Department of Biochemistry

Dongdong Cao, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dongdong is originally from China. He received his B.A. in Biotechnology and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Science and Technology of China, USTC. His graduate research focused on exploring the structure and function of enzymes and immune-related proteins by x-ray crystallography. Dr. Cao joined the Liang Lab as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the structure and regulation of RNA synthesis machinery of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) using x-ray crystallography and cryo-EM.

Member since June 2017

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Dongdong Cao, PhD

Yunrong Gao, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Yunrong is originally from China. He received his B.S. degree from the Huazhong Agricultural University and his Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academic of Sciences. His graduate research focused on the mechanism of PAS (Para-Aminosalicylic Acid) resistance and structural analysis of the MarR family proteins in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Dr. Gao joined the Liang Lab to work on the mechanism and structures of the RSV-specific nucleocapsids and the regulatory role of the RSV M2-1 using integrated x-ray crystallography and cryo-EM. 

(understanding the structure and mechanism of the RNA synthesis machinery of RSV) 

Member since June 2017

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Dr. Yunrong Gao

Zhenhang Chen, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Zhenhang is originally from China. He received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from China Agriculture University. His doctoral thesis project is focused on human Fragile Mental Retardation Protein FMRP, he solved the X-ray crystal structure of the N terminal of FMRP and measured binding affinity between this protein and different post-translationally modified histone peptides. Before joining the Liang Lab, he used Baculovirus Expression System and cryo-EM method to study membrane proteins including human V-ATPase. He also studied enzyme activity and structure biology of structure-specific endonucleases that are essential for a DNA repair pathway named nucleotide excision repair in human and archaea.

Member since September 2021

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Z Chen

Adora Bryant

Administrative Assistant

Adora is originally from Akron, Ohio. Adora earned her Master’s in Nonprofit Administration from Louisiana State University, and she holds her B.A. in psychology. She is an administrative professional with over 14 years of experience. She specializes in grant research and management. In 2016 Adora received a resolution from the State capitol for her service to nonprofits.

Member since September 2022


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Adora Bryant

Sara Espinosa
Research Specialist

Sara Espinosa is originally from Mexico but has grown up in Milton, Ga. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and has a minor in Cellular Biology from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining the Liang Lab, Sara has done undergraduate research using stem cells to differentiate into the intermediate mesoderm tissue of the adrenal gland and research experience in extracting and purifying pectins from Arabidopsis plants. Briefly Sara also worked in a small biotechnology company producing antibodies. 

Member since March 2023

Sara Espinosa

Natalie Horgan
Research Specialist

Natalie Horgan is originally from Saratoga Springs, New York and received her BA in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Lawrence University in Appleton Wisconsin. In 2019 she presented her research regarding transforming time series data into a form that could be recognized when using topological data analysis (TDA) to investigate a new and innovative way to find patterns in large data sets, with specific applicability to atmospheric chemistry. Her senior capstone research was a computational astrochemistry project where she looked at four different reactions that could form glycine in the interstellar medium. She determined which of the four reactions were thermodynamically favorable and simulated the reactants’ spectra.

Member since September 2021

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Natalie Horgan

Nicholas Keung
Research Specialist

Nicholas Keung is originally from Irvine, California. He studies a double major in Biology and Psychology & Linguistics at Emory University. He previously graduated from Northwood High School where he was an active member of the Make-a-Wish and Red Cross clubs. In addition, he was a part of the California Scholarship Federation honor society and received the Charter Oak award for his academic achievement. Nicholas joined the Liang Lab to work on Ebola polymerase project.

Member since January 2021

Nicole Wedad Khouryawad
Research Specialist

Nicole Khouryawad is an Arab American originally from New York and moved to Atlanta in September 2022. She received her MSc from the University of Florida in Pharmaceutical Sciences graduating Cum Laude and her B.S in Biochemistry graduating Magna Cum Laude from Hofstra University. Previously, Nicole completed undergraduate research in Synthetic Organic Chemistry which was published by the American Chemical Society in 2021 (DOI: 10.1021/bk-2021- 1376.ch005) then worked for one year as a Quality Control Chemist for an international pharmaceutical company. Nicole has also recently achieved a professional certificate in Data Analytics. In the Liang Lab, she currently works on Flu proteins and forming complexes which monoclonal antibodies to study their different structures.

Member since October 2022

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Nicole Khouryawad

Vu Ngo
Research Specialist

Vu is originally from Vietnam. He will be receiving his B.S in Biology and B.A in Chemistry from Emory University in 2023. Besides his interest in research and medicine, he is also interested in badminton and helping others through volunteering at the Atlanta Hospitality House. Vu joins the Liang lab to work on the purification of Ebola viral protein.

