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.).


Pooja Lalwani

Pooja Lalwani is a sophomore (Trinity ‘23) pursuing a biology major alongside a music minor and a Sustainability Engagement certificate on the premedical track.  She has been with the Meyer lab since the fall of 2020, where she is passionate about studying how environmental conditions influence human health and biology.  At Duke, she is heavily involved as a Green Devil intern and volunteers through the Nasher Museum of Art’s Reflections program.  When she is not studying, she loves to play the piano and serve her community. She hopes to use her research to inform solutions aimed at improving public health outcomes.

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.

Nicholas School of the Environment logo

Sasha Bacot

Coming soon!

Nicholas School of the Environment logo

Rachita Gowdy

Coming soon!

PhD Students

christina bergemann

Christina Bergemann

Christina joined the lab in Fall 2020 after previously being a technician in the lab for the past 3 years. She received her B.S. degree in Environmental Science from 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 is currently looking at how preconception exposure to toxicants change mitochondrial function in offspring. When not in the lab she enjoys biking, gardening, and spending time with her dog.

Dillon King

Dillon King

Dillon joined both the Meyer and Murphy labs in 2019. Dillon earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.S. in Marine Science at Coastal Carolina University in 2017. As an undergraduate she conducted research on microplastic pollution, organic synthetic chemistry, and plant cell biology. Her research focuses on understanding how biologic sex influences mitochondrial function, if sex-specific susceptibility to mitochondrial toxicants exists, and how sex differences in epigenetic patterning of mitochondrial genes coded in the nuclear genome influence expression. When not in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her dog, trying new restaurants around Durham, and going to the beach. 

Laura Jameson

We are delighted to announce that Laura Jameson will be coming to Duke in Fall 2022!

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.

Samantha Murphy

Samantha (Sam) joined the lab Spring 2021 jointly with the Jayasundara Lab. Sam grew up in Cary, North Carolina and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a minor in Chemistry (Go VOLS!). During her undergraduate career, she participated as an Intern with the Duke Superfund Program in Dr. Claudia Gunsch’s lab optimizing growth media for bacteria capable of degrading polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Following this internship, she joined Dr. Scott Brook’s lab at Oak Ridge National Laboratory investigating how manganese dioxide can poise as a sorbent for methyl mercury as a potential remediation technique; she subsequently published on this research before moving to her Ph.D. here at Duke. Her interest in toxicology stemmed from her experience in AP Environmental Science in high school where she got to spend time in the Di Giulio lab here at Duke and learn about Environmental Toxicology.

During her Ph.D. she aims to address potential evolutionary adaptation mechanisms in response to heavy metal environments utilizing environmental populations of Fundulus heteroclitus and lab populations of C. elegans. Outside of the lab you can find Sam loving on her greyhound and two kitties, at a Carolina Hurricanes game, or exploring local coffee shops and breweries.


ian ryde

Ian Ryde

Sarah Seay

Sarah Seay

Postdoctoral Researchers

Coming Soon! Javier Huayta

Javier will join 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); Meryl Colton (Photoxia); Audrey Dinyari (Mitolassie); Lauren Donoghue (Teenage Mutant Tarheel Turtle); Sam Hall (Fluoresca); Alessandria Greco; Sarah Gustafson (Staticia); Victoria Harms; Jamie Harris (Detoxifier); Nathan Heffernan (Hydroxy Dopaman); Jina Kim (DNA Djinni); Sean Lee (Pickstar); Katie Margillo (Ultraviolet Spectre); Zachary Markovich; Anne Martin (GreenGirl) Maddie McKeever (Wildcat); 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: Sharon Luong (Firebird); Krithika Umakanth (Mekanika); Alex Kliminsky (Master Strange)

PhD students: Amanda Smith Bess (Black Fusion); Claudia González-Hunt (MitoMaga); Rashmi Joglekar (Epi-Girl); 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)

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