MIRMIRA LAB

Meet our team

Raghu Mirmira, MD, PhD

Professor

A native Illini, my career has taken me to California, Virginia and Indiana before landing back at The University of Chicago.  I received my BA, PhD and MD from here and it feels so good to be “home”!  My wife Veena and I have two daughters who both happen to be students here, so you can see that our roots to the university run deep.

When I get time outside of the lab, I enjoy biking.  To me, there is nothing better than finding a country road and riding 50 miles during a weekend.  Our family also enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures and cuisines.

I have prided myself on building a lab that supports my mission and passion for diabetes research and am excited to see how what we are doing today impacts the future of diabetes health.

Michelle Williams

Executive Assistant to Dr. Mirmira

Hi! My name is Michelle, and I began working alongside Dr. Mirmira at Indiana University School of Medicine in October of 2016. In the fall of 2019, I moved with the lab to the University of Chicago, but I will always bleed cream and crimson (Hoo-Hoo-Hoosiers!).

I am Dr. Mirmira’s Executive Assistant, and I handle the many moving parts within the lab and also help keep Dr. Mirmira’s life running smoothly!

My husband Doug and I have been married for 29 years and have three adult children and three super-fun grandkids. In my free time, I love playing with our dog Charlie, going to country concerts, reading, crafting, traveling, and laughing with those I love most!

Sarah Tersey

Associate Research Professor

Originally from Chino Hills, CA, my career has taken me to Colorado, Massachusetts, Virginia and Indiana before settling in Frankfort, IL where I live with my husband Brandon, our three children, two dogs and one cat!  When we get downtime, our family loves to visit and hike the state parks – there is so much to do right in our own backyard if we just look!

I love that the work we do in The Mirmira Lab has the potential to make a real impact on Diabetes.

Ryan Anderson

Assistant Research Professor

A Midwesterner since birth, I really learned to appreciate the short times that I was able to live near the coasts!  My wife and I have kids, but our family also includes members from 4 of 5 Vertebrate Classes – just need an amphibian!  When we get a chance, we love to hike and camp together, and in my solo free time I enjoy noodling on my guitar and keeping my 50 year old VW bug on the road.

One of my favorite things about our lab is that we not only get to unlock the secrets of basic Biology, but also work to bridge the chasm between this knowledge and new therapies for metabolic diseases that can make a difference. Plus, it’s really fun when it works. 

Sarah May

Scientific Writer

I’ve spent most of my life around the Great Lakes.  First, growing up in a small town on the sunrise coast of Michigan and later attending grad school at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where I earned my PhD in biochemistry.

In 2022, I traded cheese curds for crab cakes and moved with my husband to Chestertown, Maryland, where I work remotely as a scientific writer for the Mirmira Lab.

I love visiting new places and restaurants (my goal is to travel to all 50 states!), exploring nature, birdwatching, calligraphy, and photography.

As a scientific writer, I’m passionate about helping researchers communicate in a way that is clear, concise, and captures the audience’s interest.

 

Fei Huang

Staff Scientist

Born and raised in China, I came to the US (and Chicago!) in 2000.  My wife and I have one daughter and our family also has a dog.  We love to travel and we greatly appreciate the natural landscape of the parks in Chicago – I especially love the view of Lake Michigan! 

Since joining this lab, I have grown to like it more and more because all the lab members, including supervisors, are very friendly. They share their experiences and knowledge with me. My research is very interesting and important, it will help to reveal the mechanisms of diabetes.

Charanya Muralidharan

Postdoc Fellow

Originally from India, I landed in the US in 2010 to pursue my graduate studies.  The past 12 years have been such a learning experience – not only in terms of science, but also in understanding different cultures and people in general!  I received my PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from IU School of Medicine studying type 1 diabetes and autophagy in Dr. Amelia Linnemann’s lab.  Throughout my graduate career, which includes two Masters and a PhD, my research focus has spanned from forensics to Alzheimer’s research to pulmonary hypertension research to diabetes research.  Regardless of the type of research I do, I am always drawn back to diabetes research, which has led me to The Mirmira Lab as I develop as an independent researcher.

