Current Lab Members

Ann L. Miller, Ph.D.


Associate Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology | Instagram: @themillerlab | LinkedIn

Ann Miller earned a B.A. in Biochemistry at Gustavus Adolphus College. She completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Yale University in Tony Koleske’s Lab and her Postdoc in Cell Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Bill Bement’s Lab. Her predoctoral work was funded by an NIH NRSA, and her postdoctoral work was funded by American Cancer Society and Helen Hay Whitney fellowships as well as a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Grant. Ann was recruited to the University of Michigan in 2011 as an Assistant Professor, and she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018. Research from the Miller Lab, which is funded by grants from the NIH and the NSF, has contributed to our understanding of how adhesion and barrier function are maintained and remodeled during cell shape change events in epithelia. Using Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) embryos as a vertebrate model system, Miller’s group has revealed new information about how the small GTPases RhoA orchestrates the actin cytoskeletal dynamics responsible for epithelial cytokinesis and junction remodeling.  Recent Awards: Vice-Chair (2018) / Chair (2022) of the Signaling by Adhesion Receptors Gordon Research Conference, Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award from the University of Michigan College of Literature Science and the Arts (2018), Exceptional Mentor of the Year Award from the University of Michigan Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (2017), University of Michigan Biological Sciences Scholar (2010).  Other interests: spending time with my husband and our two kids, drinking coffee, traveling, playing and watching sports (esp. volleyball and basketball), reading, cooking/baking, gardening

More about Ann Miller | Ann Miller’s CV | “People and Ideas” article about Ann Miller in JCB

Rachel Stephenson, Ph.D.


Research Scientist | Twitter: @RachlStephensn

Rachel earned her B.A. in Biology at Carleton College and her Ph.D. in MCDB at the University of Michigan (Advisor: Ann Miller).  Rachel wants to know how cells patch small leaks in barrier-forming tissues like skin and intestinal lining so that organs can function optimally. More specifically, she’s interested in how actin and myosin are organized at Rho flares to promote tight junction repair following cell shape changes in epithelial tissues.  Certifications: Lab Animal Research Coordinator Certification.  Awards: Peter Olaus Okkelberg Award, John Gurdon Prize for Best Trainee Talk at International Xenopus meeting, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Bernard Maas Fellowship.  Other interests: improv, baking, crafts, gardening

Jennifer Landino, Ph.D.


Postdoctoral Fellow | Twitter: @jenelandino

Jen earned her B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology at Grand Valley State (Advisor: Dr. Dawn Clifford Hart) and her Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University (Advisor: Dr. Puck Ohi). Jen’s first project is working to reconstitute active Rho wave patterning using Xenopus egg extract and supported lipid bilayers. Her second project is investigating the role of neighbor cell contractility during neighbor cell cytokinesis.  Awards: K99 MOSAIC Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH/NIGMS, MBoC Early Career Editor, American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship.  Other interests: cats, tea, and audiobooks.

Lotte Van den Goor


MCDB Graduate Student | Twitter: @lvandengoor

Lotte earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from Loyola University in Chicago.  Lotte is studying the role of Vinculin, a mechanosensitive protein, in maintaining epithelial barrier function and cell-cell junction integrity at sites of increased tension. Specifically, she is interested in Vinculin’s role at tricellular junctions (the corner where 3 cells meet – known sites of high tension) and the cleavage furrow of a dividing cell (where the contractile ring generates force on neighboring junctions).  Activities: treasurer of MCDB’s Graduate Student Council,  co-chair of MCDB’s Outreach Committee, graduate student advisor of the University of Michigan Pre-Science Club (FIRST) where she’s helped organized a bioscience student seminar that’s aimed to get undergrads more involved in STEM (BioTalk).  Awards: American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship.  Other interests: biking, camping, and hanging out with my cat, Dexter.

Zie Craig, M.S.


MCDB Graduate Student | Instagram: @scraig719 | Twitter: @suzieq7190

Zie earned their B.S. and M.S. at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Zie’s Ph.D. thesis research is investigating the role of the scaffolding protein, Anillin, in regulating contractility across epithelial cell shape change events at both the cell-scale and tissue-scale. Zie is particularly interested in how regulation of contractility is fine-tuned across these events, the role of this regulation in maintaining barrier function, and how these effects are compounded across the tissues of developing organisms. Activities: co-chair of Admissions and Recruitment for MCDB Graduate Student Council. Awards: Center for Plasticity and Organ Design NIH T32 Predoctoral Training Grant, Okkelberg Fellowship from MCDB Department.  Other interests: playing and snuggling with her cats (Jinx and Felix | Instagram: @memeowjinx), spending time at the barn with her horse (Reddee), playing video games, dungeons and dragons, and baking.

Babli Adhikary, M.S.


MCDB Graduate Student | Twitter: @adhikary_babli | LinkedIn:

Babli earned her Integrated MSc. in Biological Sciences from UM-DAE Center for Excellence in Basic Sciences, India.  She completed her Masters’ thesis in Max-Planck Institute of Cell biology and genetics, Dresden, Germany (Advisor: Dr. Natalie Dye). Babli is studying the role of mechanosensitive channel (MSCs), in maintaining barrier function and cell-cell junction integrity of Vertebrate epithelia. She is also interested in the function of MSCs’ at the cleavage furrow of a dividing cell.  Activities: Mentor in Project SHORT (, Volunteer at Michigan DNA Day.  Other interests: Painting, reading novels, traveling, amateur oenophile, and playing board games with friends.

