Current Members

 Martin Jonikas PI 
 My goals are to advance our fundamental understanding of key under-studied areas of biology and to train world-leading scientists.

I believe in a healthy work/life balance: work hard, play hard. I am committed to providing a nurturing and fun training environment for everyone in my lab.

Curriculum Vitae
 Ellen Brindle-Clark   
 Faculty Assistant
I have been a Faculty Assistant in Molecular Biology at Princeton University since 2005, prior to 2005 I worked for the Department of Dining Services here at Princeton in their purchasing office.  I earned my MBA in 2011 from Rider University and have chosen to remain in my current position here in Molecular Biology because I am amazed and inspired by the research being done here, and the great faculty I support.

In my free time I enjoy working with horses, particularly in the discipline of Dressage.  I run a small dressage show management company which provides management and staffing for national level shows licensed by the United States Equestrian Federation and the United States Dressage Federation.

Guanhua He
 Graduate Student

 I did my undergraduate at Tsinghua University, during which I spent two years in exploring neuroscience. I like the moments when we can really find something new when doing science. I enjoy outdoor activities especially ski, hiking in leisure time.
Shan He  

I obtained my Ph.D. from Peking University, China. During my Ph.D., I focused on studying plant development and reproduction, and identified an important new imprinted gene with maternal effect in Arabidopsis.

I joined the Jonikas lab in 2016. I am studying the formation of pyrenoid, the important but poorly understood organelle which is crucial for the more efficient photosynthesis of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. I have had an interest in photosynthesis since my childhood and because of this, I am excited to have the opportunity to do research in this field.

“Nature I loved, and next to nature, art.” - Walter Savage Landor

In my spare time, I like painting and doing handiworks. I am now learning acrylic painting in Princeton. I also like traveling, photographing and tasting delicious food.

Alan Itakura Stanford Biology PhD Student

I was raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and attended Imperial College London for my undergraduate in Biology. There I did a summer internship at the John Innes Centre in Norwich and developed my interest in plants. I then spent 2 years in Saudi Arabia at KAUST, where I worked with Timothy Ravasi analyzing large transcriptomics datasets for my masters thesis.

I am now a 1st year Biology PhD student and have just joined the Jonikas lab, and am actively defining my project.

I love travelling, outside adventures and eating tasty food (Vietnamese is my current favorite). My current goal is to improve my rock climbing abilities!
Moshe Kafri            
 EMBO Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I obtained my Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science where I was mentored by Namma Barkai. My background is yeast system biology, and I researched the “Cost of protein production”. 

I joined Jonikas lab at fall 2017 and am excited to contribute to the goal of applying systems biology and high through put methods into the plants kingdom.

In 2018 I was awarded an EMBO fellowship to work on photosynthesis regulation.

In my free time, I like reading, playing with my children and watching movies.  
Xiaobo Li Associate Research Scholar / Project Leader (Mutant Library Project)
 I obtained my Ph.D. from Michigan State University. During my Ph.D., I worked with Christoph Benning and Min-Hao Kuo on the biochemistry and genetics of lipid metabolism in Chlamydomonas. I also had a side project to study aging with Baker's yeast as a model system.

In the Jonikas lab, I am working together with several colleagues on the generation of an indexed mutant library for the Chlamydomonas community. I am also going to use this library to answer questions in plant lipid metabolism.

After working hours, I like cooking, watching movies and playing badminton.

 Moritz Meyer    
 Associate Research Scholar
 I was sampling diminutive red algae in the Bay of Calvi for my final year project at the University of Liège when I first observed pyrenoids. This chloroplast micro-compartment and the molecular adaptations facilitating photosynthesis in aqueous environments have been at the heart of my research interests ever since. I did my PhD in the laboratory of Howard Griffiths in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, where we discovered that the small subunit of the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco imparts pyrenoid competency, in collaboration with Robert J. Spreitzer (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). This discovery formed a substantive part of a US-UK translational Research project, “Combining Algal and Plant Photosynthesis”, leading to a six-years collaboration with Martin Jonikas. I finally joined Martin’s lab at Princeton University in February 2017, where I continue to investigate the algal pyrenoid in the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.
 Weronika Patena Bioinformatics Analyst
 I graduated from Caltech with B.S. degrees in Biology and Computer Science.  I spent over 4 years in the McManus lab at UCSF, researching shRNA design and developing a data analysis pipeline for RNAi screens. 

I started out doing more benchwork than bioinformatics, but my interest has shifted to applying my programming skills to analysis of experimental data and developing tools for others to use.  New large-scale screens made possible by the advances in deep-sequencing provide a lot of data that we’re still learning how to get the most from, and plenty of interesting computational problems. I very much enjoy both thinking about the best way to do the analysis, and the process of writing efficient and flexible programs. My favorite programming language is Python.

I have too many hobbies, including rock-climbing, hiking, role-playing games, skiing, various crafts, and occasional photography - but most of the time I just stay in to read and relax in the evenings. I love to travel to visit friends and family in Poland and all over the US when I have the time.

