• David Walt

    David Walt

    David R. Walt is the Robinson Professor of Chemistry at Tufts University. He received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from SUNY at Stony Brook. After postdoctoral studies at MIT, he joined the chemistry faculty at Tufts. Professor Walt served as Chemistry Department Chairman from 1989 to 1996. Dr. Walt serves on many government advisory panels and boards and serves on the editorial advisory board for numerous journals. From 1996-2003 he was Executive Editor of Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Dr. Walt is the Scientific Founder and a Director of Illumina, Inc. He has received numerous national and international awards and honors and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Walt has published over 175 papers, holds over forty patents, and has given hundreds of invited scientific presentations.

  • Manuel Palacios

    I am a post doc in Professor Walt's lab. I am currently working on several different projects in the lab including the development of assays for single cell and single molecule analysis and also finding novel ways to embed information in chemical systems. My previous research has been focused on the preparation of photo-responsive materials with different recognition chemistries for the detection of ionic species. In Spring 2010 I joined the HHMI project as a mentor. I am very impressed by the level of accomplishment and commitment of the students in the program.

  • Aaron Phillips

    Aaron Phillips

    I am a graduate student in Professor Walt's lab and am developing an assay for interrogating individual DNA molecules as well as developing assays and techniques to study the analytes in single cells. I have been a mentor for students since the summer of 2008. Outside of lab, I enjoy music, swimming, and watching baseball games and movies.

  • Meredith Knight

    Meredith Knight

    I am the Program Coordinator for the HHMI Professor’s Award. I have been managing grant funded science education and outreach programs for 9 years, both at Tufts University and at the Museum of Science in Boston. I received my bachelor's in chemistry from Cornell University and received a masters in science education from Tufts University. My personal mission in life is to share my enthusiasm for science with children of all ages. When I’m not at work, I love spending time with my kids exploring things and having adventures! Other hobbies include running, biking, playing the drums, singing, and writing songs and writing poetry.


  • Andrew Brinson

    I am a sophomore at Tufts majoring in Engineering Science and Chemistry. The Walt Lab and Microarray project interested me because it seemed like a chance to get hands on experience using new age scientific methods. After Tufts I plan on attending medical school and moving back overseas to practice. Outside the lab I enjoy almost any athletic activity and travelling anywhere I can.

  • Nicholas Chen

    I am a freshman at Tufts, and plan on being a double major in Computer Science and Biology. I joined this program to get experience working in a lab and to help high schools learn in labs. I have loved biology ever since I had a great teacher for Biology Honors in high school. Home for me is Mountain View, California, but I have also lived abroad in Japan. Passions outside of biology include Japanese, video games, badminton and cooking.

  • Victoria Fashakin

    I am a sophomore at Tufts majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Drama. I am a Neubauer scholar and a 2010 HHMI EXROP award recipient. I plan to join the Peace Corp. after college and then go on to medical school to become a surgeon. I am excited to be involved in the lab for the spring 2010 semester because I find the work on single nucleotide polymorphisms a fascinating intersection of biology and chemistry. My interests include knitting, volleyball, strategic gaming and trivia.

  • Jan Fouad

    I am a biology major and a senior at Tufts. I started doing research during the summer of my senior year, and am excited to have the opportunity to work on these projects and in local schools. My plan after graduation is to go to medical school.

  • Chelsea Hogan

    I am a junior at Tufts majoring in chemistry and environmental studies. The Chemistry Organized Outreach Partnership interested me because I enjoy working with youth and sharing my interest in science. I also work as a tutor through the Tufts Literacy Corps. I like hiking and enjoy movie marathons.

  • Elizabeth Philbrick

    Elizabeth Philbrick

    I started research while I was a sophomore at Tufts University pursuing a double major in biochemistry and Spanish. The HHMI Maternal Ancestry project has introduced me to a research lab as well as provided a real-life application of my still developing biochemical perspective. The experience I gain will guide my career planning, currently aimed towards medical school or a graduate program. I enjoy Irish dancing, being outdoors, and baking in my free time.

  • Shrikar Rajogopal

    Shrikar Rajogopal

    I am a senior at Tufts University with a Biochemistry major. My interest in the Walt lab was began when I discovered that part of the project was to introduce cutting-edge science into high school classrooms. Thus, I consider myself lucky to be doing work pertinent to both my areas of study. Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, playing volleyball, being outdoors, and drinking bubble tea.

  • Daniel Rodkey

    I am a senior chemical engineering major at Tufts University. During the summer before my junior year, I did research through the Summer Scholars program at Tufts. I joined this program to gain experience doing reserach in a different type of project. I am planning to go to Dental School after I graduate from Tufts. In my spare time, I enjoy playing softball.

