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 the NIH Director’s New Innovator and Pioneer Awards. Since 2018, Luciano has been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and in 2019 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Outside of the lab, Luciano likes to play and watch soccer, history and cinema.

Naama Aviram

Postdoctoral Fellow

Naama grew up in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. She received her PhD from the Weizmann Institute where she studied eukaryotic cell biology. Although organelles will always stay dear to her heart, Naama followed her passion and joined the Marraffini lab for her postdoctoral training, where she now focuses on bacteria and their sophisticated immunological memory. She claims she plays the bass but no one in the lab has heard her play yet. Her other hobbies include scuba-diving, exploring the New York culinary scene, and losing balance trying to do yoga.

Christian Baca

Graduate Fellow

Christian grew up in the small-ish town of Lake Elsinore, CA. He did his undergraduate studies at UC Irvine in biochemistry and molecular biology, where he got to work with lasers, chaperones, and carnivorous plants. He then made the move out to NYC and is now getting to hang out with lots of phages and bacteria alike. Outside of CRISPRing in the Marraffini Lab, Christian enjoys trying to make gains at the gym, playing heavy riffs on guitar, and eating chocolate.

Dalton Banh

MD/PhD Student

Dalton is a unit of mass. Dalton is also a Tri-I MD-PhD student with a healthy obsession with microbes and an unhealthy fascination with infectious diseases. His only contributions so far to science and medicine, respectively, have been a knack for (literally) sniffing out the subtle differences between bacterial cultures and discovering a cure for the hiccups—both dubious claims which experts in the field are still skeptical about. A native of the Mojave Desert, Dalton completed his undergraduate degree at USC and was subsequently an IRTA fellow at the NIH. His transformation from desert rat to city rat is almost complete, as he has fully embraced the culinary and cultural temptations of NYC. Finally, because Weill Cornell housing has a strict no-pets policy, he currently has an imaginary Golden Retriever named Spoofy.

Maj Brodmann

Postdoctoral Fellow

Maj grew up in Basel, a Swiss city best known for big pharma and sports (go Fc Basel!). She received her PhD in Microbiology from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, studying type VI secretion systems in bacteria. Her passion for microbiology and her favorite bacterium Francisella led her to New York to join the Marraffini lab, where she now focuses on Francisella's defense rather than offense. Next to science, she enjoys travelling to remote islands, horseback riding and concerts.

Clare Cahir

Graduate Fellow

Clare is the fourth New Jerseyan, third TPCB student, and second Cla(i)re in the Marraffini lab but the first to start a crafting club at Weill Cornell Medicine. In undergrad at the University of Notre Dame, Clare studied Chemistry, Italian, and the Art of Tailgating. When not cheering for her favorite team, Clare could be found in lab studying tuberculosis, where she discovered Biology is pretty cool. Clare started grad school hoping to combine her love for Chemistry and Biology and soon after found her newest calling: exploring the NYC food scene for her food Instagram @FeedOurPhDs. Besides enjoying free food, Clare likes long walks, eating ice cream, and dodging cars on her used bike.

Alice Cassel

Graduate Fellow

Alice was raised on the rocky, evergreen shores of the Puget Sound in the town of Bremerton, Washington. She harbors a deep-seated love of marine life after her years of volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium; however, she landed among the wheat and mountains of north Idaho to pursue undergraduate studies at the University of Idaho. She dabbled in studying wildflower phylogenetics and soil microbiomes, but her true passion for microbiology led her to Rockefeller to join the Marraffini Lab for her PhD. When she isn’t CRISPRing and growing all manner of extremophilic archaea (the most under-appreciated domain of life!), Alice can be found hanging out with her cats, running around Central Park, dancing to 1980s synthpop, and crate-digging for vinyl records.

