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Principal Investigator

Kathy Gould

Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Kathleen L. Gould, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and holds a Louise B. McGavock endowed faculty chair. Dr. Gould received her A.B. degree in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. She was then a Fellow of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund for Medical Research at the University of Oxford. After joining the Vanderbilt faculty, Dr. Gould received the Boehringer-Ingelheim New Investigator Award, the Searle Scholar Award, and was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1994-2013. Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011, Dr. Gould is also a member of several national professional societies and journal editorial boards, and she serves regularly as reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and the National Academies Ford Foundation. Her achievements have also been recognized with the SEC Faculty Achievement Award and the Vanderbilt Earl Sutherland Prize.

Dr. Gould runs an internationally recognized research program that has made fundamental, pioneering discoveries in the mechanisms that control cell division using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes super-resolution microscopy, mass spectrometry-based proteomics, genetics, structural biology, and biochemistry. In her laboratory, Dr. Gould has trained over 40 undergraduate students, many who have gone on to attend graduate or medical schools, and 50 pre-doctoral and postdoctoral scientists.

Dr. Gould has served in multiple leadership roles at Vanderbilt University including Interim and Vice Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. She is currently Senior Associate Dean for Biomedical Research, Education, and Training in the School of Medicine. In this capacity, Dr. Gould is helping to shape institutional and national strategies to enhance and broaden training of biomedical pre- and post-doctoral fellows so that they are prepared to enter the biomedical workforce of the future

Research Staff

Maya Igarashi

Research Assistant I, Cell & Developmental Biology

Maya was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College. Outside of lab she enjoys crafting, knitting, and taiko (traditional Japanese drumming).

Liping Ren

Senior Research Specialist, Cell & Developmental Biology

Liping was born in Shanghai, China. She is researching pre-mRNA splicing and regulation of cytokinesis. In her leisure time, she enjoys gardening and hiking with her family.

Lesley Turner

Research Assistant I, Cell & Developmental Biology

Lesley is originally from Birmingham, Alabama and recently graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Biology. At Auburn she worked in an Alzheimer’s research lab that studied the blood brain barrier. She enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and cats!

Research Faculty

Jun-Song Chen

Research Instructor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Jun-Song Chen was born in China but he came to the USA to pursue his “American dream” after he got his Ph.D. degree in Shanghai. He is studying proteins involved in cell cycle regulation, one of which is the newly identified protein, Nsk1. When not in the lab, his favorite thing to do is taking road trips with his family to look around “Mei Guo” (the Chinese translation for America meaning “beautiful country”), even when he has to carry “a little burden”—his son Roger.

Alaina Willet

Research Instructor, Cell & Developmental Biology

Alaina was born in Connecticut and raised close to Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from The University of Tennessee and came straight to Vanderbilt for graduate school. She defended her thesis in July 2017 and continues in the Gould Lab as a research instructor. Currently she has a broad interest in the regulation of cytokinesis. Outside of lab she enjoys the outdoors, playing soccer, reading and cooking.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Rahul Bhattacharjee

Rahul was born in Kolkata, India. He received his PhD from Kent, Ohio where he studied the biochemical basis of the role of GSK3a in sperm function and male fertility. Currently he is interested in the regulation of cytokinesis. Outside the lab, Rahul loves cooking Indian food, spending time with friends and watching sports.

Sierra Cullati

Sierra is originally from Baltimore, MD, then traveled to Florida to earn her bachelors at Florida Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. from Dartmouth, where she used a combination of quantitative phosphoproteomics and cell biology to study NIMA-related kinase signaling in mitosis. She is excited to be in Nashville and to enter the wonderful world of yeast! Outside of the lab, Sierra enjoys cooking, hiking, and running 5ks.

Graduate Students

Tony Rossi

Graduate Student, Cell & Developmental Biology

Tony was born in Decatur, Alabama and received his Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham-Southern College. He is interested in the regulation of contractile ring formation and disassembly. Outside of the lab he enjoys fishing, homebrewing, and Alabama football.

Undergraduate Students

Isaac Howard

Isaac was born in Arkansas and raised in Mt. Juliet, TN. He is pre-med and majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. In his free time he loves to hike, swim and watch football!

Jamie Huang

Jamie is originally from XuZhou, China and moved to California when he was 10. He is pre-med and double majoring in Medicine, Health and Society and Cell and Molecular Biology (also with a minor in Business!!). He is currently researching how plasma membrane composition is important for cells to divide. In his free time Jamie likes to play basketball, hike and travel!

Fiona Shan

Fiona was born and raised in Qingdao, China.  She is majoring in Biochemistry & Chemical Biology with minors in Neuroscience and Computer Science.  Outside of the lab she enjoys cats, cooking, and staying with friends!

Bita Tavafoghi

Bita was born in Maryland and raised in Northern Virginia. She is pre-med and double majoring in Medicine, Health, & Society, and Political Science. In her free time, Bita likes to hike, travel, and dance.