Anna Friedman


Undergraduate Student – independent research

Anna is working with Jen on research related to her project.

Jolene Iseler


Undergraduate Student – independent research

Jolene is working with Lotte on research related to her project.

Kelsey Walworth


Undergraduate Student – independent research

Kelsey is working with Zie on research related to their project.

Parker Denton


Undergraduate Student – lab assistant

Parker pours plates, makes solutions, aliquots reagents, changes frog water, and generally makes sure the lab runs smoothly!

Miller Lab Alumni

Tomohito Higashi (postdoctoral fellow), November 2013-July 2017
-Currently: Associate Professor at Fukushima Medical University

Shahana Chumki (MCDB), May 2017-September 2022
-Dissertation: “The Mechanical and Molecular Activation of Epithelial Tight Junction Repair” (Defended Aug 18, 2022)
Sara Varadarajan (MCDB), May 2016-December 2021
-Dissertation “The Role of Mechanosensitive Calcium Signaling in Remodeling of Epithelial Cell-Cell Junctions” (Defended Aug 24, 2021)
Torey Arnold (MCDB), May 2013-May 2019
-Dissertation: “Cells Have Feelings Too: How Cells Generate and Respond to Mechanical Cues in Tissues” (Defended July 20, 2018)
Rachel Stephenson (MCDB), May 2013-August 2018
-Dissertation: “Break, Flare, Repair: Rho Flares Locally Reinforce the Tight Junction Barrier” (Defended June 11, 2018)
Ciara Reyes (graduate student, CMB), May 2011-July 2016
-Dissertation: “Characterizing a novel role for the cytokinesis scaffolding protein Anillin in regulating cell-cell junctions” (Defended May 27, 2016)
Elaina Breznau (graduate student, CMB), January 2012-April 2016
-Dissertation: “Regulation of epithelial cytokinesis and cell-cell junctions by MgcRacGAP” (Defended March 11, 2016)

Claire Dudley (MCDB Pathways MS student), September 2019-April 2021
-MS Thesis: “Can you see me now?: Optimizing SNAP- and Halo-tagging for live imaging in Xenopus laevis embryos”

Alex Walkon, May 2020-August 2022
-Thesis (MCDB Major): “Characterizing the role of p190RhoGAP-A in tight junction reinforcement at Rho flares”
Ben Hall, Nov 2018-May 2022
Eileen Misterovich, January 2018-July 2021
-Thesis (MCDB Major): “Characterizing the role of neighbor cell contractility in epithelial cytokinesis in Xenopus
Jessica Wu, April 2018-May 2021
Olivia Emri, January 2020-April 2021
Sally Boerma (visiting undergraduate student from Carleton College), June 2020-March 2021
Farah Huq, July 2015-August 2018
Lauren Smith, January 2017-August 2018
– Thesis (CMB Major): “Characterizing the Role of Claudin-23 in Cell-Cell Junction Structure and Function”
Brandon Coy, May 2014-May 2018
– Thesis (CMB Major): “Roles of Zyxin and the Arp2/3 complex in junction reinforcement at Rho flares”
Kayla Dinshaw, May 2014-May 2017
– Thesis (CMB Major): “Anillin’s Myosin- and Actin-binding domains are necessary and sufficient for Anillin’s localization to cell-cell junctions” (Won Christine Psujek Memorial Award for the best Sr. Thesis in Biology)
Nisha Gopal, August 2014-June 2016
– Thesis (Biochemistry Major): “The role of Septin-Anillin interactions in the regulation of epithelial cell-cell junctions”
Ansley Semack, September 2012-June 2014
Argyris Zachariou, January 2013-Dec. 2013
Rhogelyn Espino (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program student), September 2011-August 2013
Max Epstein, September 2011-May 2013

Kevin Yoon (undergraduate lab assistant), November 2017-April 2020
Emily Vanerian (undergraduate lab assistant), February 2017-October 2017
Rosemary Kelley (undergraduate lab assistant), December 2015-April 2017
Trevor Krisan (high school lab assistant), June-August 2016
Laura O’Brien (undergraduate lab assistant), September 2014-October 2015
Megan (Fekete) Murt (lab technician), July 2011-June 2014

Claire Dudley, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2022
Aravintha Siva Meenakshi Sundaram MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2021
Akash Rai, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2021
Juliana Zang, MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2020
Minjun Jin, PiBS Rotation Student, Fall 2018
Christopher Pineda, PiBS Rotation Student, Fall 2018
Maria Ahmed, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2018
Jessica Trombley, MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2017
Allison Box, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2017
Pusparanee (Anne) Hakim, MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2016
Brian McGrath, PiBS Rotation Student, Winter 2016
Aaron “Seth” Tooley, PiBS Rotation Student, Fall 2015
Ajai Pulianmackal, MCDB Rotation Student,  Fall 2015
Viktoria Salzmann, PiBS Rotation Student, Winter 2013
Jordann Smak, PiBS Rotation Student, Winter 2013
Yuchen “Kelly” Feng, MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2012
Harene Venghatakrishnan, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2012
Meiyan Jin, MCDB Rotation Student, Winter 2012
Yan Hao, MCDB Rotation Student, Fall 2011

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