Lab Members

Group Photo Above: From L to R: Dr. Javier Cabello-Villegas, Brian Hardaway, Kunal Khanna, Dr. Adrien Chauvier, Dr. Alex Johnson-Buck, Dr. Elizabeth Duran, Dr. Surajit Chatterjee, Jieming Li, Dr. Nils Walter, Dr. Tanmay Chatterjee, Dr. Rajeev Yadav, Dr. Nibedita Pal, Ameya Jalihal, Dr. Sujay Ray, Shiba Dandpat, Jenna Veenstra, Dr. Poorna Roy, Kamya Gopal, Hailey Blinkiewicz, Michael Rankin, Karen Montoya
Absent: Alisha Spoelman, Anna Spoto, Damon Hoff, Jacqueline Kunesh, Martina Jerant, Pujan Ajmera

Principal Investigator

Prof. Nils Walter, Ph.D. : Principal Investigator

Prof. Nils Walter, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

nwalter@umich.edu

Hi, I'm Nils Walter, lucky to be the mentor and coach of a young, dynamic, and interactive group, where my main job is to help everyone excel in their research. Over the years we have developed and applied many leading-edge single molecule microscopy tools to understand the mechanisms of RNA biology, from RNA enzymes and riboswitches to the spliceosome and RNA silencing machinery. We also work on CRISPR and DNA nanotechnology, and have developed a molecular diagnostics tools that can reliably detect single biomarkers of disease (leading to foundation of a biotech company!). Students and postdocs in my group get both a broad and a deep education with skills that translate into the real world, from academia to industry. I have an "open-door" policy, so please stop by if you have a question, or seek us out on Twitter!
Curriculum Vitae

Office : 734-615-2060


Research Asst Professor


Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Aaron Blanchard : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Aaron Blanchard

Postdoctoral Fellow

atblanc@umich.edu

(Member since 2020)

Dr. Surajit Chatterjee : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Surajit Chatterjee

Postdoctoral Fellow

surajitc@umich.edu

Surajit completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology Indore, India. His thesis work primarily focused on the study of the photoluminescence properties of silicon quantum dot and its effectiveness as a single-particle luminescence marker. He joined the Walter Lab as a postdoc in December 2016 and studies how the riboswitches regulate gene expression upon their interaction with various small-molecule ligands, proteins, ribosomes etc. (Member since 2016)
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Dr. Tanmay Chatterjee :

Dr. Tanmay Chatterjee

tanmayc@umich.edu

Tanmay received his M.Sc. from University of Burdwan and Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata (IISER KOLKATA). He joined the Walter lab as a postdoc in May, 2017. His current research focus is on ultra sensitive protein detection by Single- Molecule Recognition through Equilibrium Poisson Sampling (SiMREPS) method. (Member since 2017)
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Dr. Adrien Chauvier : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Adrien Chauvier

Postdoctoral Fellow

achauvie@umich.edu

Adrien obtained his B.Sc and M.Sc. in Microbiology Agrobioscience from the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France. During his PhD, he worked on riboswitch regulation with Daniel Lafontaine at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. In the Walter lab, Adrien is applying biochemical and single molecule techniques to understand how Non-coding RNAs modulate the dynamic of the transcription machinery. (Member Since 2017)
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Dr. Elizabeth Duran : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Elizabeth Duran

Postdoctoral Fellow

elizabcd@umich.edu

Elizabeth received her B.A. in Chemistry from Florida International University and then completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry in the lab of Aaron Lucius at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. During her graduate work she used hydrodynamic techniques to elucidate the ATP-linked assembly mechanism of a AAA+ molecular motor involved in bacterial protein quality control pathways. In her current work, she’s using single molecule approaches to investigate the mechanism of DEAH-box helicases critical to the function of the yeast spliceosome. Elizabeth’s work is currently supported through a postdoctoral fellowship from the Michigan IRACDA program. (Member Since: 2018)
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Dr. Zi Li : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Zi Li

