Goessling Lab Members




Kristen Alexa, Ph.D.

Kristen graduated magna cum laude from Rivier College in 2002 with a BS in Biology.  After graduation, she attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and under the tutelage of Charles Sagerström she studied “Endoderm Patterning in Zebrafish: Pancreas Development.”  After graduating with her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences in December 2009, she began her postdoc in the Goessling lab in January 2010, exploring the role of vitamin D signaling in liver specification, growth, regeneration and disease.

[ Kristen's papers ]   [ Kristen's biosketch ]


Emily Kurdzo, Ph.D. 

Emily was born and raised in New England. She attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA where she earned her BS in Biology in 2009. She then worked as a technician for the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) in Oklahoma City, OK where she studied the T cell immune response to the seasonal and swine flu vaccine in immunocompromised patients. She then joined another lab at OMRF and became a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) where she studied chromosome pairing and segregation in budding yeast meiosis. She graduated with her PhD from OUHSC in Fall of 2016. Her current academic interests include polyploidy and aneuploidy during development, regeneration, and cancer of the liver. In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking, kayaking, and spending time with her family, cat, and rabbit.

[ Emily's papers ]  



Sahar Nissim, M.D., Ph.D.

Sahar completed his Ph.D. at the Harvard Medical School in 2005 under the supervision of Professor Cliff Tabin. His thesis focused on signaling centers and genetic interactions that pattern the embryonic limb. Sahar joined the lab in July 2010 and is interested in using zebrafish to characterize new pathways involved in pancreas development and cancer. His current funding includes a grant from the National Pancreas Foundation. Sahar also completed his M.D. at the Harvard Medical School in 2007. He is completing a fellowship in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and sees patients in a GI Cancer Genetics Clinic at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

[ Sahar's papers ]

Arkadi Shwartz, Ph.D.

Arkadi completed his bachelors degree in life science in 2009 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. For his MSc and Ph.D. studies he joined the lab of Proffesor Ben-Zion Shilo and Dr. Eyal Schejter at the Weizmann Institute of Science. During his MSc he conducted research to elucidate different mechanisms of EGFR pathway regulation. His Ph.D. thesis focused on cell biological aspects of myogenesis, specifically on the formation and maintenance of actin based thin-filament arrays. He joined the Goessling lab in November 2016 as a postdoc. He plans to utilize his imaging expertise to study liver development and regeneration.

[ Arkadi's papers ]


Chad Walesky, Ph.D.

Chad completed his Ph.D. at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Udayan Apte. His thesis focused on a novel role of the nuclear receptor hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4α) in hepatocyte proliferation. Chad joined the lab in April 2014 and is interested in understanding the role that HNF4α plays in liver development, regeneration, and cancer pathogenesis. His current project is supported by the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.

[ Chad's papers ]  [ Chad's biosketch ]


Paul Wrighton, Ph.D.

Paul completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 under the supervision of Professor Laura Kiessling. In the Kiessling group, Paul utilized chemical biology approaches to understand cellular signal transduction mechanisms. His thesis focused on how insoluble culture surfaces influence the fate decisions of human pluripotent stem cells. Paul joined the group in August of 2015 and plans to utilize zebrafish to study fatty liver disease and fibrosis. He is particularly interested in mechanical singling mechanisms and regenerative medicine.

                                                                                                                                                                         [ Paul's papers ]




Isaac Oderberg, Ph.D.

Isaac grew up in Los Angeles, and earned his B.A. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California Berkeley in 2010. He completed his doctoral work in 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the supervision of Dr. Peter Reddien. There, he studied the regeneration of an adult tissue organizer and the patterning of stem cell lineages in planarians. He joined the Goessling lab in June 2017 as a postdoctoral fellow. Isaac is interested using single-cell sequencing and genetic approaches to studying liver regeneration in zebrafish.

                                                                                                                                                                  [ Isaac's papers ]





Gal Chaturantabut

Gal was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. She came to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate degree at Columbia University, majoring in Biochemistry. Gal is a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at Harvard, and her research is funded by the Michael and Anna Vranos Graduate Fellowship Fund in the Life Sciences. Gal joined the Goessling lab in September 2011. She is interested in signaling pathways that control liver development and growth and how the deregulation of these pathways leads to liver carcinogenesis. Outside of lab, she enjoys reading, traveling and outdoor activities.


Olivia Weeks

Olivia is a graduate student in the Biological & Biomedical Sciences program at Harvard Medical School. She joined the Goessling lab in June 2014 and is broadly interested in embryonic patterning and the mechanisms guiding progenitor cell fate decisions in the foregut endoderm.  Prior to entering graduate school, Olivia graduated from Harvard College in 2013 with a degree in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. Under the direction of Dr. Arkhat Abzhanov, she completed her senior thesis on tooth organogenesis in the American alligator. Outside of the lab, she enjoys exploring the arts and spending time with family and friends. 




Jake Henderson

Jake joined the Goessling Lab shortly after graduating from Bates College in 2016 with a B.S. in Biology. At Bates he worked to utilize chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) to identify the role of a transcription factor in responding to oxidative stress and red blood cell development in zebrafish. In the lab Jake works with Sahar to study pancreatic cancer. Outside of the lab, he enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy books, playing tabletop games, drawing, and running around Boston.



Kyle Labella

Kyle graduated magna cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2016 with a BS in Biology. Prior to joining the Goessling lab, Kyle was researching the cellular and molecular mechanisms of limb regeneration in axolotls. He now assists Kristen with her research and also helps with the care and husbandry of the zebrafish. Outside of the lab, Kyle enjoys skiing and playing hockey in the winter, and likes spending time at the beach during the summer.


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Ellie Quenzer

Ellie graduated from Bowdoin College in 2017 with a B.A. in Neuroscience, with Honors, and a minor in Classical Studies with a Greek concentration.  At Bowdoin, she studied the behavioral effects of the injury-induced compensatory growth response in the auditory system of the cricket. In the Goessling lab, Ellie assists Paul with his research and helps with other general tasks and with the care and husbandry of the zebrafish. Outside of the lab, Ellie enjoys watching Boston sports, running, and relaxing with friends at the beach.