Current Lab members 

Marcy J. Balunas, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Department of Medicinal Chemistry

Program in Chemical Biology

Michigan Center for Infectious Disease Threats and Pandemic Preparedness


Marcy received a dual B.A./B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Rochester, an M.S. in Plant Ecology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD) in conjunction with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Marcy began her independent career at the University of Connecticut Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Katie Mc Bride, M.S.

Research Staff and Lab Manager


B.S. Microbiology - 2016 University of Tennessee, Knoxville
M.S. Microbiology - 2018 University of Tennessee, Knoxville

My career in science has taken me all over the place- from working in a food-pathogen detection lab in high school, to monitoring radioactive wastewater at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to studying the human gut microbiome. Now in Dr. Balunas' lab I am helping culture bacteria of interest in our search for novel natural products. Additionally, I am responsible for a lot of day-to-day operations as well as safety, general organization, ordering, and morale (that last one I made up, but I like to think it's true...). Outside of the lab you can find me walking my dog, bingeing the latest HBO-melodrama, or trying to learn the rules to a new board game.

Kojo Acquah, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


Kojo received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Cape Town in 2021 with a thesis focused on tuberculosis drug discovery from marine invertebrates and South African actinomycetes. He received his MPhil and BSc in Chemistry from the University of Ghana. Kojo is interested in using metabolomics tools to identify and isolate bioactive specialized metabolites involved in host-microbe interactions. 

Dulce Guillén Matus, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


I’m an oceanographer interested in the chemical ecology of marine microorganisms. I joined the Balunas lab in 2022 after earning my PhD in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD. My research focuses on the ecological roles of specialized metabolites from bacterial symbionts in marine invertebrates. I’m trying to gain insights into the interactions between host, environment, and microbiome that drive the evolution of bacterial specialized metabolism.

Jungmoo Huh, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


I got my B.S. in College of Pharmacy in Sungkyunkwan University and got a M.S. and Ph.D. (2018) from the College of Pharmacy in Seoul National University. I worked for 2 years (Nov. 2020- Oct. 2022) at the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR), University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. Now I am recently joined UofM here (Nov.2022-present)! I mainly worked on isolation, structural identification, method validation, and HPLC and/or MS analysis. In my spare time, I like watch sports, movies, and drama these days. 

Gillian Davidson

Ph.D. student - Cellular and Molecular Biology


Gillian graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2021 with a BS in Biochemistry and minor in Sociology. She worked in Dr. Bryan Davies’ lab as an undergraduate student and research technician developing protein therapies against multi-drug resistant pathogens. Gillian is co-advised by the Balunas lab and Lyssiotis lab and is generally interested in using mass spectrometry-based metabolomics to investigate the tumor microenvironment. 

Hobbies include: bouldering, drag shows, and living a Gen-Z life. 

Jennifer Nguyen

Ph.D. student - Medicinal Chemistry


I graduated from Ferris State University with a B.S. in Biotechnology and minor in Business Entrepreneurship in 2022. During my undergrad, I worked in Dr. Eric Nybo’s lab on the metabolic engineering of anthracyclines, a main class of chemotherapeutic drug. In the Balunas lab, my project focuses on characterizing bioactive metabolites present in bacterial isolates from a biofilm microenvironment using a metabolomic approach. In my down time, I enjoy reading, making/ eating food, and hiking.

Joey Krampen

Ph.D.  candidate - Microbiology & Immunology


I graduated from Purdue University in 2020 with a B.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and minors in Biotechnology and Management. During my undergraduate experience, I worked in the lab of Dr. John Tesmer performing structural biology experiments, and I also participated in the HHMI’s SEAPHAGES program to isolate novel bacteriophages and annotate their genomes. In the Balunas lab, my work focuses on using metabolomics to characterize the complexity of diverse biologic samples and investigating methods to improve how we elucidate unique features from complex samples. In my free time I enjoy rock climbing, watching movies, and hiking.

Luke Morrissette

Ph.D.  Rotation Student - Medicinal Chemistry


I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the Medicinal Chemistry Program, investigating the metabolic fingerprints of E. coli strains. I graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a B.S. in Chemical Biology, where I worked with Dr. Shannon Timmons to synthesize compounds related to diagnosing and treating osteoarthritis. After graduating, I spent a year working in Dr. Peter Scott’s lab within the Michigan Medicine Department of Radiology. Since joining the program, I have become especially passionate about high-throughput drug discovery. In my free time, I enjoy playing pickleball, board games and darts and am training for my second annual Tough Mudder 15K.

Andrew Xi

Undergraduate Student


January 2024 - Present

Former Lab members 

Graduate Students

Dr. Robert Samples, Ph.D. 2022

Dr. Sara Puckett, Ph.D. 2022

Dr. Samantha Gromek, Ph.D. 2019

Dr. James deMayo, M.S. 2016

Dr. Kasey Clark

Dr. Amanda (Fenner) Davidson

Rotation Students

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Karen Tan

Dr. Christopher Pavlik

Research Staff

Zachary Lane

Heather Winter

Lucas Gitzel

Jillian Garcia

Kristin Kipp

Ann-Chee Cheng

Undergraduate/Professional Students

Honors Thesis Students

Andrea Laboy Figueroa, SROP Summer Research Student (2023)

Bethlehem Abebe, McNair scholar

Edward Criscuolo, Undergraduate honors student

Shayna Real, Undergraduate student

Michael Kosover, Undergraduate honors student

Jack Mountain, Undergraduate student

Kailey Huot, Undergraduate student

Lava Kareen, PharmD student

Lilly Tartsinis, Undergraduate honors student

Alexander Trouern-Trend, Undergraduate student

Lucas Gitzel, Undergraduate student 

Cindy Li, Undergraduate student

Oluwole Olugbile, Undergraduate student

Matthew Lin, Holster Scholar and Undergraduate honors student

Meggy Chen, Pharm.D. honors student

Taylor Riley, Undergraduate student

Allegra Molkenthin, High school student 

Ahsum Khan, University of Rochester undergraduate student (REACH Program)

Sarah Leverett, Pre-Pharmacy honors student

Josh Baldino, Pharm.D. honors student

Sarah Chambers, Pharm.D. honors student

Tatyana Dyndikova, University of Rochester undergraduate student (REACH Program)

Samie Ahmed, Undergraduate student

Kristin Kipp, Undergraduate student

Aileen Yang, Undergraduate honors student

Ashley Kalinauskas, Undergraduate student

Sara Trevisani, Undergraduate student

Panama Lab Members

Cecilio Atencio, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, (Estímulos Program)

Jessica Avalos, University of California Santa Cruz (CREO Program)

Amanda Fenner, University of Iowa (CREO Program)

Brittany Graf, The College of New Jersey (CREO Program)

Manuel Grosso, Universidad de Panamá (Estímulos Program, CREO Program)

Sarah Herbst, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (UMEB Program)

Dioxelis López, INDICASAT

Rebecca Pike, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (CREO Program)

Jessica Schwartz, Franklin and Marshall College

Christina Wong, University of Rochester (CREO Program)

Daniel Wong, Universidad de Panamá (Estímulos Program)