Sam Light
Neubauer Family Assistant Professor 

Sam received a BA from Bard College and a PhD from Northwestern University for structural and biochemical studies of enzymes in microbially biosynthetic pathways. As a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, his research addressed the basis and significance of metabolic properties of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Starting at the University of Chicago in 2020, his research takes a biochemical and genetic approach towards studying how beneficial and pathogenic bacteria interact with their mammalian hosts.

Noreen Bentley
Administrative Assistant



Alexander Little
Postdoctoral Scholar

Alex is a through and through microbiologist, with his B.S. in microbiology from the University of Kansas and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine.  His graduate work focused on the genetics and biochemistry of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, particularly a two-component regulatory system and its proposed sensing of the respiratory chain.  He is interested in how bacteria within the anaerobic microbiome may be shuttling electrons to molecules other than oxygen in order to respire and proliferate in a particular niche.

Deepti Sharan
Postdoctoral Scholar

Deepti received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Biotechnology and completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Cell Biology from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India in 2019. In 2020, she moved to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities as a postdoctoral associate and joined the Light Lab at the University of Chicago in 2022.  Her previous works were related to phenotypic heterogeneity in various bacterial systems like E. coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Shewanella oneidensis and how that affects the response of bacteria towards different antibiotics or complex nanomaterials. In the Light lab, Deepti is interested in understanding the phenotypic heterogeneity in the gut microbes and the factors influencing colonization potential of microbes from Class Clostridia in the gut. Outside of research, she likes photography and travelling.

Josh Stemczynski
Research Technician

Josh received a BS in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from the University of Michigan in 2022. His previous work involved lysosome transporters.


Agnieszka Grelska
Research Specialist.

Aga has finished her B.S. in Biotechnology at the University of Silesia in Pofland and in 2019 started her M.S. in Biotechnology at the University of Wroclaw. Her research area involves analysis of the replication process in Streptomyces bacteria. In 2021 she joined the Light Lab as part of a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Student Exchange Program.  After a brief time away when the exchange program ended, Aga returned to the lab as a Research Specialist in 2022.  The goal of her project in the Light Lab is to identify gut bacteria that grow on DNA.

Shuo Huang
Graduate Student
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Shuo received her B.S. in biology from the University of Washington in 2019 and joined the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics program here at the University of Chicago as a Ph.D. student. Her previous projects during her undergraduate research emphasized the genetic and biochemical properties of interbacterial antagonism mediated by Type VI Secretion System (T6SS). Her current project in the Light lab focuses on the biochemistry of protein flavinylation in the extracytosolic space.



Matt Schechter

Matthew Schechter
Graduate Student
Committee on Microbiology

Matt recieved a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California and an MSc in Marine Microbiology from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. He is interested in
leveraging genomic and metagenomic data to explore the ecology of evolution of microbiomes in the surface ocean and human gut. Additionally, a biproduct of his research endeavors are computational tools on the open-source ‘omics analysis platform


Paola Nol Bernardino

Paola Nol Bernardino
Graduate Student
Committee on Microbiology

Paola received her BS in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and joined the Microbiology Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago in 2021. Her previous projects have included working with Staphylococcus aureus and understanding small molecule metabolism by gut organisms. Her current project in the Light lab focuses on understanding the impact of gut bacteria in the production of insulin impairing molecule imidazole propionate.


Joyce Ghali
Graduate Student
Committee on Molecular Metabolism & Nutrition

Joyce is a PhD student working jointly with Drs. Sam Light and Mark Mimee.  Prior to arriving at UChicago, Joyce received her BS in Biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati where she worked on developing an atomic mass spectrometry method to investigate insulin independent glucose uptake in skeletal muscle. Joyce is currently interested in investigating the effect of microbial metabolites on human health as well as developing novel microbiome therapeutics. Outside of the lab, Joyce enjoys hiking, listening to podcasts, and spending time with friends and family.