Principal Investigator

Haw Yang

Professor of Chemistry
Director of Graduate Studies, Chemistry

Phone: +1-609-258-3578

Email: hawyang (at)

Associate Editor, Chem. Sci.
Advisory Board, Chem. Soc. Rev.

Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, 2008
Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, 2006
Hellman Family Fund Award, 2005
NSF CAREER Award, 2004

Faculty Assistant

Clarice Gethers

B.A. in Computer Science, Lehman College (CUNY)

Email: cgethers (at)

Phone: +1-609-258-0355

Hometown: Bronx, New York

Clarice was born and raised in New York City.  She started her career as an Administrative Assistant at Lehman College in the Office of Grants & Contracts after graduation.  Somehow instead of diving into a career of computer science, Clarice ended up in the financial business world.  She had numerous positions as a financial assistant and lastly financial analyst at Calvin Klein Home before coming full circle back into the academic arena.

Clarice loves reading, music, movies and SHOPPING.

Lab Manager

Ilona Rafalska-Metcalf

M.Sc. in molecular biology (2001) Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
Ph.D. in biochemistry (2005) Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen, Germany
Postdoctoral training (2006-2012) The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA

Email: ilonar (at)

Hometown: Kraków, Poland

After experiencing immunology, biochemistry, epigenetics, molecular, cell and RNA biology in various laboratories of Northern Hemisphere, Ilona decided that biology was not enough for her.   In Summer 2012 she crossed over to the world of physical chemistry of Haw Yang Lab where she has the opportunity to use all of the scientific and non-scientific skills she gained in the past 15 years of her career.  Her focus is mostly on studying protein dynamics but she gets involved in almost all of the ongoing activity in the lab.  Because of that she is often referred to as “Lab Mom.”

Outside of the lab, Ilona joyously chases after her toddler son and she dreams of all the books she will be reading when he grows up.  She relaxes best while doing embroidery and observing life around her with macro lens. 

Postdoctoral Associates

Utsab Khadka

Ph.D. 2012, Physics, University of Arkansas

Email: ukhadka (at)

Utsab grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal. He completed his undergraduate studies at Hope College in Michigan with a physics major and a math minor. At Hope, he participated in nuclear physics experiments with the Nuclear Group. After college, Utsab did doctoral research in the Quantum and Nonlinear Optics Laboratory at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. During this time, he investigated resonant nonlinear light-matter interactions in multi-level atoms enhanced by atomic coherence. Utsab joined the Haw Yang Lab at Princeton University as a postdoc, and his current research interest is to continue studying the science of light-matter interactions at the nano-scale for interdisciplinary applications. Utsab appreciates different styles of music from different countries, and has played bass guitar and guitar in a few bands. He recently started playing the piano.

Simon McManus

Ph.D. 2012, Biochemistry, McMaster University

Email: smcmanus (at)

Simon grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He completed his undergraduate studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and spent a year studying at Lancaster University in Lancaster, UK. He stayed at McMaster for his PhD, where he worked on the characterization of catalytic DNA sequences under the supervision Dr. Yingfu Li. He also worked at a Toronto-based biotechnology company to develop novel nucleic acid-based biosensors. Simon recently arrived in Princeton and in the Yang Lab. His current research interests involve interfacial enzymology and the 3D tracking of cellulases under biological conditions. Outside the lab, Simon enjoys hockey and hiking, and he is a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

Kevin Welsher

Ph.D. 2010, Chemistry, Stanford University

Email: kwelsher (at)

Kevin grew up in Montgomery, New Jersey, just up the road from Princeton. He did his undergraduate work at Emory University, performing research under Dr. Johnathan Rienstra-Kiracofe and Prof. Eric Weeks. Kevin received his PhD in Chemistry at Stanford University in 2010 under the guidance of Prof. Hongjie Dai, where he developed and applied nanoscale probes as biological imaging agents in the near infrared. Since joining the Yang Lab in Fall 2010, Kevin has worked on pushing the limits of 3D single-particle tracking technology to allow greater insights into the behavior of single molecules in vivo. In his ample free time, Kevin enjoys swimming, reading and cooking.

