Lab Members

Joel Meyer

I received a B.S. from Juniata College in 1992 (dual “Programs of Emphasis” in Environmental Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies), and then moved to Guatemala where I worked for five years in a number of fields including appropriate technology and high school teaching. Building cookstoves and latrines (with the small, great NGO and language school El Centro Pop Wuj) and observing air and water pollution led me to study environmental health and obtain a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Duke University (2003, with Dr. Richard Di Giulio). My PhD research triggered an interest in toxic effects of pollutants on mitochondria and DNA, which I pursued in postdoctoral research with Dr. Bennett Van Houten at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (2003 to 2006).

I joined the faculty of the Nicholas School of the Environment in 2007, where I am currently the Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown & Sons Associate Professor of Molecular Environmental Toxicology. I am also a faculty member and Director of Graduate Studies for the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program, member of the Duke Cancer Institute, affiliate of the Duke Global Health Institute, faculty member of the Pharmacological Sciences program, and have a secondary appointment in Civil and Environmental Engineering. A current CV and additional work details are here. If you contact me, use he/him/his, and call me whatever you are comfortable with (Joel, Dr. Meyer, hey you, etc.).


Nicole Bolton

Coming soon!

Clare Sparling

Clare Sparling (Trinity ’24) is a biology and environmental science double major who started working in the Meyer Lab in Fall 2020. Currently, she studies sex differences in mitochondrial function and susceptibility to mitochondrial toxicants in C. elegans. Outside of the lab and her coursework, she enjoys volunteering in the community, cooking, and running.

Sasha Bacot

Sasha Bacot (Trinity ’25) is a biology and computer science double major who joined the Meyer Lab in Spring 2022. In the lab, she investigates mtDNA damage induced mutagenesis and damage responses. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, finding new music, and collecting bumper stickers.

PhD Students

christina bergemann

Christina Bergemann

Coming from Wilmington, NC, Aquawoman spent most of her time growing up on the ocean where she enjoyed fishing, swimming, and discovering cool organisms in tidal pools. She eventually moved inland where she studied Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. After graduating with her B.S. degree, she made her way to Duke University where she joined a biogeochemistry lab studying saltwater intrusion along the coast of NC and the impact of engineered nanomaterials in the environment. She has studied how preconception exposure to toxicants change mitochondrial function in offspring. Her thesis project examines how the microbiome affects mitochondrial function. When not in the lab she enjoys biking, gardening, and spending time with her dog.

Laura Jameson

Laura joined the Meyer Lab in 2023 after graduating from UC Davis with a B.S. in Cognitive Science: Neuroscience. During undergrad she worked for Dr. Dan Starr in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology studying nuclear migration and anchorage proteins in the C. elegans LINC complex, using CRISPR for nucleotide modification and functional domain deletion. She became interested in toxicology through her work with Dr. Maxwell Leung as a lab technician at ASU. Her research interests include neuronal dysfunction and stress signaling, such as cardiolipin externalization and how repeated exposure and mixture exposures can impact neuronal development. When outside the lab you’ll find her (trying to) train her cat to walk on a leash, hanging out with her friends, or playing DnD.

Kate Morton

Kate Morton

Kate joined the Meyer Lab in 2020 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in Political Science (Go Hokies!). During undergrad she worked for Dr. Jake Tu in the Fralin Life Sciences Institute studying mosquito genomics and sex determination and Dr. Mauro Caraccioli studying literature regarding colonizer-indigenous interactions during the colonization of South America. She became interested in toxicology through her volunteer research on Mediterranean Loggerhead Sea Turtles with Wildlife Sense. Her research will focus on the nexus between anthropogenic chemicals, mitochondrial dysfunction, and dopaminergic neurodegeneration. When outside the lab you’ll find her travelling, baking, trying new foods, or somewhere by the water.

