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


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. 


Shawn (Zhao) Irgen-Gioro, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2021
B.A., U.C. Berkeley, 2015


Shawn received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University, where he studied with Elad Harel and Emily A. Weiss. He is fascinated by collective behavior and emergent phenomena. This led him to study semi-classical and quantum coherence in his graduate work, where he developed an understanding of the potential energy landscapes of individual proteins through non-linear spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy. 

Victoria Walling, Research Technician

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


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. 

Qinyu Han, Rotation Graduate Student (Chem) 

B.S., Nanyang Technological University, 2021


Originally from Zhuhai, China, Qinyu obtained her B.S. in Chemistry and Biological Chemistry from Nanyang Technological University. During her undergraduate years in Singapore, she developed various functional fluorescent probes for biosensing and nanotherapy under the direction of Bengang Xing. This triggered her interest in using optical imaging approaches to understand biological processes. 


Kent Leslie, Rotation Graduate Student (Bio)

M.S., Brown University 2015
B.S., Brown University 2014 

Kent is originally from Canada, growing up in a suburb outside Toronto. He completed his Masters in the lab of Richard Bennett at Brown University studying the pathogenesis of microbial and fungal pathogens. In 2015, he began working at Amylyx Pharmaceuticals on the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. His research interests include understanding properties governing sub-cellular complex formation, particularly as they relate to dynamic phenomena observed in transcription and RNA processing.


Shawn Yoshida, Rotation Graduate Student (BMB)

B.A. Case Western Reserve University, 2021

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.