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The People of the Elizabeth Ryan Lab


 Contact Us

  • ​Lab Office:  970-491-2100
  • Dr. Ryan's Office: 970-491-1536

Elizabeth Ryan, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor

Dr. Ryan is an Associate Professor in the Toxicology section of ERHS. Her research explores the complex interactions of food components with gut microbiota and the immune system.  Her interests span both enteric disease and cancer control and prevention, with collaborators and translational application to the broader fields of microbiology, immunology, oncology, pediatrics and nutrition.  Dr. Ryan's global health research program also includes developing innovative solutions to food systems that will enhance food security.  The multi-platform research strategy for the research group covers molecular biology, laboratory animal models, companion animals, and human trials.  She also holds joint appointments with the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, the Colorado School of Public Health, and the University of Colorado Cancer Center

Bridget Baxter, BA
BENEFICIAL Study Coordinator

Bridget Baxter began studying Education and graduated with a Bachelors in Education from Northwestern State University in 1998. After graduating from college Bridget began practicing, coaching and teaching hot yoga due to the many injuries she had incurred from competitive running in college. Teaching hot yoga for 12 years, Bridget has focused a lot on the physical body and body mechanics. Working in Dr. Ryan’s lab will bring an opportunity to focus on the inside of the body and more importantly the Colon.  She looks forward to blending her passion for food with the opportunity to learn new recipes that utilize both Rice Bran and Navy Bean powders. In her spare time she likes to cook, garden, do yoga, spend time with her husband Kyle, son Corbin and Kopi the family dog.

Luis Enrique Zambrana Gutiérrez, MD, MPH,
MTOX Student

Luis Zambrana is a Fulbright Masters student in the Toxicology program. He graduated from the University of Nicaragua, where he became a physician. After completing medical school, he completed one year of social service in Waspan, an extremely poor and isolated rural region along the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. At the end of his social service, Luis started to work for the NGO, “Save the Children.”

During his work at Save the Children, Luis was located in the town of Achuapa, the area with the highest poverty rate within the Department of León, Nicaragua. During this time there, he developed a Community Nutrition Program for children under five years of age, called “PROCOSAN”, and a Birth Plan Program for community women in the rural reaches of Achuapa. Later, he started to work at the Centre for Demographic and Health Research in León, Nicaragua that is part of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, where he made a master in science focus on epidemiology.  He also had the opportunity to work in different health research projects in Nicaragua, in collaboration with other universities such as UNC University of Chapel Hill and Uppsala University in Sweden. The studies range from the causes of childhood diarrhea, rotavirus vaccine effectiveness, and household management of diarrhea in Nicaragua.

Luis is part of the Rice bran clinical trial, first as part of the field team that collected information and samples from the Nicaraguan children cohort, and currently working with the analysis of these samples.  

Hannah Haberecht,
Undergraduate Student

Hannah is an undergraduate student studying Biomedical Sciences.  She hopes to eventually join the Peace Corps.



Hend Ibrahim, PhD
Research Scientist

Dr. Ibrahim is a research scientist working on collaborative projects at Dr. Ryan Laboratory that have unveiled bioactive rice bran components and identified changes in probiotic/microbial metabolism with competitive funding awards from the NIH-NCI and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Phase I and II Grand Challenges Explorations in Global Health). Dr. Ibrahim graduated with a PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Colorado State University (CSU) in the Fall of 2006. Following graduation, she pursued postdoctoral studies in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology (MIP) at CSU (2006-2008). Since 2011 she has been working as a Research Scientist at the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility (PMF) at CSU where she managed the genomics services with a focus on Sanger sequencing of DNA. She also has become skilled with the operation and data analysis of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), MALDI-MS, GC-MS, TQS and Orbitrap Mass Spectroscopy while working at PMF.

Currently, she is working on establishing a workflow for microbiome analysis of various clinical and environmental studies at Dr. Ryan’s Laboratory. She has wide-ranging and diverse experience with various molecular biology and mammalian tissue culture techniques that she acquired during her career, including, but not limited to, molecular cloning, DNA purification, real time PCR, protein purification, maintenance of tissue cultures for various cell lines, lentivirus transduction, creating and immortalizing primary cell lines as well as experience in high throughput analysis for DNA and proteins.

She is interested in the scientific discoveries in the field of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, especially those seeking diagnostic markers or therapeutics to cure cancer and crippling diseases. Conducting research for exploration and diagnosis of diseases has been a driving influence in her career development.  

Katherine Li,
MTOX Student

Katherine is a Masters candidate in Toxicology at Colorado State University. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology and Immunology from the University of Toronto, where she worked on developing assays for drug screening applications. Prior to coming to Colorado, Katherine worked for several years as an Associate in the Food & Nutrition Group at Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy, where she was involved in the evaluation of toxicological data for the safety assessment of food ingredients across global jurisdictions, as well as in the critical analysis of human clinical studies for the scientific substantiation of food health claims. Her current research is focused on investigating the effects of navy bean and rice bran consumption on the plasma metabolome of children with elevated cholesterol, as well as identifying dietary biomarkers of intake. Having grown up on 3 continents, Katherine has a penchant for collaborating with people with diverse backgrounds to generate health solutions that have major global impacts. Outside of the lab, Katherine can be found doodling in her sketchbook, booking her next adventure, or taste-testing the best foods in town.

