Mark obtained his Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School under the mentorship of Dr. David Van Vactor. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Connie Cepko in the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics and joined The City College of New York's Biology Department as an assistant professor in the Fall of 2012. Mark's interest is in understanding the basic molecular mechanisms underlying the development of the eye and to contribute to the generation of new therapies for human retinal disease. Outside of lab, Mark most enjoys any activity that involves his family.
Miruna graduated from the Doctoral School of Biology of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca, Romania after completing research studies at the National Eye Institute, at the NIH in Bethesda, MD, as well as at the Institute of Neuroscience of the National Research Council, in Pisa, Italy. Her doctoral thesis is entitled "Molecular tools to study the development and organization of the retinal neuronal networks". Her research interests are related to the retinal development - cell types specification and circuit assembly using experimental model, such as the chicken and the mouse.
She is originally from Petrosani, a small town in Transylvania. She loves traveling and always uses conferences as a good reason to meet people around the world with similar interests.
Diego Buenaventura is a Neuroscience/Biology Doctoral Student in Dr. Emerson’s lab since August 2013. His work involves the characterization of restricted progenitor lineages important in the production of photoreceptors through functional assays and high-throughput sequencing methods. His research interests are in molecular approaches to neuroscience and in dealing with large amounts of sequencing data.
Diego is originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador. He enjoys cooking something new every week, doodling on any surface around him, and reading (or listening) to scifi or fantasy literature.
B.A. Genetics, Rutgers University - New Brunswick, 2013
Sruti Patoori is a doctoral candidate in the Emerson lab. She graduated from Rutgers University – New Brunswick in 2013 with a B.A in Genetics and conducted her undergraduate research in population genetics. She is interested in evolutionary developmental biology and transcriptional regulation. Her current work focuses on identifying and describing transcriptional enhancers involved in the development of cone photoreceptors. She is also studying the role of enhancers in the evolution of the vertebrate retina, using the ground squirrel and mouse as models. She enjoys baking, eating, short stories, and taking blurry photographs of the Jersey Devil.
Xueqing Chen is a doctoral student in Emerson’s lab. She graduated from University of London in 2015 with a Master in Biology and obtained B.A. in Molecular Biology at Fudan University. She is interested in genetics, development and her research focuses on the role of Notch signaling pathway in retinal cell type determination and proliferation. She is from China and like experiencing different cultures. She loves traveling, reading, and movies, a big fan of Harry Potter.
Brandon Webley is a post-bacc student in the Emerson Lab. He majored in Biology and Philosophy, he joined the lab in October 2017. He is a prospective neuroscience graduate school student and is assisting Professor Emerson with maintaining his mouse population and assessing the expression of 3 genes found in cone photoreceptors.
Abdullah Syed is part of the City College Honors program studying biochemistry. He joined Dr. Emerson’s lab in June 2016 and is currently working with different enhancers to transiently express OneCut1, a transcription factor that plays a role in photoreceptor development. After graduation, he plans on attending medical school. He is also the secretary of Alpha Epsilon Delta club, a pre-professional health club. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking cuisines from different cultures.
Cassandra is a senior at The City College of New York majoring in Biology and minoring in History. She is on the pre-medical track and will be applying to medical school upon graduation. She has been a member of the Emerson’s Lab since June of 2016; she started in the lab through the NSF Program for that year. Following that, in the Summer of 2017 she was awarded a stipend from the STEM-CDI program to continue doing research in the lab. Her project involves using the CRISPR/Cas9 system to understand the role of Otx2; a transcription factor responsible for proper photoreceptor development. Outside of the lab, Cassandra enjoys cooking, baking, hiking, and painting.
Ariana Gopal is a member of the Class of 2019 in the Macaulay Honors Program at CCNY, majoring in Biology and minoring in Anthropology. She is also on the pre-medical track and plans to apply to medical school and M.D./Ph.D programs after graduation. Ariana has been working at the Emerson Lab since Fall of 2016 under the mentorship of Graduate student Sruti Patoori. Her project is geared toward determining potential enhancers for the Onecut1 gene, an early marker for cone and horizontal cell genesis. She received funding from CCNY's Opportunities in Research and Creative Arts (ORCA) program for this project and was awarded the Sharon D. Cosloy Scholarship for her work. Outside of the lab, Ariana is on the e-board for CCNY's Women in Science group and serves as a mentor to several biology students in CCNY's Honors program.
