B Scientist Profiles

    BScientist Profiles

    Profile image of Morgan Beeby

    Morgan Beeby is a group leader at Imperial College London. In London. He earned his PhD with Todd O. Yeates at UCLA where he developed interests in evolution, bioinformatics, and structural biology. Electron cryotomography was the clear next step, prompting him to join Grant’s lab as a postdoc from 2008 to 2012. In 2013 he established his own lab using cryoET as the backbone of an interdisciplinary research program to understand the evolution of molecular machines, with a focus on bacterial flagella.

    Profile image of Ariane Briegel

    Ariane Briegel is Professor of Ultrastructural Biology at the Leiden University (The Netherlands) and co-director of the Dutch Center for Electron Nanoscopy (NeCEN). She earned her PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Wolfgang Baumeister at the Max Planck Institute in Martinsried Germany. Here, she learned the power of Electron Tomography to study microbes in three dimensions and at macromolecular resolution. She continued to explore the wonders of bacterial structure and function in the laboratory of Grant Jensen as a postdoc and research scientist. She has 20 years of experience using cryo-electron microscopy to study bacterial and archaeal ultrastructure. The Briegel laboratory focuses on investigating how microbes sense and respond to their environment using cryoEM methods.

    Profile image of Yi-Wei Chang

    Yi-Wei Chang is a structural biology enthusiast and principal investigator at the University of Pennsylvania. Yi-Wei received his Ph.D. degree from National Tsing-Hua University and Academia Sinica in Taiwan, working with Chwan-Deng Hsiao in using X-ray crystallography to study atomic structural details of purified proteins. After being astonished by Grant Jensen’s visiting seminar at Academia Sinica highlighting the power of cryo-electron tomography in resolving macromolecular structures directly in cellular contexts, Yi-Wei set this as his long term research direction and was lucky enough to join the Jensen laboratory at Caltech in 2011 as a postdoctoral scholar. After years of working with the amazing group to master cryo-electron tomography methods and visualize fascinating macromolecular structures in situ, Yi-Wei launched his own laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in 2019 to continue exploring the magnificent in-cell structural biology and to nurture the next generation of outstanding scientists.

    Profile image of Songye Chen

    Songye Chen is the managing co-director of the Caltech Cryo-EM Facility. She earned her PhD in physics at Caltech, for investigations on ultrafast electron crystallography with Dr. Ahmed Zewail. She joined the lab of Dr. Grant Jensen as a postdoc after that and began her career as an electron microscopist working in cryoEM. She has been enjoying developing new methods, working with biologists and facilitating their cutting-edge research with state-of-the-art cryoEM technology.

    Profile image of Georges Chreifi

    Georges Chreifi is a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. He earned his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Tom Poulos at UC Irvine studying structure-function relationships in heme proteins, with a focus in X-ray crystallography and enzymology. He joined Grant Jensen’s lab in 2017 to do his postdoctoral research in cryo-EM. He is currently working on developing rapid tilt-series methods in cryo-ET and elucidating the architecture of the bacterial type IX secretion system.

    Prabha Dias was an EM scientist and lab manager in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2002 to 2007. Full bio to follow….

    Profile image of Megan Dobro

    Dr. Megan Dobro is an Associate Professor of Biology at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and Co-Founder and CEO of SafeTiva Labs. Dr. Dobro graduated with her PhD in Biology from the California Institute of Technology where she studied structural biology of viruses and bacteria using electron cryotomography in Dr. Grant Jensen’s laboratory.

    Profile image of Lu Gan

    Lu Gan is a principal investigator in the Centre for BioImaging Sciences and Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore. He did his undergraduate training at Caltech, where he studied antibody trafficking in Professor Pamela Bjorkman’s lab. Lu then received PhD training in structural virology with Professor Jack Johnson at The Scripps Research Institute. In 2006, he joined Grant Jensen’s lab as a postdoctoral scholar to study both bacterial cell-wall architecture and eukaryotic chromosome segregation. He moved to Singapore in 2011 to start his independent lab. Lu and his students continue to explore eukaryotic chromosomes and how they are regulated, all at molecular resolution.

