Lab Members

Group Photo Above: Top row from L to R: Dr. Tanmay Chatterjee, Dr. Shankar Mandal, Dr. Katelyn Green, Dr. Aaron Blanchaerd, Karen Montoya, Dr. Li Zi, Dr. Adrien Chauvier, Saffron Little, Dr. Robb Welty, Dr. Andreas Schmidt, Dr. Surajit Chatterjee, Kunal Khanna, Liuhan Dai, Two family guests
Bottom Row from L to R: Four family guests, Mason Myers, Guoming Gao, Emily Ellinger, Rosa Romero, Laura Penabad-Peña, Dr. Elizabeth Duran, Dr. Catie Scull, Dr. Nils Walter
Absent: Damon Hoff, Martina Jerant, Several undergrads

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

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Pavel Banerjee : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Pavel Banerjee

Postdoctoral Fellow

pavjee@umich.edu

Pavel received his B.Sc (2013) and M.Sc. (2015) in Chemistry (Physical Chemistry Specialization) from Visva Bharati University and Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur (IIT Kharagpur) in 2021. During his PhD, he unveiled the self-assembling behaviors of biological building block molecules and their membrane activity through fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy. Then he moved to University of Copenhagen, Denmark for one-year postdoctoral research on single molecule studies of Na K ATPase transporter. He joined the Walter lab as a postdoc in April 2022. His current research focus is on simultaneous ultra-sensitive detection of different biomolecules in complex bio-environment by Single- Molecule Recognition through Equilibrium Poisson Sampling (SiMREPS) method. (Member since 2022)
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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. 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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Elizabeth ‘Lizi’ Franklin : Postdoctoral Researcher

Elizabeth ‘Lizi’ Franklin

Postdoctoral Researcher

elfra@umich.edu

Elizabeth Franklin obtained her B.S. in Biology from Tennessee Technological University and her PhD in Biotechnology Science and Engineering in the lab of Dr. L.R. Cruz-Vera from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Her graduate research focused on single residue changes in the E. coli ribosomal exit tunnel. She examined the effects on global gene expression using transcriptomic and translatomic profiling which revealed a previously unrecognized link between tunnel identity and bacterial stress adaptation to both pH response and biofilm formation. In the Walter lab she will use single molecule and transcriptomic profiling techniques to characterize riboswitches. She enjoys being active outside, traveling, and having new experiences and she adores all animals, particularly cats. (Member since 2022)
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Dr. Katie Meze : Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Katie Meze

Postdoctoral Fellow

meze@umich.edu

Katie obtained her Masters in Chemistry from the University of York, UK. She completed her PhD in Biological Sciences in the lab of Leemor Joshua-Tor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In her graduate work she determined how a nuclease, crucial in human development, degrades structured RNAs using cryo-electron microscopy and pre-steady state kinetic analysis at single nucleotide resolution. In the Walter lab she will use single molecule and structural techniques to study the role of riboswitches in transcription and translation. (Member since 2022)

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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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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Yichen Liu : Graduate Student

Yichen Liu

Graduate Student

twinsliu@umich.edu

Yichen received her B.S. degree from Hong Kong Baptist University. Her work in Aaron Frank's lab focused on studying riboswitch unbinding and pose prediction using selectively scaled molecular dynamics simulations. Currently, her research in Nils Walter's lab focuses on using molecular dynamics flexible fitting to study riboswitches.(member since 2022)

Karen Montoya : Graduate Student

Karen Montoya

Graduate Student

kmontoya@umich.edu

Member since 2017
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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..

Emily Sumrall : Graduate Student

Emily Sumrall

Graduate Student

esumrall@umich.edu

Emily is a first year graduate student in the biophysics program. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Mississippi State University. During her undergraduate degree, she worked in Dr. Nicholas Fitzkee’s laboratory on a project aimed at understanding the interactions between Staphylococcal Autolysin domains and polystyrene surfaces. (Member since 2021)

Jingxuan Tang : Graduate Student

Jingxuan Tang

Graduate Student

tjx@umich.edu

I received my B.S. in Chemistry from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is starting in the Chemical biology Ph.D. program at U-M. During my undergraduate, I worked in the Dr. John Markley’s lab on solving the structure of human acyl carrier protein with NMR and investigating the interaction of acyl carrier protein with zinc. (Member since 2021) Learn more..

Rotation Students

Undergraduate Students

Sarah Golts : Undergraduate Student

Sarah Golts

Undergraduate Student

sgolts@umich.edu

Sarah is an undergraduate planning on graduating in 2025 with a B.S. in Biophysics and Data Science. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education by pursuing an MD-PhD. (Member since 2022)
 

 

Alexey Kovalenko : Undergraduate Researcher

Alexey Kovalenko

Undergraduate Researcher

alexeyk@umich.edu

Alexey is an international undergraduate student from Russia, majoring in biochemistry. After graduation, he plans to continue his education by going to medical school. (Member since 2021)  Learn more..
 

 

Katherine Mudge : Undergraduate Student

Katherine Mudge

Undergraduate Student

katmudge@umich.edu

Katherine is an undergraduate student planning on graduating in 2024 with a BS in Biochemistry and Informatics. She is currently working with Karen on detecting miRNAs using FRET and SiMREPS. (Member since 2021)
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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)
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Alex Reed : Undergraduate Researcher

Alex Reed

Undergraduate Researcher

alexre@umich.edu

Alex is an undergraduate student planning to graduate in 2024 with a BS in Biochemistry. After graduation, Alex hopes to pursue a PhD and do origin of life research. (Member since 2022)

 

Emily Schugardt : Undergraduate student

Emily Schugardt

Undergraduate student

eschugar@umich.edu

Emily is an undergraduate student set to graduate in 2024 with a BS in Biomolecular Sciences. After graduation, she plans to pursue an MD-PhD dual program and study infectious disease. (Member since 2021)
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Shelby Stakenas : UROP Undergraduate Researcher

Shelby Stakenas

UROP Undergraduate Researcher

smae@umich.edu

(Member since 2022)

 

 

Staff

Dr. Adrien Chauvier : Lab Manager-Biology

Dr. Adrien Chauvier

Lab Manager-Biology

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. 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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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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Dr. Sujay Ray : Lab Manger-Microscopy

Dr. Sujay Ray

Lab Manger-Microscopy

sujayray@umich.edu

Sujay Ray was born in 1986 in Asansol, India. He received his bachelor’s degree from University of Calcutta in 2007, followed by a master’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, in Physics. He earned his Ph.D. from Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio, in 2014 while working on a DNA secondary structure, known as G-Quadruplex and its interaction with various proteins, under the supervision of Dr. Hamza Balci. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow for one year in Dr. Qiong Yang’s lab before joining Dr. Nils Walter’s lab at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is broadly interested in developing novel single molecule techniques to study and manipulate individual biomolecules and complex biological machinery. Apart from assembling, maintaining a high-resolution prism-TIRF type single molecule microscope, he is working towards unraveling the role of noncoding RNAs in translation initiation. (member since 2016) Learn more..