Executive Board

Mathi Willoughby

Mathi is a PhD candidate in Professor Amit Reddi’s lab.  Her research focuses on heme trafficking and dynamics, aiming to elucidate factors that govern and regulate heme intracellular trafficking in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using fluorescent heme sensors.  Mathi earned her B.S. in biochemistry from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, working for Professors Sarah Kennedy and Erin Wilson.

Outside of lab, Mathi enjoys cooking, eating, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Katie Kuo

Katie is PhD candidate in Professor JC Gumbart’s group. Her research focuses on all-atom Molecular Dynamics simulations of outer membrane proteins in Gram-negative bacteria. She currently is working on the β-barrel assembly machinery (BAM) complex and simulating the stepwise process of outer membrane protein folding. Katie received a B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University, where she then spent two years working as a research specialist in Professor Dennis Liotta’s medicinal chemistry lab.

Outside of the lab, Katie enjoys exploring new restaurants and breweries, going to music shows, and discovering new areas in Atlanta.

Sonia Bhattacharya

Sonia Bhattacharya is a PhD candidate in Dr. M.G. Finn’s lab. Her research explores protein nanoparticles applications in targeted tissue delivery and vaccination. Her projects investigate the ability of asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR) ligand modified virus like particles (VLP) to target liver cells. She is also working on VLP-based vaccine development against Leishmaniasis, a neglect tropical disease.

Born in Mumbai, India, Sonia earned her B.E. degree in Biotechnology from the University of Mumbai. She moved to the United States to pursue her M.S. in Biotechnology from University of Buffalo and worked with Dr. Richard Browne. Now, she continues her academic pursuit through Georgia tech.

Outside of laboratory, Sonia enjoys gardening, dogs, cooking, and hosting dinner parties.  

Marisa Cepeda

Marisa is a Ph.D. candidate in Professor Julia Kubanek’s lab. Her research broadly focuses on identifying small molecules that mediate interactions between marine organisms. Currently she is collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories to identify bacterial metabolites that protect microalgae from pathogens and predators. Marisa earned her B.S. in chemistry from Florida State University and completed her undergraduate honors thesis project under Dr. M. Elizabeth Stroupe.

When she’s not in lab, she enjoys running, playing soccer, traveling to new places, and spending time with friends and family.

Ariel Parker

Ariel received her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. Alongside her academics, Ariel’s undergraduate experience was also defined by her role as a student-athlete on the women’s basketball team. Being a Georgia native, Ariel was led back home to attend Georgia Tech and her passion for Chemistry steered her to the France lab where she joined in 2016. Ariel’s research focuses on creating novel methodologies and improving processes toward natural products and pharmaceutically interesting compounds. Specifically, Ariel works on developing methods to access hetero-aromatic seven membered ring systems. Beyond research, Ariel serves as Vice President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) at GT and is an executive board member of Women in Chemistry (WiC).
In her free time, Ariel enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing basketball, and eating at the many restaurants around Atlanta

Kirstie Thompson

Kirstie Thompson is a Ph.D. candidate in professor M.G. Finn’s lab. Her research focuses on the synthesis of new polymers of intrinsic microporosity (PIMs) toward the goal of polymer membranes for liquid purification. Kirstie earned her B.S. in chemistry from James Madison University and worked for Dr. Kevin Caran. 

Outside of the lab, Kirstie enjoys goldendoodles, skiing, and spending time with family and friends.

Courtney Moore

Courtney Moore is a Ph.D. candidate in Professor Amit Reddi’s lab. Her research focuses on heme signaling dynamics in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using fluorescent heme sensors. Her project involves development of a library of heme sensors with varying heme affinities and application of these sensors to investigate the role of heme in yeast cell cycle. Courtney earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona and worked for Dr. Ron Lynch.

In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball, reading a good novel, or travelling.

Asheley Chapman

Asheley Chapman is a second-year biochemistry PhD candidate in the lab of M.G. Finn. Her research focuses on the development and optimization of virus-like particle (VLP) glycoconjugate vaccines against bacterial, parasitic and cancer targets. So far, she has investigated the effect of molecular linkers on antigen immunogenicity conjugated to VLPs. She is currently working to develop a vaccine with potential efficacy against melanoma, and is beginning a project aimed at developing a vaccine for Chagas Disease. Asheley earned her B.A. in Religious Studies at Agnes Scott College, then switched paths and studied chemistry and biology at Georgia Southern University while conducting water quality research in Georgia and Africa under Dr. Asli Aslan. 

When not in the lab, Asheley enjoys cooking, spending time with family, and attending concerts and football games!