    Profile image of Debnath Ghosal

    Debnath Ghosal is a senior lecturer at University of Melbourne. Debnath received his PhD degree in structural biology from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (University of Cambridge, Darwin College), where he worked with Dr. Jan Lowe on bacterial cell division. Subsequently, he joined Dr. Grant Jensen’s laboratory at Caltech for his postdoctoral training. At Caltech, he investigated the structure and function of bacterial secretion systems using electron cryotomography. Debnath established his own laboratory at University of Melbourne in 2020. His group is working on the structural and molecular biology of large bacterial protein complexes that are important for pathogenesis.

    Gregory Henderson was a graduate student in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2002 to 2007. Full bio to follow….

    Cristina V. Iancu received her B.S. in Biophysics from the Faculty of Physics of the University of Bucharest, Romania, and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Iowa State University, Ames, IA, U.S. Her graduate work in the protein crystallography group of Dr. Richard B. Honzatko involved structural and functional studies of key enzymes in gluconeogenesis and de novo nucleotide synthesis. She joined the cryo-EM lab of Dr. Grant J. Jensen as his first postdoc, where she worked on cryo-ET method development projects and cryo-ET structure determination of protein complexes, isolated carboxysomes, and carboxysome-producing bacteria. Currently, she works on drug discovery targeting carbohydrate transporters with Dr. Jun-yong Choe.

    Profile image of Grant Jensen

    Grant J. Jensen is a Professor of Biology and Biophysics at Caltech. He earned his doctorate in Biophysics from Stanford, working on electron microscopy of RNA polymerase and other protein complexes with Dr. Roger Kornberg. He continued his work in protein electron microscopy as a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell post-doctoral fellow under the supervision of Dr. Kenneth Downing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Here his interests expanded to include electron tomography of whole cells. Grant launched his own lab at Caltech in 2002, where his research has focused on three main areas: the ultrastructure of small cells, the structural biology of HIV, and the further development of cryoEM technology. Most of the cryotomograms featured in this atlas were collected by members of his lab while working with him at Caltech. Grant moved in 2020 to Brigham Young University to become Dean of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

    Profile image of Mohammed Kaplan

    Mohammed Kaplan is currently a postdoc in the Jensen lab at Caltech. He did his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Marc Baldus at Utrecht University.

    Profile image of Zhuo Li

    Zhuo Li is the director of the Electron Microscopy Core Facility at City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, in Duarte, California. He earned his PhD in biochemistry from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He then did his postdoctoral research in the Jensen lab where he investigated the structure and function of bacterial cytoskeleton using cryogenic electron tomography.

    Shrawan Mageswaran was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2015 to 2019. Full bio to follow….

    Profile image of Alasdair McDowall

    Alasdair McDowall is manager for the laboratory of Grant Jensen at Caltech. He is a career electron microscopist of 48 years and has managed, designed and directed microscopy centers and resources in the UK, USA, Germany and Australia. He is Emeritus Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia. He received his Doctorate from the University of Sorbonne, Paris. His thesis was enhanced by the unique discovery in 1981 when Dubochet and McDowall at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) reported the first vitrification of water at ambient pressures as seen in the electron microscope. This landmark result pioneered research that evolved into modern day molecular cryo-electron microscopy and the awarding of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Dubochet, Henderson and Frank. In 2019 he was appointed a Queen Elizabeth II honors recipient, and awarded Member of the Order of Australia. “For significant service to science, particularly in the field of electron microscopy”.

    Profile image of Lauren Ann Metskas

    Dr. Lauren Ann Metskas studied the conformational dynamics of disordered proteins during her PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. After graduating in 2016, she transitioned to correlated cryo-fluorescence and cryo-electron microscopy methods development during her first postdoctoral position with the Briggs group at EMBL-Heidelberg and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Lauren Ann joined the Jensen lab in 2018, whereupon she discovered a new interest in using tomography to study bacterial microcompartments and outer membrane vesicles. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences and Chemistry departments of Purdue University.

    Profile image of Gavin Murphy

    Following his graduation from the University of Dallas, Gavin Murphy spent two years studying X-ray crystallography as a Fulbright Scholar at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Hamburg, Germany. He then joined the lab of Grant Jensen at Caltech, applying cryo-electron tomography to solve the structures of bacterial macromolecular machinery. He received his doctorate in 2007, for work that included one of the first subtomogram averages ever published, revealing the ultrastructure of the flagellar motor. Wanting to make a more direct impact on human health, in his postdoctoral work with Sriram Subramanian at the National Institutes of Health he developed and applied methods for focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) and correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) to visualize large volumes of eukaryotic cells and tissue. In 2012, Gavin became Director of the Electron Microscopy Center at Indiana University Bloomington. He died in 2017, and is fondly remembered and greatly missed by his colleagues.

