Lab Members

lab members jumping<br />

Principal Investigator

Amy Gladfelter

Amy S. Gladfelter
Professor of Cell Biology, Duke University Medical School
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University

A.B. Princeton University, 1996
Ph.D. Duke University, 2001

I find thinking about cells and training people to be scientists an absolutely fascinating, challenging and rewarding life. I love new microscopes, puzzling data and starting new collaborations.


Joanne Ekena

Joanne Ekena
Lab Manager
B.S. University of Oregon, 1993
M.S. University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign, 1999

Cloning Queen, Wrangler of Fungi, Pillar of Support.

Ben Stormo

Ben Stormo, Ph.D
Staff Scientist
B.A. Bowdoin College, 2008
Ph.D. Duke University, 2017

Most of our knowledge about cell biology comes from work done in a handful of common cell types. I am interested in how cells that differ from these common cell types continue to do all the things that cells need to do. I study this using genetics, light microscopy and whatever other tools are necessary to find the answer.

Ben Stormo

Elsa Lauer
Research Technician
B.S. University of Wisconsin-Madision, 2017

Previously I worked at a large healthcare laboratory doing high throughput testing of maternal blood serum specimens. Now with the Gladfelter Laboratory I am a Research Technician whose goal is to help the lab run smoothly in all areas.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Christine Roden

Christine Roden, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Pittsburgh, 2010
Ph.D. Yale University, 2018

I study how cells use RNA sequence and structure to encode mesoscale biophysical properties of liquid-like droplets of protein and RNA. I am also interested in understanding and manipulating these liquid-like droplets in normal and diseased states.

Wilton Snead

Wilton Snead, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Pittsburgh, 2013
Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin, 2018

I am interested in how cellular membranes compartmentalize and organize the cell to facilitate essential functions. In the Gladfelter Lab, I study how membranes control the patterning and assembly of liquid-like droplets of protein and RNA. I enjoy using diverse biophysics and microscopy toolsets to answer challenging questions in biology. I love science for the freedom to explore fascinating questions using new and creative approaches.

Madeline Keenen

Madeline Keenen, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Arizona, 2014
Ph.D. University of California at San Francisco, 2020

Diffusion of molecules through the nuclear pore is the most commonly studied form of nuclear signaling. However, the nuclear membrane is continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum and many protein complexes span the inner and outer nuclear membrane tethering both heterochromatin and the cytoplasmic cytoskeleton simultaneously. I am using the syncytial cells in the human placenta as a model to examine mechanisms of nuclear communication with the cytoplasm.

Ameya Jalihal

Ameya Jalihal Ph.D.
B. Tech SASTRA University, India, 2015
Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2020

Cells are constrained by the rules of physics and chemistry, and yet are constantly pushing these limits to survive and thrive in challenging environments. In a fungal syncytium, the environment is sensed by many nuclei simultaneously, and they then have to respond to it by acting in concert. How do spatial organization, physical forces and chemistry of phase separation come together to build and protect the organism in such systems?

Grace Hamilton

Grace Hamilton Ph.D.
B.S. Bates College, 2015
Ph.D. University of Washington, 2020

How do septins, the most enigmatic element of the cytoskeleton, contribute to the exotic morphologies and cell divisions of marine fungi? I’m curious to see what the extant diversity of fungal septins can teach us about the rules governing these complex polymers. Passionate about teaching as well as research, I am a member of the SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program.

Zachary Geisterfer

Zachary Geisterfer, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Hawai’i at Hilo, 2017
Ph.D. University of Wyoming, 2021

Molecular self-assembly is at the heart of many diverse biological processes, yet it’s not always clear how cells encourage self-assembling molecules to find one another at the right time and place, despite the hustle and bustle going on inside the cell. I’m interested in understanding more about the general mechanisms, both physical and biochemical, underlying the spatial organization of self-assembling networks, and how these types of interaction may influence cellular function and decision making.

Veronica Farmer

Veronica Farmer, Ph.D.
B.A. Mount Holyoke College, 2013
Ph.D. Vanderbilt University, 2022

I am fascinated by understanding how small molecular differences can manifest dramatic changes to larger order dynamic architectures. Syncytial cells of the human placenta form elaborate three-dimensional structures necessary to support development of the fetus. I am interested in elucidating the role of the cytoskeleton in defining and maintaining these structures.

Veronica Farmer

Audrey Williams, Ph.D.
B.A. Reed College, 2014
Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2023

I think about how fungal cells shape themselves, and how they adjust those shapes to survive in different (and often extreme) environments. As a window into these questions, I study the black yeast Aureobasidium pullulans, which is remarkable for both its wide environmental range and for its impressive morphological variability. I ask how genetic factors and environment-induced morphological plasticity each contribute to its ability to adopt different shapes.

