Research Faculty

Active Research Faculty

These faculty lead active research programs that include both Undergraduate and Graduate student researchers. Faculty are listed alphabetically. These faculty are also appointed as University Graduate Faculty and may serve as the primary mentor for both Master's and PhD students and serve on student supervisory or dissertation committee. Associate members of graduate faculty are noted who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student supervisory committee. Associated program faculty listed with primary appointments in other departments and Carolinas Medical Centers may also mentor a student in our program and serve on student supervisory committees. A brief description of area of research expertise is given. Click on each name to view more information. 


Department of Biological Sciences

Danillo Augusto, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Human genetics, gene regulation, mammalian immunogenetics and evolution with multiple -omics approaches. 

Sharon Bullock, Teaching Professor, Ph.D. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committee. Biotechnology and bioengineering, DNA repair mechanisms, STEM education and equity.

Richard J. Chi, Associate Professor. Ph.D., Florida State University.  Molecular and Cell Biology. Membrane trafficking, yeast genetics, protein biochemistry, molecular biology and live cell fluorescence microscopy. 

Tuan Cao, Senior Lecturer, Ph.D. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committeeBehavioral and physiological ecology and the evolution of cooperation in social insects.

Kausik Chakrabarti. Assistant Professor. Ph.D., University of Calcutta, India. Genome replication, dynamic structure of telomerase,  mRNA folding in translational control of human parasitic and viral diseases.

Didier Dréau, Professor. Ph.D., College of Agriculture of Rennes, France. Mechanisms of Cancer Metastasis, Vascular and Immune Interactions During Cancer Growth.

Kristen Funk, Assistant Professor. Ph.D., The Ohio State University. Neuroimmune system in brain aging processes, cognitive function, and neurodegeneration; Alzheimer's disease; neuroinfectious diseases.

Valery Grdzelishvili, Professor. Ph.D., Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia. Molecular virology, virus-host interactions, virus-based vectors.

Eugenia Lo, Assistant Professor. Ph.D., malaria life cycle.

Paola C. López-Duarte, Assistant Professor. Ph.D., Florida Institue of Technology. Behavior and ecology of invertebrates and fish, larval population connectivity, food web interactions in coastal communities.

Ian Marriott, Professor. Ph.D., Tulane University. The initiation of immune responses.

Pinku Mukherjee, Professor. Ph.D., University of London, UK. Cancer Biology and Immunology.

Dan A. Nelson, Research Associate Professor. Ph.D., Florida State University.Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committeeTransgene expression in plants. 

Matthew Parrow, Associate Professor. Ph.D., North Carolina State University. Eukaryotic microbial ecology and physiology; biology of harmful algae.

Ken Piller, Research Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Illinois, Chicago. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committeePlant biotechnology, edible vaccine development.

Patricija van Oosten-Hawle, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Transcellular chaperone signalling in health and disease, stress signalling and neuroprotective and behavioral response, DNA damage response, genetics in the C. elegans model system

Sam Suptela, Lecturer, Ph.D., MPH. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committeeRIG-1 detection of bacteria in glial cells, neutrophils in bone inflammation, reducing equity gaps in STEM education.

Christine Richardson, Professor. Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Sciences. DNA recombination and repair, genome stability, chromosomal rearrangements, ecotoxicology in mammals, leukemia, ovarian cancer biomarkers and targeted nanoparticle therapy. 

Adam Reitzel, Professor.  Ph.D., Boston University. Evolution and ecology of coastal invertebrates using comparative genomics, molecular biology, population genetics, evolutionary ecology, and field studies.

Bao-Hua Song,  Associate Professor.  Ph.D., Beijing Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China. Plant evolutionary and ecological genetics and genomics.

Todd R. Steck, Professor. Ph.D., University of Rochester. Microbial molecular genetics, environmental microbiology, bacterial source tracking.

Junya Tomida, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., Kyoto Univeristy, Japan. DNA repair, mechanisms of carcinogenesis and metastasis in prostate and breast cancers.

Andrew W. Truman, Associate Professor, Ph.D., University of London, UK. Understanding the role of molecular chaperones in cancer using quantitative proteomics, molecular biology, systems biology and model organisms.

Jennifer Warner, Teaching Professor, Ph.D. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committee.

Carrie Wells, Senior Lecturer. Ph.D., Clemson University. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committee.