Member since January 2022

Vu Ngo

Maurice Terrell Royal
Laboratory Assistant

Maurice is originally from Cleveland, OH. He obtained his B.S. from Youngstown State University. He has previously worked as a blood bank med technician, research technician, and microbiologist. He also has research experience from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, focusing on Neisseria gonorrheae’s interactions with cervical cells. Maurice joined the Liang lab to focus on the insect and mammalian cell culture to support various projects.

Member since September 2020

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Maurice Terrell Royal

Eliseo Salas
Graduate Student

Eliseo is originally from Brownsville Texas. He received his M.S. in biochemistry from Texas State University. During his masters Eliseo worked on the RNA binding protein, LARP6, and characterized its binding to collagen coding mRNAs using different salt conditions. During his transition to graduate school, Eliseo worked for Accel Diagnostics, a startup company focusing on microfluidics devices. The goal of the company is to provide predictive tools which patients can use at home to monitor early signs of chronic heart failure (CHF). Eliseo joins the Liang Lab to work on RSV and to try to understand how NS1 and NS2 help circumvent the innate immune system using cryo-EM. 

Member since 2021

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Undergraduate Students

Maggie Betkowski
Undergraduate Student

Maggie is originally from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, a small town in rural Pennsylvania. She graduated from Mercersburg Academy in 2021. She is currently a junior studying chemistry and French in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and is on the pre-dental track. In addition to her work in the Liang Lab, she also works in an ecology lab in the Emory Biology Department where she studies host-parasite interactions of the Guinea Worm, a parasite found in regions of Africa. Maggie became interested in working in the Liang Lab because of her interest in how chemical interactions of bio-macromolecules can affect biological machinery and the lab’s impact on human health. 

Maggie Betkowski

Anthony Diab                                                                                                  
Undergraduate Student

 

Anthony is currently an undergraduate student in the Liang Lab.

 

 

 

Member since August 2022

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Iman Kazani
Undergraduate Student

My name is Iman Kazani and I am from Karachi, Pakistan. I acquired my high school IB diploma from The Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa in 2022. Over high school, I participated in school-based research, and I am looking forward to gaining more professional experience at the Liang Lab.

Member since June 2022

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Iman Kazani

Deepak Katta                                                                                                 
Undergraduate Student

Deepak is originally from Austin, Texas. He is studying Anthropology & Human Biology at Emory University, on the pre-med track. During high school, Deepak tutored underprivileged students, held volunteer drives for at-need individuals, and was involved with his school’s Science National Honor Society and Model United Nations chapters. He currently serves as the Managing Editor for Emory ASBMB’s Writing Committee and is also involved with Emory’s Undergraduate Service Journal Club. Additionally, Deepak is a part of Residence Life at Emory, and serves as a Sophomore Advisor for first-year students. His previous research focused on analyzing uric acid levels in patients that suffered from ischemic stroke.

Member since January 2022

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Deepak Katta

Jannat Khan                                                                                                       
Undergraduate Student

Jannat Khan is originally from Karachi, Pakistan and moved to Chicago, IL 3 years ago. She is currently a sophomore pursuing a BS in Biology on the pre-med track. Her research interests include the study of positive-strand RNA viruses like Polio which was rampant in her home country. She is excited to undertake similar topics concerning RNA machinery at the Liang lab and discover other questions still waiting for the courage to be asked. She enjoys long walks and writing poetry in her free time.

Member since August 2022

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Jannat Khan

Aiden Lee
Undergraduate Student

Aiden is originally from Bellevue, Washington. He is currently studying to be a Biology Major at Emory University. The Liang lab would be his first research opportunity and he is looking forward to learning about the causes of neurobiological diseases and potential ways of identifying them. In his free time Aiden likes to read and mountain bike.

Aiden Lee

Christine Lee
Undergraduate Student

Christine is originally from Cumming, Georgia. She is currently a freshman studying biochemistry on the pre-health track at Georgia Tech. She was involved in a lab program throughout high school, piquing her interest in continuing to learn and contribute towards research. Christine joined the Liang Lab to learn more about RNA synthesis machinery.

Christine Lee

Elijah Nudell-Cook                                                                                            
Undergraduate Student

Elijah Nudell-Cook is a sophomore at Emory University from New York City majoring in Chemistry. He graduated from Hunter College High School where he worked on various research projects like the quantitative analysis of outcomes of robot guided surgery versus manual surgery in total knee arthroplasty patients. He was a member of a research seminar in high school where he first got interested in performing and learning about research. Elijah joined the Liang Lab because he is interested in the biomechanics of RNA synthesis in viruses.

