Alex Merz, Fearless Leader

Alex is working on in vivo analyses of C-Vps/HOPS in vivo and on single-event analyses of membrane fusion in vitro. Both projects rely on low-light, high-sensitivity quantitative fluorscence microscopy techniques. Alex has built a microscope that uses a custom fiber-optic illumination system based around high-flux LEDs and an ultrasensitive EMCCD camera for this work. Alex also claims to be "in charge of" the lab.

Rachael Plemel, B.S., Research Scientist extraordinaire

Rachel is performing large-scale 2-hybrid tests to characterize the complete set of protein interactions for each of the subunits in the C-Vps/HOPS protein complex which has pivotal roles in lysosomal membrane traffic. Some of this work is being done in collaboration with the Fields Lab and the Yeast Resource Center here at UW. Rachel is in charge of the lab, despite Alex's claims to the contrary.

Christopher Brett, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

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 August, 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. Here, Chris has discovered several new Rab GTPase effectors in the late endolysosomal system. He has also discovered that Ypt7p, the Rab GTPase that contols entry into the vacuolar lysosome, responds to lateral membrane tension.

Cortney Angers, B.S., Biochemistry Grad Student

Cortney obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. She has lived in Wisconsin for most of her life and is enthused with the oddities that the Pacific Northwest has to offer, such as dorsally-flattened "donut" peaches. Cortney is examining the role of the C-Vps/HOPS complex in AP-3-mediated transport to the yeast vacuole. Cortney's research is sponsored by the UW's CMB Training Grant, which is funded by the NIH.

Margaret Lo, B.S., Chemistry Grad Student

Margaret obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Carleton College in 2004. She is working in collaboration with Sarah Keller's Group to construct supported membrane bilayer systems that reconstitute important aspects of Rab GTPase signaling. Margaret's research is sponsored by an NSF/NCI IGERT fellowship for 2007-08.

Braden Lobingier, B.S., Biochemistry Grad Student

Braden obtained his B.S. in biochemistry from Whitman College in 2006. He is studying the structure and biochemistry of a set of conserved membrane tethering factors.

Andrew Paulsel, B.S., Biochemistry Grad Student

Andrew obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from Indiana University in 2003, then worked as a research scientist at Ambrx before coming to UW as a graduate student. Andrew's project is to understand the biochemistry and functions of the RING domains found in several of the proteins that we are studying. This work is being done with assistance from Rachel Klevit's group.

Matthew Schwartz, B.S., Biochemistry Grad Student

Matt received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is constructing and characterizing a set of SNARE mutants that will be used 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 is sponsored by the UW's CMB Training Grant, which is funded by the NIH.


Mary Morcos, B.S. (Biology), Univeristy of Washington

Mary worked with Rachael Plemel on the C-Vps/HOPS interactome as an undergraduate researcher in our group during 2006-2007. Starting in Fall of 2007, Margaret will attend the UW School of Medicine.

Debra Sprague, Ph.D. (English), B.S. (Biology)

Debra holds a Ph.D. in English from the UW. She 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. Debra now works as a technical editor in the Seattle area.

Jacob Tedrow, B.S. (Biochemistry) Undergraduate Lab Aide

Jacob was the very first person to join our group, and provided irreplaceable assistance in getting the lab up and running.

Michel Tran, Undergraduate Lab Aide