Lab Members

Our Staff

Our Fellows

Dahong Chen, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dahong’s thesis work characterized the function of an RNA-binding protein Shep in maturation of the Drosophila nervous system in the laboratory of Dr. Randall Hewes at the University of Oklahoma. He obtained a K99 career transition award and is currently studying insulator-mediated regulation of the transcriptome, epigenome, and 3D chromatin structure during neuronal maturation of both Drosophila and mice. He will become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at SUNY at Buffalo in January 2024.

Shue Chen, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Shue graduated from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing, under the supervision of Dr. Liangbiao Chen. Her thesis mainly focused on the mechanism of cold adaptation in Antarctic fish and the relationship with retrotransposon amplification. Currently, she is studying the formation of insulator bodies and their role in gypsy insulator function. She will become an Associate Professor at the College of Fisheries and Life Science at Shanghai Ocean University in November 2023.

Yang Chen, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Yang’s thesis work at China Agricultural University in Beijing focused on data classification methods and an online data sharing platform for multi-source plant electrophysiological data. He went on to do a postdoc in the laboratory of Dr. Zhengqing Ouyang at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he developed algorithms for single cell transcriptome analysis and a database for RNA structures. He developed the DiffChIPL algorithm for differential peak analysis and is currently utilizing neural networks to model how 3D genome organization influences gene expression.

Dagyeong (Irene) Yang
Ph.D. student

Irene obtained a B.A. in Biology from Concordia College and an M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Long Island University. She then went on to perform research on the effect of DNA damage on gene expression in the laboratory of Dr. David Scicchitano at New York University. Irene is enrolled in the Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Genomics Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland and is a member of the Graduate Partnerships Program at NIH. She is studying the interplay between transcription and genome organization.

Savanna Lyda
Ph.D. student

Savanna graduated from Brevard College with a B.S. in Biology and worked in the Molecular Diagnostic Lab at the Greenwood Genetic Center. She is now enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland and is a member of the Graduate Partnerships Program at NIH. Savanna is studying mechanisms of chromatin insulator regulation and 3D genome organization.

Mallika Bhattacharya, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Mallika obtained her Ph.D. in Dr. Michelle Starz-Gaiano’s lab at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her thesis work elucidated transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms by which steroid hormone signaling regulates collective cell migration during Drosophila oogenesis. She is currently studying the regulation of 3D chromatin architecture during development.


Leah Rosin, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Leah’s thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Barbara Mellone at the University of Connecticut focused on the molecular interaction between two essential centromere proteins in Drosophila and illustrated how co-evolution of these proteins plays a vital role in centromere assembly. She went on to do a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Joyce, where she used Oligopaint FISH to study chromosome territory formation in Drosophila. In the Lei laboratory, Leah obtained a K99 career transition award and combined molecular approaches with microscopy to study conserved aspects of genome organization in silkworm and pantry moths, Drosophila, and mice. She became a Stadtman Tenure Track Investigator in the Genetics and Epigenetics of Development affinity group of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) at NIH in September 2023.

Saumya Keremane, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Saumya graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Mayfield to optimize recombinant protein expression in green algae. She studied conserved functions of insulator proteins in the mouse nervous system. Saumya is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Oregon.

Indira Bag, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Indira’s thesis work focused on the role of the Drosophila RNA-binding protein Rm62 in heterochromatin formation and gene silencing in the laboratory of Dr. Manika Pal-Bhadra at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology. She went on to do postdoctoral work studying transcriptional silencing by Piwi in Dr. Utpal Bhadra’s laboratory at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. Indira characterized the roles of CLAMP, M1BP, and Isha in gypsy insulator function and genome organization. She was awarded the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship hosted by the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Faridabad, Haryana in India.

Catherine McManus, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

In her thesis work at Yale University in the laboratory of Dr. Valerie Reinke, Cassie characterized the function and expression of a novel nuclear factor specific to the C. elegans germ line. She studied differences in chromatin insulator activity and regulation between tissue types. Cassie is currently a Scientist at MilliporeSigma.

Juan Manuel Caravaca, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Juanma performed his thesis work on the chromatin structure of metaphase chromosomes at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Ramon Daban. He went on to perform postdoctoral work on mitotic bookmarking of transcription factors in Kenneth Zaret’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. Juanma studied the regulation of insulator-dependent looping interactions. He is currently an R&D Scientist at Leidos.

Ezequiel Nazer, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Ezequiel pioneered the study of RNA-binding protein and mRNA localization dynamics in trypanosomes for his thesis work at the Universidad de San Martin in Buenos Aires, Argentina under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Sanchez. Ezequiel studied the role of AGO2 in transcriptional control and functional interaction with LaminB to regulate chromatin topology. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Institute IFIBYNE – Ciudad Universitaria.

Margarita Brovkina, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Margarita graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Maryland, Baltimore County. At UMBC, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Michelle Starz-Gaiano examining the mechanisms of coordinated cell migration in Drosophila. Margarita studied the role of RNA-binding protein Shep in gypsy insulator function. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Dr. E. Josie Clowney.

Madoka Chinen, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Madoka identified a novel role for splicing factors in heterochromatin formation in fission yeast during her thesis work in Tokio Tani’s laboratory at Kumamoto University. She took a structure/function approach to analyze AGO2 activity and turnover. She is currently a Medical Science Liaison at Biogen.