Shirley Chan is majoring in Biology and minoring in Physics at the City College of New York of Class 2020. She is passionate about research and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biology. She is currently working in two research laboratories. She entered the Emerson lab in Fall 2017 through the NSF program under the mentorship of Xueqing Chen. She continues to work in the lab through The City College Fellowship; her project involves understanding the role of Deltex 4 in Notch signaling in retinal progenitor cells. In addition, she works at the Institute of Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) focusing on biomedical imaging of the intestinal submucosa; at IUSL she has had the oppertunity to present at SPIE, and participated in CCNY's Summer Photonics program. Her interest outside the lab is cooking/baking, photography/videography, figure skating, biking, and arts and craft.
Malai O’Keeffe is a member of the Class of 2021 in the City College Honors Program pursuing a BS in Psychology. She has been working at the Emerson Lab since July 2018 through the NSF program. Malai serves as a mentor to incoming psychology and biology students through the CCNY Honors Mentoring Program. Outside of lab, she is passionate about volunteering with non-profit organizations throughout NYC, especially one which aims to tackle the literacy challenge many middle schoolers face in America. In her spare time, she enjoys watching classic and current films, biking, drinking tea and trying new cuisines.
Denice Moran is an undergraduate majoring in Biology at City College. She started working at the Emerson Lab in September of 2018 through the NSF program under the mentorship of Xueqing Chen. She is passionate about service work and is on the pre-medical track pursuing matriculation into a M.D. program after graduation. Outside of the lab, Denice is an e-board member and a mentor for the CSTEP/CCAPP program at City College for under-represented students in the STEM fields. She enjoys arts and crafts, reading and watching anything within the Sci-fi genre, and exploring nature with her dog Chicki.
Kevin Gonzalez is a Biology major and a graduate of the CCNY Class of 2018. Kevin joined the Emerson Lab in the Summer of 2015, where he studies the transcriptional events underlying the differentiation of multipotent retinal progenitor cells into subtypes of retinal interneurons called horizontal cells. During his time at City, he has participated in several prestigious research programs, including the Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program at Harvard Medical School, and has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work, such as the Chleck Family Undergraduate Scholarship for Excellence in Science, the Sharon D. Cosloy Undergraduate Scholarship in Biology, and the Jonas E. Salk Award. Kevin has also presented his research at multiple conferences across the nation, including the New England Science Symposium at The Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School and the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Beginning this Fall 2018, Kevin will join Columbia University's Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior.
Twinkle Jacob is part of Class of 2018 at City College of New York, majoring in biology. She joined the Emerson's lab Fall 2015, through the NSF program. Under the mentorship of Diego Buenaventura and Estie Schick, she worked on understanding how Ptf1a and other genes are regulated during the development of horizontal cells. Exposure to the work at lab has garnered her an interest in the different aspects of vision science. Outside of the lab, she is on the e-board of Project Sunshine, had interned at Sidney Hillman/Phillips Family Practice and served as a teaching assistant to middle school students.
Pooja Dutta is a senior of Macaulay Honors College at CCNY and a CUNY BA student pursuing concentrations in Biomedical Science and Medical Anthropology. She is an aspiring physician and hopes to pursue a combined MD/MPH degree. She began working at the Emerson lab during the fall of 2015 under the NSF program and has been working under the mentorship of Xueqing Chen since then. Her project involves understanding the functions of Ptf1a and the Notch Signaling pathway, to elucidate generation of horizontal cell fates. Outside of the lab, Pooja enjoys being involved with service work geared towards the elderly community and also leads a Bollywood fusion dance team, Macaulay Deewane. Her interests also include cooking different cuisines, photography, and pottery.
Kazi Hossain is a sophomore in his undergraduate studies; he is majoring in Biology and has been conducting research in Dr. Emerson’s lab since June of 2015. He is interested in studying Immunology, Neurobiology and is currently working on identifying new retinal enhancers.
Outside of the lab Kazi is an Ellen Knowles Harcourt Scholar, and hates taking photographs that involve him tilting his head down.
B.Eng. Biomedical Engineering, The City College of New York, 2016.
Brian Wang graduated from CCNY with a B. Eng in Biomedical Engineering and has worked in Dr. Emerson’s Lab since February 2013. His interests include medical devices, neuroscience, data analysis, and web design. Brian is a New York City native who enjoys photography in his spare time and has finally found the best halal food in New York City. After graduating, he will be moving to Kansas City to start a job working in the healthcare technology industry.
B.Eng. Chemical Engineering, The City College of New York, 2016
Sneha Gopal graduated from CCNY in May 2016 with a B. Eng in Chemical Engineering and will be working towards a Ph. D at Rennselaer Polytechnic University. She worked in Dr. Emerson’s Lab in February 2013 until her graduation and loves reading, drawing and learning to program during her free time.
Isabel Tadmiri was a high school student in the Emerson lab. She is a junior at the Brearley School, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Isabel is interested in pursuing biology and neuroscience in the future, and is interested in nervous system disorders, specifically, Autism Spectrum Disorder.