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2016-06-15 12.12.02.jpg




Kristen Kwan, PhD. Assistant Professor. 

Kristen is a native of Southern California, where she grew up in Agoura Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles.  She attended Stanford University, majoring in Biological Sciences, and then moved to Harvard Medical School for her PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology.   When not in the lab, Kristen can be found chasing her kids, watching football, knitting, and trying out new restaurants. Click through to see Kristen pictured with  Heisman trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Jim Plunkett (no big deal).

Hannah Gordon, PhD. Postdoctoral Researcher

Hannah is from Renton, Washington.  She completed her undergraduate studies in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and worked with Anthea Letsou at the University of Utah for her PhD.  Hannah has a background in microbiology/pathology, lipid metabolism, and neurodegeneration and is excited to apply her experience in Drosophila melanogaster and the awesome power of genetics to her next adventures in Danio rerio.  When she is not at the bench, Hannah takes full advantage of the Utah outdoors with her partner, Alex, and dog, Milo.

Sydney Stringham, PhD. Postdoctoral Researcher

Sydney started as an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Chi-Bin Chien where she worked on a project examining factors influencing axon branching. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Utah, she joined the lab of Michael Shapiro where she studied the genetic basis of morphological differences in natural populations using the ninespine stickleback as a model. Sydney works as a teacher at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education and as a seasonal post-doc during her summer vacations. Outside of lab and school, Sydney enjoys hiking, camping, photography and her canine sidekick, Elphie.


Keith Carney, MS. Research Engineer

Originally from Utica, New York, Keith studied physics at Stony Brook University, and earned a Master’s degree in physics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He moved to Salt Lake City in 2003 to pursue long track speed skating as a fulltime athlete, and also began working as a lab tech at the University of Utah. Following retirement from skating in 2010, Keith transitioned to research engineering positions, and has worked in several labs prototyping instrumentation and writing software. Keith is a master of MATLAB, but outside the lab, he is a passionate singer/songwriter.

Chase Bryan, BS. PhD Candidate

Chase is from Salt Lake City, Utah.  He received his Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry from the University of Utah.  Chase began working with zebrafish as an undergraduate at the Huntsman Cancer Institute where he took on a project studying epithelial maintenance during tissue growth.  He is interested in understanding the role of extracellular matrix adhesion during optic stalk development.  In his spare time, Chase is a marathon runner, mountain biker, and maintains and restores motorcycles and classic cars.

Sarah Lusk, BS. Graduate Student

Sarah is from Portland, Oregon. She completed her undergraduate studies in Biology from the University of Oregon. Sarah was first introduced to zebrafish as an undergraduate and following graduation continued her research studying axonal transport and microtubule dynamics. Sarah is currently interested in understanding the role of Hedgehog signaling and its underlying genetics in early development of the optic cup. When not in lab, Sarah enjoys exploring Utah's wilderness and parks, photography, and an Oregonian microbrew. 


Macaulie Casey, BS. PhD Candidate

Macaulie grew up in the rural community of Libby, Montana. She received her bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. While there, she got her first taste of research, also utilizing the zebrafish. Macaulie is currently interested in understanding the role of extracellular matrix components in optic cup development. Outside of the lab, she enjoys climbing, hiking, reading, and a healthy dose of Netflix. 

Benjamin Jussila, BS. Lab Manager

Ben is from the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota.  He completed his undergraduate studies in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.  Ben has a particular interest in the evolution of morphogenetic processes in development.  He is exploring that interest through interrogating the interplay of cilia and Hedgehog signaling in the context of Danio rerio eye morphogenesis.  When he is away from the lab, Ben enjoys reading, befriending cats, and the outdoors.

Brooke Froelich, BS. Lab Specialist

Brooke graduated from Brigham Young University with a BS in Neuroscience. In the Kwan lab, she helped develop Gateway cloning tools, and helps members of the lab with their projects. In her free time Brooke likes to backcountry ski, climb, mountain bike, and trail run, and is currently working on a film about motherhood in the outdoors. 


Thomas Brown. Research Assistant

Thomas Brown was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is currently a junior at the University of Utah, studying Biomedical Engineering and Spanish with the hopes of becoming a doctor one day. He enjoys being involved with research as he learns how scientific discovery and development increase our understanding of life and its processes to ultimately improve society. In his free time he enjoys playing soccer, running, hiking, skiing, and spending time with his family.


Kwan Lab Alumni:

Emily Wirick, MS. Currently at Great Basin Scientific.

Aaron Scoresby, BS. Currently at Biofire Diagnostics. 

Shadai Flores Arce, BS. Currently at the University of Utah Medical School.