  • Lola Yu

    I am a freshman at Tufts University with a Biology major. Biogen Idec first introduced me to the fascinating world of biotechnology and molecular sciences when I was a freshman in high school. In my junior and senior year of high school, I conducted breast cancer research at Biogen Idec's Oncology Department. Sharing my passion for research with high school students is incredibly important to me, as not very many students are exposed to this field of work. Hopefully these experiments will inspire other students to careers in science.

High School Teachers

  • Diane Perito

    Diane Perito, Ph.D.

    I am a chemistry teacher at Malden High School in Malden. As an educator, I am always looking for ways to engage and increase student interest in science. Having the opportunity to create exciting biotechnology curriculum for high school students that connects directly to them is very rewarding. As an alumna of Tufts University myself, it feels good to be home again and working in the Walt Lab on the HHMI project.

HHMI Alumni - Mentors

  • Matt Aernecke

    Matt Aernecke

    I am a 6th year graduate student in Professor Walt's lab and am working on developing a portable vapor sensing device with the specific goal of detecting ignitable liquid residues in the ambient environment. I have been a mentor for the HHMI project since the summer of 2008. Outside of lab, I enjoy playing squash and softball as well as cooking.

  • Tres Brazell

    Tres Brazell

    I am a graduate student in Dr. Walt's laboratory. My current research involves developing protein microarrays using single chain variable fragments. During the summer of 2008, I mentored Alex Huh and Brett Lieblich in the HHMI Project. Outside of lab, I enjoy soccer, biking, and playing piano.

  • Ryan Hayman

    Ryan Hayman

    I am a graduate student in Professor Walt's lab and am finishing my research on bead-based oligonucleotide microarrays for the detection of bacterial and viral pathogens in a variety of sample matrices. I have enjoyed being a mentor for the HHMI Project since the project began in the fall of 2006. Outside of lab, I enjoy playing chamber music with friends, racing my mountain bike, and running.

  • Chris LaFratta

    Chris LaFratta

    I am a postdoc in Prof. Walt's lab and I am supported by an NIH Training grant: Training in Education and Critical Research Skills (TEACRS). I work on many projects in the lab ranging from the development of electrochemiluminescent immunassays to detecting infrared messages encoded in chemical patterns. I have mentored several HHMI students since the summer of 2007 and their achievements never cease to amaze me.

  • Maureen Regan

    Maureen Regan

    I was a mentor during the summer of 2008 for Lisa Piscasia and Mark Williams.

  • Dimitra Toumpanaki

    Dimitra Toumpanaki

    I worked on this project while I was a post doc in Professor Walt's lab and am developing assays and techniques for single cell analysis. I received my bachelor's in chemistry and my Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from University of Patras, in Greece. My previous research was focused in the development on novel biosensors for genotyping clinically important polymorphisms, with point-of-care applications. I have been a mentor for students since the fall of 2008. Outside of lab, I enjoy travelling and watching movies.

  • Deniz Yuksel

    Deniz Yüksel

    I was a mentor starting at my fifth year graduate student in Chemistry at Tufts University. I decided to participate in the HHMI project during summer to gain experience in mentoring. I hope to share my knowledge and experience with undergraduate students to help them solve problems in chemistry. I enjoy scuba diving and sailing very much.

HHMI Alumni - Students

  • Allison Murray

    I am a sophomore majoring in English and Classics. I intend to go to medical school to become a General Practitioner or a Radiologist, and I hope one day to participate in Doctors Without Borders. My extracurricular activites include the Tufts Dance Collective and SOC open dance.

  • Stella Chung

    Stella Chung

    I was part of the HHMI Project during my senior year at Tufts. I graduated with a degree in chemistry and am planning to continue onto graduate school in the sciences. The HHMI Project was one of the best experiences I had in college. Aside from the valuable laboratory techniques, I learned that science research involves creativity just as art or music. I also learned to review science journals from an experimenter's point of view and determine the best approach to my own experiment. Dr. Walt, Meredith, Ryan, and the mentors were helpful and encouraging - always giving advices and supporting the undergraduates. Research with the HHMI project shaped my interest in becoming a scientist.

  • Anh Dinh

    Anh Dinh

    I am a senior class of 2011 majoring in Chemical Engineering and also an international student from Vietnam. I joined the HHMI research project in the summer of 2009 and it was my first major research experience in my education career. As much as I enjoyed Chemistry, I hoped my time in the lab would help me improve my lab techniques and gain valuable research experience, which is crucial for my plan on attending grad school after graduation. Beside studying and working in lab, I enjoy music, playing violin, reading and learning languages.

  • Keith Hofman

    Keith Hofman

    I worked on the HHMI project during the summer before my senior year at Tufts University. I majored in Chemistry and Physics. I have worked primarily with Single Base Extension and Assay readout. After graduating, I hope to pursue a career in research and development, and possibly attend graduate school. Outside of the lab, I love to play any kind of sport, as I have a competitive personality, but I also like to spend quiet time with friends.