Nora Jean Nealon,
DVM/Ph.D. Student

Nora is currently a DVM/PhD student at Colorado State University. She received her B.S. from Rutgers University: School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in 2013, where she majored in veterinary science, nutrition, and biology, and minored in endocrinology and companion animal science. Pursuing a career in veterinary medicine is a bit of a lifelong dream; growing up, she thought of doing nothing else. However, throughout high school and college, she developed deeper interests in science and research. As an undergraduate, she was involved in many projects investigating the roles of diet and nutrition in behavior, development, and reproduction. Simultaneously, while working in veterinary clinics and student teaching, she realized how critical effective scientific communication is between clinicians, investigators, and the public. These experiences made me aware of how valuable pursuing a dual degree could be, and influenced her to come to CVMBS.

Her current research focuses on understanding how rice bran influences the metabolism of probiotic gut microbes. Probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, are found natively in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans and many animals. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that consuming rice bran can increase the health-promoting activities of these probiotic species, specifically their ability to protect the host from enteric pathogens. With her research, she is investigating how rice bran enhances the ability of probiotics to reduce the growth and virulence of Salmonella and Rotavirus. Using metabolomics-based approaches, she is evaluating the small molecules produced by probiotics as they break down rice bran, and working to understand how these profiles of molecules reduce or eliminate these enteric diseases in the host.

In addition, she works on projects that evaluate novel diets for companion dog health and weight loss. The marked rise in canine obesity over the past few decades emphasizes that there is a need to develop health-promoting, sustainable diets for our dogs. Using plant-based ingredients such as rice bran and beans are one way that this can be accomplished. Furthermore, this work ties directly into our understanding of probiotic metabolism; a dog’s microbiome and its diet are inextricably linked. Therefore, creating a diet that maintains a healthy microbiome is crucial to ensure the health of our pet dogs.

In the future, Nora would like to work to further our understanding of small animal nutrition, so that translationally, we can feed our dogs better to give them a higher quality of life. Outside of school, she enjoys baking, listening to music, and tutoring high school and undergraduate students. Most of all, she loves spending time with animals, including her lovely west highland white terrier Sir Winston!

Renee Oppel, BS
Research Associate

Renee Oppel began studying Food Science and Human Nutrition at Texas A&M University in 2005 and graduated from Colorado State University in 2010 with a BS in Nutrition and Exercise Science. After graduation she began teaching hot yoga and traveling abroad. She became interested and involved in local sustainable food systems around the world which further developed her love for helping people live a healthier life through nutrition and exercise. She continued her education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition becoming a certified holistic health coach. In 2015, she moved back to Fort Collins and began working as a Research Associate in the Ryan Lab. Her passion and appreciation for environmental and health sciences continues to expand as she studies metabolomics and the nutritional benefits of whole grains and legumes. She hopes to contribute her time and energy to create a healthier planet and happier life for people in her local community and abroad.

Justin Youngk, BA
Research Scientist

Justin Youngk is an alumnus of Colorado State University and, having graduated in the spring of 2017 with a BA in English and a minor in History, has somewhat unexpectedly landed in the sciences. A musician and guitar instructor, Justin met the Ryans through their seeking out lessons for their daughter, Shea. It was after about 2 years of teaching Shea guitar that he was invited to join the lab to help make the meals for the BENEFICIAL study (Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating For Intestinal health & Cancer including Activity for Longevity) alongside Bridget. He is excited to be working in a new and challenging environment.

Jonathan Stockman, DVM, DACVN
Clinical Instructor

Jonathan Stockman received his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, Hebrew University, Israel, in 2006; he is also a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Prior to his move to CSU in 2016, he completed two residency programs at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, between the years 2007 and 2013, and worked as a Senior Research Scientist at The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition from 2013-2016. Currently, his areas of focus include the metabolome and microbiome of dogs in health and disease, as well as the potential of rice bran and beans as novel and therapeutic pet food ingredients. His desire to understand, both, the potential benefits of new, sustainable, pet food ingredients as well as the management of disease has led him to his current position as a Clinical Instructor at the Department of Clinical Sciences at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Moving forward, he looks to have his work at the Ryan lab provide a better understanding of the ways in which nutrition can help with the management of chronic disease such as cancer in pets. Outside of the lab, Jonathan can be found at the gym, on a hike, or enjoying Fort Collins while in the company of his dog, a poodle-mix, Esther.

Iman Zarei, PhD
Visiting Research Fellow

Iman Zarei is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. He completed his PhD in Human Nutrition at the University of the Philippines Los Banos and completed his B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology in Iran. Iman received his Master’s in Biochemistry at the University of Pune, India. He worked over three years as a researcher/PhD scholar at Grain Quality and Nutrition Center (GQNC) as well as Genetic Transformation Laboratory (GTL) of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. Iman's work at IRRI included rice metabolomics experiments and development of predictive models as well as iron and zing biofortification in rice.  His PhD research is focused on identification of dietary biomarkers using metabolomics from human intervention studies including "Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating For Intestinal Health Trial (BENEFIT)" and "Effect of Rice Bran and Cooked Navy Beans on Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Children". His passion for food and disease prevention in humans led him to pursue an education in Human Nutrition and join Dr. Ryan’s lab. Cooking is a relaxing and enjoyable hobby for him and, as a nutritionist, he likes to add new healthy twists to traditional dishes.

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Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1681