Merz Laboratory


[lab photo album (back soon!)]

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the group

Alex Merz, Ph.D. — fearless leader | cv | twitter | cell biology tree |
SNARE proofreading; unconventional SNARE chaperone activities

Rachael Plemel — research scientist |
Genetic analyses of Sec1-Munc18 family proteins; development of novel probes for cell biology

Mengtong (Tom) Duan — research scientist. As an undergrad in the lab, Tom received several honors including a Mary Gates Travel Award and the Earl Davie Book Award in Biochemistry.
Biochemistry of SNAREs, SM proteins, and Sec17

Scott Rayermann — grad student (UW Chemistry)
Spontaneous order in organelle membranes.

Glennis Rayermann — grad student (UW Chemistry)
Spontaneous order in organelle membranes.

Rachel Flores — grad student (UW Biochemistry)
Assembly of AP-3 coat complex at the Golgi.

Weisha Liu — undergrad
Novel Rab-effector interactions.

Fariah Qasim — undergrad
SNARE-SM interactions.

honorary member

Jerome Cattin — grad student in Ailion group |
biogenesis of dense core secretory granules.


Chris Brett, Ph.D. (postdoc)Associate Professor of Biology and Canada Research Chair II, Concordia University, Montreal. Chris is a Vancouver, B.C. native who received his Bachelor’s (1996) and Master’s (1999) degrees in Physiology at the University of British Columbia. He joined the lab in 2005 after completing a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he studied the global control of pH and the biology of the late endosomal sodium/hydrogen antiporter Nhx1p. In the Merz Lab, Chris had several projects centering on the regulation of Rab GTPase effectors in the late endolysosomal system. In 2010 he started his own lab at Concordia.

Elizabeth Manrao, Ph.D. (postdoc) — Scientist, NanoString Technologies | LinkedIn
Patch clamp electrophysiology of isolated yeast vacuoles (a joint effort with the Gordon Lab).

Hannah Chapin, Ph.D. (postdoc) — Science Teacher, Seattle Academy | LinkedIn
Catabolic membrane traffic in C. elegans (a joint effort with the Miller lab).

Dan Nickerson, Ph.D. (postdoc)Assistant Professor of Biology, California State University, San Bernadino
Rab effectors and GAPS; endocytic stress response; membrane fusion; novel trafficking probes.

Margaret Shing-Yeng Lo, Ph.D. (grad student) | Associate Director, Clinical Chemistry, Geisinger Laboratories. | Margaret received her B.A. in Chemistry from Carleton College. Her biochemical studies of Rab small G-proteins pioneered rigorous and quantitative assays of vesicle tethering and revealed that a subset of the Rabs have an unexpected, intrinsic tethering activity. Margaret has also developed a new system for characterizing and selecting proteins and peptides with novel membrane-binding affinities.

Cortney (Angers) Chertova, Ph.D. (grad student) — Senior Medical Writer/Project Manager, Randstad Pharma | LinkedIn
Cortney obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. In Cortney’s thesis work, she examined the role of the C-Vps/HOPS complex in AP-3-mediated transport to the yeast vacuole. Cortney’s research was sponsored in part by the UW’s CMB Training Grant, funded by the NIH.

Braden Lobingier, Ph.D. (grad student)Postdoctoral Fellow, von Zastrow Lab, UCSF.
Braden received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Whitman College. His biochemical studies of the CORVET and HOPS complexes revealed key information about the architecture and Rab binding activities of CORVET and HOPS subunits. His work on the SM-family protein Vps33 has led to genuine breakthroughs in our understanding of how Vps33 engages SNARE proteins and has set an agenda for our future work.

Andrew Paulsel, Ph.D. (grad student) Andrew received his B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Indiana, and worked in biotech in Southern California prior to joining our program. Andrew contributed to the characterization of HOPS and CORVET, and discovered a second Rab5-family GEF in budding yeast. This discovery paves the way to a better understanding of endosomal maturation.

Mattthew Schwartz, Ph.D. (grad student)Postdoctoral Fellow, Jorgensen Lab, HHMI/University of Utah. Matt received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He constructed and characterized a set of SNARE mutants that freeze the fusion process and serve as vehicles to carry optical and chemical probes into the heart of the membrane fusion machinery. A particularly exciting mutant isolated by Matt causes a delay in the kinetics of membrane fusion without altering the kinetics of docking. Matt’s research was sponsored by the UW’s CMB Training Grant, which is funded by the NIH.

Erina Kitano, Ph.D. (visiting grad student)Erina spent a year in the lab during her grad work, as an exchange student from the UW's sister school, the University of Kobe, Japan. Erina currently works in IT.

Sarah Mirahsani, B.S. (undergrad) — Medical Student (UW SoM, e17).

Mary Morcos, M.D. (undergrad) — Physician, Sutter Health. Mary was an undergraduate researcher in the lab. She worked on the structure and functions of Vps-C complexes.

Debra Sprague, B.S. (Biology), Ph.D. (English) (undergrad)Research Scientist, UW Center for Clinical and Epidemiological Research. Debra joined our lab after returning to UW for a degree in Biology. In her project, which was sponsored by an HHMI undergraduate reseach fellowship, Debra worked with Rachael Plemel to define the C-Vps/HOPS interactome.