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 ]


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 ]


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 ]


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 ]


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 ]



Brian Pepe-Mooney, Ph.D.

Brian was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Haverford College in 2010 with high honors in Chemistry (B.S.) and with a concentration in Biochemistry. After college, Brian completed research stints in Ankara, Turkey under the direction of Dr. Vasıf Hasırcı at the Middle East Technical University studying tissue engineering and the effect of nano-patterned surfaces on cell morphology, and with Dr. Russell Composto in the Chemical and Biological Engineering department at the University of Pennsylvania, examining how an absorbed chitosan layer on hydroxyapatite could serve as a protective layer against dental erosion from low pH substances. Brian attended graduate school at Harvard University, where he was the recipient of both a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship as well as the NIH/NIDDK Ruth L. Kirschestein National Research Service F31 Award. He completed his Ph.D. in Developmental and Regenerative Biology in May 2018. His thesis work, under the supervision of Dr. Fernando Camargo, focused on utilizing single-cell sequencing, complex transgenic mouse models, three dimensional in-vitro organoid culture techniques, and various molecular assays to understand the signaling pathways that regulate liver homeostasis and injury response in the adult mouse. Brian joined the Goessling lab in September 2018. He is interested in utilizing live imaging techniques in zebrafish to study the relationship between the immune system and liver cancer. Outside of the lab, he enjoys, singing, running, playing soccer, playing guitar, spending time with family and friends, and traveling. 



Scott Freeburg

Scott graduated with a degree in biology from Kenyon College in 2016, where he studied the transcriptional regulatory functions of Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor in Xenopus laevis. Scott is a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at Harvard Medical School and joined the Goessling Lab in 2017. He is studying the functions of Vitamin D receptor in liver organogenesis and disease.  


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. 




Carolyn Winston

Carolyn graduated from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD at the end of 2017 with a BA in Biology and a minor in Mathematics. Prior to joining the Goessling Lab, Carolyn worked at the Carnegie Institution for Science where she aided in adapting the bipartite Q-transcriptional regulatory system to zebrafish. In the lab, Carolyn now assists Chad with his research, as well as helping with the care and husbandry of zebrafish. Outside of the lab, Carolyn enjoys reading, drawing, creative writing, and spending time with her boyfriend and cats.


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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 examining mitophagy and exploring the ways that it impacts normal organ development in the presence of environmental insults. She also helps with other general tasks, including care and husbandry of the zebrafish. Outside of the lab, Ellie enjoys watching Boston sports, running, and relaxing with friends at the beach.

Ellie’s papers