Principal Investigator

Prof. Michael Pollastri

See profile here




Research Associate Professor

Lori Ferrins

Lori is originally from Melbourne, Australia. She received her B. Med. Chem. (1st class Hons.) from La Trobe University in 2010 under the supervision of Dr. Belinda Abbott and Dr. Seb Marcuccio. Her research focused on developing the first total synthesis of picrorocellin and its structural derivatives as potential antimalarial compounds. She then moved to the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University to complete her Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Jonathan Baell. Her research focused on the design and synthesis of novel heterocyclic compounds for the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis. Lori joined Dr. Pollastri’s research group in 2015 and is continuing her work on inhibitors for human African trypanosomiasis.

Associate Research Scientist

Naresh Gunaganti

Naresh Gunaganti is originally from India. He received his M.Sc. (Organic Chemistry) degree in 2007 from Osmania University, then he joined as a research chemist at Sai Advantium Pvt.Ltd, Hyderabad, India where he worked on process development of carbohydrate-based drug intermediates. After he clears the CSIR national eligibility test for a junior research fellowship in 2009, he moved to CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute in 2010 to complete his Ph.D. under the supervision of Dr. T. Narender. After completion of his Ph.D. in 2015, he joined as a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA with Dr. HongYu-Li in the area of kinase drug discovery to find the cure for various type of cancer. In 2016 his entire research group moved to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA. Naresh joined Prof. Pollastri’s research group in Dec. 2018. His current research interests are the discovery and development of small molecule inhibitors against parasitic diseases.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Quillon Simpson

Quillon originates from Melbourne, Australia. He completed his BSc Chem. (1st class Hons.) at Monash University under the supervision of Prof. David Lupton. His research was directed towards understanding incompatibilities of propargyl substituted carbazalones towards the palladium-catalyzed enantioselective decarboxylative allylation, utilized within the Lupton group for the synthesis of (+)-Kopsihainanine A. He then completed his Ph.D. under the joint supervision of Prof. David Lupton, Dr. Oliver Hutt, and Dr. Joel Hooper at Monash University and CSIRO. His research focused on catalytic reactions utilizing open-shell reactive intermediates. Following completion of his Ph.D., Quillon was employed at Advanced Molecular Technologies where he led three contract research projects. Namely, the synthesis and characterization of fluorophores for bio-conjugation, derivatization of synthetic flavonoids directed at tumor cell apoptosis, and the synthesis of porphyrin triplet oxygen sensitizers for their use in photodynamic therapy (PDT). Quillon joined the Pollastri Group in 2019 to work on drug development for neglected tropical diseases.

Jyoti Chauhan

Jyoti is originally from India. She received her M.Sc. (Organic Chemistry) degree in 2015 from the University of Delhi. In 2016, She joined as a Ph.D. research fellow under the supervision of Prof. Subhabrata Sen at Shiv Nadar University, Noida, India where She worked on the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of novel small molecules as anti-breast cancer agents. She completed her Ph.D. in July 2020. She joined Prof. Pollastri’s research group in Feb. 2021 and working on the development of small-molecule inhibitors against Neglected tropical diseases.


Pradip Gadekar

Pradip originates from Maharashtra, India. He received MSc in Organic Chemistry (2004) from the University of Pune. After completion of his master’s degree, he worked at Cipla Pharmaceuticals and Harman finochem Ltd as Process Development Chemist. In 2006, he joined the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at Piramal Life Sciences Ltd., Mumbai, India, where he worked on several medicinal chemistry projects. He worked on the design and synthesis of novel molecules for anticancer, anti-Inflammatory, and anti-tubercular agents. In 2010-2015, he completed his Ph.D. in Organic/ Medicinal Chemistry- Industrial collaboration with Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) Vellore, India under the supervision of Dr. S. Sarveswari and Dr. Abhijit Roychowdhury. His Ph.D. topic was “Design, Synthesis, and the Medicinal Chemistry Applications of Azaspiro Analogues.” After completion of Ph.D., he joined Piramal Critical Care Ltd, India, where he worked on process development of anesthetic API, fluorine-containing specialty chemicals, and vapor phase fluorination. Pradip is a drug hunter and takes a keen interest in every aspect of drug discovery with special emphasis on finding novel bio-isosteres by use of fluorine chemistry and azaspirocycles. He joined Prof. Pollastri’s research group in March. 2021 and working on the design and synthesis of novel heterocyclic compounds for Neglected Tropical Diseases.


Vinayak Hanchate

Vinayak is originally from Karnataka, India. After obtaining his Master’s degree from Karnatak University, Dharwad, India, in 2013. He joined Dr. Reddy’s Pharmacietical Laboratories Ltd. in 2015 as a process development chemist. Later, he obtained his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India, under the supervision of Prof. K. R. Prabhu in 2021. His Ph. D. research involves sulfoximine, and sulfoxonium ylide directed C-H activation and cascade annulation reactions. He joined Prof. Pollastri’s research group in August 2021 and working on the development of small-molecule inhibitors against neglected tropical diseases.


Maria Dichiara

Maria is originally from Sicily. She studied Pharmacy at the University of Catania. During her undergraduate studies, she also spent a period within the laboratory UMR 8638 COMETE at the Paris Descartes University, working on a multidisciplinary project combining both natural product isolation and semi-synthesis of a new series of aucubin derivatives. In November 2017, she started her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Catania under the supervision of Professor Emanuele Amata. Her research was focused on the design, synthesis and preclinical evaluation of novel ligands for sigma receptors. During her second year of Ph.D. she moved to the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at the ETH of Zurich under the supervision of Professor Dario Neri. She worked on the development of novel small molecules for human tyrosinase and tyrosinase-related protein 1. She completed her Ph.D. in March 2021. Maria joined the Pollastri Group in November 2021 to work on the development of novel small molecules for neglected tropical diseases.


