Javier A. Ceja-Navarro

I grew up in rural western Mexico. At the age of 15, I was awarded a scholarship to enter a high school track in clinical analyses that changed the course of my professional career. After concluding my studies in clinical analyses, I obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering at Instituto Tecnologico de Celaya and a Ph.D. in Biotechnology at the Cinvestav of the Instituto Politecnico Nacional. My research interests include the study of microbial trophic associations in a wide array of systems that expand from the guts of insects to the soil rhizosphere.

I am a proud member of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ communities. Having experienced first-hand the negative effects that the institutionalized and normalized marginalization of minorities has on one’s personal and professional development, I am committed to reducing the barriers in research and education for underrepresented students including people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ individuals.

Matthias Faulkner Glass

Matthias is an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University and a researcher in Navarro’s Lab. Matthias works in isolating and identifying protozoa and bacteria from soil, applying traditional microbiology tools such as cell extractions and culturing and molecular techniques, including PCR and sequencing. Matthia’s goal is to improve the representation of microbial communities in ‘omics studies.

Mia Hamm

Mia is an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University and a researcher in Navarro’s Lab. She optimizes protocols for extracting DNA and RNA from environmental samples, including soil and extracted cells. Mia’s goal is to use the extracted nucleic acids for amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, and gene quantification using qPCR.

Former members


Alyssa graduated from UC Santa Barbara and is a Research Associate in the group. She works in the isolation of soil microfauna and the development of experiments aiming to recreate trophic complexity to study the contribution of different food web members to C and N cycling.

Abelardo Arellano

Abelardo was a Research Associate; his contributions to the team included the optimization of protocols for the isolation of micro-eukaryotes from soil samples, the preparation of sequencing libraries, qPCR, and microbiome data analyses.

Leila Ramanculova

Leila was a Research Associate. Leila is an animal lover, and as such, she took care of the team’s insect colonies and contributed to studying the effect of the environment on arthropod microbiome composition. Leila was also trained in curating taxonomic databases and microbiome data analyses.

Daniela Cruz-Abreu

Daniela was an intern in the laboratory. Her work included tagging microbes with reporter genes and manipulating arthropod microbiome.

Matus Kvietok

Matus visited the laboratory as an intern from the SULI program. His work included microbial isolations from diverse insects, including the passalid beetle. Matus received training in the analysis of DNA sequences and phylogenetic analysis.

Yen Nguyen

Yen was an intern in the laboratory. She was trained in the isolation of DNA and RNA from insects, the use of qPCR for the quantification of genes, and microbial isolations.