The Hammond lab, March 2018


Gerry Hammond (PI)


Gerry earned his degree in Cell Biology from University College London and his PhD in Biochemistry at the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (since amalgamated into the Francis Crick Institute) with Giampietro Schiavo. From there, he worked as a post-doc with Robin Irvine at the University of Cambridge, before becoming a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD under Tamas Balla. He started the lab at Pitt in 2015.

A self-confessed “lipid enthusiast” since his undergraduate days, Gerry now revels in leading a team of talented scientists focused on lipid function in health and disease. His love of lipids also extends into the culinary realm, which has necessitated working out what the inside of a gym looks like. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, sunsets and long walks on the beach.


James Zewe (Lab Manager)


James earned his BS in Biochemistry from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011.  He has since honed his laboratory skills across several fields including cancer cell biology, epigenetics, developmental biology, and lipid metabolism with the common thread of using DNA-based molecular tools and imaging to answer fundamental questions about the nature of cells.  Currently his focus in the lab is to optimize several cutting-edge technologies for use in the context of the lab’s interests while pursuing a research project to understand the identity of membranes based on their lipid profiles.  He strives to help generate an efficient and friendly laboratory environment.

Additionally, he has briefly held the world’s highest score on two “Rock Band” songs, scored a point against an Olympic fencer in a bout, completed an entire Spartan Beast without failing an obstacle and once successfully made over-easy eggs without overcooking them.


Rachel “Willis” Wills (Grad Student)


Rachel Wills is a second year graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program (IBGP) at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to graduate school, Rachel obtained her BA in biology, with honors, from Thiel College (Greenville, PA) in 2012. Rachel discovered her love of lipids at Pitt working as an RA in Erin Kershaw’s lab. She joined Dr. Gerry Hammond’s lab in June of 2016. Since then, she has been working to determine the regulatory mechanism(s) behind the homeostatic control of PtdIns(4,5)P2 levels.

When not in lab, Rachel enjoys long walks on the beach with her cat, Sylvester.


Brady Goulden (Research Assistant)


Brady received a B.S. in genetics and developmental biology from Penn State in May 2016. To further pursue his interest in molecular and cellular biology, Brady joined the Hammond lab in the fall of 2016 as a research assistant to develop novel biosensors for phosphoinositides. In the future, Brady would like to obtain a PhD in cell and developmental biology so that he can pursue a career in academia.

In his time away from work at Pitt, Brady enjoys cheering for the Nittany Lions football team… especially when they play the Pitt Panthers. He has a 100% achievement record for wearing either a Penn or Penn State jersey whenever an official photo is taken of him at Pitt.


Jonathan Pacheco (Post Doc)


Jonathan earned his PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He is a biologist with interest in molecular mechanisms unveiled through powerful microscopy techniques. During his PhD he had first contact studying lipids, when he identified a cholesterol binding domain in one of the two players that perform Store Operated Calcium Entry. Now, he is trying to decipher the role of PIP2 dynamics in nano domains of the plasma membrane.

Out of the lab, he enjoys jogging in the forest (occasionally lost). He find great pleasure reading about philosophy and tasting new dishes.


Sumukh Shetty (Biomedical Master’s Program)


Sumukh earned his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University in May 2017. Currently, Sumukh is a masters student in the Biomedical Master’s Program. Sumukh found his interest in cell biology research as an undergraduate lab assistant at JHU in Dr. Sergi Regot’s lab. He joined Dr. Gerry Hammond’s lab in September 2017.

Outside of lab, Sumukh enjoys traveling, reading about world history, and watching the Eagles try to win their first Super Bowl.


Sahana Sangappa (Undergraduate)

Sahana joined the lab for Spring semester 2017 through the First experiences in Research program. She works on genetic and genomic engineering projects to dissect the sub-cellular mechanism of action of a key lipid metabolizing enzyme.

April Miller (undergraduate)

April joined the lab in the Fall of 2017; she is working on the dynamics of PI4P.

Allyson Dull (First Experiences student)

Allyson joined for the Spring semester of 2018; she is working with Brady on new phosphoinositide biosensors.

Anna Cassidy (undergraduate)

Anna joined the lab in Spring semester 2018 to work with Jonathan, looking at PIP2 nanoscale dynamics.



Sam Herron (IBGP rotation student)

Sam joined in fall 2017 for his first rotation (in-between the cram-fest that is Foundations).

Madison Jerome (Undergraduate) was a First Experiences in Research student for Spring 2017. Her project involves developing and testing novel biosensors for key regulatory membrane lipids.

Camilyn Clemenza was a summer undergraduate research student in the lab in 2016, before returning as a senior to Wash & Jeff. She is missed!

Megan Zercher and Ryan Muggleton worked in the lab in Spring 2016 for First Experiences in Research. Good luck with your studies guys!

Hammond lab