Other than science, I practice singing, playing video games (Heavy Rain and Tomb Raider have been my absolute favorites so far!), playing tennis with my husband, playing fantasy soccer with my friends, Indian classical dancing, reading comic and fiction books (Harry Potter series and Brandon Sanderson’s War Breaker are my faves!), biking, exploring trails, and watching sitcoms.

Titli Nargis

Postdoc Fellow

I was born and raised in India. I received my Btech, Mtech and PhD degree from West Bengal, India. In my PhD at Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (Dr. Partha Chakrabarti Lab), I studied etiopathology of Indian type 2 diabetic patient. I moved to University of Chicago in May 2022.

I intend to gain expertise as an independent researcher in diabetes, which has led me to the Mirmira Lab. I am very fortunate to be working with Dr. Mirmira and brilliant-minded and friendly co-workers.

In my leisure time, I love to paint, watch movies and sitcoms, garden, hike and enjoy nature.

Jacob Enriquez

Postdoc Fellow

I originally grew up in Southern California but decided to experience all four seasons by moving to the Midwest. I earned my B.S. in Biology from Xavier University and my Ph.D. in Molecular and Developmental Biology from the University of Cincinnati/Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where I trained in Dr. Jim Wells’ lab. My graduate studies focused on dietary effects on the intestinal epithelium with a particular emphasis on high-fat diets. In December 2022, I relocated to Chicago and joined the Mirmira lab to expand my expertise in metabolism, specifically focusing on the pancreas and diabetes. My primary project involves the use of lipid nanoparticles to deliver therapeutics to beta cells.

Aside from research, I love to play water polo, explore the amazing restaurants in the city, and soak up the sun whenever it’s shining. The Mirmira lab provides an awesome, supportive environment, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Andy Anderson

Graduate Student

After growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I got my B.S. in Movement Science from the University of Michigan. I came to Chicago for graduate school after discovering my love of research, and I am now training to earn my Ph.D. and become an independent scientist. I live in downtown Chicago with my partner and our two cats, and in my free time I love to read, practice archery, draw, and paint.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of this group, not only because Dr. Mirmira leads a lab full of brilliant and friendly people, but also because I find diabetes research fulfilling. The disease affects some people who are close to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to directly contribute to better understanding and treatments for diabetes.

Christian Checkcinco

Graduate Student

Born in Southern California, I received my undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine in biological sciences before coming to Chicago for my PhD training. I am currently in the Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition Program here and am excited to continue expanding my research skills. Outside of the lab I enjoy playing basketball/volleyball, learning songs on the piano, and playing video games.

Joining the Mirmira lab has been a blast because I have always been interested in diabetes research and am surrounded by a group of intelligent and accomplished scientists. As a graduate student, I am learning to be an independent researcher and hope to continue to add to the knowledge that will help treat metabolic diseases that our lab studies.

Kierstin Webster

MD/PhD Student

I grew up in sunny South Florida and studied Biochemistry and Anthropology at the University of Florida before joining the UChicago MSTP. When I’m not in lab, I love to create (food, crafts), to connect with nature, and to enjoy the constant barrage of new experiences Chicago has to offer.

The Mirmira lab is full of incredible science, but also incredible people. I feel surrounded by support and inspiration. As a hopeful physician-scientist, I am especially excited to learn the art of bridging science and medicine from Dr. Mirmira’s example.

Svetlana Navitskaya

Lab Manager

I was born in Mogilev, Belarus and lived there until my move to the USA in 2004.  I am married and have one son who also lives in Chicago.  When my grandson arrived, I moved to Chicago and joined the Mirmira Lab.  In my free time, I enjoy reading, listening to music, going to theaters, concerts and museums, traveling, outdoor activities, and just spending as much time with my family as possible (especially that beloved grandson!).

