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Biological & Life Sciences

Department of

Faculty & Staff

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Molecular Biology, Environmental Studies

Chariperson, Biological, Human, and Life Sciences

Soumya Suresh

Soumya Suresh is the chairperson for the biology department at ASDRP. The Suresh group is interested in applying tools of molecular biology, modern biotehcnology, and molecular genetics in understanding the world we live in. Soumya studied at UCSB and has several years of research experience in a variety of fields in the biosciences.

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Molecular & Cell Biology

Ankur Gupta

​Ankur Gupta serves as the Director of the Biomedical Science Research Cluster, and uses his expertise in molecular and cell biology to better understand the signal transduction pathways that are critical in development of and progression of cancer, including oncogene expression patterns.


Ecology, Evolution, Biodiversity

Avery Kruger

Avery M. Kruger’s lab performs research in the area of environmental biology, ecology, biodiversity, and evolution - using the tools of molecular biology and biotechnology to better understand the ecology of the Bay Area. Further, his research works on issues of environmental remediation and pollution, including attenuating chemical waste and the human environmental footprint.


Biochemistry & Chemical Biology

Harman Brah

The Brah lab investigates protein-ligand interactions, enzyme kinetics, and the thermodynamics of protein folding through both computational and empirical methods. The research in the Brah group is focused on issues of modern relevance in medicine from the perspective of biochemistry. 


Molecular & Cell Biology

Carly Truong

Carly Truong, an experienced molecular neurobiologist, leads student research in the area of molecular and cell biology, understanding the role of specific signaling pathways in cell pathology. Her group will be working with sophisticated techniques in cell culture and cell signaling with a focus on present clinical issues. Carly is affiliated with the Biomedical cluster.


Clinical Psychology

Katelyn Hakinson

Katelyn has obtained her M.S. in Clinical Psychology. She is completing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University with an emphasis in forensics and neuropsychology. Katelyn has worked in labs that focus on neuropsychological assessment, neuroscience, social psychology, and cognitive psychology. Her current research interests include investigating perceptions of mental illness and forensic populations, rehabilitation of offenders, and brain-behavior relationships among offenders. She enjoys being able to apply her research to her clinical work in the criminal justice system with forensic populations who have serious mental illness.


Medicinal Biochemistry

Gayathri Renganathan

Gayathri is an experienced medicinal biochemist interested in pushing forwards the frontiers of molecular medicine. She received her M.Pharm in Pharmaceutical Analysis from Anna University and has several years of experience as a lecturer, and in quality control and in inorganic/analytical biochemistry. The Renganathan research group applies small molecule phytochemistry in a robust drug discovery platform towards understanding the molecular mechanisms of human disease. Additionally, the group uses a variety of biophysical computational tools to understand the interaction of small molecules with their protein targets.The Renganathan research group works on the interface of chemistry and biology, using both experimental and computational techniques to find phytochemicals with clinical potential.


Psychology & Cognitive Science

James Guo

The Guo research group at ASDRP is interested in the psychology of depression, the effectiveness of various modern treatments to mitigate depression in certain populations, and the statistics of quantifying depression. James uses data science as a tool to derive overarching trends in clinical psychology and depression treatment.


Behavioral Biology

Avity Norman

Avity Norman is a biologist of invertebrates by training, and his students work on questions of insect behavior and insecticide remediation. His research interests span behavioral biology and quorum biology of organisms and chemical sensing in insects.


Genetics, Microbiology

Prabhjeet Kaur

Professor Kaur's research interests involve using the tools of modern genetics and molecular biology, including PCR/qPCR, Sanger sequencing, and gel electrophoresis, to investigate dispersion of fungal species in the East Bay Area. Her research interests combine sophisticated genetics with ecology and environmental science.



Nardeen Mikhail

Nardeen received her M.S. in microbiology and has several years of teaching and research experience. Her research interests involve understanding the biology, physiology, and life cycle of  diverse mycotoxin-producing fungi strains, which are associated with food spoilage. The Mikhail research group is affiliated with the Biomedical Research cluster and performs research in fungal microbiology.


Marine Biology & Oceanography

Jack Shurtz

Jack was trained at the Scripps Institute for Oceanographic Research in La Jolla, CA. His research group investigates modern issues in marine wildlife biology, including human pollution impact factors, and microbiology of symbiotes of tide pool invertebrates. The Shurtz group also works in understanding ecological impact of aquatic pollution throughout the East and North Bay Area.


