Marraffini Laboratory

The Rockefeller University

Luciano Marraffini

Principal Investigator

Luciano, a native of Argentina, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rosario in Argentina in 1998 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2007, where he studied bacterial pathogenesis in the laboratory of Olaf Schneewind. He joined the Rockefeller faculty in 2010, and is a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar, a Searle Scholar, and a recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. Outside of the lab, Luciano likes to play and watch soccer, history and cinema.


Gregory Goldberg

Graduate Fellow

After receiving an undergraduate degree in Biology from New York University, Gregory joined the ranks of the David Rockefeller Graduate Program in 2011. Since then, he has been working in the Marraffini lab with a focus on the interactions between CRISPR-Cas systems and temperate phages in staphylococci. His past work includes undergraduate research in the Desplan lab (2010-2011), as well as a summer internship in Dr. Betty Diamond's lab (2009). Gregory's other interests include rock climbing, dance music of the electronic variety, nutrition, minimalist footwear, and coconut.


Robert Heler

Graduate Fellow

Robby grew up in Romania and moved to the States at the age of 18. He went to college in Virginia where he studied computer science and molecular biology. Likes: cheesecake, fall and air plants. Dislikes: non-Apple products, staying in on Friday nights and entropy.



Wenyan Jiang

Graduate Fellow

Wenyan is interested in innovation and biotechnology, so CRISPR is right up his alley. Other than Chinese, which is his native tongue, he also likes teaching himself some Japanese and French in his spare time. Traveling, reading and thinking are his hobbies.



Pascal Maguin

Graduate Fellow

Pascal is a clement young man partial to sipping champagne, perhaps explained by the fact that he hails from the Champagne region in Northern France, where he was raised as a feral child (by wild truffle boars). After breaking with his violent past and completing his undergraduate degree at Hunter College of the City University of New York, he made the audacious decision to join the Marraffini laboratory for his PhD, the happiest day in lab since the lab’s inception. Other than delving into the mysteries and intricacies of prokaryotic immune systems, Pascal likes to spend his time with fine dining, hosting soirées in his lavish midtown apartment (overlooking two of the best-known skyscrapers in Manhattan), being handsome, being sassy, and dancing on tables. He will only reply in English on odd days.


Jon McGinn

Graduate Fellow

Jon, a native New Yorker, received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University in 2013. While he was there, he worked in Greg Hannon's lab at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He joined the David Rockefeller Graduate Program in 2013, and has been a member of the Marraffini Lab since November 2013. In his free time, Jon enjoys food, wine, guitar, photography, and exploring NYC.


Josh Modell

Postdoctoral Fellow

Josh received his PhD from MIT in his idyllic hometown of Cambridge, MA where he studied the wondrous asymmetric cell divisions of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. If you think all Josh cares about now is CRISPRs, you’re wrong. He also enjoys crispers (fresh vegetable sections of frigidaires), lemurs and sport. Josh recently went to a film alone and felt somewhat self-conscious, but also exhilarated. He wanted to see Gravity in 3D IMAX but it was going out of theaters and he was super nervous he would miss the jaw-dropping action, not to mention Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning performance in any other year. Anyway, he couldn’t find anyone to go with him on short notice.


Philip Nussenzweig

MD/PhD Student

A native of New York City, Phil received his bachelor of science in Biology from the University of Chicago. Phil joined the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller University/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program in 2012 and after completing the first two years of his medical training at Weill Cornell Medical College he joined the Marraffini laboratory to pursue his PhD. His previous laboratory research includes his undergraduate research in the Schneewind laboratory (2010-2012) and a summer research project in the Nathan laboratory (2009). Outside the laboratory, Phil enjoys birdwatching, food, music, watching soccer games, and discovering the hidden delights of New York City.


Nora Pyenson

Graduate Fellow

Nora's scientific interests include microbial genetics and population dynamics, synthetic biology, and systems biology. Outside of the lab, she has achieved mediocrity in gardening, painting, and furniture repair. Currently, Nora's favorite microbe is Epulopiscium fishelsoni and favorite plant is Fenestraria rhopalophylla, also known as 'Baby toes.'


Jakob Rostøl

Graduate Fellow

Jakob Træland Rostøl is our very own (and first) ginger in the lab. However, some may argue that he is strawberry blonde. Jakob was raised on the frozen land of Arendal, Norway. After much success studying Biochemistry at Oxford University, he chose Rockefeller and New York City to pursue his love for science and his dream to take over the world using CRISPR. Apart from his incredible science knowledge, Jakob brings his remarkably avant-garde taste for fashion and his weird British humor to the lab; he was once voted the third funniest lab member (congrats Josh!). If you cannot find him in the lab covered in ethidium bromide, you will spot him in Brooklyn drinking local beers and listening to vaporwave. He is definitely one of the best assets of the Marraffini Lab, if not for his science, for his unintentional entertainment quality.


Andrew Varble

Postdoctoral Fellow

Andrew grew up in the suburbs of Rochester, NY with three younger sisters. He earned his PhD at Mount Sinai studying influenza and miRNAs and has a soft spot for viruses of all different types. When he isn't working out his adductor pollicis (the pipette muscle), he enjoys tinkering with his motorcycle (it needs a lot of attention), and touring the outdoors.





Lab Alumni

Asma Hatoum-Aslan (Postdoc, 2010-2014): Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama

David Bikard (Postdoc, 2011-2014): Assistant Professor at Institut Pasteur

Poulami Samai (Postdoc, 2012-2016): Purification Development Scientist III at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals