Rachel “Willis” Wills

Grad Student

Rachel Wills was a 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.

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.

Colleen Doyle

Lab Manager

Colleen earned a B.S. in Biobehavioral Health from Penn State University in 2018. She joined the Hammond Lab in 2019 to develop her research skills and increase her depth of knowledge in the field of lipid signaling and cell biology. Colleen is currently studying  lipid transport by ORP family proteins.

In her spare time, Colleen enjoys binge watching old Jeopardy tournaments, hanging out with her dog Briscoe, and rooting against the Pitt Panthers (Go Penn State!!). Colleen left the lab in June 2021 to pursue a biomedical sciences masters in Cincinnati. She is now a clinical research coordinator of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

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.

And after all of that, he said farewell to PA-college rivalry in 2018 to commence grad school at Johns Hopkins. He studies phosphoinositide signaling in the synapse with Shigeki Watanabe.

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. He worked in the lab since its inception in 2015.  He focused 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 also helped to 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.

James left the lab in early 2019 to seek deeper dish pizza. Good luck in the Windy city, James!

Anna Cassidy


Anna joined as a sophomore majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She joined the lab in Spring semester 2018 to work with Jonathan, looking at PIP2 nanoscale dynamics. She then worked independently on the interaction of PIP5K enzymes with the plasma membrane using single molecule approaches.

When she is not in the lab, Anna is usually studying in the library, running in the park, laughing with friends, or eating some sort of Asian cuisine.

Anna is now a graduate student at Vanderbilt school of medicine with Maria Zanic

Sumukh Shetty

Biomedical Master’s Program

Sumukh earned his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University in May 2017. He was enrolled as 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.

Sumukh graduated from the BMP in 2018, and is now working as a research assistant on the All of US study in PA.

Rasmine Baker

Biomedical Master’s Program

Rasmine earned a B.S in Biology from the University of South Carolina. She is currently a masters student in the Biomedical Science Program with future plans of attending medical school. Rasmine joined the lab in fall 2018 through summer 2019. She worked with Rachel on the homeostatic control of PIP2, with a focus on the biology of smooth muscle cells and PLC signaling in hypertension.

Bridget Hunt-Tobey

Biomedical Master’s Program

Bridget graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BS in Biology and Social and Political History in 2016. She was a masters student in the Biomedical Masters Program

April Miller


April joined the lab in the Fall of 2017; she worked on the subcellular distribution of the master inositol lipid, PI.

Sahana Sangappa


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

Sam Herron

IBGP rotation student

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

Allyson Dull


Allyson joined for the Spring and fall semesters of 2018; she worked on PI3K signaling pathways and cancer with Brady, and co-authored our J Cell Biol paper. Allyson left at the end of 2018 to get pursue some different experiences in the health sciences. Good luck!

Madison Jerome


Madison 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

summer undergraduate research student

Camilyn was in the lab in 2016, before returning as a senior to Wash & Jeff. She published a co-author manuscript from her short stint over that summer!

Shea Heilman

IBGP rotation student

Shea worked on PIP5Ks before joining Jeff Gross’s lab

Sanjana Thosar

IBGP rotation student

Sanjana worked on PI3K signaling in the lab before joining the Opresko lab

Kayla Troutman

IBGP rotation student

Kayla worked on PI3K signaling before completing her PhD in Marijn Ford’s lab

Megan Zercher


Megan worked in the lab in Spring 2016 for First Experiences in Research.

Ryan Muggleton


Ryan worked in the lab in Spring 2016 for First Experiences in Research.

Kaylee Ermine

IBGP rotation Student

Kaylee worked on PI3K signaling in 2019 before joining Lin Zhang’s lab for her PhD

Gabriella Hahn

IBGP rotation student

Gabby worked on PIP5K signaling before joining

Matt Halbert

IBGP rotation student

Matt worked on PI(4,5)P2 signaling at ER-PM contact sites