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.

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.

Rahul Bhosle

Lab Manager

Rahul joined the lab as a Lab Manager in 2015. He has a MS in Biochemistry from Iowa State University and also a MS in Chemistry from University of Mumbai. Rahul is a beer enthusiast and his favorite style of beer is an IPA. He can, if you are willing, take you on a tour of all the good breweries and brew pubs in NYC. When he is not busy in the lab he likes to vacation with his family on a beach.

Jessica Fyodorova

Research Assistant

Despite growing up in the suburbs of NYC, Jessica decided to abandon the East Coast and moved to sunny San Diego, where she received her B.Sc. in biochemistry and cellular biology from UCSD. She then decided to return to New York, where she spent 3 years as a technician working with worms in the Whitehouse lab, before finally joining the Marraffini lab. Outside of lab, Jessica’s hobbies include maintaining her 5 freshwater aquaria, listening to the Korean group BTS, crocheting, and playing a ton of video games.

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.

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 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.

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.

Alexander Meeske

Postdoctoral Fellow

Alex is a postdoctoral fellow working on type VI CRISPR systems and how they protect their bacterial hosts. Alex hails from a sleepy little Connecticut town, so while the transition to NYC was only a short trip in physical space but also a long journey of the soul. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, art museums, and skiing when 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.

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 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.

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.

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 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

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

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

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

Robert Heler (Graduate Fellow, 2013-2018): Senior Scientific Researcher at Genentech

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

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