People

Research Faculty

Dr Ozan Bozdag

Ozan holds an MS in molecular biology and genetics from Izmir Institute for Technology and a PhD in evolutionary biology from the Max Planck Institute. He continued his postdoctoral research at the Ratcliff Lab, where he began a long-term evolution experiment to explore the effect of oxygen on multicellular evolution. Ozan currently works as a research scientist, leading our multicellular long-term evolution experiment (MuLTEE), and teaches courses for both graduate and undergraduate students at GT. For additional information, please refer to his personal website


Research Scientist

Dr Anthony J Burnetti

After completing a genetics major and astronomy minor from the University of Maryland, he pursued his Ph.D. at Duke University under the guidance of Dr. Nick Buchler. His research work there focused on studying the relationship between the yeast metabolic cycle and the cell division cycle. With an avid interest in astrobiology, he later joined the Ratcliff lab at Georgia Tech, where he studies the evolution of multicellularity and the forces that shaped it. His research interests include examining the various mechanisms employed by life to overcome oxygen limitation on multicellular sizes, such as phototrophy and the origin of oxygen-binding globin proteins, investigating the impact of chaperone proteins on multicellular evolution, and exploring the field of synthetic biology. Additionally, he is an enthusiastic reader of scientific papers and also volunteers at the university community garden.


Postdocs

Dr Peter L Conlin

Peter Conlin completed his Ph.D. in biology at the University of Washington in 2018 under the supervision of Benjamin Kerr. He studies how genetic interactions such as sign epistasis change over evolutionary time. He is also interested in the extent to which the evolution of multicellularity is reversible.

Dr Kayla Stoy

Kayla received her Ph.D. in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution from Emory University. Her research assesses the coevolutionary dynamics and evolutionary genetics underlying the maintenance of mutualistic cooperation and organismal integration. During her dissertation, she assessed the pathways by which host-symbiont mutualisms maintain cooperation, leveraging the natural interactions between insect hosts and their bacterial symbionts. Her postdoctoral work evaluates whether eco-evolutionary tradeoffs constrain the evolution of organismal integration for aggregative multicellular organisms. Here, she uses synthetic biology and experimental evolution of mutualistic, aggregative strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In her free time, Kayla enjoys running, sewing, and watching Indiana Hoosiers basketball. Her favorite pastime is hanging with her two kiddos, husband, and pup.


Graduate (Ph.D.) Students

Rozenn Pineau

Rozenn hails from a small village located in the heart of Britanny, France. It was there where her love for nature grew, and sparked her desire to learn more about it. In the Fall of 2018, she enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Quantitative Biosciences. Her research is focused on exploring the interplay between ecology and evolutionary dynamics in a simple multicellular yeast model system. Additionally, she has developed an interest in plant evolutionary genetics and has started a collaboration with Utah State University to work on the Pando clone, an old aspen clone in Utah. When she is not in the laboratory or office, she indulges in her hobbies such as rock climbing, cycling, photographing, and painting nature.

Katie MacGillivray

Katie MacGillivray received a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Harvard in 2014, and a Master’s in Biology from NYU in 2017. She joined the Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. program at Georgia Tech in 2019, where she is co-advised by Will Ratcliff and Brian Hammer. In the Ratcliff lab, she studies the early evolution of aggregative multicellular organisms, and in the Hammer lab, she studies the ways that bacteria can defend themselves against attacks by the Type VI secretion system. Katie enjoys culturing microorganisms so much that she grows mushrooms in her spare time.

Autumn Peterson

Autumn received her undergraduate degree in Environmental Sciences from Virginia Tech in 2020. She is now a Ph.D. student in the Biology Program at Georgia Tech. Her research interests include the evolution of phototrophy and the role of nascent life cycles in the subsequent evolution of multicellularity. Outside of the lab, her interests include: working out, tending her garden, and exploring the city. Her favorite show is Avatar the Last Airbender and her favorite type of food is seafood.

Christopher Zhang

Chris completed his BS in neuroscience with a minor in astronomy at the University of Maryland in 2014! There, he worked with Dr. Wade Winkler to understand the RNA binding domain called ANTAR and its associated proteins. Currently, he has joined the Quantitative Biosciences Ph.D. program where he co-advised with Dr. Hammer. He studies the unique evolutionary patterns that arise when bacteria encode the Type 6 Secretion System. Chris enjoys climbing, making things, and reading books in his spare time.