Raphael Hofmann

Postdoctoral Fellow

Raphael grew up hiking in the Swiss Alps and around his quaint village in Eastern Switzerland. These days, he goes hiking on the Queensboro bridge to get to work every day. He received his PhD in Biological Chemistry at ETH Zürich, studying protein modifications. In the Marraffini lab, he is excited about combining his PhD field with CRISPR and microbiology. He patiently teaches phages some chemistry, and impatiently waits for the snack drawer to be refilled. In his spare time, Raphael loves traveling, sounding the trumpet, immersing himself in nature, and biking around NYC.

Amer Hossain

Graduate Fellow

Amer originates from Dhaka, Bangladesh, an excessively crowded and noisy yet thoroughly underrated major city. He moved to New York City for graduate school after relatively successful stints in Vassar College as an undergraduate and at Boston Children's Hospital as a research technician. While most find the noise, crowds and grime of New York City disconcerting, Amer finds these aspects comforting and reminding of home. When not hanging out with bacteria and bacteriophages, Amer's interests include soccer, eating, going to concerts and working out his back muscles in the Rockefeller gymnasium.

Hyejin Kim

MD/PhD Student

Hyejin grew up in NJ and developed her fondness for prokaryotic creatures during her undergraduate studies in Molecular Biology at Rutgers University. One fateful day, she went for a swim in the Hudson and her backstroke landed her in the East River, where the Marraffini lab – out on a hunt for CBASS – reeled her in with free CRISPR T-shirts (thanks, Mandrew!). Fueled by the buttery goodness of garlic knots, this Tri-I MD-PhD student strives to better understand CRISPR immunity in bacteria. Outside of tending to her microbes and her succulent Fred, Hyejin enjoys tennis, hikes, snowboarding, and acoustic guitar.

Claire Kenney

MD/PhD Student

Claire hails from the gem of the United States that is Cleveland, Ohio. At Johns Hopkins University, she studied molecular biology and anthropology. Her interests grew from the enzyme kinetics of nitric oxide synthesis in high school, to infectious diseases and host-pathogen interactions in the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller University/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program. She also competed internationally in Irish Dancing for over 20 years and served as a high school science teacher in the Peace Corps in Ghana. Claire has a deep love for music and dancing, balsamic vinegar, excessive exclamation points, and exploring different cultures (of both people and bacteria)!!!!

Albina Kozlova

Research Assistant

Albina was born in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan. Although Uzbekistan prides itself on being a modernized country, Albina’s childhood activities consisted of chasing chickens and keeping dragonflies as pets. She is a recent graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in Integrative Neuroscience and minored in Evolutionary Studies. She also did undergraduate research in a lab studying alcohol addiction where she learned to make the best cocktails for rats. She decided to venture out into new scientific territory and thus joined the Marraffini lab. Her interests outside the lab include playing classical piano, Zentangle-ing, and sleeping.

Pascal Maguin

Graduate Fellow

Pascal grew up in a tiny village located in the northeast of France. Together with his twin brother, they are the youngest of a family of six children. After high school, Pascal decided to leave France for the United States where he obtained an undergraduate degree at Hunter College of The City University of New York. Although he studied eukaryotes throughout his undergraduate research, he decided to join the Marraffini lab for his PhD to study bacterial defense systems and bacterial genome editing. Outside of the laboratory, Pascal enjoys going out to restaurants and concerts in New York City and has an interest in architecture.

Jacob Mathai

Research Assistant

Jacob was just a mere babe -- hailing from the mountainous plains of Long Island, NY and rolling around in the flat hills of Ithaca, NY -- before joining the Marrafini Lab. After completing his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University, Jacob yearned for city life once again; now, he got his wish and he frequently loiters the subway passages in the early mornings and late nights on his commute before and after many hours in the lab. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys watching anime and various other “movies” as he “cooks” himself into a food-induced coma. Of course, to balance out his spectacular diet, Jacob maintains his pristine Adonis-like “figure” by working out and playing basketball with his homies. In what little is left of Jacob’s time, he likes to listen to music, hang out with his friends, and travel as often as he can.

