Cristea Lab Members, Past & Present


Ileana Cristea









Ileana M. Cristea, PhD

Professor of Molecular Biology @ Princeton Univeristy


Director of Graduate Studies, Molecular Biology, Princeton University
Former President of US HUPO (2018-2020)
HUPO Proteomic Sciences Discovery Award
Mallinckrodt Scholar
NIDA Avant-Garde Award

Research Molecular Biologist:


toddTodd Greco, PhD

PhD @ U Penn

Princeton, 2009 - present

A biochemist and neuroscientist by training, Todd returned to his home state of New Jersey in 2009 to join the Cristea lab for his postdoctoral work. Currently a Research Molecular Biologist, he works on multidisciplinary projects that harness mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to study the dynamics of protein complexes. When he’s not studying how protein interactions influence the development of Huntington’s disease, he’s mentoring students in the principles of proteomics and biochemistry. In his spare time, Todd enjoys cooking simple yet flavorful meals while pondering the art of mass spectrometry maintenance.

Postdoctoral Scientists:


jaimeJosiah E. (Jaime) Hutton, PhD

PhD @ Vanderbilt University


After surviving the humidity of Florida, the country music of Tennessee, and the brutal winters of Illinois, Jaime moved to New Jersey to further advance his training in analytical proteomics and to learn virology in the Cristea Lab. When not babysitting the mass spectrometers, Jaime enjoys exercising, board games with his friends, and giving attention to the best cat in the Cristea Lab.



joshJoshua L. Justice, PhD

PhD @ University of Alabama at Birmingham


Joshua completed his Ph.D in Virology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (where he was born and raised) and joined the Cristea lab in 2019 to study how viral infections are detected and combated by the host cell. Joshua enjoys gardening, fine whiskey, and the occasional D&D campaign with his labmates.



Graduate Students:


xinleiXinlei Sheng

Undergrad @ Tsinghua University


Xinlei, who leveled up with a Bachelor’s degree of biological sciences in Tsinghua University, is a unique electric-type pokemon introduced to Princeton in 2014. Xinlei is often seen at his bench, trying to evolve into a doctor, and you could also find Xinlei playing basketball, dismantling electronic devices, and taking photos of other pokemons in the wild area.



lauraLaura Murray-Nerger

Undergrad @ University of Richmond
NSF Graduate Fellowship
Through her PhD, Laura aims to uncover how nuclear protein-protein interactions that are modulated by acetylation play antiviral roles during infection. Outside of lab, Laura enjoys traveling, spending time at the beach, and baking.



BokaiBokai Song

Undergrad @ Tsinghua University
China Scholarship


Bokai is from Tianjin, China, and did his undergrad in Tsinghua University in Beijing before coming to the Cristea lab to pursue a PhD. He studies the function and regulation of the DNA sensor cGAS in innate immune signaling. Outside the lab, Bokai is a guitar and ukulele player.



Cora BetsingerCora Betsinger

Undergrad @ University of Wisconsin, Madison


A lover of all things mitochondria, Cora is working to understand the battle between HCMV and host cells for control over cellular metabolism during infection. In her free time she loves hiking, camping, canoeing, trying new restaurants, knitting, and hanging out with her hamster (Sebastian).


katelynKatelyn C. Cook

Undergrad @ University of Colorado, Boulder
Princeton Centennial Award
NIH F31 Research Fellowship (NIAID)
Making her way east from California, Nevada, Colorado, and finally to New Jersey, Katelyn is pursuing a PhD focused on exploring how intracellular pathogens remodel organelles to achieve infection. When she’s not at the bench, Katelyn fills her time with trail runs, gardening, strategy RPGs, cooking (pun intended), and cuddles with her cats.


timTimothy Howard

Undergrad @ University of Colorado, Boulder


Tim comes from the great state of Colorado. His PhD work focuses on the relationship between virus and host and, more specifically, how host cells recognize viral DNA to activate vital antiviral programs. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing rec softball and ice hockey, and you can often find him hanging out at local breweries or the beach in the summer.


michelleMichelle Kennedy

Undergrad @ University of Colorado, Boulder
NSF Graduate Fellowship
In an unexpected turn of events, Michelle has become the resident coding guru of the lab and focuses on discerning biological meaning from large datasets. As a transplant from Colorado, when not glued to her computer and keyboard she enjoys exploring the outdoors, investigating the NJ craft brewery scene, and cuddling with her cats.


