(See Former Lab Members)

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 also director of the Canine Longevity Consortium, an NIH-funded project to understand the factors that influence healthspan and lifespan in dogs. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys running, cooking, skiing, and prior to his move to Seattle, he played guitar in the Athens band, Klezmer Local 42.


Xiaqing Zhao: Xiaqing recently finished 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 will work 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.

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 at 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. In his spare time, he also investigates the effects of aging on yeast-fermented Vitis vinifera lysates using organoleptic bioassays.

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. Now she is working on Alzheimer disease using Drosophila as the model, combining genetics, cutting-edged single-cell sequencing and network analysis to look deep into fly brains. Outside lab, she loves reading, watching movies, hiking and eating. Her favorite genre is fiction and she is a huge fan of “Three bodies”.

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.

Rotating Students

Oliver Newsom: Oliver was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his BS in Biochemistry from Lawrence University, a small liberal arts school in Appleton, Wisconsin. After graduation, Oliver worked as a research technologist for 2 years at the Medical College of Wisconsin, studying components of the protein quality control networks in humans as well as small amoeba. Oliver then joined the MSTP program at the University of Washington where he aims to combine his research interests with medicine. He is currently performing his first summer lab rotation before heading off to medical school in fall of 2018. In his free time Oliver enjoys cooking and playing soccer.

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 stayed her beautiful hometown of Santa Cruz, California to study Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSC. There, she interned in three different laboratories, each year spent studying in a different discipline of biology: micro-paleoclimatology, marine population biology, and molecular biology. It was during her last internship at the Sanford lab that she became interested in stem cell biology. After graduating, she worked for a year for two biotechnology companies in the area: Santa Cruz Biotech., followed by Two Pore Guys Inc. She decided to move to Seattle with her partner in September 2017, and has been enjoying more time for hobbies including fiddle playing, biking, and hiking. She is also pursuing newfound hobbies including hunting, brewing Taiwanese oolong tea gongfu-style in yixing clay teapots, and antique cast iron cookware restoration. She plans to attend a PhD program focusing on the intersection between stem cell biology and autoimmune disorder research after two more years of work in the Promislow Lab.

Lab Assistants

Haley Dixon: Haley is currently a junior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Bio Physiology. After graduating, she hopes to attend Physical Therapy graduate school, specializing in pediatrics. In her free time, Haley enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Monika Helak: Monika is a junior at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in Microbiology. She hopes that some of the ‘gut microbiome’ insight gained at the lab will help her save the world from the bad bacteria of the future. She enjoys working on organic farms in the tropics, frying plantains and reading self-help books about eating and pooping.

Undergraduate Research Students

Elise Hoffman: Elise is a second year undergraduate at the University of Washington planning to study biology. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and work in pediatrics as well as do global health work. When she has free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, spending time with friends and exploring Seattle.

Neta Simon: Neta is a first year undergraduate at the University of Washington studying Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. After graduation she hopes to continue with graduate studies in genetics. In her free time she enjoys hiking, dancing, exploring Seattle, spending time with friends, and finding new coffee shops to study in.

Alex Zhu: Alex Zhu is a sophomore intending to study neurobiology. He is also interested in gene editing, computer science, and creative writing. When he's not working with fruit flies, you can find him singing, reading, listening to podcasts, playing games with friends, and asking a lot of questions.

Madi Eggerding: Madi is a senior majoring in Comparative History of Ideas and Anthropology. She aspires to make the transition from interdisciplinary humanities to a graduate education in immunology. She's passionate about cross disciplinary projects, bioart, and swing dancing.

Meghna Manoj: Meghna is a sophomore currently 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.

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 -> www.golicphoto.com).

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 at Promislow Lab.

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.

Shufan Zhang: Shufan is currently a senior student at University of Washington, majoring in Physiology. She is interested in complex traits and joined the lab to experience research first hand. After graduation, she is planning to go to veterinary medicine school and continue to do research. Shufan also really likes taking her dogs hiking.