I am highly interested in all areas of life science with a particular emphasis on metabolic diseases such as diabetes. With over 15 years of experience working in a research lab, I enjoy using my skills to contribute to the Mirmira Lab diabetes research. In my role as a Lab Manager, I am excited to assist students and researchers for effective and smooth performance of their experiments. I am very fortunate to be a part of this great team.

Jennifer Nelson

Senior Research Technician

Originally from Southern California, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Santa Cruz before joining the Mirmira Lab at Indiana University.  I love the work I do in the lab so much that I moved to Chicago to continue my career with this awesome group of scientists!

I am currently working on my Master’s Degree, so between that and spending way too much time in the lab, I try to find time to enjoy baking and being a crazy dog lady. Oh and plants, loooots of plants.

Advaita Chakraborty

Senior Research Technician

I am originally from India and been in the United States since 2014. I am an avid sports fan, especially Soccer, Cricket, and Tennis. I enjoy traveling and loves trying out new cuisines.

I received my Bachelors in Biotechnology from Amity University, Noida, India. I received my Masters in Biomedical Sciences from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I started working as a Research Technician in 2017 at Marquette University, Milwaukee. I joined Dr. Mirmira’s lab as a Senior Research Technician and moved to the University of Chicago in end of February, 2021.

Kayla Figatner

Research Technician

Originally from a suburb of Chicago, I am a recent Biological Chemistry graduate from Grinnell College.  In my free time I love hanging out at the lake – whether I am running, walking, or reading – and traveling to new places!

I enjoy working in the Mirmira Lab because of the many opportunities the lab offers, as well as the chance to study a disease that impacts many people.

Batoul Hammoud

Fellow

I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon.  After living in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, I recently moved to Chicago.  My husband Ahmad and I have two conures – Sydney and Kirby – who we really enjoy.  In our free time we love to go hiking and kayaking.  I also enjoy cooking, traveling, and painting canvases, although I am not that good at that!

Working in The Mirmira Lab is so inspiring.  I am interested in translational diabetes research and it is a great enviroment for my growth. The Lab gives me the opportunity to work with amazing scientists and lets me be involved in great research that will have a direct impact on patients.

Eugenia Wang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I’m originally from Beijing, China, and have lived in the Midwest for eight years now. Surprisingly, I enjoy the long winters here. I’m in my fourth year at the University of Chicago, pursuing a B.S. in Biology, with the future goal of getting an M.D. degree. Apart from my academic pursuits, I love traveling, snowboarding (although not super good), going to amusement parks and trying out all the thrill rides, as well as watching sitcoms in my free time.

Working in the Mirmira Lab is a true delight. The support I receive from everyone is incredible. I get to try out various experiments and techniques, which make research enjoyable every day. Being a part of our work on type 1 diabetes feels personally fulfilling, knowing it’s a step towards understanding and managing this complex condition.

 

Karen Huang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and am currently a third-year student at UChicago studying business economics on the pre-health track. Outside of the lab, you can catch me dancing with the hip-hop crew on campus, practicing songs on the piano, playing volleyball, or eating my way through Chicago! I’m grateful to be a part of Mirmira Lab and conduct research alongside brilliant peers and mentors to discover more about the pathogenesis of diabetes!

 

Derek Chan

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, despite frequently being mistaken as a Californian native, which is quite understandable considering my fanatical yearning for In-N-Out. I am currently a third-year at UChicago majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry while pursuing a pre-med track, but nothing is set in stone yet. Besides being an aspiring pediatrician, I am an avid singer (Frank Sinatra songs are my go-to), amateur guitarist, basketball player, and anime addict.

I am very honored to be a part of the Mirmira Lab, where I will be characterizing insulin gene mutations and investigating how they will affect insulin secretion and beta-cell regeneration.

 

Scroll to Top