Graduate Students

Nyssa T. Emerson

B.Sc. 2011, University of Chicago

Email: ntemerso (at)

Nyssa remains mysterious.

Luis F. Guerra
(joint with Prof. Muir)

B.Sc. 2012, Caltech

Email: lfg (at)

Luis was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He attended the California Institute of Technology as an undergraduate, where he majored in Chemistry and received his B.S. in 2012. During his junior and senior years, he worked in the lab of Professor Jacqueline Barton. There, he helped develop and optimize enzymatic methods to enhance the signals measured by electrochemical biosensors utilizing DNA charge transfer. He then joined the Princeton Chemistry department as a Ph.D. graduate student in 2012. He is a joint student between the Muir and Yang labs, where he aims to combine the chemical biology and biophysical tools developed in these two groups to investigate the real-time conformational dynamics of chromatin/protein interactions at a single-molecule level. However, currently he is coming to terms with the fact that the seasons he gets to experience now that he's in the Northeast are the bad ones. Outside of the lab Luis enjoys biking and cookouts with friends.

Hao Li

B.Sc. 2013, Nanjing University

Email: haoli (at)

Hao has not decided whether he wants to divulge his past or not; however, he is definitely interested in getting a Ph.D. degree, for now.

Florian Mayerthaler
(visiting student joint with Prof. Mootz of University of Muenster, Germany)

B.S. 2013, Chemistry, University of Muenster

Email: florianm (at)

Thomas E. Morrell

B.A. 2010, Chemistry, Hamilton College

Email: tmorrell (at)

Tom grew up in Northern New Jersey and graduated from Hamilton College with B.A. in Chemistry in 2010.  As an undergraduate he learned molecular simulation techniques and studied both small water clusters and proteins.  He continues this line of work as the Yang Lab's computational chemist, using simulations to provide new insight into protein dynamics.  He is also the lab’s own IT department.  To relax Tom plays drums in the Princeton University Wind Ensemble.  He is also an avid hiker.

Xun Sun

B.Sc. 2009, Chemistry, Tsinghua Universiy

Email: xunsun (at)

Hometown: Zhejiang, China

Xun obtained his B.S. from Tsinghua University in Beijing after a couple years of treating murine cells with amyloid-β aggregates in Dr. Yan-mei Li’s lab. After that experience he decided to battle against those amyloidogenic molecules in graduate school. Insulin-degrading enzyme is known to break down a variety of such molecules and now he is working on understanding the molecular basis for those degradations, one molecule at a time. Outside the lab, he apparently enjoys watching movies, one per year.


  • L. Meadow Anderson
    Ph.D. 2003-2009, AAAS Science & Technology Fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Sucharita Bhattacharyya
    Undergraduate 2003-2005, currently in the Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.
  • Hu Cang
    Postdoc 2005-2009, Assistant Professor at Salk Institute.
  • Jeffrey A. Hanson
    Ph.D. 2003-2009, Scientist at Sutro Biopharma, South San Francisco, California.
  • Chih-Hao Hsia
    Postdoc 2010-2013, BASF-Taiwan
  • Hugh I. Kim
    Undergrad 2003, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, Korea.
  • So Yeon Kim
    Undergrad 2010-2011.
  • Daniel Montiel
    Ph.D. 2005-2012, post-doctoral associate at the Rockefeller University.
  • Chayan K. Nandi
    Postdoc 2009-2010, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology at Mandi, Kamand, India.
  • Bian Qian
    Postdoc 2010-2011, post-doctoral researcher at Brown University, Engineering.
  • Yan-Wen Tan
    Postdoc 2007-2010, Professor of Physics, Fundan University, Shanghai, China.
  • Marissa M. Sampias
    Undergrad 2010-2011.
  • Li Sun
    Postdoc 2009-2011.
  • C. Shan Xu
    Postdoc 2005-2009, Senior Scientist
    at HHMI Janelia Farm.
  • Emma V. Yates
    Undergrad 2009-2011.
  • Kai Zhang
    Ph.D. 2002-2008, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Updated: 2014.09.12.