Category Archives: Lab members (former)

Katie Wozniak



Katie is a junior pursuing a B.S. in microbiology. She has been in the lab since May 2014, where she started as a REU student in Plant Genomics. Her focus in the lab has been investigating the changing symbioses of Medicago polymorpha and Ensifer medicae across their native and invasive ranges.

She is an active member of National Society of Collegiate Scholars and serves as the Treasurer of the Microbiology Club at Michigan State. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and being outdoors. Katie hopes to continue her education after graduation in May 2016 to earn a Ph.D. in microbiology.

Amr Wardeh

Amr_lab pic

Amr was an undergraduate research assistant at the Friesen lab from March-August 2013. He is double majoring in neuroscience and human biology, and is planning to pursue a career in medicine. He assisted with the cophylogeney and the microbiome projects. He mainly worked on the analysis of bacterial 16S DNA sequence data taken from trifolium nodules.

Even though he’s Syrian, Amr was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, where he graduated from Khaled International School in May 2010 before he decided to come to the US to pursue higher education. He’s interested in many things, including, but not limited to, symbiotic interactions between organisms, plasticity in the nervous system (neuroplasticity), and bioinformatics. During his free time, Amr enjoys playing table tennis, biking, weight lifting, programming, and keeping up with technology.


Paul Helling


Paul is currently a third year undergraduate and a first year graduate student in the plant biology masters program at Michigan State University. He joined the lab in spring 2013 and works off and on a cophylogeny project to better understand the relationships between  Medicago and their rhizobial symbionts, except he’s still trying to figure out how to grow all 20 species he wants to study and how to get them to produce nodules. After he graduates, he hopes to continue his graduate studies in orchid systematics.

When he’s not working, studying, or thinking about research, Paul enjoys eating frozen yogurt, fantasizing about all the rare orchids he hopes to grow someday, and writing short stories about characters with really cool lives and psychic powers. However, Paul spends too much time obsessing over his favorite TV shows and the lives of their protagonists to have a life of his own.

The picture above was taken in Antarctica and has Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the background.

2012-07-06 14.27.11

Jake is currently a sophomore on a pre-med track pursuing a human biology major. He has been an undergraduate research assistant at the Friesen Lab since February 2013. In lab, he assist with many projects but is currently most interested in superoxide dependent nitrogenases from S. thermoautotrophicus.

Enrolling at Michigan State in the fall of 2012, Jake is new to lab work and is eager to learn. As part of his biology lab class, he is currently design and testing cystic fibrosis diagnostic assays. Outside of class, Jake enjoys playing tennis and volunteering at Sparrow Hospital.


Prateek Shetty

Hello there!

My name Prateek Shetty. I joined the Friesen lab in June 2013 as a graduate student. I am currently finishing up my Masters degree for which I worked on exploring the factors the impact the microbiome community structure within different Trifolium plants.

Apart from this, I am also interested in exploring questions related utilizing bacterial and algal communities towards various bioremediation and nutritional supplementation applications. In the long term I visualize using my understanding of large scale NGS datasets, microbial community structuring and basic stats with a Pasteur’ quadrant approach.

I did my undergraduate at Sir MVIT, India. It was here that I was first introduced to the immense power and challenges that accompany high-throughput NGS datasets and I grew infatuated with using bioinformatic approaches to understanding how organisms react to changes in their environment.

In my free time I like to read fiction; primarily from Sci-Fci and Fantasy genres.
My favorite authors are Issac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Brandon Sanderson, R.A.Salvatore …..


Alexander Diedrich


Alex Diedrich is currently an undergraduate research assistant working in the Friesen Lab since January 2013. He is microbiology and Pre-veterinary senior. He is interested in everything, but is currently focusing on defining an inhibitory relationship between a burkholderia strain and rhizobia.

Alex graduated from Oxford High School in May 2011 and enrolled at Michigan State that fall. Alex started his research experience with an undergraduate research seminar inferring geology of Mars. He then focused on semester research projects in honors biology courses relating to cyanobacteria and crayfish ecology. Outside of the lab, he is involved with the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association and President of the MSU chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Jimmy Woodward

Jimmy in the U.P.

Jimmy Woodward was a technician in the Friesen lab from 2012-2014.  He specializes in molecular biology, nucleic acid sequencing, and bioinformatics, but often was involved in diverse other lab activities.  After getting his A.S. in Biotechnology from American River College, he joined the lab of Doug Cook at UC Davis in 2007.  In 2008, he joined the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, NM.  He returned to the Cook lab in 2011, and joined the Friesen lab in 2012.