Alex George

Alex graduated B.S. in Environmental Science from University of South Carolina in 2016. Before starting at Duke, he held jobs in private environmental testing, pharmaceutical microbiology, and cancer immunotherapy. He joined the Meyer Lab in 2023 and is interested in how cells respond to mitochondrial DNA damage from environmental agents. Utilizing mammalian cell culture and C. elegans, he studies how the mtDNA-binding protein TFAM may act as a DNA damage sensor. He also has an ongoing interest in development and application of computational methods to toxicology, cell biology, and systems biology. In this vein, he studies how novel methods for the nematode C. elegans can be applied to develop a toxicokinetic model for the organism. Outside of the lab, you can find him learning the guitar and curating his meme collection.


ian ryde

Ian Ryde only exists in the Superhero world.

Sarah Seay

Sarah Seay only exists in the real world.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Javier Huayta

Javier joined the lab in Summer 2022. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from National University of San Marcos (UNMSM), located in Lima, Peru. He completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at NC State in 2022. While at NC State he worked on elucidating the interplay between environmental factors and genetic pathways that extend lifespan in the nematode C. elegans with Dr. Adriana San Miguel. When not at the lab, he spends time taking care of his 4 cats and 2 lizards, playing board games, or organizing his stamp collection.

Lab Alums

Undergrads: Emily Barefoot; Kiersten Bell (Worm Whisperer); Avery Berkowitz (Speed Demon); Kelsey Behrens (FUDR girl); Shefali Bijwadia (Green (Fluorescent Protein) Lantern); Ashley Blawas (Aquagirl); Jean Chung; Meryl Colton (Photoxia); Audrey Dinyari (Mitolassie); Lauren Donoghue (Teenage Mutant Tarheel Turtle); Rachita Gowdu; Sam Hall (Fluoresca); Alessandria Greco; Sarah Gustafson (Staticia); Victoria Harms; Jamie Harris (Detoxifier); Nathan Heffernan (Hydroxy Dopaman); Jina Kim (DNA Djinni); Pooja Lalwani; Joe Laster; Sean Lee (Pickstar); Katie Margillo (Ultraviolet Spectre); Zachary Markovich; Anne Martin (GreenGirl) Maddie McKeever (Wildcat); Samantha Murphy; Luiza Perez; Caroline Reed; Riccardo Romersi (One Dose Man); Caroline Schechinger (Sacaga-enviro-wea); Michael Saporito; Alex Simon; Matt Strumph (MacroLeader); Tymofi Sokolskyi (Tymmy Proton); Lila Thornton (Shadowcrosser); Ashlyn Wahl; Tanner Waters (The Blender); Dan Wood (Sonic Boom); Zhirui (Ray) Zhu (SYBRman)

Master’s students: Roi Faroud Lopez; Shaunacee Howell; Sharon Luong (Firebird); Samantha Murphy; Ryan Parks; Alex Kliminsky (Master Strange); Krithika Umakanth (Mekanika)

PhD students: Amanda Smith Bess (Black Fusion); Claudia González-Hunt (MitoMaga); Rashmi Joglekar (Epi-Girl); Dillon King; Maxwell C.K. Leung (Toxic Knight); Tess Leuthner; Jess Lewis (Smoke Slayer); Tony Luz (Snarf); John Rooney (Worm Hunter); Latasha Smith (Toxic Rogue); Lauren Wyatt (Silver Storm); Xinyu “Candy” Yang (Nano Ninja)

Researchers: Charu Anbalagan (Supertoxgirl); Tracey Crocker (Wonder Worm Woman); Maggie Gustafson (Maggie the White); Alex Ji (Terror Byte); Chris Lord (Green Machine); Paige Meier (Metamorphenom); Victoria Tettehnaa; Elena Turner (Metalhawk)

Postdocs: Rakesh Bodhicharla (The Hulk); Jessica Hartman (The Catalyst); Kirsten Helmcke (Mercuria); Kathleen Hershberger; Senyene Hunter (Electrophoresa); Laura Maurer (Invisible Woman); Danielle Mello Trevisan (Power-Immunotox Girl); Lingfeng Meng (Captain Neuron); Lu Wang (Silver Sorceress)

Meet Our Superhero Alter Egos