach with a minor in Biology. My research interest lies in the development of sustainable methodologies and bioproducts. Currently, I am working on metabolic engineering for the microbial production of biological polymers and using transmission electron microscopy to observe microbial interactions with microplastics.

In my spare time I enjoy craft beer, horror movies, reading, concerts, and exploring Madison.

Hailee Morrison

Undergraduate Student: Biochemistry and Microbiology

Hailee here! I’m still an undergraduate, but working hard to finish it off so I can go on to more education… My research interests currently align with Dr. Hou as I work with her on the aspects of plastic from a microbial point of view, and I hope to do more work on it in the future. When I’m not studying or in lab, I like to discover new music (and sing along), write poetry, and admire the plant life on campus- all with a Dr. Pepper in hand, of course.

Wanjing Chen

Undergraduate Student: Microbiology and Statistics

Hello, I’m Wanjing. I’m a senior undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology and Statistics. In the lab I work with Dama and assist with data analysis for the landfill project. When I’m not in the lab, I like reading, playing sudoku puzzles and walking along the lakeshore path.

Azul Kothari

Undergraduate Student: Materials Science Engineering and Biochemistry

As a senior double majoring in Materials Science Engineering and Biochemistry, I’m a big believer in interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving. Since joining the team, I’ve been helping Fuad carry out a research project studying interactions between microplastics and cyanobacteria. Do microplastic chemistries, characteristics and concentrations impact Harmful Algal Blooms? Stay tuned, and hopefully we’ll have some answers for you!

Outside the lab, you can find me leading my South Asian acapella group in Bollywood song, writing science news for the Badger Herald, or baking delicious thin crust pizza

Jacob Nagel

Undergraduate Student: Microbiology and Nutrition Science

Hey, I’m Jake! I work in the lab mostly for Dr. Hou as an undergraduate student hourly help. When I am away from the lab, I spend most of my time hanging out with my friends, watching a ton of movies and every Sunday watching the Green Bay Packers.

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