People

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The main reason why I decided to create the VGL is to push Genomics forward. In my life time, I want to see perfect genome assemblies of all living vertebrates. Not only I want to witness this achievement but I also want to be a major player.

Erich D. Jarvis, Director of the VGL

Jennifer Balacco

Lab operation lead

Jen is a molecular biologist and expert in isolating ultra-High Molecular Weight DNA and in many long read technologies such as PacBio and Bionano

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Giulio Formenti

Bioinformatics lead

Giulio is a bioinformatician interested in genome assembly. He has developed several methods for genome assembly, polishing, and evaluation.

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Lauren Shalmiyev

Management and Administration Lead

Lauren  oversees VGL finances, communications, and is a liaison for the lab.

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Melanie Couture

Import/export 

Melanie is a field biologist specialized in bird capture. She has an extensive knowledge of sample collection, import, and export permits.

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Nivesh Jain

Research scientist

Nivesh is a molecular biologist specialized in ultra-High Molecular Weight DNA isolation, Bionano, and Oxford Nanopore.

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Tatiana Tilley

Research scientist

Tatiana is a molecular biologist specialized in ultra-High Molecular Weight DNA isolation, Hi-C, Oxford Nanopore and PacBio.

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Kathleen Horan

Project manager

Kathleen is our Project Manager. She facilitates samples exchange between institutions and coordinates new genomic projects. 

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Nadolina Brajuka

Research Scientist

Nadolina is a bioinformatician specialized in genome assembly and curation. She is interested in the intersection between data science, computation and -omic research.

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Conor Whelan

Research Scientist

Conor is a molecular biologist specialized in next-generation sequencing technologies..

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Patrick Traore

Research Scientist

Patrick is a molecular biologist specialized in ultra-High Molecular Weight DNA isolation.

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Linelle Abueg

Research Scientist

Linelle is a bioinformatician specialized in genome assembly. She is passionated about  biodiversity and loves popcorn more than anything.

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Sabrina Burmeister

Visiting Professor

Sabrina is a visiting professor from UNC Chapel Hill. She uses an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, and molecular biology techniques to discover the neural mechanisms of the behavior of natural animals with a focus on social and spatial cognition.

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Mac Gooder

Visiting student

Mac is interested in genome assembly and bioinformatics.

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Cassidy Jonhson

Graduate Student

Cassidy is a PhD student in the Jarvis lab. She graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Molecular & Cellular Biology. As an undergraduate she investigated the activation factors of conserved mitochondrial stress response mechanisms in Caenorhabditis elegans. Transitioning to computational biology here, Cassidy studies the regulatory elements of vocal learning associated genes across vocal learning taxa, and their evolutionary history. She does not like Mondays or dissections.

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Emily Houton

Administrative Assistant

Emily is an administrative assistant at VGL, bringing a wealth of experience from her background in schizophrenia research and behavioral health eating disorder treatment. Her time in these specialized fields has shaped her into a skilled administrative professional. Emily is enthusiastic about applying her knowledge to the dynamic environment at VGL, where she is committed to supporting the team and facilitating efficient operations.

Jack A. Medico

Graduate Student

Jack is a graduate student at Rockefeller University. At the VGL, he is developing software for genome assembly characterization and is interested in the evolution of complex genomic regions.


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Kirsty McCaffrey

Bioinformatics Assistant

Kirsty is a Bioinformatics Assistant II in the Vertebrate Genome Lab, working on the curation of high-quality reference genomes. Her background is in human genomics, with a focus on the implementation of quality regulations within bioinformatics.


Bonhwang Koo

Data Support Assistan

Bonhwang is a data support assistant at the VGL, supporting the lab in wrangling genomic data and metadata.