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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.

Victoria Walling, 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. 

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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Michael Xiong, Amgen Scholar

UC Berkeley, Chemical Biology, 2023

Email: michael.xiong@berkeley.edu

Michael was raised in nearby South Pasadena and is currently an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, where he studies Chemical Biology and is planning to graduate in 2023. He is joining the Chong Lab for the summer through the Amgen Scholars program.

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Nina (Minh Tam) Le, Rotating Graduate Student (BMB)

B.S., Biochemistry, UCLA, 2021

Email: mle2@caltech.edu 

Originally from Vietnam, Nina obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA. During my undergraduate year, I worked in a virus-like-particle lab to develop them as a potential therapy for translational medicine purposes. Currently, I'm interested in the mechanisms of transcriptional control and how that led to differential gene regulation.