Molecular & Cell Biology

Peter Le

Peter Le is an alumnus of UCLA and is currently a biologist at Stanford Medicine. His group at ASDRP investigates cellular phenomena at the molecular level in issues of clinical and biomedical significance, including cell aging and senesence, and gut microbiome diversity. Currently, his group is also working on virtual screening of drug repurposing against COVID-19.


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Kavya Tallapaka

Kavya is an experienced biochemist and COMET research fellow at Stanford. The Tallapaka research group aims to understand molecular mechanisms of medicine using biochemistry, enzymology, and molecular biology tools. This is pursued via spectroscopic monitoring of enzyme kinetics and mechanistic hypotheses about enzyme activity and inhibitors.


Experimental Psychology

Arielle Ramey

Arielle holds an M.A. in experimental psychology and has previously worked as a psychologist at Stanford Medical Center. Her research group this summer will be investigating various facets of human behavior using experimental psychology, including a project that aims to understand human interactions with the digital world.


Environmental Science & Statistics

Karishma Johnson

Karishma is an experienced statistician who applies data science and R programming to uncover trends and risk factors in environmental system, including waterway pollution and habitat conservation. Karishma has a dual appointment in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering.

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Chemical Biology & Organic Chemistry

Kavita Gandhi

Dr. Gandhi holds an M.D. from the American University of Antigua and has an M.S. in Biomedical science from Midwestern University. Her research interests include naturally-derived small molecules from phytochemical sources that may serve as lead compounds in the development of therapeutics for clinical applications, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, etc.


Organic & Medicinal Chemistry

Edward Njoo

Edward is a PhD candidate at Stanford University. Research in the group utilizes structure and reactivity-guided chemical synthesis to construct small molecules and complex natural products with unique biological activity. Edward is the chair for chemistry, biochemistry, and physical science and is affiliated with the Biomedical cluster.

Facilities & Instrumentation

Biological Laminar Flow Hoods/Cell Culture Hoods

Our biology research laboratory has two laminar flow hoods, which keep a sterile environment for work with sensitive cell culture or with genetic manipulation. 

Pelton & Crane Sterilizing Autoclave

ASDRP has an industrial-grade autoclave used for sterilizing solutions and biological media using ultrahigh pressure (upwards of 300 degrees!) and pressure (over 3,000 torr!)

Jouan IG650 CO2 Incubator

Whether our biologists are growing cells in petri dishes, or keeping a uniform termperature and humidity, this industrial-grade incubator can accomodate it all.


ASDRP has a wide array of professional grade microscopes and microscopy supplies, from cell fixation to a confocal microscope for fluorescent imaging.

Centrifuges & Microcentrifuges

Our biology research laboratory is equipped with eight centrifuges of varying size, power, and speed; centrifuges separate mixtures such as cell lysate on the basis of density.

Hoefer Scientific DNA Fluorometer

Our DNA fluorometer captures fluorescence of nucleic acids and can be used to quantify nucleic acid concentrations in the micromolar range.

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LabLine 5 x Liter Incubated Shaker

One of two incubated shakers in operation in our laboratory, this is used to grow cell culture and to express proteins in up to 5 liters at a time. Shake away!

LC Packings High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

Our HPLC is capable of even the most challenging molecular separations, and is fully equipped with a reverse phase C18 column and a built-in UV detector.

BioRad SmartSpec 3000 UV-visible spectrophotometer

One of our six research-grade  UV-vis spectrophotometers, this instrument is capable of absorbance spectra readings, time-resolved absorbance kinetics, and quantification of nucleic acids.

BioRad Criterion/Protean SDS-PAGE Station

Our biochemists are often interested in purifying and separating proteins based on molecular weight. SDS-PAGE is a technique for characterizing proteins.

DNA Gel Electrophoresis Station

Gel electrophoresis is used to characterize and separate nucleic acids (and other materials) on the basis of charge, molecular weight, or both.

MilliPore MilliQ Water Purification System

Sometimes, even de-ionized water isn't good enough! Our MilliPore tower generates nuclease-free "Milli-Q" ultrapure water for the most sensitive biological assays.

Bio-Tek MicroQuant 96-Well Plate Reade

One of three microplate readers, our BioTek instrument is capable of high-throughput fluoresence/absorbance screening in biochemical assays of up to 96 samples at once.

MJ Scientific Programmable PCR Thermal Cycler

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a commonly used technique to amplify particular sequences of DNA. This is one of two thermal cyclers that ASDRP owns.

Bioreagent Stockroom

Our biology laboratory is fully equipped with almost any molecular biology kit imaginable from Qiagen, Zymo, Thermo, Millipore, and Sigma Aldrich. 

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