Postdoctoral Fellow

lzi@umich.edu

Zi received her B.S. in Material Chemistry from Ocean University of China and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Kansas State University under the guidance of Prof. Daniel Higgins. Her Ph.D. work focused primarily on studying DNA-surface interactions on organosilane graded surfaces using single-molecule fluorescence techniques. Currently, her work is focusing on developing ultra-sensitive cancer biomarker detection assays via recently invented SiMREPS approach using FRET microscopy in Walter lab. (Member since 2019)
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Dr. Shankar Mandal : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Shankar Mandal

Postdoctoral Fellow

mandal@umich.edu

Shankar received his B.S. in Chemistry and M.S in Organic Chemistry from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He received his PhD, in Chemistry and Biochemistry, under the supervision of Hanbin Mao at Kent State University, Ohio. During his PhD, he used single molecule force spectroscopy (laser tweezers) to develop single molecule mechanochemical biosensors. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Walter's laboratory, he is utilizing single molecule fluorescence microscopy to develop sensitive, highly specific, and multiplexed biosensors for detecting nucleic acid molecules as potential disease biomarkers in complex biosamples. (Member Since:2019)
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Dr. Andreas Schmidt : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Andreas Schmidt

Postdoctoral Fellow

andsch@umich.edu

Member Since: 2019
Learn more about Andreas

Dr. Catie Scull : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Catie Scull

Postdoctoral Fellow

cescull@umich.edu

Catie obtained her B.S. in Cell, Molecular, and Microbial Biology from Auburn University, and then completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics in the lab of David Schneider at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her graduate research focused on the kinetics of transcription elongation by eukaryotic RNA polymerase I. She joined the Walter lab in 2020, and is now focused on understanding the co-transcriptional folding of riboswitch RNA. (Member since 2020)
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Dr. Robb Welty : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Robb Welty

Postdoctoral Fellow

robbw@umich.edu

Robb received his B.S. in Chemistry & Molecular Biology and M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He received his PhD, in Computational and Molecular Biophysics, under the mentorship of Kathleen Hall at Washington University in St. Louis. Where his thesis work focused on the kinetics of ion and protein induced RNA folding and allostery. In the Walter lab, Robb is studying how sequence encoded RNA structure plays a role in alternative gene splicing in disease. (Member Since: 2018)
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Graduate Students

Liuhan Dai : Graduate Student

Liuhan Dai

Graduate Student

liuhand@umich.edu

Liuhan received his B.S. in Chemical Biology from Nankai University, China and becomes a Ph.D. student in Chemistry/Chemical Biology in University of Michigan. During his undergraduate studies, he explored both methodology development of fluorine chemistry in Pingping Tang's lab and detection by single molecule kinetic fingerprinting (SMKF) in Nils Walter's lab as a visiting researcher. Currently, he is developing a detection method for epigenetic biomarkers of cancer with SMKF. Multidisciplinary convergence is always a fun nature in his research. (Member since 2017)
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Shiba Dandpat : Chemistry Graduate Student

Shiba Dandpat

Chemistry Graduate Student

shibas@umich.edu

Member since 2016
Learn more about Shiba

Emily Ellinger : Graduate Student

Emily Ellinger

Graduate Student

eellinge@umich.edu

Emily received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Indiana in 2019. She is currently obtaining her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in the Department of Biological Chemistry. Her current research in Nils Walter's lab focuses on using biochemical techniques to study riboswitches and transcription machinery. (Member since 2020)
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Guoming Gao : Graduate Student

Guoming Gao

Graduate Student

gmgao@umich.edu

Guoming received his B.S. in Biology from Wuhan University, Wuhan, China. He stepped into the Single Molecule Biophysics field by studying chaperone-assisted R-loop formation in Xinghua Zhang's lab at Wuhan University. Further exploration in biophysics, including MD simulation in Niu Huang's Lab at NIBS, Beijing, and X-Ray Crystallography in Xuewu Zhang's Lab at UTSW Medical Center, Dallas, led to his decision on joining the Biophysics Ph.D. program through PIBS in 2018. Currently, his research focuses on probing the role of RNAs in membraneless organelles with live-cell single molecule RNA tracking. (Member since 2018)
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Ameya Jalihal : Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Student

