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Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel Promislow

Daniel Promislow: Daniel began his career in biology as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. He completed his doctoral work in evolutionary biology with Paul Harvey at Oxford University. After post-doctoral work in Paris, at Queen's University in Ontario, and at the University of Minnesota, in 1995 he joined the faculty in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. Daniel moved to the University of Washington in July 2013, where he is professor in the Departments of Pathology and Biology. Daniel is broadly interested in evolutionary genetics, with a particular focus on projects related to aging, as well as studies on sexual selection, natural genetic variation, networks, and metabolomics. Daniel is the Principal Investigator of the Dog Aging Project , an NIH-funded long-term longitudinal study of the biological and environmental determinants of healthy aging in companion dogs. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys hiking, cooking, and skiing.

Junior Faculty

Silvan Urfer: Silvan is a veterinarian with a background in population genetics and survival analysis and is currently working on the Dog Aging Project for the Promislow and Kaeberlein Labs. He earned his veterinary degree and his doctorate from the University of Bern in his native Switzerland and did postdoctoral work in the Ostrander Lab at NIH/NHGRI in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Wolf Lab at UW Medicine Pathology, where he worked on population genetics and biomarkers of aging in dogs. Following Norm Wolf's retirement at the end of 2011, he worked on analyzing large veterinary databases in cooperation with the private sector, investigating preventive veterinary interventions that could have beneficial effects on overall life expectancy in dogs. In 2016, Silvan came back to the UW as a Senior Fellow to work on the Dog Aging Project, and was promoted to Acting Instructor in Spring of 2019. In his spare time, he also investigates the effects of aging on yeast-fermented Vitis vinifera lysates using organoleptic bioassays.


Xiaqing Zhao: Xiaqing got her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Paul Schmidt. She is broadly interested in the mechanisms of natural phenotypic variation, especially those related to fitness. Her PhD work focused on the genetic basis of the naturally-varying diapause propensity in wild populations of D. melanogaster. In the Promislow lab, she is working on mechanisms of natural variation in lifespan and response to dietary restriction. When she is not working, Xiaqing enjoys skiing, cycling, cooking and playing the piano.

Ming Yang: Ming grew up in Northern China and then moved to Southern China to attend university. She received her BS and PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Sun Yat-sen University. Her PhD work focused on speciation and adaptive evolution using both model (Drosophila) and non-model species (Mangroves). With a background of population genetics, she is good at quantitative thinking, coding and analyzing multi-omics data. In the Promislow lab, Ming is working on Alzheimer's Disease using Drosophila as a model, combining genetics, single-cell sequencing and network analysis to look deep into fly brains. Outside the lab, she loves reading, watching movies, hiking and eating. Her favorite genre is fiction and she is a huge fan of “Three Bodies”.

Mitchell Lee: Raised in the rural Oklahoma panhandle, Mitchell moved to Washington state shortly after graduating high school. After completing his AAS at Everett Community College, Mitchell completed a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Biology with an emphasis in Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Western Washington University. During undergraduate studies, Mitchell discovered his passion for molecular biology and genetics. He completed a MS at WWU under the guidance of Lynn Pillitteri where he studied molecular neurodevelopment using C. elegans (roundworm). Carrying out his PhD under Under the combined mentorship of Matt Kaeberlein and Alan Herr, Mitchell used S. cerevisiae (budding yeast) to model drivers of cancer and identify novel compounds that could be used to extend the healthy life span of companion pets and ourselves. Currently, Mitchell uses D. melanogaster (fruit fly) and yeast models of natural genetic diversity to identify and characterize healthy aging interventions and understand how these interventions could be used to delay age-associated disease, like Alzheimer’s Disease and related neurodegenerative diseases.

Graduate Students

Kelly Jin: Kelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her BS and MS in biochemistry and cell biology from UC San Diego. She then worked for 3 years at a diagnostics company in San Diego, where she became interested in using statistical and computational methods to learn about complex disease. As a perpetual West Coast girl, Kelly then moved to Seattle where she is currently working towards her PhD in Molecular Medicine in the Promislow Lab at the University of Washington. In the lab, she is broadly interested in discovering and modeling genetic and environmental components of age-related disease. Outside of the lab, Kelly enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and exploring the city. She is also constantly on the hunt for new exotic foods to try.

Ashley Paynter: Ashley grew up in New York City and studied evolutionary and cell biology at Binghamton University in upstate New York. As an undergraduate,she worked on the disease ecology and genomics of Lyme disease. She also worked at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan where she studied the natural history of contagious cancers. Ashley moved to Seattle to pursue her PhD in Biology in 2017 and is working on the Dog Aging Project to better understand canine cancer genetics, hereditary disease, and breed specific polymorphisms in precancerous mutations. In her free time, Ashley enjoys hiking, swimming, and playing with her dog, Honey.

Research Scientist

Ben Harrison: Ben grew up in Vancouver, Washington and studied biology at Clark College in Vancouver and at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He earned a PhD in genetics at the University of Wisconsin in 2007 and joined the faculty at the University of Alaska where he taught courses in genetics, molecular biology and evolution. Ben joined the Promislow lab in 2016 where he pursues his interests in the architecture of complex traits. Outside of the lab Ben enjoys spending time with family, fixing cars, exploring the outdoors and eating wildlife.

