SZPZ2605 (2)
Nishanth E. Sunny, PhD Principal Investigator

With a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Kerala, India, Dr. Sunny came to University of Maryland, College Park in 2002 where he earned his M.S. (2005) and Ph.D. (2008) in Animal Nutrition, under the mentorship of Dr. Brian J. Bequette. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas  (2008-2010) under Dr. Shawn C. Burgess, Dr. Sunny continued as a Research Assistant Professor (2012-2016) at the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at University of Florida, Gainesville. Dr. Sunny is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park since Jan 2017. Dr. Sunny is interested in understanding the metabolic mechanisms modulating growth and development in various species, and also contributing to the etiology of obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease.


Muhammed Shafeekh Muyyarikkandy, PhD Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Muyyarikkandy graduated with a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, India in 2013. He then joined the University of Connecticut in 2014 and earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in 2018 under the mentorship of Dr. Amalaradjou. His research was focused on studying the effect of probiotics in modulating in Salmonella pathogenesis. In addition, he received Northeast SARE graduate student research grant and investigated the impact of early in ovo probiotics administration to promote embryonic development and post-hatch growth of chickens. Dr. Muyyarikkandy started as a postdoctoral associate in Dr. Sunny lab in September 2018, where his research is aimed at understanding the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of liver diseases.


Chaitra Surugihalli, MS Doctoral Student

Following her Bachelors degree in Biotechnology from Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, India, Chaitra came to United States and completed her M.S. in Molecular Cell biology from University of Connecticut, Storrs. Chaitra’s research goal in the Sunny lab is to profile the metabolic adaptation of developing chicken embryos to neonatal chicks, with the objective of understands the regulatory aspects of mitochondrial metabolism and lipogenesis.



Kruti V
Kruthi Vavilikolanu Doctoral Student

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology from Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore, India, Kruthi is now pursuing her Doctoral degree in Animal Sciences. Kruthi’s project involves understanding the mechanisms through which Branched Chain Amino Acids (Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine) regulate lipid metabolism in the liver.





Tabitha G
Tabitha Gregory  Masters Student

After earning her Bachelors degree in Animal Science from the University of Maryland in 2019, Tabitha decided to continue her education and pursue her Masters in the Sunny Lab. With an interest in animal nutrient metabolism and how energy can be more efficiently delivered and utilized, she is excited to investigate mitochondrial metabolism in an in vitro set  up specifically to obtain estimates of beta-oxidation and ketogenesis.




Christine Zhang
Christine Zhang Undergraduate Student

Christine is a sophomore pre-med undergraduate student pursuing a double major in Biochemistry and Neurobiology & Physiology.  As part of the Sunny Lab, she is gaining meaningful and interesting hands-on experience in the scientific research process. She hopes that her research experience will contribute to a more holistic view of scientific advancements in medicine. She enjoys learning new techniques and data analysis methods while working with other motivated lab members. She is currently working on analyzing mitochondria in mice models in order to better understand the onset and development of fatty liver disease. In her free time, Christine enjoys hiking with friends, running, and shadowing in the Emergency department at Prince George’s Hospital Center.


Vaishna Muralidaran
Vaishna Muralidaran Undergraduate Student

Vaishna is a junior undergraduate student earning her B.S in Neurobiology & Physiology with a minor in History. She just recently began working in the Sunny Lab and hopes that her time here will help her gain research skills that she can put towards her future endeavors outside of the University of Maryland. Vaishna is currently on the pre-med track and hopes to one day become an endocrinologist. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, baking for her friends and family, and playing badminton.




Nathan Kattapuram Undergraduate Student

Nathan is a sophomore Neurobiology and Physiology major who joined the lab in November of 2018. He is interested in learning various techniques to investigate metabolic regulation in the body of an animal, and hopes to apply those principles to a career in medicine. In his free time, he enjoys playing the squash, learning new songs on the piano, and reading.