  • Alex Huh

    I was a biochemistry major at Tufts graduating in May of 2010. I am currently attending medical school and then to pursue a career in the field of medicine and medicinal research. I decided to participate in the HHMI research project because I was interested in the field of genetics and biochemistry. The experience helped me become more familiar with laboratory setting and important biochemical techniques. The focus of my research involves designing an assay to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms. My interests and hobbies outside the lab include sports, music, and computers.

  • Ryan Lena

    Ryan Lena

    I was a chemical engineering major at Tufts and I graduated in 2010. I started doing research with the HHMI project in January of 2009, continued in the summer of 2009, and returned during the spring of 2010. I was also part of Tufts' cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams.

  • Brett Lieblich

    Brett Lieblich

    I worked on the HHMI Project starting the summer of my junior year, throughout my entire junior year, and during the summer of my senior year. I chose to participate in the HHMI project because it seems like an interesting way to learn about aspects of biology and biochemistry that I was previously unfamiliar with. My experience with the HHMI Project has been great. I play Ultimate Frisbee year round for the Tufts E-Men while not in the lab, and I enjoy watching football while rooting for the Packers.

  • Varandt Khodoverdian

    Varandt Khodoverdian

    I am a junior at Case Western Reserve University Student with a major in biochemistry. After my graduation from Case Western I plan to attend graduate school. Summer of 2009 is my third summer working with Professor Walt. The summer of 2007 I worked on an electrochemiluminescence based multiplexed detection platform with mentor Chris LaFratta. I look forward to what this summer will bring with new research. Through HHMI and my time in the laboratory I have gaeind a greater understanding of the inner workings of research, developed my laboratory skills, and learned a lot about chemistry.

  • Daniel Kocak

    Daniel Kocak

    I'm a sophomore at Tufts and am majoring in chemical engineering. I have a great interest in all natural sciences, and I am looking forward to the valuable experience working in a lab will provide. I started volunteering in the lab during the spring semester of 2009 and am continuing into the summer. After college, I plan to attend graduate or medical school. Outside the lab I enjoy listening to music, running, playing basketball, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

  • photo of Allistair Mallilin

    Allistair Mallilin

    I am a Chemistry major with a double major in Community Health. I hope to attend medical school after college. I started working on the HHMI Project in the summer of 2007, and have continued doing research during the fall of 2007, the spring of 2008 and the summer of 2008, and the spring of 2009. I worked with Chris LaFratta to develop "The Ray", an flourescence imagine system, and with Matt Aernecke on the microbe discovery project. Outside of the lab, I like ballroom dancing, rugby, and basketball, along with long walks on the beach and strolling in the rain.

  • Kaitlyn Minnehan

    Kaitlin Minnehan

    I am a junior at Tufts University majoring in Chemistry. I joined the HHMI project in the summer of 2008, and have continued to do research during the 2008-2009 academic year. I decided to participate in this project because of my interest in Organic Chemistry. During the summer I worked with Patrice Wagner on developing an Amplex Red Readout assay for the microarray project. This experience has taught me a great deal about the laboratory and given me research experience that will benefit me in my future studies. After college, I plan to attend medical school. Outside of the lab I enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity, I play for the Tufts soccer team and I love reading.

  • Sammy Pham

    Duytam Pham

    I am a Tufts graduate class of 2009, and I majored in Electrical Engineering. I plan to attend medical school after I graduate, possibly following paths of clinical research. I participated in the HHMI Microarray Project in the Summer of 2008 in order to gain experience as a researcher and learn more about the biochemical sciences. My mentor was Ryan Hayman and I worked on Illumina Microarrays selecting and testing different SNPs for determining haplogroups. Outside the laboratory, I enjoy weight lifting, tennis, and movies.

  • Sarah Philips

    Sarah Philips

    I am a junior at Tufts majoring in Chemistry and pursuing a minor in Mathematics. I joined the Walt lab to broaden my experience in Organic Chemistry and learn how chemistry can be applied to biomedical research. Outside the lab I am an ARC tutor and enjoy art.

  • Lisa Piscasia

    Lisa Picascia

    I am a junior double majoring in Biology and Italian here at Tufts University. I plan to attend medical school directly after college. I participated in the HHMI Project during the summer of 2008, working with Mark Williams on sample preparation for the microarray project. I participated in tht HHMI project because I want to become more familiar with the research side of science, as it is crucial to the advancement of medicine and technology. My hobbies include running, drawing, and reading.