 Silvia Ramundo Collaborating Postdoc, Walter Lab, UCSF
 There is ample evidence that cells sense the functional state of chloroplasts. Thus, retrograde signals must travel from the chloroplast to the host nucleus to trigger reprogramming of gene expression. I am very curious to understand, at the mechanistic level, how conditions inside the organelle are sensed, how signals are triggered, how they cross compartmental boundaries, and to what extent they are self-sufficient or integrated with other signalling pathways. To this aim, I am in the process of designing a high-throughput genetic screen in close collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Martin Jonikas.

I graduated from Bologna University, in Italy, with a degree in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology. I carried out my master thesis project on splicing regulation in the model yeast S. cerevisiae at the Center for Genomic Regulation, in Barcelona, Spain. In summer 2006, I trained in the laboratory of Dr. Jim Umen at the Salk Institute, in San Diego, USA, where I learned about regulation of cell cycle in the green algae C reinhardtii. Later on, I joined the International PhD Program in Life Sciences at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland. As a major achievement of my research studies in the laboratory of Prof. Jean-David Rochaix, I developed a riboswitch-mediated gene expression system. This genetic tool made it possible, for the first time, to achieve a specific, conditional and reversible knock-down of any essential chloroplast gene. Since autumn 2013, I am a postdoctoral scholar at UCSF, in the laboratory of Prof. Peter Walter.    

 Kelly Van Baalen    
  Undergraduate Student

I am an undergraduate in the class of 2019, studying Molecular Biology and Environmental Studies. I am interested in the pyrenoid and carbon concentrating mechanism of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii because of their potential to address global environmental challenges. I am passionate about environmental protection and sustainable development, and I work for the Princeton Office of Sustainability. In my free time I enjoy running, traveling, and reading a good book.

Lianyong Wang    
Lianyong Wang Photo

I obtained my Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Biostudies in Kyoto University, where I was mentored by Hideya Fukuzawa in characterizing a chloroplast calcium-binding protein in the regulation of carbon-concentrating mechanism in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.

I joined the Jonikas lab in 2017 to investigate the localization of predicted chloroplast proteins and identify their interactors using a new high-throughput fluorescent tagging strategy. Besides, to satisfy my interests in pyrenoid formation, I am working on a potential component of pyrenoid as well.

In my free time I enjoy hiking, reading, and watching sport events.

 Yihua Xie        
  Undergraduate Student
I am currently a junior at Princeton University majoring in Molecular Biology. I like working in science-related fields because they suit my personality and interest more. Coming in as a freshman, I knew I wanted to major in either chemistry or biology and I am glad that I made it happen. Joining Jonikas lab is exciting because working with green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is very novel, and the implications of research here answer questions related to green energy and food crops. 
Outside of school work, I like to watch anime and cook. I am not a very outdoor person, but I enjoy hiking.


Former Ph.D. Students
Elizabeth Freeman-Rosenzweig, 2012-2017 (ARCS Scholar); now Law Student, U.C. Berkeley
Matthew Prior, 2012-2017 (was joint with Wolf Frommer); now Postdoctoral Fellow, U.C. Riverside

Former Post­docs
Ute Armbruster, 2011-2014 (DFG Fellow); now Research Group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology
Friedrich Fauser, 2015-2017 (DAAD Fellow); now Scientist II at Sangamo Therapeutics
Robert Jinkerson, 2014-2017 (Simons Fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation); now Assistant Professor at U.C. Riverside
Luke Mackinder, 2012-2016 (Carnegie McClintock Fellow); now Lecturer in Plant Biology at the University of York
Leif Pallesen, 2011-2015
Mia Terashima, 2011-2013 (AFRI Fellow); now Assistant Professor at Hokkaido University, Japan
Ru Zhang, 2010-2016; now Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center

Former Technicians
Sean Blum, 2011-2013; now a Ph.D. student in Biomolecular Engineering, in Richard Edward Green's laboratory at UC Santa Cruz
Chris Chen, 2016; now a Research Associate at Caltech
Spencer Gang, 2010-2012; now in the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program, in Elissa Hallem's laboratory at UC Los Angeles
Gregory Reeves, 2013-2014; now a Ph.D. student in Julian Hibberd's laboratory at Cambridge University, UK
Rebecca Yue, 2013-2015; now a technical staff member at Augmedix, Inc., San Francisco, CA
Nina Ivanova, 2012-2016; now a nursing student at San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
Jacob Robertson, 2015-2017; now interviewing with graduate schools

Former Visiting Students
Oliver Caspari
Madeline Mitchell
Rachel Purdon
Elisabeth Schmidtmann

Former Undergraduate Students
Jessie Bacha
Chris Chen
Katie Kavanaugh
Kyssia Mendoza
Jason Middleton
Matthew Millican
Matthew Nemeth
John Nguyen
Jackie Osaki
Charlotte Philp
Matthew Rodman
Bradley Spicher
Rachel Vasquez
Graciela Watrous

Former High School Students
Augustine Chemparathy
Shriya Ghosh
Zoe Friedberg