Lab Technician

Cecilia Fitzgerald-Cook: Cecilia became passionate about Biology as a high school intern working for a year at UCSC in the Paytan Lab doing Biogeochemistry research. This experience led her to stay in her beautiful hometown of Santa Cruz, California to study Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSC. There, she interned in two laboratories, each year spent studying in a different discipline of biology: marine population biology, and molecular biology. After graduating, she worked for a year for two biotechnology companies in the area: Santa Cruz Biotech., and Ontera. She decided to move to Seattle with her partner in September 2017 and joined the Promislow lab in December 2017. She has been enjoying more time for hobbies including fiddle playing, tea drinking, biking, and hiking. She plans to attend a PhD program focusing on translational research relating to age-related human disease starting in Fall of 2020.

Lab Assistants

Caroline Rawls: Caroline is currently an undergraduate student at UW pursuing a degree in biochemistry. After graduating, she plans on attending optometry school and working internationally in the medical field. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Rene Coig: Rene is originally from southern Louisiana, where he earned a BA in Sociology in 2002. He then moved to Seattle and worked as a 3D game artist and animator for ten years before deciding it was time for a career change. He is now working toward a second Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology. He is interested in studying applications of gene therapies in medicine with a specific interest in cell signaling and hormones. He is a loving cat dad and enjoys outdoor adventures, music and gardening. He is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to mix very small amounts of clear liquids together in the Promislow Lab.

Forrest Golic: Forrest is a second year undergrad from North Bend, Washington. He is frequently spotted in the campus libraries studying MCD Biology and history. When he can he enjoys cycling, skiing, hiking, climbing and taking photographs (check these out here:

Luis Ruiz: Luis was born in Portland, Oregon before moving to Washington when he was three years old. He became interested in Microbiology during high school. During one of his high school classes, his teacher talked about potential careers; one of them was working in a clinical laboratory, which sounded like a cool job to Luis. He decided to go to the University of Washington to study Microbiology. It wasn’t until he met with his advisor that he heard about Medical Laboratory Science and changed his mind. With this bachelor’s degree you can work in a clinical laboratory. Luis was lucky to have gone to one of the few schools in Washington that offer this program. Currently a sophomore, he will be starting his program in the fall of 2019. He also works for the Promislow Lab, learning how to cook. If you want to know how good he is at cooking, just ask the flies.

Post-Baccalaureate Researchers

David Kim: David is a recent graduate of Emory University, where he earned a BS in Biology. He plans to eventually attend medical school. When he has time he enjoys playing sports, such as ultimate frisbee and basketball, going hiking, and hanging out with friends

Shufan Zhang: Shufan just received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, majoring in Physiology. She is interested in complex traits and joined the lab to experience research first hand. She is planning to eventually go to veterinary medicine school and continue to do research. Shufan also really likes taking her dogs hiking.

Undergraduate Research Students

Meghna Manoj: Meghna is a sophomore majoring in Biology. After graduating she hopes to attend Medical School. When she’s not at the lab or volunteering at the hospital, Meghna likes to watch Netflix, hang out with friends and hike.

JulieAnn Uh: JulieAnn is a sophomore intending to study neurobiology. She is interested in health sciences and hopes to go to medical school at some point. Her hobbies include playing video games, baking, and staying hydrated.

Valeria Aizen: Valeria is a sophomore majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. After graduating she hopes to continue graduate studies in molecular biology. When she's not in the lab or library she enjoys playing the piano and violin, hiking and skiing, writing stories, reading, visiting natural history museums, or discussing books with her friends.

Braydon Morris: Braydon was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is currently a senior at the University of Washington studying Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. After graduating, Braydon hopes to attend medical school to work in emergency medicine. In his free time, Braydon enjoys hiking, playing the drums, great food, and spending time with his wife, Victoria, and their two dogs, Moose and Forest.

Kenneth Han: Kenneth is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Washington studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. He enjoys spending time with friends, being outdoors, and eating. When he’s not cramming for midterms, he can often be found playing the guitar or jogging around campus. After graduation, his goal is to attend medical school and to become involved in global health work.

Jjay Sukomol: Jjay is a third year undergraduate at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Biology and Physiology. After graduating, he hopes to attend medical school and become either a pediatric physician, or a dermatologist. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, trying new places to eat, or just spending time with friends and family.

Kanwar Parhar: Kanwar is a senior at the University of Washington pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience. He was born in Steubenville, Ohio, but spent most of his time growing up and learning about his culture in Punjab, India. He plans on going to medical school to become a doctor one day and help the underserved back in India. During his free time you can catch him in the mountains hiking, at car shows or playing video games.

Vanessa Paus: Vanessa is a junior intending to study Public Health. At the Promislow lab, she wants to better understand drug responses in genetically diverse populations, and explore the potential of precision medicine. She is interested in pediatrics, and hopes to go to medical school in the future. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, eating, and watching documentaries.

Philmon Tesfaye: Philmon is an undergraduate student at the University of Washington. He was born and raised in the southwestern portion of the United States and migrated to find his new home in Seattle, Washington. He is a United States Army veteran who served under 82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Infantry Division, and 75th Fires Brigade. He enjoys hiking, cycling, running, and being terrible at Olympic weightlifting.

Mary Maccoun: Mary is pursuing a BA in Public Health and is passionate about bioinformatics and using computers to analyze data. She likes to look at bugs, use computers, and DNA.