Emma Bingham

Emma is a QBioS Ph.D. student co-advised in the Ratcliff and Yunker Labs, working on the physics of the evolution of multicellular life. She studied physics and political science as an undergrad at MIT and is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.

Sayantan Datta

Sayantan finished his BS-MS dual degree at IISER-Pune, India in 2022 where he worked on the interaction of bottlenecks and the evolution of asexual populations at the Population Biology Lab under Prof Sutirth Dey. He is now a QBioS Ph.D. student at our lab where he is interested in studying the life history of nascent evolving multicellular yeast, and the evolution of cell differentiation. In his spare time, he loves to paint, photograph, and play Dungeons and Dragons.

Luis Felipe Cedeño Pérez

Luis Felipe is from Mexico City, México. He graduated from the National Autonomous University of México, where he studied Genomic Sciences. Before joining the QBios PhD program, he did a year internship in the lab during which he began studying trade-offs that have evolved in the Snowflake yeast. In his spare time, he likes to read science fiction books, take photos of nature, and play video games. Interestingly, he doesn’t like spicy food or avocados.


Research Technician

Dung Lac

Dung completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology at the University of Science, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2016, and her Master’s degree in Biology at Georgia State University, Georgia in 2020. After joining the Ratcliff Lab in 2021, she has been studying the role of heat shock proteins HSP90 in the macroscopic adaptation of snowflake yeast through a replay evolutionary experiment. In her free time, Dung enjoys photography, travel, and good food.


Undergraduate Students

Harley Yopp

Harley is a rising fourth-year Biology major double minoring in Health and Medical Sciences and Physiology. She is currently working with Peter and Saranya on bulk segregant analysis and troubleshooting some experiments there. Outside of the lab, she loves spending time with her cat, going to concerts, hiking, & watching Netflix shows!

Saranya Gourisetti

Saranya is a rising senior Biology major at GT, who has been working in the Ratcliff lab since the summer of her freshman year. Her research focuses on exploring major evolutionary transitions in multicellularity and examining the genetic basis behind the evolution of higher apoptosis rates. Apart from her academic pursuits, she is an avid lover of vegan food and enjoys trying out and cooking different vegan dishes.

Mia Denning

Mia is a 3rd-year undergraduate student majoring in Biology at Georgia Tech. Since August 2022, she has been working under Rozenn’s guidance in the Ratcliff lab, where she plans to complete her senior research project starting next semester. Originally from Atlanta, GA, she has a strong affection for the city. During her leisure time, she enjoys activities like running, walking, and watching romantic comedies with her friends.

Jenasis Campbell

Jenasis is a freshman majoring in Biology at Spelman College and a mentee of Autumn Peterson. Their research work revolves around retinalo-phototrophy, and they use synthetic biology to recapitulate horizontal gene transfer events. They have a pet cat and have a keen interest in animals, particularly raccoons and tanuki. During their free time, they enjoy playing games, learning about game design and other subjects, reading, and spending quality time with their friends and family.


Alumni

  • Dr Thomas Day (Ph.D.) – Currently is a postdoc at the University of South California
  • Dr Kai Tong (Ph.D.) – Currently is a postdoc at the Boston University
  • Dr Pedro Marquez-Zacaris (Ph.D.) – Currently is an Omidiyar postdoc at the Santa Fe Institute
  • Dr Sayed Alireza Zamani Dahaj (Ph.D.) – Currently a senior computational bioscientist at hC Bioscience
  • Dr Jennifer Pentz (Ph.D.) – Currently is a postdoc at the Los Alamos National Lab
  • Whitney Wong (Research Technician) – Currently a research scientist at a bio-textiles startup
  • Penelope Kahn (Research Technician) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at UBC
  • Gabe Dubose (Masters) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Emory University
  • Vivian Cheng (Undergraduate) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at UIUC
  • Daniella Haas (Undergraduate) – Starting med school at Mayo Clinic with a full-ride scholarship
  • Margaret Murphy (Undergraduate) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Emory
  • Ben Long (Undergraduate) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at UGA
  • Markace Rainey (Undergraduate) – Currently pursuing Ph.D. at GeorgiaTech
  • Emma Reinhardt (Undergraduate) – Currently pursuing a Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Ella Li (Undergraduate) – Looking for Ph.D. programs
  • Hope Hazelton (Undergraduate) – Continuing UG studies at GeorgiaTech
  • Jeff Cramer (Undergraduate) – Continuing UG studies at GeorgiaTech
  • Toko Hisano (Visiting Student) – Continuing UG studies at Tokyo Metropolitan University