Ameya Jalihal

Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Student

ameyapj@umich.edu

Ameya got his B.Tech in Biotechnology from SASTRA University, Thanjavur, India. After working in the labs of Dr. Kavita Babu in IISER Mohali, India, Dr. Oleg Igoshin Rice University Houston, and Dr. Christian Ray University of Kansas, he joined the Cell and Molecular Biology PhD program in 2015. His has continued to study spatio-temporal dynamics in biological regulation in his work in the Walter lab, where he uses single-molecule tools to study macromolecular complex formation and higher-order organization of RNA-protein complexes in living cells. (Member since 2016)
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Kunal Khanna : Chemistry Graduate Student

Kunal Khanna

Chemistry Graduate Student

khannak@umich.edu

Kunal received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Hunter College. He studied optimizing synthesis of various organic compounds as an undergraduate and worked as a lab technician in the Alarcon lab at SUNY Downstate which studied how learning and acquisition of memory in mice changed the mouse hippocampus at the levels of neural circuits. He then joined the Chemistry PhD program at University of Michigan and is currently working in the Walter Lab on developing a FRET-based approach to SiMREPS for detecting a variety of miRNA targets. (Member since 2017)
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Saffron Little : Graduate Student

Saffron Little

Graduate Student

littlesr@umich.edu

Member Since: 2019
Learn more about Saffron

Karen Montoya : Graduate Student

Karen Montoya

Graduate Student

kmontoya@umich.edu

Member since 2017
Learn more about Karen

Rosa Romero : Graduate Student

Rosa Romero

Graduate Student

roromero@umich.edu

Rosa received a Bachelor's in Biochemistry from California State University of San Marcos, then joined the Ph.D. program in Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan. During undergrad, she worked in Dr. Kambiz Hammadani laboratory where she worked on developing a method to enhance fluorescence quantum yield determination using Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS). Her current research involves understanding how riboswitches control gene expression using single-molecule approaches.  (Member Since: 2019) Learn more..


Masters Students


Rotation Students

Anna Anders : Rotation Student

Anna Anders

Rotation Student

annaa@umich.edu

(Member since 2020)

David Beier : Rotation Student

David Beier

Rotation Student

beierd@umich.edu

David received his B.S in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He is a first year student in the Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan. He has previously done undergraduate and post-undergraduate research with Dr. Aaron Hoskins at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has experience using single molecule Förster resonance energy transfer to elucidate the kinetics and equilibria of a protein involved with splicing in yeast, Prp5. (Member since 2020)

Brad Clegg : Rotation Student

Brad Clegg

Rotation Student

bdclegg@umich.edu

Brad received his B.A. in Biochemistry with a minor in Mathematics from Kenyon College in 2020. He is currently a first-year Ph.D. student in the Program in Chemical Biology at the University of Michigan. He previously has done summer research at both Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan in platinum-peptide conjugates and neuropharmacology, respectively. (Member since 2020)

Nicholas Vangos : Rotation Student

Nicholas Vangos

Rotation Student

nvangos@umich.edu

Nicholas received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Boston College in 2017. After graduation, he worked as a research technician at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA, where he expressed and purified various proteins for the x-ray crystallography core facility. He is currently a first-year Ph.D. student in the Cellular and Molecular Biology program.(Member since 2020)


Undergraduate Students

Pujan Ajmera : Undergraduate student

Pujan Ajmera

Undergraduate student

pujan@umich.edu

Pujan is an undergraduate student planning to graduate in 2022 with a B.S. in engineering physics, minoring in biophysics and music. He is currently working with Dr. Chauvier on understanding the structure and dynamics of the crcB fluoride riboswitch and transcriptional machinery using single molecule FRET. (Member since 2018)

Carolyn Glasser : Undergraduate Student

Carolyn Glasser

Undergraduate Student

caglass@umich.edu

Carolyn is an undergraduate student planning on graduating in 2023 with a BS in biochemistry. She is currently working with Andreas to establish a single-molecule m6A detection assay using TIRF microscopy. (Member since 2019) Learn more..

