Meet the Lab

Principal Investigator

2021 Prof Pic 1.jpg

Elinne Becket, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Becket is a bacterial genomicist and expert in next-generation sequencing assay development and applications. Beyond genomics, her passions include student mentoring, dog rescue, and rock climbing.


Twitter: @bielleogy

Graduate Researchers

Ciara Sanders, B.S.

COAST Graduate Research Awardee, 2020-current 

Ciara joined the Becket Lab in 2020 after obtaining her B.S. from CSU San Bernardino. She is the lab's first Master's student, with bacterial genomics research experience in the lab of Dr. Paul Orwin, one of Dr. Becket's long-time mentors.

Kevin Garcia, B.S.

Master's Student, 2021-current 

Kevin is an incoming Master’s student (Fall 2021), and currently a McNair scholar at UC Santa Barbara. He is interested in investigating the impacts of anthropogenic pollution in coastal environments, specifically microbial communities, and their interaction with microplastics.

Undergraduate Researchers

Matthew Cope

CSTEM Dean’s Undergraduate Research Awardee, 2019-current 

Matt first joined the Becket lab as a Bridges to the Future Scholar. Now a TRIO McNair scholar, Matt blends his passions for molecular biology, engineering, and horticulture to bring a fantastic transdisciplinary facet to the lab. He will be joining the Lowe-Power Lab at UC Davis in Fall 2021, to pursue research on plant-microbe interactions.

Christian Lopezguerra

TRIO McNair Scholar, 2019-current 

A Fall 2019 transfer to CSUSM, Christian is the best example of someone who always asks "why." A pre-PhD student, he is endlessly curious and is a role model for his younger brothers. He assists lab efforts in all areas, and serves as a TA for Dr. Becket's microbiology and molecular biology courses. He will be joining the Raymann Lab at UNC Greensboro in Fall 2021 to study honeybee gut microbiomes.

Ebony Stretch

NIH NIGMS Research Trainee, 2019-current 

Ebony is a senior undergraduate leading the lab's bioinformatics efforts in developing user-friendly next-generation sequencing analytical pipelines. She is an NIGMS research trainee in collaboration with the Cyberinfrastructure for Phylogenetic Research. She will be joining the Sharpton Lab at OSU in Fall 2021 to continue her bioinformatics training in microbiome-related research.

Elizabeth Murguia

TRIO McNair Scholar, 2020-current 

Eli is a Bridges to the Future and TRIO McNair scholar from Palomar College performing stormwater research in the lab. While she'll be transferring to CSUSM in Fall 2021, she's already a powerhouse in the lab and plans to pursue a PhD in a molecular biology-related field.

Joaquin Alvarez

Bridges to the Future Scholar, 2020-current

Joaquin is a Bridges to the Future Scholar who transferred to CSUSM Fall 2020. He is pursuing a degree in Molecular Cell Biology with a Microbiology focus, with the goal of teaching at the high school or college level. He has a huge passion for music, participates in DCI, and plays the baritone for the Santa Clara Vanguard.

Mackenzie Pylant

COAST Undergraduate Research Scholar, 


Mackenzie joined the lab in early 2020 to pursue genomics research training in her goal to become a professor, and she currently focuses on tracking sources of microbial contamination in runoff. Mom to an adorable english bulldog named Dozer, her interests outside of lab include hiking, weightlifting, and traveling.

Joseph Pello

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020-current

Joey is a senior undergraduate student that began research in the lab over the summer of 2020. He is currently a San Diego brewer and has filled in a role working with brewers yeast genetics within the lab. He hopes to be able to continue to blend his passion for beer and science after he graduates. 

Evan Werner

NSF-REU Summer Scholar, 2020-current

Evan is an undergraduate at Hendrix College who was selected as the Becket Lab's NSF-REU Summer Scholar before COVID forced cancellation of the program. However, Evan still joined the lab to perform research remotely, and continues to lead several bioinformatic development pipelines, focusing on yeast genomics.

Brad Hunter

CSTEM Summer Scholar, 2021-current

Brad joined the lab virtually in Spring 2021 assisting Ciara Sanders on her graduate project and will be joining the Becket Lab in summer 2021 as a Summer Scholar. He draws from his varied experiences in programming, fermentation and electronics to assist lab efforts while establishing his bioinformatics and assay development skills. He plans to pursue a PhD in human microbiomes or related field.