daweiDawei Liu

Undergrad @ UC Berkeley


After finishing his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, Dawei came to Princeton to pursue his PhD. He focuses on the interactions between host and viruses, specifically how cells are able to sense invading viruses and mount effective innate immune responses. Dawei is a pro at badminton and an avid video game and board game player too!


will-hofstadterWilliam Hofstadter

Undergrad @ Northwestern University


Coming to Princeton from the Midwest and California, Will studies how viruses manipulate fundamental cellular processes. Outside of the lab, Will also enjoys exploring the outdoors, swimming, and reptiles.



matt-tylMatthew Tyl

Undergrad @ University of Michigan


Hailing from the great state of Michigan, Matt came to Princeton to study nuclear remodeling during viral infection. Outside of the lab, he enjoys exercising and playing games with friends.




pranavPranav Rekapalli

Princeton '20



carolineCaroline Taber

Princeton '20



echengEmily Cheng

Princeton '21

Emily is a senior majoring in Molecular Biology with a certificate in French Language and Culture. Her research focuses on the role of IFI16-dependent translocations in immune signaling. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and learning new languages.


juliaJulia Edgar

Princeton '21

Orginating from Toronto, Canada, Julia is an undergraduate student completing her senior thesis focused on the metabolic regulation and antiviral defense of the enzyme SIRT4. Away from the lab, Julia is a member of the Princeton Women's Ice Hockey team, Prime Minister of the Princeton Canadians Club, and enjoys baking and listening to podcasts on the side.


eleneElene Tsopurashvili

Princeton '22



Originally from the Republic of Georgia and now living in Philadelphia, Elene found a new home in Cristea lab. Here she works to characterize structural and functional changes in ER-mitochondria contact sites during infection. Outside the lab, you will find her advocating for low-income students on campus, reading global health news and chatting with her grandparents about gardening, Princeton adventures, and everyday life.



brettBrett Phelan

Princeton '22


Hailing from St. Louis, Brett’s research in the lab focuses on host protein dynamics during viral infection. A recovering math major, Brett hopes to one day unite his love for math and biology in a career as a researcher. Outside of the lab, Brett enjoys tasteful pop music and the company of his dogs.




Lab Alumni:


Former Postdocs:

Joel Federspiel, PhD - Senior Scientist @ Pfizer, Drug Safety Research and Development Group, Boston, USA

Yutaka Hashimoto, PhD - Assistant Professor @ Nagoya City University, Japan

Rommel Mathias, PhD - Assistant Professor @ Monash University, Australia

Yuan-Chin Tsai, PhD - Assistant Professor @ Taipei Medical University, Taiwan

Preeti Joshi, PhD - Senior Scientist @ Biogen, USA

Yang Luo, PhD - Research Scientist @ The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center


Former Grad Students:

Krystal Lum, PhD - Postdoc in Weitzman Lab @ U Penn, USA

Pierre M Jean Beltran, PhD  - Postdoc in Carr Lab @ Broad Institute, Boston, USA

Elizabeth Rowland, PhD - Associate @ McKinsey & Co., USA

Marni Crow, PhD - Associate Medical Director @ VMLY&R, USA

Benjamin Diner, PhD - Senior Scientist @ Editas, USA

Amanda Guise, PhD - Postdoc in Steen Lab @ Harvard University, USA

Hanna Budayeva, PhD - Senior Scientist @ Gentech, USA

Tuo Li, PhD - Postdoc in Chen Lab @ UT Southwestern, USA

Yana Miteva, PhD - Postdoc in Baer Lab @ Columbia University, USA

Danielle Rowles, PhD - Research Scientist @ QPS Delaware, USA

Val Carabetta, PhD - Assistant Professor @ Cooper Medical School, USA


Former Technicians:

Fang Yu - Research Scientist @ Fudan University, China


Former Undergrads:

Samvida Venkatesh - Rhodes Scholar (PhD) @ Oxford University (2019)
Amy Tien - Bain & Company Global Management (2019)
Catherina Pan - MD @ Yale University (2019)
Clayton Otter - MD/PhD @ University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (2018)
Caroline Snowden - MD @ Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (2017)
Morgan Sly
Chase Palisch
Jennifer Wang
Irene Zhang