    Lam Nguyen was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2011 to 2019. Full bio to follow….

    Profile image of William Nicolas

    William J Nicolas is a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech in the Jensen and Meyerowitz labs. Plant biologist and electron microscopist at heart, he received his doctorate from the University of Bordeaux (France) working on the ultrastructure of the nanopores connecting plant cells to one-another called plasmodesmata. He joined Caltech in the Jensen and Meyerowitz labs at the beginning of 2018 to work in the still vastly unexplored field of cryo-EM on the plant cell wall and cellulosic bacterial biofilms.

    Profile image of Catherine Oikonomou

    Catherine M. Oikonomou is a research scientist and science writer at Caltech. She received her doctorate from the Rockefeller University, where she worked with Dr. Frederick Cross on cell cycle control in budding yeast. In 2012, she joined the lab of Dr. Grant Jensen at Caltech, where she has been exploring microbial cell biology through cryo-electron tomography.

    Martin Pilhofer was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2008 to 2014. Full bio to follow….

    Sahand Pirbadian is a Senior Research Associate in Moh El-Naggar’s lab at the University of Southern California. Full bio to follow….

    Rasika Ramdasi was a staff scientist in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2013 to 2015. Full bio to follow….

    Profile image of Jian Shi

    Jian Shi received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Peking University, China and his Ph.D. in biophysics and molecular physiology from the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University, USA. At Vanderbilt, he worked in Dr. Phoebe Stewart’s lab to study small heat shock proteins with CryoEM and other biophysical methods. After his Ph.D., he joined Dr. Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech/HHMI as a CryoEM specialist to study ultra-structures in bacteria. After spending one year in the FEI Company, he has since been the manager of the Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility at the National University of Singapore.

    Poorna Subramanian was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2013 to 2018. Full bio to follow….

    Matthew Swulius was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2010 to 2017. Full bio to follow….

    Profile image of Elitza Tocheva

    Dr. Elitza Tocheva graduated with her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of British Columbia in 2007, where she worked on characterizing the mechanism of bacterial enzymes involved in denitrification. She continued her structural biology studies as a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Grant Jensen at Caltech where she applied cryo electron tomography and correlative microscopy approaches to study the ultrastructure of bacteria. She joined Université de Montréal as an Assistant Professor in June of 2015 and in January of 2019 was recruited to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UBC. Her lab combines microbiology, biochemistry and structural biology to study sporulation, membrane biogenesis, and host-pathogen interactions.

    Profile image of Steven Wang

    Yuhang (Steven) Wang is a scientist at Quantum Simulation Technologies (QSimulate), Inc., in Cambridge, MA. He received his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from Shandong University (China), an M.S. degree in Computational Chemistry from the University of Oklahoma, an M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. degree in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before moving to his current position, Wang was a postdoctoral scholar in Prof. Grant Jensen’s research group at the California Institute of Technology. He has worked on research projects in multiple areas of Molecular Biology, such as molecular immunology in crustaceans, Alzheimer’s disease, human T-cell receptors, ion channel proteins, and bacterial mobility and sensing. Currently, he is working on developing new computational methods for pharmaceutical drug discoveries at QSimulate, Inc.

    Profile image of Elizabeth Wright

    Elizabeth Wright is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the director of the Cryo-EM Research Center (CEMRC) at UW-Madison and the Midwest Center for Cryo-Electron Tomography (MCCET), an NIH-funded National Center for Cryo-ET. She earned her PhD in Chemistry at Emory University in the laboratory of Prof. Vincent P. Conticello. It was during her PhD studies that she first began to explore macromolecular complexes and cellular systems with electron microscopy (EM) and cryo-EM. She joined Grant’s lab at Caltech as a postdoc from 2003-2008. In Grant’s lab she used cryo-ET to study HIV maturation, bacterial structure, and bacteria-bacteriophage interactions. In 2008, she established her cryo-EM lab where the group explores structure-function questions related to pathogenic viruses and bacteria, bacteriophage, blood cells and macromolecules, and neurons.

    Qing Yao was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2015 to 2020. Full bio to follow….

    Zhiheng Yu was a postdoc in Grant Jensen’s lab at Caltech from 2004 to 2009. Full bio to follow….