Graduate Students

Ellysa Vogt

Ellysa Vogt
B.S. St. Mary’s University, 2017

Motivated by questions stemming from biodiversity and evolution, I am interested in exploring the cell biology of black yeasts isolated from marine environments surrounding Woods Hole, MA. The marine environment presents a variety of stresses for fungi that necessitate particular morphological adaptations. My project aims to develop genetic tools in these relatively uncharted organisms to study their unique morphogenesis.

Grace McLaughlin

Grace McLaughlin
B.S. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2017

I am working on understanding the nature and organization of the cytoplasm through intracellular particle tracking, as well as modeling the cell cycle in multinucleated cells to study asynchronous nuclear division.

Allie Skinkle

Allie Skinkle
B.A. Rice University, 2019

I’m interested in how cells organize themselves through time and space during development. I study how spatial patterning of biomolecular condensates in syncytial cells of the placenta promotes invasive events critical to blastocyst implantation

Brandy Curtis

Brandy Curtis
B.S. Grand Valley State University, 2019

Structure-function relationships are my jam. I’m interested in learning how distinct septin domains are tuned for different membrane properties and how both contribute to septin higher-order assembly.

Alex Crocker

Alex Crocker
B.A. Hendrix College, 2016

Fungi can take on truly diverse morphologies and lifestyles. I study how they establish polarity landmarks within the cell, and how regulation of polarity establishment has been rewired to adapt different fungi to their environments. I am also a member of Tim Elston’s lab.

Sierra Cole

Sierra Cole
B.S. Lafayette College, 2020

The cytosol of the cell is packed with a variety of macromolecules in what may appear to be a very chaotic system, yet the cell is still able to make sure specific reactions happen in specific places. My project aims to better understand how this organization arises in the cell specifically by looking at the formation of biological condensates.

Evan Dage

Evan Drage
B.S. Weber State University, 2015

I am taking both an evolutionary genetic and cell biological approach to studying fungi. I am interested in how environmental stressors such as temperature impact fungal morphogenesis in the genus Eremothecium. I am also co-advised with Daniel Matute.

Evan Dage

Claudia Petrucco
B.S. Michigan State University East Lansing, 2019

Broadly, I am interested in unconventional or “weird” cell biology. There has been so much biology  learned from the study of a few model organisms, but there is a whole range of organisms yet to be explored with interesting biology that can challenge are current assumptions of cell biology! Currently, I study the polyextremotolerant fungus, Aureobasidium pullulans. Unlike most well studied yeast, A. pullulans yeast cells can be multinucleate, form multiple buds at the same time, then undergo mitosis simultaneously resulting in each bud receiving a nucleus. I am interested in how these cells ensure each bud gets a nucleus.

Evan Dage

Vita Zhang
B.S. University of Notre Dame, 2022

I am a biophysics enthusiast and believe that the central and bold goal of biophysical science is to achieve a predictive understanding of the biomolecular world using a physical framework. I am working on the in-silico evolution of RNAs and reconstitution experimental methods to examine the ramifications of various biophysical parameters.

Undergraduate Students

Joseph Holmes

Joseph Holmes
Class of 2024
Biology, B.S
Chemistry & Spanish Double Minor

Working with Christine

Katherine Wadkovsky

Katherine Wadkovsky
Class of 2025
Environmental Studies, B.A
Studio Art Minor

Working with Grace H.

Graduate and Postdoc Alumni

Ian SeimPostdoctoral fellow, Stephan Grill, Max Planck Institute
Brad BartholomaiScientist, The Better Meat Company
Ben WoodsSenior Medical Writer, Medtronic
Kevin CannonPostdoctoral fellow, Rick Baker, UNC Chapel Hill
Therese GerbichPostdoctoral fellow, Timothy Mitchison, Harvard University
Chrissy ChristianeProject Leader, Dewpoint Therapeutics
José Vargas-MuñizAssistant Professor, Virginia Tech University
Erin Langdon StraubAssociate Director, Corporate Strategy and Operations, Riva Therapeutics
Jean SmithAssistant Professor of Biology, Stetson University
Kelsey GasiorAssistant Professor, Mathematics Department, Notre Dame University
Bradley DeMayVice president, INEX Capital & Growth Advisors
Rebecca MeserollSpecial Advisor to the Director, Office of Portfolio Analysis, National Institutes of Health
Cori AndersonAssistant Professor of the Practice in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Wesleyan University
ChangHwan LeeAssistant Professor, Biological Sciences, The RNA Institute, University at Albany
Samantha DundonPrincipal Scientist, Platform Biology
Andrew BridgesAssistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
Molly McQuilkenBusiness Development, Arivis Imaging
Anum KhanSenior Application Scientist, Akoya Biosciences
Huaiying ZhangAssistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon
Dhana NairAssociate Director R&D, Sekisui Diagnostic

Department of Cell Biology

Duke University School of Medicine