University of Wisconsin–Madison



JP joined UW-Madison as an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Food Science in 2013, and is a trainer in the MDTP and MBTG programs. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center, University College Cork, Ireland. He conducted his postdoctoral studies at the Cork Cancer Research Center (Cork, Ireland) and at Michigan State University. JP lives with his wife and son in Madison, and in his spare time he likes to bike and cook.

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JEE-HWAN Oh, PH.D. | research associate

Jee-Hwan joined our laboratory as a Research Associate in 2013. His aim is to develop innovative technologies that will help to understand the mechanism, and improve the function, of health-promoting properties of select lactic acid bacteria strains. He is actively involved in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in our laboratory. In his spare time, Jee-Hwan likes outdoor activities, and he likes to make traditional Korean Kimchi.

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laura alexander | ph.d. candidate, microbIOLOGY program

Laura is a fourth year graduate student in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program (MDTP) at UW-Madison. She received her B.S. in Microbiology at the University of Georgia in 2014. Her current project is the development of Lactobacillus reuteri as a biotherapeutic delivery system. In her spare time, Laura enjoys ballroom dancing, reading for pleasure, and playing sports.

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mustafa Ozcam | ph.d. candidate, food science program

Prior to joining the van Pijkeren Lab, Mustafa received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Food Engineering from Turkey. Mustafa is interested in gut microbiome-host interaction. His current project focuses on Aryl-hydrocarbon Receptor activation by Lactic Acid Bacteria and its effects on inflammation related intestinal diseases. In his free time, Mustafa enjoys exploring, road trips and hiking.

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Shenwei (vivian) zhang | ms candidate, food science program

Vivian is a second year graduate student in the Food Science program at UW-Madison. She received her B.S. in Food Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. Her current project is to develop a genetic tool that allows multiplex gene insertions/deletions for Lactobacillus reuteri in a high throughput manner. Vivian is from Shanghai, China. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her cat Henry and cooking Chinese food.


jordan lacrosse | undergraduate research assistant

Jordan joined our laboratory Summer 2016 as laboratory manager. He takes care of all the things needed to make sure our lab is running smoothly! From cleaning glassware to prepping complex media, to placing orders…and everything that lies in between.



Caroline began working with our lab in March 2016. Caroline is an undergraduate student majoring in Food science.  Her long-term goal is to pursue a career in the medical sciences, with a specific focus on women’s gastroenterological health.  In our laboratory, she works closely with Dr. Oh on a project that utilizes genetic approaches to learn more about how probiotics function. Caroline is from New Orleans, Louisiana.  In her spare time, she enjoys cooking Louisiana-style food, tasting a variety of different cheeses, crafting, and sewing clothes.

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Echo began working with our lab in September 2016. Echo is an undergraduate student majoring in Food Science. Echo has a passion for food microbiology, and is in our lab she works with Mustafa to learn more how (food-related) microbes modulate Ahr. Her goal is to obtain a graduate degree in the area of food microbiology. She is from Qingdao, China. In her spare time she enjoys all kinds of water activities such as swimming, knee-boarding and kayaking. She is also a home fermenter. She likes fermenting her own yogurt, kimchi and other pickled vegetables.