Charlie Mo

Postdoctoral Fellow

Charlie was born in China, grew up in England and Germany, and came to the US in 2003. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he studied the bacterial SOS response and its role in acquired drug resistance. Outside of the lab, Charlie enjoys reading, learning new languages, playing tennis, and cheering on his favorite football team, Bayern Munich.

Allison Richards

Lab Manager

Allison is here for bacteria. She is also here for cats and other eukaryotes. She once saved a mouse from certain demise on a NY city subway platform! In her previous life, she studied rodent models of OCD, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's Disease both at NIH and at Rockefeller. Her undergraduate education was completed at Oberlin where she developed an affinity for agriculture (also gaining a BA in Neuroscience and Biology). Allison has nearly achieved a nocturnal state which greatly enhances her MBA night school pursuits at NYU Stern! Catch her around the town being silly, crying with joy at NYC Greenmarkets, and rescuing feral cat populations in Brooklyn.

Amanda Shilton

Graduate Fellow

Amanda was born in the center of the Zimbabwean savanna (presented on a full moon by Rafiki himself). Her favorite childhood past-times include climbing kopjes and baking mud-pies. She completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Brandeis University back when she was interested in Neuroscience. After she joined Rockefeller however, she realized that Microbiology was the superior science and was enchanted by bacterial immunity and the majestic Marraffinians. If you try to find her in the lab, you can’t - she is usually camouflaged in glitter and sparkles. But fret not because you can lure her with tequila or cats. Amanda has big plans to distil her own tequila from responsibly sourced Mezcal - blending the Amarula flavors of Southern Africa with the good vibes of Mexican Mezcal fermentation. Her cat, Louis (pronounced Loo-Wee), is currently acting in an advisory capacity for this endeavor.

Gianna Stella

Graduate Fellow

Gianna is a Jersey girl and this brings much shame to the Marraffini lab. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Bioinformatics and Master's in Computational and Medicinal Chemistry at Stevens Institute of Technology. To break free from her Jersey roots, she joined the Tri-Institutional Program in Chemical Biology in NYC and explored her interest in bacteria. When not in lab, she can be found running around Central Park flying her giant octopus kite with little success. Her hobbies include smiling, eating chocolate, and receiving money. She also enjoys wearing her hotdog costume and encourages others to join in her wiener escapades.

Ashley Thornal

Research Assistant

Ashley was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. She received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of South Carolina (the original USC). After graduating, she moved to NY to join the Marraffini laboratory and study CRISPR. When she’s not hanging out with bacteria, she’s experiencing the joy of soaring through the air at one of her flying trapeze classes. Other than attempting to join the circus, Ashley also strives to one day officially become a “New Yorker”.

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 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Bikard (Postdoc, 2011-2014): Head of Lab at Institut Pasteur

Rahul Bhosle (Lab Manager, 2015-2020): Lab Manager at PTC Therapeutics, Inc.

Jessica Fyodorova (Research Assistant, 2019-2020): Graduate Fellow at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Gregory Goldberg (Graduate Fellow, 2011-2017): Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University

Robert Heler (Graduate Fellow, 2013-2018): Mobile Software Engineer at Tesla

Wenyan Jiang (Graduate Fellow, 2010-2016): Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University

Inbal Maniv (Lab Manager, 2011-2014): PhD Student at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

Jon McGinn (Graduate Fellow, 2013-2018): Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alexander Meeske (Postdoc, 2016-2020): Assistant Professor at University of Washington, Seattle

Josh Modell (Postdoc, 2013-2018): Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University

Philip Nussenzweig (MD-PhD Student, 2015-2020): MD-PhD Student at Weill Cornell Medical College

Nora Pyenson (Graduate Fellow, 2014-2020): Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University

Jakob Rostøl (Graduate Fellow, 2015-2020): Postdoctoral Fellow at Imperial College London

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