About Us


Maria Carlota Dao, Ph.D.

Maria Carlota Dao, Ph.D.

Lab Director and Assistant Professor

Dr. Maria Carlota Dao is an Assistant Professor of Human Nutrition in the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems at the University of New Hampshire. As an interdisciplinary scientist focused on obesity research, she investigates the interplay of cardiometabolic risks, dietary and psychosocial factors, and the gut microbiota. Through this work she seeks to address obesity in health disparity populations. Prior to becoming a faculty member at UNH, Dr. Dao worked as a scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Her training includes a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sorbonne University and INSERM (Institute of Cardiometabolism and Nutrition) in France, and a PhD in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

To learn more about Dr. Dao, visit her UNH faculty page or visit her Google Scholar page for a complete list of her publications.





Brandy Moser, B.A, B.S.

Teaching Assistant and Master's Student

Brandy is a thesis-based Master’s Student in the Nutritional Sciences and a Teaching Assistant. She graduated in May 2021 from Boston University with a BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a BS in Nutritional Sciences, and a minor in Public Health. She will be focusing her work on biochemical assays and microbiome analysis to support the lab's ongoing projects. She is eager to expand her knowledge on the microbiome and train in the statistical methods to analyze the fecal microbiome composition and its functional capacity. Before joining the Dao lab, Brandy worked on an organic vegetable farm, and in the future, she hopes to run her own farm and become a Registered Dietitian.


Brooke Kelleher, B.S.

Research Assistant and Master's Student

Brooke is a Research Assistant in the Dao Lab, and Master’s Student in Nutritional Sciences. She brings experience in Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) changes and community engagement from her previous work with UNH Extension and FoodCorps. Brooke is supporting the lab’s Community-Based Participatory Research approach by focusing on stakeholder engagement, community outreach, and participant recruitment for the Dao Lab’s research efforts. During her time with the lab, Brooke will be assessing the various barriers and opportunities for fiber consumption in NH Hispanics, and is eager to work in partnership with community-based organizations towards multi-level interventions.

Whitney Fitzgerald, B.A.

Summer Intern & FIRST Study Coordinator

Whitney is a recent graduate from the University of Virginia, where she received a B.A. in Spanish and double minored in Biology and Bioethics. She is interning with the Dao Lab for the summer with the hope of gaining insight in research experience and community outreach. After her gap year, she plans to continue her education in the healthcare field. 


Hannah Heselton, B.A.

Research Coordinator

Hannah graduated from Tufts University in 2019 with a BA in Community Health and Environmental Sciences. She comes to the Dao Lab with experience working in cross-cultural environments and education, most recently working at a boarding school in Somaliland. At the Dao Lab, she coordinates the labs different projects, and hopes to gain more knowledge and experience in community-based research while applying to medical school.






Yobanna Taylor, B.S.

Project Coordinator-Nutrition Educator

Yobanna graduated with a Bachelor of Science and has additional studies in Environmental Engineering. She is a trained Spanish Medical Interpreter who has been working with the NH community since 2019.  At the Dao Lab Yobanna works directly with the study participants coordinating the study visits, also with study implementation, and community outreach. She joins the Dao Lab with experience with cultural diversity and inclusion. With her work at UNH, Yobanna hopes to contribute to decreasing the food insecurity levels and promote healthy eating habits to improve the diet quality of the Hispanic residents of NH.


Erica Faucher

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Erica Faucher is a junior Undergraduate Medical Microbiology major at the University of New Hampshire. She is working in the Dao Research Lab as a Research Assistant for the summer, and is very excited to learn more about the research process! Erica loves cookie dough and mint chocolate chip ice cream.  She is planning on attending graduate school after she graduates from UNH. 


Maryann McCahill

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Maryann is a third year Biomedical Science: Medical Laboratory Science major and is minoring in Nutrition at UNH. She is interested in combining her love of lab sciences with her passion for nutrition and accessible healthcare to generate research and knowledge about the linkage between proper nutrition and overall health outcomes, with a focus on neurodegenerative disorders. After completing her Bachelor's degree, she plans to continue her education in biomedical science and work in diagnostics and or medical research.



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Nicholas Clarke

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicholas is a fourth year Nutrition: Nutritional Science major at UNH. His love for nutrition paired with an interest in data analysis led him to pursue a position in the Dao Research Lab. His interests include inflammation in the body and its relation to the food we consume, as well as the role of food processing in metabolic dysregulation. After achieving his Bachelor's degree, Nicholas wishes to become a laboratory technician and further his education.





Daisha Drake

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Daisha is a fourth year Biomedical Science: Medical & Veterinary Sciences major with a pre-dental focus. She has joined the Dao Research Lab because of her interest in microbiology and her goals to learn more about the impact that nutrition has on gastrointestinal health. During her time with the lab, Daisha is striving to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between inflammation due to increased insulin resistance and gut microbiota composition. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Daisha plans to attend dental school after taking a gap year, during which she is setting out to gain experience working in a dental office.



Benjamin Boulton

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ben is a fourth year Biomedical Science: Medical and Veterinary Sciences major who is minoring in Nutrition at UNH. He is interested in combining his love for sciences with his interest in nutrition to analyze the interactions between physical exercise, fiber intake, and gut dysbiosis. After completing his bachelor's degree, he plans to continue his education to become a physical therapist. 



Michelle Crowley, RN, B.A., AEMT

Laboratory Technician

Michelle Crowley is currently a graduate student in the UNH program for Clinical Nurse Leadership. She has been working as an EMT for the last 3 years and has a passion for public health. During study visits for the FIRST study, Michelle will be conducting blood draws and collecting other clinical data. After graduating from UNH, Michelle hopes to have a career in nursing and education.




  To learn more about ongoing and future research study opportunities, please submit a contact form on our Contact Us page. You may also reach the lab at 603-862-4260.

Lab Mascots

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