Current Lab Members

Katerina Zapfe
PhD Student
I'm Kat, a SCUBA diver, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and PhD student in the Dornburg lab interested in the evolution and conservation of marine biodiversity. I ask how morphology, ecology, or presence of specific genes can influence the evolution of fishes across space and time. My thesis research uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore how marine fishes respond to extreme habitat transitions at inter-individual and macroevolutionary scales. Through phylogenomics, models and comparative methods, I ask how environmental changes happening today can impact the fish diversity of tomorrow.
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Rittika Malik
PhD Student
I am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Bioinformatics department at UNC Charlotte.  I have completed my Masters from the same department where I worked on population genetics. I am interested in evolutionary biology and studying the diversity of animals all across the globe. I am currently studying the evolution of immune genes in fishes. I am interested in understanding the repertoire of innate immune receptors in the early divergence of ray finned fishes. Recently I’ve been interested in signal regulatory proteins which are part of the immune system in our body. These are genes which bind to cancer cells and give off a “Don't eat me” signal to the immune system. Studying this is significant because it helps to understand how evolution affects cancer development. In the future, I’d like to look more into the evolution of cancer in other animals for learning human cancers. I am also working on genome announcement of Polypterus bichir and Long nosed gar. My skills involve developing pipelines for immunogenetics research by using a combination of python, R, and bash. I am familiar with libraries such as BWA, openmpi, Busco, RepdeNovo and other bioinformatics pipelines. During my free time, I love swimming, photography and travelling to new places.

Haris Muharemovic
PhD Student
I am a first-year PhD student in the department of Computing and Informatics at UNC Charlotte. I enrolled into the UNC Charlotte PhD Program directly from my undergraduate program at the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology, where I got my BSc in Computer Science. I have years of experience as a full-stack software engineer at various companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, working mostly on software such as HRM platforms and Loyalty Card systems. Besides my professional career, I am interested in quite a few things, ranging from video games, technology, bioinformatics, all the way to politics and public discourse. My work at EvIL focuses on creating an educational VR environment which will collect data on kids’ cognition based on their performance in the environment; this data will be used to model the way that children learn and figure out what the optimal ways of transferring knowledge through VR are. The implications of this work could be quite large, as we are moving towards a world where Virtual Reality is becoming a real tool for, among many other things, learning.

Cameron Nguyen
Masters Student
I'm Cameron Nguyen, a masters student at UNC Charlotte pursuing a graduate degree in Bioinformatics. I obtained my bachelors degree from NCSU and am now soon to graduate from UNCC. My interests have always included computers, so naturally I gravitated towards the bioinformatics program at UNCC. Being of a biological science background, it felt like the perfect arrangement to combine the two. My current research involves an investigation regarding the evolution of innate immune system genes.

Alexandra Tew
Masters Student
I'm Alexandra, a graduate student in thr Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics at UNCC with a particular interest in studying the impacts of endosymbiosis on the genome of marine organisms. I am currently working on the evolution of gene families in nototheniod fishes, with a focus on the relationship between changes in opsin gene tuning sites and habitat.

Manav Rohilla
Undergraduate, Junior
Hello! My name is Manav (it might take a couple tries to get it right)! I am a junior at UNC Charlotte and am studying Computer Science with concentration in bioinformatics. I’ve been interested in how life on this planet has evolved with time since high school, and bioinformatics is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting ways to analyze the evolutionary history that can be found within the biosphere we inhabit. The work I do in the Evolutionary Informatics Lab (conveniently shortened to EvIL) revolves mostly around the acquisition, analysis, and reorganization of genetic data associated with viruses. Outside of EvIL, I enjoy aviation, playing guitar, playing video games, and drinking what some may consider to be copious amounts of coffee!

Ella Kellner
Undergraduate, Freshman
I'm Ella, a freshman at UNC Charlotte. I am majoring in Biology and have a great interest in environmental and evolutionary sciences. I aim to have a career in research and I am working to gain the research experience that I will need in the future. I am currently focusing my efforts helping in the Dornburg laboratory.

Phillip Souza
Undergraduate, Junior
I am an Undergraduate Junior at UNC Charlotte, who is majoring in Biology with a minor in Bioinformatics. I've always had a habit of questioning the world around me since I was a small child (perhaps to the exasperation of my parents during my younger years) and have decided to put my inquisitive personality to good use in research. I joined the Evolutionary Informatics Lab hoping to gain experience that would be more suitable for real world research than quiz taking is. I currently work on updating TOAST, a package for the R coding language that helps assemble multiple sequence alignments.

Derrek Pope
Undergraduate, Senior
Hi, I'm Derrek and I'm a senior graduating this summer at UNC Charlotte. I have always been interested in life sciences; I decided to study Bioinformatics specifically after enjoying a coding class and finding out that there was a degree focusing on both fields. My biggest biological interest lies in fungi, bacteria, and various other decomposer-type organisms and what they do to help maintain an ecological balance. As far as computing, I love making things that are useful to others, whatever that may entail. I have enjoyed learning various skills from the lab thus far and look forward to eventually becoming a professional within the field. I am currently working on resolving the evolutionary relationships of branchiobdellidans (the closest living relatives of leeches) using transcriptomic data with collaborators from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Smithsonian.

Sofia Mizrachi
Undergraduate, Senior
Hi, I’m Sofia. I am a senior at UNC Charlotte. After taking several science classes during my freshman year at UNC Charlotte, I decided to major in Biology. I have always been interested in children's development as well, which prompted me to get a minor in Child and Family Development. My goal is to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.

Kevin Zhang
Undergraduate, Senior
I'm Kevin. A senior planning to graduate this Spring at UNC Charlotte with a bachelor's of science in mathematics with a minor in biology. After my undergraduate program I am planning on pursuing my master's of science in biostatistics at UNC Chapel Hill. I have a great interest in the study of infectious diseases.

Hannah Bowman
Undergraduate, Senior
Hi, I'm Hannah and I am a senior majoring in Biology at UNC Charlotte. I enjoy learning about the life sciences, especially genomics. My current goal is to focus on research before pursuing a master’s to become a physician assistant. I am currently on the virus team helping to compile and analyze incidence data of common respiratory viruses.