  • Peter Riviello

    Peter Riviello

    I participated in the HHMI Project during my senior year at Tufts (2007-2008). I am now attending medical school at NYU. I think the most important thing I gained from being a part of undergraduate research was an understanding and appreciation of the creativity that goes into solving scientific problems. This goes for everything from planning and refining an experimental protocol to building a new apparatus (such as our fluorimeter or just some rig to help with an experiment). I definitely learned to think more analytically about the application of the scientific method to a problem (for instance, deciding why or why not an experiment proves anything and looking for ways to fix it).

  • Jennifer Torpey

    Jennifer Torpey

    I participated in the HHMI Project during my senior year at Tufts (2006-2007). I graduated from Tufts with a degree in biochemistry. For my senior honors thesis I worked with Professor Walt and Ryan Hayman to develop a DNA microarray for the identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with human ancestry and migration. This project was one portion of the multi-component HHMI grant focused on bringing advanced research technology to the undergraduate educational laboratory. In addition, I worked on the saliva project during my three semesters of research with the Walt group. I am now in medical school at Harvard Medical School and will be involved with clinical research in the division of orthopedics.Undergraduate Senior Thesis

  • Laura Truhlar

    Laura Truhlar

    I graduated from Tufts with a chemistry major in 2009. I plan to attend graduate school after college. During the summer of 2007, I participated in the HHMI penicillin project with Mark Williams from Morehouse College. In Spring 2008, our improvements to the lab were incorporated into the Organic Chemistry curriculum at Tufts and I taught two Organic Chemistry lab lectures. Also in Spring 2008, I began working on the Salivary Diagnostics project with Tim Blicharz as my mentor. My experience in the Walt lab has exceeded my expectations. The research is exciting and the group members are great to work with. I continued my research during the Fall of 2008. My interests outside the lab include reading, photography, hiking, and playing the piano.

  • Saumini Shah

    Saumini Shah

    I graduated from Tufts in 2009 with a Chemistry major and Mathematics minor. I decided to work in the Walt lab given my wonderful experience in Intermediate Organic Chemistry learning under Prof Walt's guidance. I am interested in Pharmaceutical Finance, and I hope to pursue the same as a career. I am sure that my experience in the lab with the HHMI project will help me in my future endeavors. Outside of class I enjoy running, reading and calligraphy.

  • Lia Tucker

    Lia Tucker

    I am a sophomore at Tufts University and a chemical engineering major. I joined the HHMI research project in the spring of 2009 because I really enjoyed Organic Chemistry with Professor Walt and wanted to gain valuable research experience. Hopefully, my time in the lab will help me decide my future career path. When not in the lab or in class, I enjoy reading, playing flute and dancing.

  • Patrice Wagner

    Patrice Wagner

    I graduated from Spelman College with a major in Chemistry, and I participated in the HHMI Project during the summer of 2008. I worked with Kaitlin Minnehan on developing the Amplex Red Readout Assay for the microarray project. I am attending graduate schoolat Vanderbilt to obtain a Ph. D. in Biochemistry. Afterwards I am interested in pursuing a career in either research or industry. I have a strong interest in the field of obstetrics and women's health and hope to impact both fields as part of my career. In my research with the HHMI project I gained more experience with cutting-edge lab techniques and got a feel for research as a career in preparation for the future.

  • Stacey Watkins

    Stacey Watkins

    I graduated from Tufts University in 2007 with a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry. I worked with Professor Walt for over two years and focused on the HHMI project extensively during my Senior year (2006-2007). With Professor Walt and Ryan Hayman, I began designing an assay that would eventually be developed into a undergraduate Organic Chemistry Laboratory experiment that allowed for genomic testing. My initial work involved the investigation of various solid supports capable of attaching oligonucleotides through organic chemistry reactions. This was the main focus of my undergraduate senior honors thesis. Currently, I am enrolled in the MSTP (MD/PhD) Program at University of Alabama Birmingham where I will pursue research in oncology or infectious diseases.

  • Jessika Williams

    Jessika Williams

    I am a rising sophomore at Spelman College, majoring in Biochemistry. After Spelman, I plan to attend graduate school studying forensic science, most likely in DNA or Toxicology. From this program I hope to learn more about the process of preparing DNA for analyzing.

  • Mark Williams

    Mark D. Williams

    I graduated with a biology and neuroscience double major from Morehouse College. I hope to be a neurosurgeon eventually. I participated in the HHMI project during the summer of 2007, when I worked with Laura Truhlar on the pencillin project and the sumemr of 2008 when I worked with Lisa Picascia on saliva preparation for the microarray project. My goals for participating in the HHMI project are to expand and broaden my research experience horizon as well as improve technical lab skills used more in analytical chemical and biochemical research. Immunobiological research has always fascinated me, one major application of my research involves cultivating a genuine love and practical appreciation for science in high school and college students.