Esther Gray

Bridges to the Future Scholar, 2021-current

Esther is a Bridges to the Future Scholar from MiraCosta College who is eager to learn and help anywhere she can. She plans to transfer to CSUSM in the Fall of 2022 for Biochemistry. She currently works as a lab assistant at an animal gut microbiome company. Outside of the lab she enjoys hiking, drawing, reading and sports.

Lakme Caceres

NSF-REU Summer Scholar, 2021-current

Lakme is a Bridges to the Future Scholar at Palomar College with a background in ecological and genomic research. She will join the lab during the summer of 2021 for the NSF REU program. She aims to transfer to a four-year university where she will continue to conduct research in cellular and molecular biology. She hopes to pursue an MD to become an anatomic or forensic pathologist. In her free time, Lakme enjoys climbing, weightlifting, and playing soccer.

Haven Johansen

NSF-REU Summer Scholar, 2021-current

Haven is a Biology and Reproductive Health major at Western Washington University, studying cilia with the Galati Lab. They are joining the lab as a 2021 CSUSM NSF REU scholar. Haven is passionate about justice-oriented research that lends insight into the intersections between environmental and human health, and they plan to become a physician researcher specializing in reproductive health. Outside of their studies, Haven is a musician, a rock climber, a scuba diver, and an aspiring film nerd. 

Lab Alumni

Dennis Zanesco

CSTEM Community Engaged Scholar, 2018-current 

Dennis was the first student to join the Becket Lab, and has since led the cell culturing, sampling, and analytical efforts in the lab. A Robert Noyce Teacher Scholar, COAST Undergraduate Research Scholar, and CSTEM Community Engaged Scholar, he has given two poster and two oral talks on his work.

Anahita Rahimi

COAST Undergraduate Research Scholar, 2018-current

One of the first to join the lab, Anahita is a pre-dental student with a passion for studying the interplay of health and microbiomes. Also a COAST Undergraduate Research Scholar, Anahita has given one poster and one oral presentation on her work in coastal microbiome assay development.

Jairo Sanchez

Bridges to the Future Scholar, 2020

Jairo is a Bridges to the Future Scholar performing research in the lab, transferring to UCSB in Fall 2020. A pre-MD with a passion for clinical research, Jairo plans to pursue a career where he can develop medical diagnostics capabilities for underserved communities.

Shelby McCutcheon

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020

Shelby is a recent biology graduate who spent the summer of 2020 developing next-generation sequencing bioinformatics pipelines within the lab. She is passionate about animals and competes in barrel racing. She plans to go to veterinary school with a focus on equine medicine.

Leanna Apodaca

NSF-REU Summer Scholar, 2018-2020

Leanna was one of the first students to join the lab and the lab's first NSF REU student alongside Nikki. She was instrumental in developing and executing the lab's "ICECap" assay for the analysis of mobile genetic elements in microbial communities. She has presented a poster and oral talk on her work and is drafting a manuscript for publication.

Nicole DeNamur

NSF-REU Summer Scholar, 2019

Nikki was the lab's first NSF REU student alongside Leanna. An undergraduate from UC Berkeley, she was key in developing the next-generation sequencing pipelines used in the lab for capturing antibiotic resistance genetic elements. She has presented two posters on her work and is drafting a manuscript for publication.

Erin O'Brien

CSTEM Summer Scholar, 2018-2020

Erin was one of the first to join the lab and spearheaded the lab's bioinformatics efforts to develop streamlined next-generation sequencing analytical pipelines, leading to her co-authoring a microbial genome announcement with NASA JPL. She has a passion for veterinary medicine and wildlife conservation.

Vanessa Villanueva

Undergraduate Researcher, 2020

Vanessa is a senior undergraduate student that began research in the lab over the summer of 2020. Her focus was on understanding the interplay of coastal microbial communities and climate change.

Uriel Rivera

Post-Baccalaureate Researcher, 2018-2019

Uriel was one of the first students to join the lab, and his previous experience in microbiology labs helped the Becket lab get its start. A pre-med whose mission is to help others, Uriel supports every part of the lab's efforts. However, he has questionable taste in pizza toppings.

Kellen Baker

Undergraduate Researcher, 2019

Kellen joined the lab as part of the microbial sampling, culturing, and analytical efforts. Driven by a desire to have a positive impact on people’s well-being through science and physiology, he is pursuing a career in medical research or emergency healthcare. He has a passion for rock climbing and loves to learn and discuss any subject.