Michelle A. Zabat

Field of Study / Research: Research Topic: Characterizing the Microbiome of Traditional Filipino Fermented Foods

Program: Fulbright - American Program - Students


Philippine Affiliation: University of the Philippines – Los Baños

U.S. Affiliation: Brown University, Providence, RI

Educational Background
Michelle A. Zabat graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University (Providence, RI) in May 2018. She received Honors in Health & Human Biology and was elected an Associate Member of Sigma Xi. Her senior honors thesis, Microbiome Analysis of Brassica Fermentation, was awarded the Brown University Distinguished Senior Thesis Prize for important and original contributions to her academic discipline.
Research and Awards
During her four years at Brown, Michelle worked in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Belenky, Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Her experience with human microbiome research under Dr. Belenky provided the foundations for the design and execution of a project characterizing the microbial communities of fermented foods. Supported in part by a Brown University Dean’s Emerging Areas of New Science Award and a Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award, Michelle worked with artisanal producers based in and around Providence to track the inception and dynamics of the microbial communities of kimchi and sauerkraut, in addition to investigating the potential differences between traditionally-fermented products and those produced using more modern commercial methods. The results of her study have been published in Food Microbiology and Foods.
Fulbright Research and Future Plans
As a 2018-2019 U.S. Fulbright Student, Michelle will draw on her experiences in the Belenky Lab to conduct novel research in the field of food microbiology. She will continue her inquiry into fermented foods with the guidance of Professor Francisco Elegado at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Her project, Characterizing the Microbiome of Traditional Filipino Fermented Foods, aims to explore the microbial communities of fermented foods native to the Philippines, which are ubiquitous in the local cuisine. As the daughter of UP alumni, she is looking forward to studying and learning at her parents’ alma mater.

After her grant period, Michelle will return to the U.S. to join ClearView Healthcare Partners, where she will utilize the breadth and depth of knowledge in the life sciences gained from her studies at Brown and her research to help answer some of the most pressing questions in health care and biotechnology innovation.
Zabat, Michelle A., et al. “The Impact of Vegan Production on the Kimchi Microbiome.” Food Microbiology, vol. 74, 2018, pp. 171–178., doi:10.1016/j.fm.2018.04.001.

Zabat, Michelle A., et al. “Microbial Community Analysis of Sauerkraut Fermentation Reveals a Stable and Rapidly Established Community.” Foods, vol. 7, no. 5, Dec. 2018, p. 77., doi:10.3390/foods7050077.

Cabral, Damien J., et al. “The Salivary Microbiome Is Consistent between Subjects and Resistant to Impacts of Short-Term Hospitalization.” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, Aug. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11427-2.