Member since January 2022

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Elijah Nudell Cook

Lisa Jin
Undergraduate Student

Lisa is originally from Shanghai, China. She is a junior at Emory University pursuing a BS in chemistry. She minors in linguistics and loves learning new languages in her free time. In high school, she participated in mini research projects on enzyme activity and was part of the Neuroscience Club. In summer, Lisa worked as a research assistant at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where she investigated electrocatalytic chemical reactions. She is very excited about learning more about biochemical research in the Liang Lab.

Lisa Jin

Raina Nagpal
Undergraduate Student

Raina is originally from Mumbai, India. Having received the highest score in her grade 12 Science examinations, she is now hoping to major in Biology and Human Health. She has served as a biology and chemistry teacher for grades 10-12 at various non-profit organizations, as well as been an advocate for teenage girls suffering from polycystic Ovary Disorder. Her knowledge on metabolism and gut health led her to be the youngest individual to conduct paid workshops with online teaching platforms. In addition to this, Raina is also a Sophomore Advisor for first year students, Second Year legislator on the Emory College Council, and Cultural Chair for the Indian Cultural Association. Raina’s previous research focused on biomarkers for cancer cells for Emory’s Lab of Artificial Intelligence. She hopes to further her interest in research by exploring the complexities of reproductive health in women.

Raina Nagpal

Richard Wilson                                                                                                   
Undergraduate Student 

Richard is originally from Panama City, FL. He is on the Pre-Med track, majors in Chemistry and enjoys playing ultimate frisbee in his free time. He has worked as a Chemistry TA and tutor, and is an active member is Phi Eta Sigma. His previous research involved the study of neuroplasticity where he studied the effects of nerve cord transection on expression of ion channels in the abdominal ganglia of crayfish. Richard joined the Liang lab to work on HA Influenza proteins. 

Member since January 2023

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Richard Wilson

Haoyang Li                                                                                          
Undergraduate Student 

Haoyang, originally from Dalian, China, is a rising junior at Emory University, majoring in Biology and Chemistry. Passionate about these subjects, he has completed a year of organic chemistry research at Emory University. Additionally, during his summer break, Haoyang contributed to two genetic engineering projects at Worldshaper Company in China. He also gained valuable experience as a teaching assistant for the iGEM competition at Zhejiang University. Haoyang joined Liang Lab to work on Biochemistry projects. 

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Haoyang

Sheryar Lakhani                                                                                                
Undergraduate Student 

Sheryar Lakhani is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He received his associate in arts from Oxford College of Emory University. He is currently perusing his B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at the Emory college of Arts and Sciences. Sheryar was the 2022-23 recipient of the Hoyt P. Oliver Interfaith dialogue award at Oxford College and was also named to the 2022-23 Emory Gold and Blue Leadership group. He looks forward to gaining hands on experience in the Liang Lab under professional research setting for the first time. 

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Sheryar Lakhani

Aditya 
Undergraduate Student

Aditya

Monish Jampala
GA Tech Undergraduate Student

Monish is originally from Cumming, G
eorgia. He is a freshman studying neuroscience at Georgia Tech and is on the pre-med track. In his free time, Monish enjoys playing chess and discovering new music. Monish was involved in a 4-year biotech program in high school with a strong focus on lab, fostering a burgeoning interest in research. Monish joined the Liang lab because he was intrigued by the RNA synthesis machinery of viruses.
 

Monish Jampala

Zhaocheng Zhen
Graduate Student

Holding a Master of Science in Applied Statistics from Syracuse University, Zhaocheng embarked on significant research on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among healthcare professionals, focusing on behavioral intentions and health behavior theories. Zhaocheng's professional journey includes a role as a Quality Engineer at Hounen Solar America Inc., leveraging statistical tools and the 6-sigma methodology for quality assurance and process improvement. As a Data Analyst Intern at Learnable, Inc., Zhaocheng conducted an in-depth comparison of Bert and GPT-3 models. Zhaocheng's academic and professional accomplishments are highlighted by a Syracuse University Tuition Scholarship and multiple Dean's List recognitions at the University of Delaware, demonstrating a commitment to excellence in statistical analysis and research, paving the way for contributions to the Liang Lab. 

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Serena Park
Undergraduate Student

Serena Park is originally from San Jose, California. She is in her third year at Emory University, working towards a degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. Before her involvement with Liang Labs, she played a key role in the executive boards of both the Oxford Cancer Foundations and the Korean American Student Association, in addition to participating in academic research. Her interest in Liang Lab was piqued after she developed a research project focused on Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), which was inspired by the studies published by the lab.

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Serena Park