Meet the team. Updated August 2018.

Principal Investigator


Andy Ellington

Andrew Ellington is the Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. He is perhaps best known for the invention of the word "aptamer," but is now most involved in the development and evolution of artificial life, including nucleic acid operating systems that can function both in vitro and in vivo.

Postdoctoral Researchers


Yolanda G. Garcia Huante

“As a post-doctoral fellow, I will be working on generation of improved Cpf1. The main aims of this project are to improve genome editing tools by rational design and selection. In particular, libraries of Cpf1 variants will be generated and then both screened for function via cell-based assays and high-throughput biophysical profiling, and selected using a novel directed evolution system called Compartmentalized Partnered Replication (CPR). Success in this project should further the CRISPR revolution, and will have wide applications in biomedicine, biotechnology, and synthetic biology. On the other hand, I like dancing, cats, and spend my time with my family and friends.”


Ross Thyer

“I completed a B.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia and joined the Ellington lab in 2013. My research interests include the development of biosynthesis pathways and translation machinery for the incorporation of unconventional and unnatural amino acids. I also enjoy beer, rock climbing and frogs!”

Technical Staff


Jose Cardona

“I received a B.S. in Bioengineering from University of California Merced is currently focusing on developing several novel antibodies for a variety of purposes. Ranging from using them to bind and detect certain cells for detection purposes, to causing catalytic reactions or using them to create targets for immune cells. In addition he has recently started work on using aptamers to sense a variety of compounds. When I’m not in the lab I tend to either be at the gym, hiking or playing D&D. If I’m not working on my own project of course.”


Barrett Morrow

“I began working for the Ellington Lab in 2016. Since then I’ve graduated from UT Austin with a B.S. in Biology. While I’m broadly interested in bioengineering, I focus on 3D printing and the development of diagnostics for medical and commercial processes.”


Dallas Lee

“I am a M.S. Biotechnologist with a broad, well-developed, and adaptable skillset in organic chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and veterinary medicine. I help to manage the Ellington lab, and its many research facets.”

Graduate Students 


Undergraduate Students


Administrative Assistant









Cody McLeland


Recent Alumni


Sandeep Panda

"I am a graduate student in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, India. I was selected for the Indo-US Genome Engineering Technology Initiative (GETin) Internship, which enables PhD Scholars from India to gain exposure in the emerging domains of gene editing and synthetic biology. In the Ellington Lab, I worked on engineering and repurposing terpene binding transcriptional repressors as biosensor in Escherichia coli. I also worked on developing a synthetic RNA-based platform, which can facilitate metabolic shunting between pathways in Escherichia coli."



Armin Nourani

Armin was an undergraduate who worked with many lab members on the development of novel nucleic acid biomarker point-of-care diagnostics. He graduated in the Spring of 2016 and will be attending graduate school at Vanderbilt University to pursue a PhD in chemical biology. Armin had a strong love-hate relationship with LAMP but was an overall advocate for regular lamps.


Ella Watkins

Ella worked in the Ellington Lab for 2 years with Jimmy Gollihar. In her time here, she adapted the directed evolution methods of compartmentalized self replication and compartmentalized partnered replication to work with a eukaryotic system. She is now attending the California Institute of Technology for her PhD in Bioengineering.


Yu Sherry Jiang

As an analytical chemistry student working in a biochemistry lab (and occasionally as a TA in biology), I work with DNA a lot: DNA diagnostics, DNA circuits, DNA computers, DNA synthesis, and related point-of-care devices.


Yan Du

I graduated from Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CIAC, CAS), and joined the Ellington Lab in April 2013. My research interests relate to developing DNA circuitry and isothermal nucleic acid amplification technologies, as well as using various signal output methods to realize their bioanalytical applications. For example, I am developing “one-pot” electrochemical platforms that may realize point-of-care diagnostics in the future.


Yousef Okasheh

Yousef was an undergraduate researcher, Beckman Scholar, and hype man for the lab. Apart from research, Yousef is perhaps best known on the Internet through his involvement with multiple Austin-based startups.


Bijoy Desai

Bijoy is now working on "understanding the structural dynamics of translation elongation and its regulation using single molecule total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy" as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University.

Peter Allen

Peter is a Chemist from University of Washington in Seattle. He has published papers in journals such as Analytical Chemistry, Electrophoresis, and Biochimica et Biophysica Acta: Molecular Basis of Disease. His research has been at the interface of chemistry and neurobiology he is currently working with robotics, Sequential Injection Analysis and aptamers.


Dilek Cam

Research Interests
Nanoparticle (gold, silver) synthesis and modification, development of rapid test (lateral flow strip) platforms based on antibody and nucleic acid for pathogen detection, nanobiosensors, Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS).


Alison Moss

Alison was a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate who worked on protein engineering.


Carolyn Hargrave



Bingling Li

Dr. Bingling Li graduated from Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry and joined the Ellington Lab in February 2010 as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her research interest covers “every aspect” related to DNA based molecular recognition, signal amplification, and signal output. Her dream of doing research is developing a commercialized point-of-care device or analytical device for easy and portable diagnosis.


Nick Marshall

Worked primarily on two disparate projects. One project involved utilizing immuno-therapy to cure cancer. The other project was focused on building electronic communication into microbes to build so called "Cyborgcells." That's right, curing a horrible disease on one hand, creating an apocalyptic scenario on the other. Such is the Ellington Lab…


Beth Marshall

Beth Marshall was a technician that worked on repertoire analysis and antibody engineering.


Shu Jun Zhen

Shu is an Associate Professor from Southwest University, China. She worked on two projects. One was about functional nucleic acid based biosensors. The other one was about super-resolution imaging of the interactions between molecules and plasmonic nanostructures.