Bennett Hendricks : Undergraduate Student

Bennett Hendricks

Undergraduate Student

blhendri@umich.edu

Member since 2018
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Michael James : Undergraduate Student

Michael James

Undergraduate Student

jamesem@umich.edu

Michael is an undergraduate student slated for graduation in 2021 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. He is currently researching under the mentorship of Dr. Robb Welty in order to better characterize the relationship between pre-MRNA conformational dynamics and the assembly of the spliceosome in the metazoan cell nucleus. In order to achieve this goal, Michael is now employing the use of single-molecule Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (sm-FRET), a biophysical technique that can be methodically applied to quantify the behavior of such pre-MRNA structural ensembles. (Member since 2020) Learn more..

Jacqueline Kunesh : Undergraduate student

Jacqueline Kunesh

Undergraduate student

jkunesh@umich.edu

Jacqueline is an undergraduate student planning on graduating in Winter 2020 with a BS in biochemistry. She is currently working with Surajit Chatterjee to study how transcriptional machinery interacts with the ribosome in the elongation complex. (Member since 2018)
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Becky Perelman : UROP Undergraduate Researcher

Becky Perelman

UROP Undergraduate Researcher

Becky is an undergraduate student planning on graduating in 2023 with a BS in biophysics. She is currently working with Guoming on how membraneless organelles are formed via phase transition of proteins/RNAs from a diluted phase to a condensed phase. (Member since 2020)

Finsam Samson : Undergraduate Student

Finsam Samson

Undergraduate Student

finsam@umich.edu

Member since 2019

Anna Spoto : Undergraduate Student

Anna Spoto

Undergraduate Student

spotoann@umich.edu

Anna graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with my bachelor's in biochemistry and is currently participating in the Accelerated Masters Degree Program in the Chemistry Department at the University of Michigan. She is working with other lab members to study single molecule detection using SiMREPS. (Member since 2017)
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Anastasiya Trzcinski : Undergraduate Student

Anastasiya Trzcinski

Undergraduate Student

atrzcins@umich.edu

Anna is an undergraduate student planning on graduating in 2021 with a BS in biochemistry. Right now she is working with Elizabeth Duran to characterize one of the steps in the splice cycle by analyzing the protein factor Prp16. (Member since 2018)
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Visiting Researchers


SMART Center Staff

Dr. Damon Hoff : SMART Center Manager

Dr. Damon Hoff

SMART Center Manager

hoffj@umich.edu

J. Damon Hoff manages the Center for Single Molecule Analysis in Real-Time (SMART Center), a shared use facility housed in the Dept. of Biophysics at the University of Michigan that offers a suite of single-molecule microscopes and analysis tools. He obtained his B.S.E. in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Duke University, and continued his studies at the University of Michigan, obtaining his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, developing optical tools for manipulation of biomolecules, including nanoscale ultrafast laser ablation and optical tweezers. He now manages the day-to-day activities at the SMART Center and facilitates user training, experimental planning, and analysis. (Member since 2013, SMART center phone: 734-763-5449)
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Research Associate

Martina Jerant, MPH : Research Associate

Martina Jerant, MPH

Research Associate

mjerant@umich.edu

Martina completed her undergraduate degree in Biology from Brown University and received her Master’s in Public Health from Columbia University. Martina Jerant serves as the Walter Lab manager as well as the manager for the Center for RNA Biomedicine at the University of Michigan. Using collaborative tools like Strategic Doing and Grant Sprints, Martina leads diverse groups of students, faculty, and researchers to collaboratively work across disciplines, build community and generate innovative ideas to advance RNA research and education across the University of Michigan. (Member since 2016) Office: 734-615-8213
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