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Lab Photos

Principal Investigator

amy_newAmy S. Gladfelter

Associate Professor of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; affiliated with Curriculum in Genetics, Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate program and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology graduate program

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. You can read more about me here.

Lab Manager 

Joanne Ekena

B.S. University of Oregon, 1993
M.S. University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign, 1999
Cloning Queen, Wrangler of Fungi, Pillar of Support.





Research Technician

Aamani Thulluru

B.S. Stetson University, 2020

Morphogenesis and structural change are often tied to specialized cellular function. I am studying the development of mononucleated cells into a syncytial cell in the human placenta. I hope to understand how morphogenesis is linked to changes in genetic output that result in the placenta’s diverse functions.



Postdoctoral Researchers

Ben Stormo, Ph.D.
B.A. Bowdoin College, 2008
PhD 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.




Christine Roden, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Pittsburgh, 2010
PhD 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, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Pittsburgh, 2013
PhD 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, Ph.D.
B.S. University of Arizona, 2014
PhD 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 Ph.D.

B. Tech SASTRA University, India, 2015
PhD 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 Ph.D.

B.S. Bates College, 2015
PhD 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.


Ian Seim  Ph.D.

B.S UNC Chapel Hill, 2014
PhD UNC Chapel Hill, 2022
My project involves developing molecular dynamic-based simulations of RNAs and proteins that undergo phase separation.  I work in collaboration with Daphne Klotsa’s group in Applied Physical Sciences

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

Graduate Students


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
B.S. UNC 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
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
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
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
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

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.

Undergraduate Students

Noah Clifford
Class of 2023
Biology, B.S
Working with Alex







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

Working with Christine





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

Working with Grace H.






Graduate and Postdoc Alumni

Brad Bartholomai
Scientist, The Better Meat Company
Ben Woods
Senior Medical Writer, Medtronic
Kevin Cannon
Postdoctoral fellow, Rick Baker, UNC Chapel Hill
Therese Gerbich
Postdoctoral fellow, Timothy Mitchison, Harvard University
Chrissy Iserman
Dewpoint Therapeutics
José Vargas-Muñiz
Assistant professor, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Erin Langdon Straub
Business development manager, Harvard University
Jean Smith
Assistant professor of biology, Stetson University
Kelsey Gasior
Dean’s Postdoc, Florida State University
Bradley DeMay
Beacon group, consulting
Rebecca Meseroll
Science Policy, NIH
Cori Anderson
Assistant teaching professor, Wesleyan University
ChangHwan Lee
Postdoctoral fellow, Judith Kimble, University of Wisconsin
Samantha Dundon
Postdoctoral fellow, Tom Pollard, Yale
Andrew Bridges
Postdoctoral fellow, Bonnie Bassler, Princeton
Molly McQuilken
Business Development, Arivis Imaging
Anum Khan
Advanced imaging specialist, Stanford University
Huaiying Zhang
Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon
Dhana Nair
Director of Research and Development, DiabetOmics Inc