Student Research

New Member – Ranjit Pelia

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Ranjit Pelia has joined the Haynes lab this summer as a PhD student from the Emory GDBBS Genetics and Molecular Biology graduate program. He earned his Associate Degree at Emory University Oxford College in 2015, his B.S. in Biology from Emory University in 2018, and his M.P.H. from the Emory Rollins School of Public Health in 2022. Ranjit is originally from Mumbai, India but is a native Atlanta resident. His past experience includes working as a clinical research coordinator, lab technician, and data analyst in pediatric Crohn’s disease at the Emory School of Medicine. His research interests include identifying the epigenetic roles of noncoding RNAs in controlling downstream gene regulation using integrative ‘omics. Welcome to the Haynes lab! We look forward to working with you.

Recruiting: Summer 2023 Undergraduate Student – Bioinformatics for Epigenetic Engineering

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GaTechEmory_WHBMEThe Haynes lab at Emory is seeking bright, talented, and motivated undergraduate students from Emory University or Georgia Tech to fill one summer research position with a start date of May or June 2023. This position is a great opportunity to gain hands-on research experience in synthetic biology as it applies to health and medicine. Dr. Haynes has several years of experience mentoring undergraduate research in the classroom, in her research lab (see our publications and posters that include undergraduates), and for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM).

Undergraduate Researcher, Bioinformatics for Epigenetic Engineering
This opportunity is currently [OPEN]
Type: Volunteer or Course credit


  • Processing of raw data from next generation sequencing (NGS) experiments (e.g. RNA-seq, ATAC-seq, ChIP-seq) that involve epigenetically engineered cells
  • Downstream gene function and network analyses, with guidance from the PI or other supervisor
  • Creation of NGS data figures for posters and publications


  • Course: Genomics & Applied Bioinformatics (BIOS 4150); minimum grade of B
  • Course: Biological Networks & Genomics (BMED 4477); desired but not required
  • Proficiency in basic RNA-seq data processing tools (e.g. Trimmomatic, STAR, DESeq2, etc.)
  • Ability to learn advanced NGS software such as BowTie, Picard Tools, MACS, DeepTools, etc.

About the Haynes Lab at Emory: The Haynes lab is part of the joint Emory/ GA Tech W.H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. We are located in a new state-of-the-art facility in the Health Sciences Research Building. The space is furnished with benches, a dedicated tissue culture room, shared autoclaves and a cold room, and office desks located in a food-friendly area adjacent to the lab. Core facilities for mouse models, next-generation sequencing, flow cytometry, are located on the same campus. A state-of-the-art and microscopy core (including wide-field and confocal) is located in the same building one level below the Haynes lab.

How to Apply: Send a letter of interest as an e-mail with your resume or c.v. as an attachement to kahayne at emory dot edu. In your letter of interest be sure to include your current year, expected graduation year, your major, your GPA, your current or previous (most recent) lab affiliation (if applicable), and explain how you expect the associated Responsibilities (listed above) to support your career development, and summarize how your background fits the Requirements outlined above.

Haynes lab presenting research at the 2022 Mid-Atlantic Synthetic Biology Symposium

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MASBNPhD student Kierra Franklin will present her latest research as a poster at the 3rd annual Mid-Atlantic Synthetic Biology Research Symposium (MASBS) which is taking place December 1 – 2, 2022 at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  This will be the first year that this annual event will be hosted in Atlanta, GA. Karmella Haynes is serving as Co-Chair with Mark Styczynski (GA Tech). The MASBS is organized by the Mid-Atlantic Synthetic Biology Network (MASBN), a community of researchers, educators, entrepreneurs (academia, government, and the private sector) from Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia who share a common interest in synthetic biology and its supporting technologies.

Rick Kim – QE Passed!

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SKim1Congratulations to Seong Hu “Rick” Kim, first-year PhD student in the Wallace H. Coulter Biomedical Engineering graduate program! He passed his qualifying exam on November 8, 2022 and is now ready to start his thesis work on the mapping and engineering of chromatin in human cells for biomedical applications.

