Principal Investigator

Daniela C. Zarnescu

Daniela C. Zarnescu

Professor, Principal Investigator

Daniela studied Physics at University of Bucharest then received a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State (2000) where she researched the role of spectrins in epithelial morphogenesis. Following postdoctoral training in molecular genetics at Emory University, in 2006, she joined the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at University of Arizona where she continues to use Drosophila to study RNA based mechanisms in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. While Daniela does not have much free time she enjoys art, the theatre and watching murder mysteries.

Graduate Students

Ernesto Manzo

Ernesto Manzo

Graduate Student

My primary research goal is to use model organisms to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. I am currently investigating how changes in metabolism affect degenerating motor neurons in ALS. I am also developing experiments that will help determine the role of glial cells in the context of disease. As an HHMI Gilliam Fellow, I am committed to breaking down institutional barriers and promoting diversity in science. I enjoy hot sauce, pistachos, and spending time with my family.

Erik Lehmkuhl

Erik Lehmkuhl

Graduate Student

I'm a graduate student looking to continue my career in research and science education through a doctorate. My primary research goal is to determine physiologically relevant targets of TDP43 mediated translational inhibition in the context of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Master’s Students

 

Undergraduate Students

Stephen Yao

Stephen Yao

Undergraduate Researcher

I'm currently a senior studying Molecular Cellular Biology, Biochemistry and East Asian Studies. I am working on understanding translation in the context of aging organisms and how it may play a role in neurodegeneration. Outside of lab, I enjoy playing basketball, making music, and serving the community.

Matthew Chaung

Matthew Chaung

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi there! I am currently a senior studying Molecular and Cellular Biology, with minors in Biochemistry and Spanish. My research project is looking at the role of copper transport in the context of human disease and motor neuron degeneration. Outside of the lab I enjoy photographing nature and architecture, hiking trails with friends, and exploring Tucson.

Dianne Barrameda

Dianne Barrameda

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi, I’m Dianne and I am a junior majoring in Physiology. I am in the metabolism team and currently using neuromuscular junctions to study the role of metabolic processes on Drosophila that express ALS phenotypes. When I am not in lab, I enjoy watching movies, playing video games, and eating pizookies.

Dakotah Shreiner

Dakotah Shreiner

Undergraduate Researcher

My name is Dakotah Shreiner and I am a junior attending the University of Arizona. I am double majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology with a minor in Business Administration. I am researching metabolism in ALS by using qPCR to quantify the expression of genes in different forms of ALS such as C9 and SOD1. Outside of lab, I enjoy hiking, playing tennis, and hanging out with my friends!

Jason Juang

Jason Juang

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi, my name is Jason and I am a sophomore studying Biochemistry. I am currently working on the drug screen team to determine the effects different compounds have on ALS behavioral phenotypes found inside our fly model. In my free time, I really enjoy watching television and going restaurant hopping around Tucson and Phoenix.

Brittany Williams

Brittany Williams

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi, my name is Brittany. Protein aggregates are a hallmark of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, and they are thought to “evolve” from RNA stress granules. However, their connection to aging is still unknown. The purpose of the study is to analyze the dynamics of stress granule formation in Drosophila melanogaster during aging. The presence of stress granules is ascertained using Drosophila Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (DFMRP) as a marker.

Rachel Bear

Rachel Bear

Undergraduate Researcher

I am a junior studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cellular biology with the goal of pursuing graduate school. I am working on a project that studies potential translational targets of TDP-43 to understand the role of TDP-43 in translation dysregulation. Outside of the lab I really enjoy hiking and spending time on Mt. Lemmon.

Matthew Scandura

Matthew Scandura

Undergraduate Researcher

I’m a junior studying Molecular & Cellular Biology and Biochemistry. My current research is focused on verifying the pathological relevance of identified translational targets of TDP-43 in ALS. After graduation I hope to continue doing research in a PhD program as well as keeping up with my current hobbies of writing and acting.

Gabe Birchak

Gabe Birchak

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi, my name is Gabe Birchak, and I am a second year student majoring in molecular and cellular biology and minoring in biochemistry. I currently do work examining and intervening in the metabolic processes of fruit flies expressing ALS phenotypes. I have aspirations of performing research as a molecular geneticist. My hobbies include playing the guitar and golfing.

Randall Eck

Randall Eck

Undergraduate Researcher

Hi, my name is Randall Eck and I am a sophomore doubling majoring in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Political Science. I am working with the aging team to develop a model of translational and RNA stress granule activity during normal aging. I spent a summer in the Czech Republic conducting research at the Institute of Parasitology through UBRP’s Prozkoumat program. I hope to continue on to a Ph.D program after I graduate. If you ever want to know whats going on in the news, I am your guy!

Briggs Carhart

Briggs Carhart

Undergraduate Researcher

Hello! I am a senior studying Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, and Physiology with minors in Biochemistry and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with the intention of attending to medical school. My project is looking at the role of Copper homeostasis in human pathology and motor neuron degeneration. When not in the lab, I like to dance ballet, participate in STEM education reform, and tell cheesy jokes.

 

Past Members of Zarnescu Lab
Ben Zaepfel
Jordan Barrows
Elise Munoz
Spencer Vaughan
Danielle Mathieson
Melissa Sayegh
Abigail O’ Connor
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