Fall 2023


Carlos A. Castañeda

Started at SU in late 2014; jointly appointed in both the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry, and a member of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program and the Bioinspired Institute

PhD, Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

BA, Chemistry, Mathematics, La Salle University (Philadelphia, PA)

Research Staff

Lab Manager / Research Scientist

Thuy Dao
PhD, Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)

A graduate of the Doug Barrick lab

Postdoctoral Fellows

Nirbhik Acharya
PhD Biological Sciences, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India

Nirbhik started here as a postdoc in July 2023. He’s diving head on into investigating the driving forces for DSK2 phase transition and quickly mastering NMR spectroscopy!

Billy Haws
PhD Biology, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

Billy started in 2022, after graduating from Kate Lewis’ lab at SU. His prior expertise is in zebrafish and deciphering functions of DNA-binding proteins important for nervous system development. He now develops live-imaging modalities to understand UBQLN function in cells.

Anitha Rajendran
PhD University of Udine (Udine UD, Italy)

Anitha started in 2022, after finishing her PhD examining condensate formation in cells. Anitha is our expert cell biologist and is currently examining the function of ubiquilins in cells.

Graduate Students

We are recruiting graduate students. This could be you!

Sydney French (Rotation student, Biology)

Sydney is investigating how binding partners affect the phase transition of UBQLN2!


Grace Engel ’25 (Biochemistry)

Grace is working with Anitha to investigate the localization of UBQLN2 under different stress conditions.

Alana Ramirez ’27

Alana is learning how to analyze formation of UBQLN2 condensates under stress in cells.

Gianna Frank ’26 (Biochemistry/Neuroscience)

Gianna is working with Billy on live cell imaging and data analysis.

Sini Shqair ’26 (Biochemistry)

Sini is working with Thuy on building phase diagrams of PQC proteins.


We hosted a few amazing high school students! Here are Omar Bou Aram and Sarah Rinzan, who both were here over summer 2022. They learned a lot about protein purification, phase separation, and dry ice fun!

During the summer of 2022, we also hosted Roberto Tira, a visiting PhD graduate student from the University of Verona in Italy! We’re excited to continue this collaboration.

Amber Rusnock joined our lab as a lab technician for 1 year (2021-2022). Despite her short time in the lab, she led efforts to get our cell bio infrastructure up and running when we moved to LSC, while also contributing to cell bio experiments recently published here.

Christine Habjan ’19 started in our lab in 2017, and stayed to do summer research in 2018. She presented her work at the 2018 Summer Research Symposium @ SUNY-ESF!

Jules Riley ’20 joined the lab as a first year student, worked across three different labs to get cell stress experiments going in our lab for the first time. As an undergraduate, she published a first author research paper – you can read it here! Here she is presenting her research at the 2018 summer undergraduate research symposium.


Emily Morton was our first Chemistry REU student in summer 2015!

AlumYears in LabLevelCurrent Position
Emily MortonREU 2015Undergraduate
Research Technician at Peloton Therapeutics
Alexandria Remillard2014-2016Graduate (Chemistry Masters)Pfizer
Zachary Lanzar2016-2017Undergraduate (Biochemistry)PhD Graduate Student in Immunology, University of Pennsylvania (started Fall 2020)
Ismael Gonzalez2015-2018Undergraduate (Biochemistry, Neuroscience)MD/PhD program @ UNC Chapel Hill (started Fall 2021)
Esther Park2016-2018Undergraduate (Biochemistry)PhD Graduate Student in the Johns Hopkins Molecular Biophysics Program (PMB) (started Fall 2019)
Maria PonsREU 2017Undergraduate (Biochemistry)Research Technician @ University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Yongna Lei2016-2019Undergraduate (Biochemistry)MD/PhD program @ Yale (started Fall 2021)
Christine Habjan2017-2019Undergraduate (Biotechnology)Associate Study Manager, Invicro;
Starting PhD at Weill Cornell in Pharmacology (Fall 2023)
Brian Martyniak2016 -2018Graduate (Chemistry Masters)QA/QC Supervisor, Acreage Holdings
Julia Riley2016-2020Undergraduate (Biochemistry and Neuroscience)PhD Graduate Student in the University of Pennsylvania Neuroscience program (started Fall 2020)
Holly Jones2018-2020Graduate (Biology MSc)Catalent Pharma Solutions
Barrington Bucknor2017-2021Undergraduate (Biochemistry and Neuroscience)Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Program at University of Pennsylvania (starting Fall 2021)
Savanna Macchio2019-2021Undergraduate (Medicinal Chemistry)Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (started Fall 2022)
Tongyin Zheng2015-2021Graduate (Chemistry PhD)Postdoctoral Fellow, Fawzi lab, Brown University
Yiran Yang2016-2021Graduate (Chemistry PhD)Scientist, Surrozen
Amber Rusnock2021-2022Lab TechnicianResearch Technician, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Julianna Paladino2019-2022Undergraduate (Biotechnology)Research Associate, Moderna
Bridget Varner2022-2023Research Technician PhD Graduate student in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo (started 2023)
Sarasi Galagedera2021-2023Postdoctoral FellowQC Scientist, Regeneron

Honorary Lab Members

Luke (born November 2015), Ava (born February 2018), Leo (born June 2019)