Principal Investigator

Jueqi Chen, PhD

Jueqi grew up in a coastal city in Guangdong, China and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China in 2009. She then pursued her PhD degree at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas with a focus on studying the role of ubiquitination in the RIG-I-MAVS anti-virus pathway. Jueqi became interested in the NLRP3 inflammasome signaling during her postdoctoral training (2014-2019) and has since developed biochemical assays coupled with live cell imaging for dissection of the molecular mechanisms in this pathway. In 2019, Jueqi was appointed Assistant Professor at University of Chicago’s Department of Microbiology, with a research focus on innate immune signaling pathways and their crosstalk with pathogenic microorganisms. Outside of lab, Jueqi enjoys video games (especially platform, action adventure and puzzle genres) and has a 1st dan black belt in Taekwondo.


Research Specialist

Lisa Radochonski

Lisa is from Palatine, IL. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in May 2020. Lisa became interested in microbiology during her undergraduate career. She is excited to explore her interests in the lab and be a member of the research team. In the future, Lisa would like to attend graduate school to further her studies in microbiology. Outside of the lab, Lisa enjoys spending time with her friends and family, painting/drawing, hiking, and working out.


Airi Kogishi

Airi is from Seattle, WA. She received her B.A. in Biology and her B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2022. Her interest in microbiology was piqued after taking courses in bacteriology and virology as an undergraduate. Airi is excited to learn about and participate in the research conducted by the Chen Lab. In her free time, Airi enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with her friends.


Romele Robe Marcial Rivera

Romele, originally from Legazpi City, Philippines, obtained dual degrees in Medical Microbiology and Biochemistry from Arizona State University. His previous research combined his interests in Microbiology and Immunology as it involved the optimization of Integrin Mac-1-mediated phagocytosis of bacterial pathogens, notably S. aureus and P. aeruginosa through opsonization of a positively charged peptide. He has also had previous experience in the field of organic synthesis and catalysis. He is very excited to join the Jueqi Chen lab in its goal to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that mediate NLRP1 inflammasome activation. In the future, he aspires to obtain his PhD to further his studies in host-pathogen interactions and antimicrobial defense. Outside of lab, he enjoys traveling and going to concerts and music festivals.


Graduate Student

Jialiang Quan (Chemistry)

Jialiang joined the University of Chicago as a PhD student in the Chemistry program. He received a B.S. in Chemical Biology from Xiamen University in China. Jialiang is co-mentored by Dr. Weixin Tang in the Department of Chemistry. He is a cat person and has a lovely ragdoll called Kiwi.


Postdoctoral Researchers

Nanyang Xiao, PhD

Nanyang came from Shantou, a city on the eastern coast of Guangdong, China and obtained his PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Biomedical Research Center South of China, Fujian Normal University, China in June, 2019. His previous research focused on the role of innate immune signaling in autoimmunity and progeria diseases and is very excited about joining Jueqi Chen lab to study the molecular mechanism in antimicrobial defense. In his spare time, he enjoys playing badminton and watching movies.


Undergraduate Students

Erica Olea Velazquez

Erica, a native of Santa Barbara, California, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology and is hoping to specialize in immunology or microbiology. Her fascination with virology and immunology was piqued through her interactions with HIV-positive patients, where she gained valuable insights into immune responses to various pathogens. After completing her undergraduate degree, Erica hopes to further her studies in immunology by attending either medical school or graduate school. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing and cooking.


Previous Members

Stella Hartmann (Graduate Student of Microbiology, 08.2020. – 05.2024.)

Stella joined the University of Chicago as a PhD student in the Committee on Microbiology program. She received a B.A. in Biology from Pitzer College and a M.S. in Applied Life Sciences from Keck Graduate Institute. Her previous work focused on the role of small molecules in the modulation of cell death signal transduction pathways and the discovery of host-targeted treatments against several aggressive and deadly pathogens. Stella has obtained her PhD in 2024 with her work on SARS-CoV-2 ORF3a and is currently working in Belay Diagnostics LLC in Chicago.

Breanne Mullins (Research Specialist 08.2019. – 07.2021.)

Current position: Master’s Student in Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University

Breanne is originally from Naperville, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University in May 2019. During her final year as an undergraduate student, Breanne took a strong interest in microbiology and is excited to be working in the Jueqi Chen Lab, where she will be studying how various stimuli activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Breanne also plans to attend graduate school in the future to further her education in microbiology and immunology studies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, working out and cooking!

Yuchong Lei (Visiting Undergraduate Student 2023-2024)

Yuchong is from Chongqing, a southwestern city in China. He is currently pursuing his B.S. degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and has joined the lab as a visiting student to complete his thesis project. His previous work focused on the packaging ability of the filamentous phage Pf4 and the horizontal gene transfer efficiency between Pseudomonas aeruginosa cells mediated by the Pf4 phage. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, watching movies, and learning cooking.

Manya Lalwani (UChicago Undergraduate Student 2023-2024)

Eduardo Gonzalez (UChicago Undergraduate Student 2020)