Ellen Wisner, Senior Lecturer. Ph.D., Syracuse University. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committeeBehavioral ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of communication in birds

Tingting Xiang, Assistant Professor, Ph.D., National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing, China. Molecular basis of coral-algal symbiosis; toxin biosynthesis in red tide dinoflagellates using large scale genomics approaches and cell biology and genetics

Shan Yan, Professor. Ph.D., Fudan University, Shanghai, China. Oxidative DNA damage, replication stress, and DNA repair of single-strand breaks. Developmental biology of Xenopus.

Ru Zhou, Research Assistant Professor. Ph.D. Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Shanghai, China. Associate member of graduate faculty who may co-mentor a Master's student and serve on any graduate student committee. Cancer immunotherapy against solid tumors.


Department of Chemistry

Kirill Afonin, Professor. Ph.D., Bowling Green State University, Center for Photochemical Sciences. Computational and experimental RNA biology, mainly on studying RNA nanotechnology with potential diagnostic and therapeutic applications to biomedicine

Jerry Troutman, Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Kentucky Medical Center. Biochemistry of polymeric sugars called polysaccharides that coat the surface of specific bacteria; interactions between symbiotic gut microbes and their mammalian hosts

Juan-Luis Vivero-Escoto, Associate Professor, Ph.D. Design, and synthesis of novel hybrid inorganic-organic materials for biomedical applications


Department of Applied Physiology, Health, and Clinical Sciences (APECS)

Susan Arthur, Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Toledo. The influence of classic developmental signaling pathways on young and aged adult skeletal muscle stem cells using physiological stimuli models of muscle injury; injurious exercise, in situ skeletal muscle lengthening, synergistic ablation.

David Bellar. Professor. Ph.D. Kent State University.  His research interests include examining the effects of nutrition and supplements on human health and performance, and monitoring the health and wellness of athletes and performing artists.

Luke Dovovan, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Utilization of an impairment-based rehabilitation model for the treatment of chronic ankle instability (CAI) and further refining the model by creating novel gait re-training and rehabilitation interventions to improve long-term function in patients with CAI. 

Reuben Howden, Associate Professor. Ph.D., De Montfort University, UK. Pulmonary control, blood pressure and heart rate control, exercise physiology. 

Yvette Huet, Professor. Ph.D., University of Kansas Medical School. Reproductive and developmental biology.

Joseph Marino, Associate Professor. Ph.D., University of Virginia. Insulin resistance, mechanisms that alter the ability of skeletal muscle to adapt to various types of stress, such as exercise.

Abbey Fenwick Thomas, Assistant Professor, Ph.D. Long-term consequences of knee injury; neuromuscular and biomechanical assessment techniques including transcranial magnetic stimulation and 3D motion capture to better understand how knee injuries translate to post-traumatic osteoarthritis so that we may better treat affected individuals and improve long-term health outcomes. 

Tricia Hubbard Turner, Associate Professor. Ph.D., Penn State University. Chronic ankle instability, mechanical instability, lower extremity pathology.


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Charles Lee.


Department of Physics and Optical Sciences

Yuri Nesmelov, Associate Professor. Ph.D. Physics and Mathematics - Kazan State University, Kazan, Russian Federation. Biological molecular motors, elecron paramagnetic resonance/EPR, transient time-resolved fluorescence resonce energy transfer/TR2FRET

Irina Nesmelova, Professor. Ph.D. Kazan State University, Russia. Structure/function and dynamics of biological macromolecules. Interdisciplinary approach combines experimental spectroscopic methods, modeling, and basic biochemistry


Levine Cancer Institute and Canon Research Center at the Carolinas Medical Center

Belinda Avalos, Adjunct Professor, Vice Chair of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders. M.D., The Ohio State University. Clinical and translational research in hematopoiesis, leukemogenesis, cytokines and resceptors, and the innate immune system.

Farah Bahrani-Mougeot, Adjunct Professor, Research Group Director, Oral Medicine Laboratory. Ph.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine. Oral infections, bacterial communities

Qi Lu, Adjunct Professor, Director and Senior Scientist McColl Lockwood Laboratory for Muscular Dystrophy Research. M.D. - Ph.D. Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, China.

Jean-Luc Mougeot, Adjunct Professor, Research Group Director, Translational Genomics and Computational Biology, Dept Oral Medicine. Ph.D. Universite Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.