Graduate Students

Jing Chai

Originally from China, Jing got her BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from Shandong University and, East China University of Science &Technology. She moved to the US and received a second MS degree in Organic Chemistry from Temple University under the supervision of Professor Franklin A. Davis. In 2007, she joined GSK where she works on DNA Encoded Library Technology (ELT), focusing on on-DNA chemistry development, library design, and synthesis. Jing joined Prof. Pollastri’s group in 2018 as an industrial graduate student.



Caroline Millard

Caroline is originally from Cincinnati, OH, and graduated summa cum laude from Hanover College with a BS in chemistry. She joined the Pollastri group in 2020 as a Ph.D. student and is looking forward to contributing to the scientific field through research on neglected tropical diseases.



Undergraduate Students

Sovanneary “Neary” Hok

Neary is a fourth-year biochemistry major. Outside of the lab, she enjoys cooking, plants, and binge-watching new shows.




Andrea Koid

Andrea is a third-year honors undergraduate student from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pursuing a major in biochemistry with a minor in global health. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, trying new foods,  and exploring Boston with her friends.


Crystal Le

Crystal Le is a fourth-year Biochemistry major with a minor in Global Health. Outside of the lab, she enjoys pottery, rock climbing, and soup.

Thomas (Tomás) Kresina

I’m a second-year honors student from Maryland studying Biochemistry with a minor in Philosophy. Besides research, I enjoy reading, skiing, weightlifting, and studying foreign languages.




Courtney Fu

Courtney is a fifth-year honors pharmacy student from Phoenix, AZ with minors in entrepreneurship and economics. Outside of lab, she enjoys cooking, playing piano, and binge-watching Mythbusters.


Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Dr. Cuihua (Helen) Wang (April 2009-March 2011)
  • Dr. Caitlin Karver (September 2009- June 2011)
  • Dr. Adam Lesser (2011)
  • Dr. Gautam Patel (July 2011-September 2012)
  • Dr. Emanuele Amata (May 2011-February 2013)
  • Dr. Trent Ashton
  • Dr. Sandra Luongo
  • Dr. David Finnegan
  • Dr. Takashi Satoh
  • Dr. Seema Bag
  • Dr. Daljit Matharu
  • Dr. Poornachandran ‘Poorna’ Mahalingam
  • Dr. Warren Weiner
  • Dr. Hitesh Jalani
  • Dr. Melissa Buskes
  • Dr. Alex Muthengi
  • Dr. Baljinder Singh (June 2015 – September 2021)

Graduate Students

  • Kelly Bachovchin (2019)
  • Westley Tear (2019)
  • Dana Klug (2018)
  • Andrew Spaulding (2018)
  • Meaghan (Sebeika) Fallano (2017)
  • Gengyang Yuan (2017)
  • Naimee Mehta (2016)
  • Enrico Mongeau (2016)
  • William Devine (May 2015)
  • Jennifer Woodring (Jan. 2011 – Dec. 2014)
  • Cheri Snedeker (2010 – 2012)
  • Bianca Celidet Perez de Lucani (Sep 2009 – Aug 2010)
  • Zhouxi Wang (2010 – 2012)
  • Stefan Ochiana (2009 – 2012)

Masters Students

  • Angela Tanner
  • Lisseth Silva
  • Zeke Clements
  • Elizabeth Jones
  • Uma Swaminathan

Undergraduate Students

  • Joel Beatty (January 2011-August 2011)
  • Craig Tallman (January 2010-July 2010)
  • Matthew Stevenson (August 2009 – December 2009)
  • Michael Russo (2009-2011)
  • Tim Hopper (2010-2012)
  • Brian Coffey (2010-2012)
  • Cristin Juda (2010-2012)
  • Emily Blazensky (2011-2012)
  • Katherine Spring (2011)
  • Peter Edwards (September 2011 – May 2013)
  • Charlie Hoyt (July 2012 – December 2012)
  • Anthony Varca (January 2013 – May 2013)
  • Mitchell Gallerstein
  • Stephen Ejk
  • Laura Tschiegg
  • Stephen ‘Cole’ Rougas
  • Melanie Fritsche
  • Vivian Hilborne
  • Jeremy Armand
  • Travis DeLano
  • Max Staab
  • Alex Hughes
  • Hillary Dequina
  • Katherine ‘Kate’ Schneider
  • Erin Burchfield
  • Brady Greene
  • John Karl ‘Jack’ Fisher
  • Raeann Dalton
  • Allison Leonard
  • Catherine LeBlanc
  • Kathleen “Kat” Le
  • Madeleine ‘Maddy’ Shay
  • Trevor Beardsley
  • Lindsey Foster
  • Yulia Dikusar
  • Mitch Rivers
  • Serena DiLiberti
  • Keith Van Allen
  • PJ Donnelly
  • Justin Park
  • Michael Chichioco
  • Nyle Sharif
  • Edward Helbling
  • Millie Ness
  • Anson Huang

Visiting Scientist

  • Efi Mavrogiannaki
  • Monica Clements
  • Amy Dounay
  • Antonio Quotadamo