Prisma Lopez, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Prisma graduated with a Molecular and Cell Biology B.S. degree from the University of Connecticut. She worked on the function of noncoding mRNAs in gypsy insulator activity. She went on to complete a bioinformatics master’s program at Boston University and is currently a researcher at Tufts Medical Center.

Karole D’Orazio, M.S.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Karole obtained M.S. and B.S. degrees in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology at Stony Brook University. She worked to delineate the specificity of noncoding mRNA function in gypsy insulator activity and developed high throughput image analysis of transcript localization in cell culture. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. Rachel Green, performed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Danesh Moazed at Harvard Medical School, and is currently a Scientist at Regeneron.

Su Jun Lim, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

At the University of Rochester Medical Center in the laboratory of Dr. Willis Li, Su Jun’s thesis work focused on mechanisms of heterochromatin formation including characterization of a novel RNAi factor in Drosophila. Su Jun studied the function of the exosome in chromatin insulator activity. She is currently Innovation and Commercialization Manager at Argonne National Laboratory.

Leah Matzat, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Leah performed her thesis work on mRNA nuclear export in the laboratory of Dr. Lyne Levesque at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She used her expertise in RNA-protein biochemistry to examine the function of a newly identified insulator-associated RNA-binding protein. Leah is currently a Multi-Disciplinary Development Team Lead at Invitae.

Matthew King, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Matt was a Biological Sciences and Neuroscience double major at the University of Delaware. He studied the functions of RNA-binding proteins in chromatin insulator activity. Matt went on to complete his Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of Dr. Sabine Petry at Princeton University. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Rohit Pappu at Washington University in St. Louis.

Patrick Boyle, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Pat’s thesis work to purify and study DNA replication complexes was carried out at University of Notre Dame under the supervision of Dr. Subhash Basu. He moved to University of Virginia to map and characterize replication origins on a genome wide level as part of the ENCODE project in the laboratory of Dr. Anindya Dutta. He examined enzymatic activities associated with chromatin insulator complexes. He is currently a Senior Scientist at QIAGEN.

Nellie Moshkovich, Ph.D.
Ph.D. student

Nellie was enrolled in the Molecular and Cell Biology Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland and was a member of the Graduate Partnerships Program at NIH. She studied the role of RNA silencing in heterochromatin formation and chromatin insulator function. Nellie went on to teach at Hands on Science, a local non-profit organization that encourages science and mathematics education for children. She then became a Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellow at NCI in the laboratory of Dr. Lalage Wakefield. Nellie is now a Senior Scientist at Neuraly, Inc.

Brandi Thompson, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Brandi’s first experience with Drosophila genetics was as an undergraduate in Dr. Sarah Elgin’s lab at Washington University. She went on to characterize the biochemical activity of a chromatin remodeller for her thesis work at the University of Michigan in the laboratory of Dr. Daniel Bochar. Brandi studied chromatin insulator-dependent looping interactions. She is currently Assistant Director of Hereditary Cancer at GeneDx.

Parul Nisha, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Parul studied molecular mechanisms of heterochromatic gene silencing in Dr. Amy Csink's laboratory. She studied the differential effects of RNA silencing on various chromatin insulators. Parul is currently a Senior Director of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Clinical Research Strategies, LLC.

Matthew Emmett, M.S.
Technical IRTA

Matt obtained both a B.A. in Biology and M.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Johns Hopkins University. He studied the effects of insulators on the chromatin landscape using a variety of molecular techniques. He obtained his M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Dr. Mitchell Lazar and is now a Hematology/Oncology Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Patrick Murphy, Ph.D.
Postbaccalaureate IRTA

Patrick graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Biology. He worked on the development of a visual cell based assay for higher order nuclear organization that will be used to perform a high throughput dsRNA knockdown screen. Patrick went on to obtain a Ph.D. at Cornell University under the supervision of Dr. Paul Soloway and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Bradley Cairns at the University of Utah. He is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Group Photos

Group photo of Nuclear Organization and Gene Expression SectionBack left to right: Dahong Chen, Shue Chen, Savanna Lyda, Irene Yang, and Yang Chen.
Front left to right: Saumya Keremane, Indira Bag, Elissa Lei, and Leah Rosin.
Photo of section members from left to right: Elissa Lei, Yang Chen, Saumya Keremane, Cassie McManus, Shue Chen, Indira Bag, Leah Rosin, Dahong Chen.From left to right: Elissa Lei, Yang Chen, Saumya Keremane, Cassie McManus, Shue Chen, Indira Bag, Leah Rosin, Dahong Chen
Lab photo July 2018
From left to right: Shue Chen, Indira Bag, Stefanie Brizuela (summer student), Cassie McManus, Elissa Lei, Dahong Chen, Ryan Dale (former LCDB Bioinformatician), Ezequiel Nazer, Juanma Caravaca, Margarita Brovkina, Cameron Palmer (LCDB Bioinformatician), Renee Chou (LCDB Bioinformatics Postbac IRTA)
The LCDB team at the bowling alley
From left to right: Dahong Chen, Elissa Lei, Juan Manuel Caravaca, Madoka Chinen, Ezequiel Nazer, Ryan Dale [LCDB Bioinformatician]