Haynes lab presents research at the 2022 EpiBio Conference

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epigenetics_and_bioengineering_conference_logo_webPhD student Rick Kim and undergraduate researcher Maya Jaffe are presenting their latest research at the 6th International Conference on Epigenetics and Bioengineering (EpiBio 2022) which is taking place October 27 – 29, 2022 at the Rice University Bioscience Research Collaborative in Houston, Texas.  EpiBio brings together interdisciplinary expertise to foster the development of new technologies and tools to answer biological questions in epigenetics. Dr. Karmella Haynes is serving as an organizing committee member. The poster presentations from the Haynes lab include:

  • Maya Jaffe (undergraduate researcher), “Pre-Initiation Complex Recruitment By Synthetic Reader-Actuators Triggers an Anti-Cancer Expression Profile in Breast Cancer”
  • Rick Kim (PhD student), “Investigating Promoters and Enhancers Targeted By a Synthetic Reader-Actuator in H3K27me3-Enriched Chromatin”

New Member – Seong Hu Kim

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SKim1Seong Hu “Rick” Kim has joined the Haynes lab this fall as a PhD student from the GA Tech/ Emory Biomedical Engineering graduate program. He earned his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a Mathematics Minor from Georgia Tech. at Stanford University in Stanford, CA in 2017. As an undergraduate student, he gained lab research experience at the Nano System Application Laboratory, University of Seoul (2018) and in the lab of Dr. Susan Margulies (2019 – 2020) at Georgia Tech. Welcome to the Haynes lab! We look forward to working with you.

Kierra Franklin – QE Passed!

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KFranklin1Congratulations to Kierra Franklin, first-year PhD student in the Wallace H. Coulter Biomedical Engineering graduate program! She passed her qualifying exam on September 9, 2021 and is now ready to start her thesis work on chromatin engineering for cancer research and treatment.

Chavis Ferguson – Summer LGS-SOAR Undergrad Research Fellow

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CFerguson1Congratulations to Chavis Ferguson, recipient of an Emory Laney Graduate School Summer Opportunity for Academic Research (Emory LGS-SOAR) undergraduate fellowship. He completed a hypothesis-driven project in the Haynes lab this summer under the supervision of Dr. Natecia Williams. He gained hands-on experience investigating a mouse triple negative breast cancer cell line (4T1) by using a Boyden chamber transwell assay, designing and running reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR), and exploring public RNA-seq data for 4T1 and non-cancer cells. He presented his work as a poster, “Gene Expression and Migration of Mouse Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells,” during the 2021 Emory Summer Research Symposium (online) on Thursday, August 5, 2021. Chavis will return to his home institution, the University of Missouri, College of Engineering, to complete his senior year.

Haynes lab members present research at the 2021 SEED conference

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SEED2017Four members from the Haynes lab presented their latest research at the 2021 Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) conference that took place June 16 – 18, 2021 on a virtual platform. SEED 2021 focused on advances in science, technology, applications, and related investments in the field of synthetic biology. Dr. Karmella Haynes served as session chair for “Translating Synthetic Biology into the Clinic” and the “Funder’s Panel.” The four poster presentations from the Haynes lab included:

  • Dr. Isioma Enwerem (postdoc), “Time-course expression profiling reveals early and late responders to a synthetic chromatin regulator”
  • Harrison Priode (research specialist), “Synthetic epigenetic reader engineering with an all-in-one cell-free expression and protein interaction microarray”
  • Paige Steppe (undergraduate researcher), “Using newly-identified epigenetic reader-effector BAHCC1 to engineer a H3K27me3-binding transcriptional activator”
  • Dr. Natecia Williams (senior research specialist), “A synthetic chromatin reader-effector activates key silenced tumor suppressor genes in triple negative breast cancer cells”

Daniel Vargas successfully defends his Master’s thesis

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Daniel Vargas, a graduate student mentored by Dr. Karmella Haynes in the Biological Design graduate program at ASU, successfully defended his Master’s thesis “Controlled Epigenetic Silencing and Tandem Histone-Binding Transcriptional Activation” on Wednesday November 6, 2019 at Arizona State University. Daniel was supported by an NSF WAESO BRIDGE fellowship, co-authored three research papers, and secured a position at Castle Biosciences, a cancer molecular diagnostics company. Congratulations Daniel!