Daniela C. ZarnescuProfessor, 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.
Erik LehmkuhlDoctoral 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
Suvithanandhini LoganathanDoctoral Student
My primary research goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying metabolic dysregulation in ALS. I am also working on validating potential mRNA targets in Drosophila model of ALS . When I am not in lab, I enjoy hiking and practice Krav Maga.
Chuol KuethMaster's Student
I am a master’s student in the Cellular and Molecular Medicine graduate program. My primary research goal is to probe the mechanism of specific drugs using a pharmacogenetic approach in Drosophila model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. I am also contributing to a project aimed at identifying mRNAs that are dystranslated in ALS.
Elizabeth DolbeckMaster's Student
Hi, my name is Elizabeth Dolbeck, and I am a student majoring Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Molecular and Cellular Biology, with the goal of one day pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience. In lab, I explore the role of stress granules in the progression of ALS and frontotemporal dementia. Outside of lab, I enjoy listening to true crime podcasts, playing Nintendo games, and watercoloring.
Briggs CarhartMaster's Student
Hi folks, I am an alumnus of the NSCS, MCB, and Physiology undergrad programs at the UA. I am currently working on my MPH with a focus in Epidemiology. In the lab, I study metal ion homeostasis in ALS and drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease. I am also a graduate researcher in Pharmacy studying drug-drug interactions related to encephalopathy and cardiac arrhythmias. My hobbies include ballet, walking my dogs, classical music (trombone), and hiking. I am always down for a coffee break!
Taylor WingfieldMaster's Student
Graduated from the U of A in 2014 with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Research experience includes epigenetic mechanisms of Lymphoma with Dr. Catherine Smith. Currently a part of the Copper Team in Daniela Zarnescu’s lab studying ALS. Hobbies include reading, cycling, and back packing. Career aspirations of working in industry in the field of cancer research or Neurological disorder research.
Sam MacklinResearch Technician
I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, and minors in French and Optical Engineering. During my undergraduate studies, my primary focus was the role of the copper regulatory protein, ATP7A, and its possible connections to ALS, as well as performing a large drug screen. I have recently joined the Zarnescu Lab as a research technician, and now participate on various projects in the lab. Some of my hobbies include reading, cooking, and hiking.
Randall EckUndergraduate Researcher
Hi, my name is Randall Eck and I am 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!
Hannah BallUndergraduate Researcher
HI I’m Hannah and I am studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Biochemistry. I am working on the metabolism team to study the effectiveness of different treatments for ALS through behavioral assays. I hope to get my Masters degree and become a genetic counselor one day. Outside of lab I enjoy hanging out with friends and family.
Ryan O'HaraUndergraduate Researcher
Hi, I'm Ryan and I'm studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and Astronomy. Currently, I work with the copper team on projects relating to the isolation and analysis of ALS-ridden adult fruit fly NMJs as well as the effects of apilimod-based drug food on various fly genotypes. After graduation, I hope to attend medical school and pursue a career in astrobiology. Outside of lab, I spend most of my free time playing the piano, writing, swimming, and running.
Alexander BlytheUndergraduate Researcher
My name is Alexander Blythe. I am majoring in biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology. I'm currently assisting in research involving translational targets of TDP-43 in fruit fly models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). I hope to continue doing physiological and biochemical research into cellular mechanisms underpinning neurological disorders and, after graduation, attend medical school. I enjoy reading, hiking, and practicing piano in my free time.
Grace HalaufiaUndergraduate Researcher
Clare HanssUndergraduate Researcher
I am currently studying Neuroscience with an emphasis in cognition at the University of Arizona. My project on the RNA binding team is to study the interactions between TDP wild type and mutant flies with specific translation initiation factors through a larval turning assay. I hope to continue collecting data for this project to determine how ALS affects motor function through its interaction with protein synthesis.
Nicolai PeñaUndergraduate Researcher
Hi my name is Nic and I am studying neuroscience and biochemistry. A common molecular phenotype found in ALS models and patient samples is impaired RNA metabolism. I am specifically looking at how protein synthesis may be dysregulated in ALS motor neurons. By learning which proteins and signal pathways disrupt translation in ALS, we can begin to discover common disease mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets.
My Duyen TranUndergraduate Researcher
My name is MyDuyen (Meyoon) and I am currently a Molecular and Cellular Biology major. I work with the aging team to examine how stress granules change during aging. I enjoy learning biology and listening to podcasts on occasion. When I can, I love to hangout with friends watching movies.
Moira Sinclair GidsegUndergraduate Researcher
I am getting a double degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL). My primary research goal is to determine the effect of aging on stress granule formation and disassembly in Drosophila, specifically in long-lived (MTH) and higher granule formation (RIN-GFP) strains.
Maria MaciasUndergraduate Researcher
Hello, I'm Maria and I'm currently studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Mexican American Studies. I'm working with the metabolism team to study how ALS is affected through diet. I plan on attending graduate school and pursing a career in research.
Jason JuangUndergraduate Researcher
My name is Jason and I am majoring in biochemistry. I am currently working on a project that strives to understand how modifying circadian rhythms may affect cellular quiescence in neuroblasts within Drosophila. In my free time, I enjoy getting caught up on new TV shows or movies, as well as restaurant hopping.
Dominic CarrilloUndergraduate Researcher
Hello my name is Dominic and I am studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Currently in the lab I am working on making a drosophila model of FTD using different C9ORF expressions in order to better understand the role of these gene expansions in FTD. I hope to go on to medical school to one day become a neurologist. My hobbies include playing the clarinet, playing video games, and spending time with my friends and family.
Brenn BeloneUndergraduate Researcher
Hi, my name is Brenn Belone and I am majoring in Physiology. Currently, I work with the metabolism team studying how metabolic changes affect motor neurons in ALS through behavioral assays. Upon graduating, my goal is to attend medical school and become a physician. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me scribing in an urology office, competing in powerlifting meets, and trying new restaurants across Tucson.
Zachary HammerUndergraduate Researcher
Hello! My name is Zach and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroscience. My aspirations include having the best experience on my unique journey to becoming a medical student with interests in neurology, oncology, and surgery. I am the manager of a CrossFit gym where my focus is to improve the lives of those in my community through knowledge of exercise and nutrition. In the lab, I work on the TRAP (Tagged Ribosome Affinity Purification) team where we are determining the translational consequences of TDP-43 cytoplasmic inclusions found in patient spinal cords during ALS.
Nick MortimoreUndergraduate Researcher
Hello, my name is Nick Mortimore. I'm majoring in biochemistry and minoring in data science. I'm currently working in the Zarnescu lab on using fruit-fly models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to screen for drugs that counteract specific proteins associated with the disease. I hope to go onto graduate school and become a research scientist, as lab research is a passion of mine. Outside of science, I enjoy playing the piano, keeping up with politics, and hanging with friends.
Past Members of Zarnescu Lab
Ernesto Manzo, 2019
Dianne Barrameda, 2019
Dakotah Shreiner, 2019
Brittany Williams, 2019
Rachel Bear, 2019
Matthew Scandura, 2019
Gabe Birchak, 2019
Gayatri Sadachar, 2019
Stephen Yao, 2018
Matthew Chaung, 2018
Briggs Carhart, 2018
Bhavani Siddegowda, 2017
Alyssa Coyne, 2017
Ben Zaepfel, 2017
Jordan Barrows, 2017
Robert Kraft, 2017
Elise Munoz, 2017
Spencer Vaughan, 2017
Danielle Mathieson, 2017
Melissa Sayegh, 2017
Abigail O’ Connor, 2017