straight lab Members

Straight Lab 2019.jpg

Principal Investigator
Aaron Straight Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Biochemistry 
Ph.D. in Biochemistry (U.C. San Francisco)

Our work is directed at understanding the mechanisms that ensure high fidelity genome maintenance and segregation in eukaryotes. We use a wide variety of experimental systems ranging from yeasts and flies to frogs and humans in order to address biophysical, biochemical and cell biological questions in chromosome biology. We are particularly interested in how cells accurately segregate chromosomes to daughter cells during mitosis and meiosis to produce viable daughters and gametes so that an organism can grow, develop and proliferate. Our research has focused on understanding how the chromosomal centromere and kinetochore function to link the chromosomes to the mitotic spindle that segregates chromosomes during division. We are also interested in how chromosomes are organized within the interphase nucleus and mitotic chromosome so that the genome can be actively transcribed, replicated and segregated and yet accurately maintained and packaged within the nucleus and cell.

Current Lab Members


Owen Smith
smithok [at]
Graduate Student in Chemical and Systems Biology

I am interested in understanding the balance between genetic and epigenetic influences in the regulation of genome structure and activity. I am currently studying how DNA sequence influences the formation of centromeres as well as how noncoding RNAs interact with chromosomes to regulate them.


Kelsey Fryer
kfryer [at]
Graduate Student in Genetics

I’m working on understanding how noncoding RNAs regulate the organization of chromosomes. I have been examining how repeat regions of eukaryotic genomes are transcribed and how the transcripts from these domains regulate the epigenetic state of the chromatin.

Kousik Sundararajan.jpg

Kousik Sundararajan, Ph.D.
ksundar [at]
Post-doctoral Fellow

I’m interested in understanding the biochemical mechanisms that control centromere assembly. I am using a combination of in vitro reconstitution, single molecule imaging and live cell analysis to understand how centromeric chromatin is assembled specifically at the centromere in G1.

Julio Cesar Flores-Servin
jfloress [at]
Graduate Student in Biology

Chromatin based epigenetic information can be stably inherited through generations yet we have a poor understanding of how that information is encoded, replicated and maintained in cells.  I am using the centromere as a model for studying epigenetic inheritance to understand how chromatin distributed during DNA replication is regenerated in each cell cycle.


Rene Ladurner Ph.D.
ladurner [at]
Post-doctoral Fellow

Each cycle of DNA replication duplicates the genome but also distributes chromatin proteins between newly duplicated daugter DNA strands. In order to maintain epigenetic information in chromatin the cell must regenerate chromatin states in each cell cycle.  I am studying the coupling between DNA replication and chromatin maintenance to understand the mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance.


Magdalena Gebala
Research Associate

Joint with other labs

David Jukam Ph.D.
jukam [at]
Joint Post-doctoral Fellow (with Skotheim Lab, Biology)

The early embryo is dependent on the maternal stores of biological macromolecules for its first divisions. As the embryo grows, the control of division and development is transferred to the zygote.  I am interested in how the zygotic genome is activated during the development of the early embryo and the signals that initiate the process of zygotic genome activation.

Charles Limouse Ph.D.
climouse [at]
Joint Post-doctoral Fellow (Mabuchi Lab, Applied Physics)

I am interested in how eukaryotic genomes are organized in the nucleus and how the organization of the genome impacts its functional properties.  I am using single molecule spectroscopic methods to understand how the CTCF protein organizes long range interactions between different genomic loci.

AdMinistrative assistant

Maria Arzate
Administrative Assistant
mdarzate [at]

Former Lab Members

Viviana Risca, Assistant Professor, The Rockefeller University
Bradley French
, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Shengya Cao,
Associate Scientist, Evotec at Genentech
Fred Westhorpe,
Senior Scientist, Merck Research Labs
Jason Bell,
Scientist, 10X Genomics
Whitney Johnson, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow, Dana Farber (David Pellman Lab)
Teddy Yewdell, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow, MSKCC, (Jayanta Chadhuri Lab)
Annika Guse, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Heidelberg (Center for Organismal Studies)
Colin Fuller, Ph.D., Data Scientist/Engineer, Khan Academy
Ben Moree, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Biodesy
Topher Carroll, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Celgene
Rebecca Purdom, J.D. Vermont Law School
Laila Strickland, Ph.D., Scientist, 108Labs
Kristina Godek, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow, Dartmouth College (Duane Compton Lab)
Kristin Milks, Ph.D., Teacher, Bloomington High School South
Ian Brennan, Ph.D., Scientist, Amunix
Craig Betts, Ph.D., Scientist, Clontech
Dina Finan, Ph.D., Scientist, Genencor
Corey Meyer, Ph.D., Senior Analyst, Gryphon Scientific
Amanda Amodeo, Lewis Sigler Fellow, Princeton University
Justin Smith, Undergraduate Summer Student, Catawba College
Marieke Rozendaal, Research Assistant, IRIC
Caroline Horn, Scientist, Pioneer Hi-Bred International
Melanie Santos-Marrero, Graduate Student in Immunology, U. Penn
Mark Kelly, Graduate Student in Structural Biology, Stanford University
Andy Nguyen, Medical Student, Harvard Medical, School
Anthony Cordova, Intern, Genentech
Matthew Miell, Post-doctoral Fellow