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Shasha Chong, Ph.D., Principal Investigator 

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar

Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Email: schong@caltech.edu

Office: 150 Braun Laboratory

Shasha obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from University of Science & Technology of China and her Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard University. She did her postdoctoral research at University of California, Berkeley and joined the faculty of California Institute of Technology in August 2021. As a Ph.D. student under the direction of Xiaoliang Sunney Xie, Shasha developed novel optical imaging modalities and achieved detection of single-molecule optical absorption at room temperature. Then she ventured into the study of DNA-protein interactions and stochastic gene expression by in vitro single-molecule imaging. In particular, she developed a single-molecule RNA-imaging assay to tackle the mechanism of transcriptional bursting of highly expressed genes in E. coli. Her deep interest in more complex regulatory behaviors led her to move from bacteria to mammals for her postdoctoral research. In the joint laboratories of Robert Tjian and Xavier Darzacq, she combined powerful single-cell and single-molecule imaging tools with genome editing and genetics approaches to investigate how intrinsically disordered regions in human transcription factors perform critical functions in transcriptional regulation and oncogenesis. Her independent research group employs multidisciplinary approaches to tackle the fundamental rules that govern the interaction behaviors of intrinsically disordered regions and elucidate their roles in regulating gene transcription under normal and disease conditions. Shasha is named a 2022 Searle Scholar and a 2022 Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research.

Sadie M. Rubalcava, Administrative Coordinator

B.A., California State University, Los Angeles, 2019

Email: sadier@caltech.edu

Sadie is a Los Angeles native who just can’t get enough of our beautiful beaches and world-famous traffic. In her free time, Sadie enjoys weightlifting, CrossFit, obstacle course races, and trying new coffee places. She is a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angel City FC, and the USWNT.

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Barun Kumar Maity, Postdoctoral Scholar

Ph.D., Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, 2019

Email: barun@caltech.edu

Barun grew up in India. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Calcutta, his M.S. in Chemistry from IIT Kanpur, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. During his PhD, Barun studied amyloid aggregation and developed novel microscopy and spectroscopy methods. During his first postdoc with Paul Selvin in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he developed new super-resolution imaging methods. In the Chong Lab, he investigates how intrinsically disordered regions of oncogenic transcription factors play a role in oncogenesis using single-molecule imaging and genome engineering approaches. 

Victoria Walling, Lab Manager/Research Technician

B.S., U.C. San Diego, 2021

Email: toriw@caltech.edu

Victoria a SoCal native that grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. She received her B.S. in Microbiology from University of California, San Diego and has previously worked with various start-up biotech companies. Her most recent work before joining the Chong Lab focused on using prokaryotic and eukaryotic expression systems to develop novel therapeutic proteins. 

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Jenny Jang, Research Technician

B.S., University of Notre Dame, M.S., Boston University

Email: shjang@caltech.edu

Jenny is originally from Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Los Angeles. She received her B.S. in Science-Business from the University of Notre Dame and M.S. in Medical Sciences from Boston University. Her previous research entailed studying the differentiation and regeneration pathway of hematopoietic stem cells. Jenny is currently interested in using single-molecule imaging and genome editing techniques to study the mechanism behind LCD-mediated transcriptional regulation.

Qinyu Han, Graduate Student (Chem) 

B.S., Nanyang Technological University, 2021

Email: qhan@caltech.edu

Originally from Zhuhai, China, Qinyu obtained her B.S. in Chemistry and Biological Chemistry from Nanyang Technological University. During her undergraduate years, she developed various fluorescent probes for biosensing and nanotherapy under the direction of Bengang Xing. Qinyu joined the Chong lab in December 2021. She is interested in utilizing quantitative single-cell imaging methods to understand the interaction behaviors of oncogenic fusion transcription factors mediated by their intrinsically disordered regions.

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Shawn Yoshida, Graduate Student (BMB)

B.A., Case Western Reserve University, 2021

Email: syoshida@caltech.edu

Shawn is originally from Tokyo, Japan and grew up in Illinois. He earned a B.A. in Physics from Case Western Reserve University, where he applied novel super-resolution techniques to the characterization of biomolecular diffusion in the extracellular matrix. He is currently interested in the dynamics of transcriptional regulation.

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Jamie Takashima, Joint Graduate Student with the Hsieh-Wilson Lab (Chem)

B.S., University of Arizona, 2021

Email: jtakashi@caltech.edu

Jamie grew up in Mountain View, CA and earned his B.S. in Chemistry and B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Arizona. During his undergraduate research, he studied the interactome of the chemotactic receptor cAR1 in the lab of Prof. Pascale Charest. In the Chong lab, he is interested in studying the effect of post-translational modifications on multivalent interactions between the intrinsically disordered regions of proteins.

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Anthony A. Gutierrez, Rotating Student (Bio)

B.S., California State University-Northridge

Email: agutier2@caltech.edu

Anthony Grew up in the Los Angeles area and obtained his B.S. in Microbiology from California State University-Northridge. During his undergraduate studies, he studied the role of a phospholipid synthase on the dynamics of cytoskeletal proteins and cell membrane interactions within Caulobacter crescentus. He is currently broadly interested in infectious disease, pathology, and regulation of gene transcription and expression.