Current Members

 Martin Jonikas PI 
 I obtained my Ph.D. from UC San Francisco where I was mentored by Jonathan Weissman, Peter Walter and Maya Schuldiner. In my thesis project, we developed a novel high-throughput genetic strategy for identifying new genes with roles in protein folding in the secretory pathway, and for accurately predicting their functions.

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.
 Friedrich Fauser

I obtained my Ph.D. from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology where I developed new site-specific genome engineering techniques for plants in the group of Holger Puchta. My research focused on the so-called in planta Gene Targeting technology. In this context, I predominantly concentrated on the transfer of the CRISPR/Cas system to Arabidopsis but also on other DNA double-strand break inducing agents like ZFN, TALENs and Meganucleases.

In 2015, I joined the Jonikas lab to explore how photosynthetic organisms can be engineered much more rapidly in the future. Therefore, I use a genome-saturating Chlamydomonas mutant collection and high-throughput tools to gain a better understanding of DNA recombination mechanisms and multi-component pathways. My work is supported by a fellowship within the Postdoc Program of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

In my free time, I enjoy biking, hiking, barbecuing and playing the guitar.

Liz Freeman Rosenzweig
 Stanford Biology PhD Student

 I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011 with a B.A. in Biology with a focus on Biochemistry. While studying there I worked in Dr. Ursula Goodenough's lab and wrote my senior thesis on late-zygotic microRNAs in Chlamydomonas.

I enjoy research because it is the ultimate logic puzzle. Nature has solved complex problems billions of years before humans stumbled upon the same questions, and the ability to uncover the secrets of the world we think we know so well amazes me. For my graduate work I am studying the carbon concentration mechanism (CCM) of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This mechanism allows for more efficient photosynthesis than in many crop plants, but it is currently not well understood. I am using fluorescent proteins and biosensors to study the dynamics and chemistry of a key but poorly understood component of the CCM: the pyrenoid. It is possible that if we better understood the pyrenoid, we could engineer crop plants to fix more carbon and have higher yield.

Outside of the lab I enjoy digital photography, hiking, reading, and watching reality TV cooking shows – especially those involving dessert.
 Audrey Goh

 Laboratory Technician

Born and raised in New York City, I graduated from New York University with a B.S. in Biomolecular Science and M.S. in Chemistry in 2016, where I worked in Bruce Garetz’s lab studying non-photochemical laser induced nucleation in supersaturated solutions of glycine.

The best part about scientific research is getting to immerse yourself in an entirely new area to learn as much as you can about it through hands-on experience. I’m excited to help generate an even larger indexed mutant library of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to contribute to our understanding of photosynthetic organisms.

When I’m not in the lab, I love working out, playing board games, watching TV, and eating delicious food at New York City restaurants with friends, especially ice cream!

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!
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.

 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.

Matt Prior Stanford Biology PhD Student

 I graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics in 2010. I was fortunate to train in the laboratory of Dr. David Campbell and Dr. Nancy Sturm and completed my department honor thesis on the maturation process of small RNAs in Trypanosoma brucei, a single cell flagellated parasite from Africa.

I enjoy research because it offers the potential to ask and then answer some of the most exciting questions about organisms and their dynamic responses to change and challenge. At the same time, I value how these insights can help us address many problems that require new biologically based solutions.

I am huge fan of being outside with my friends and family. I love hiking and birdwatching in the foothills during the evenings, spearfishing in Carmel with my siblings, and hanging out at night after finishing up in lab.

 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.    


Lab Alumni

Former Post­docs

Ute Armbruster, 2011-2014 (DFG Fellow); now Research Group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology

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
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
Jason Middleton
John Nguyen
Matthew Rodman
Rachel Vasquez
Graciela Watrous
Former High School Students

Augustine Chemparathy
Shriya Ghosh
 Zoe Friedberg