Messer Lab — People

Philipp W. Messer

Principal Investigator

Headshot_2Philipp studied Physics and Human Physiology at the University of Cologne. After obtaining his Diploma in Theoretical Physics under the supervision of Michael Lassig, he pursued a doctorate with Martin Vingron and Peter Arndt at the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. He received his PhD in Computational Biology (summa cum laude) from the Department of Mathematics at the Free University Berlin. For his postdoc, Philipp worked in Dmitri Petrov’s lab at Stanford as a Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) long-term postdoctoral fellow. In 2014, he joined the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University as an Assistant Professor. Research in Philipp’s lab centers on improving our understanding of the fundamental processes that govern molecular evolution. Download CV

Benjamin C. Haller

Scientific Programmer

Benjamin C. Haller works in the Messer Lab as a Scientific Programmer/Analyst, primarily on the SLiM forward genetic simulation package. He obtained his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from McGill University in 2013. Prior to his doctoral studies, Ben was as a software engineer and worked for many years at Apple. For more information, including academic publications and detailed CV, visit his website at:

Jackson Champer

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Picture.jpgJackson Champer is creating and modeling gene drive systems, which enable a genetic payload to spread through a population even when imposing a fitness cost on its host organism. Results so far indicate that resistance alleles are the limiting factor in the effectiveness of gene drives. He is interested in novel methods to control vector borne disease and hopes that gene drive will become a cost-effective approach to address this problem. Jackson received a M.S. in physics from UCLA and a Ph.D. from the City of Hope Graduate School of Biological Sciences. He joined the Messer lab at Cornell in May 2016. For more information, including academic publications and detailed CV, visit his website at:

Nathan Oakes

Graduate Student

NateNathan is a PhD student in Computational Biology, where he leverages his background in electrical engineering and software development to investigate population genetics questions through modeling and development/support of high performance simulation and analysis software. He is interested in questions about complex and dynamical systems in general, and about fundamental processes involved in evolution and adaptation specifically. Nathan joined the lab in summer 2016.

Ian Caldas

Graduate Student

IMG_1362.jpgIan is a PhD student in the field of Computational Biology. He is interested in exploring the signatures that past and ongoing evolutionary processes leave in genotypes and phenotypes of species. His goal is leveraging data science, statistics, and computational tools to develop new methods of detecting such signatures. He is currently focused on identifying and classifying selective sweeps in populations relevant to conservation, agriculture, and medicine. Ian joined the lab in fall 2017.

Anna Maria Langmüller

Visiting Graduate Student

portrait (1).jpgAnna is a PhD student in Christian Schlötterer’s lab at the Institute of Population Genetics of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. In her PhD project, she investigates the genomic response and dynamics of experimental Drosophila populations evolving to new temperature regimes. During her stay in the Messer lab, Anna wants to assess the potential fitness costs of CRISPR gene drive constructs in Drosophila, using cage evolution experiments and computational analyses. Anna joined the lab in August 2018.

Runxi Chen

Graduate Student

IMG_1519Runxi is a PhD student studying Computational Biology at Cornell. As an undergraduate, he studied Applied Mathematics at UCLA, where he started to gradually switch his interest towards applying mathematics in the biological field. His current research focuses on detecting and localizing pesticide resistance alleles in mosquitoes through a novel QTL mapping method called bulk segregant analysis, and more generally to build up computational and mathematical models for exploring population genetics. He also has broad interests in different kinds of sports, including basketball, badminton, swimming, hiking, paddle board, etc. Runxi joined the lab in summer 2018.

Mitchell Lokey

Graduate Student

photo_mitch.jpgMitch is a PhD student in the Genetics, Genomics, & Development program at Cornell, co-advised by Philipp Messer and Andy Clark. During his undergrad at the University of Utah, Mitch estimated rates and timing of archaic admixture with Prof Alan Rogers. Currently he is studying the molecular basis of deleterious variants in humans and the evolutionary dynamics of such variants from a population genetic framework. Mitch joined the lab May 2019.

Samuel Champer

Graduate Research Assistant / Programmer

photo_sam.jpgSam is a research programmer in the Messer lab. He is working to create high fidelity gene-drive models and is interested in exploring the dynamics of large-scale populations modeled in realistic spaces. Computational modeling of these dynamics must be mastered before any real-world release of life-saving or habitat-restoring gene-drive systems can be considered. Chief among his tools are C++, Python, and the SLiM evolutionary framework. Sam is pleased to be conducting his research as a joint effort with his brother, Jackson. Sam joined the lab in Summer of 2018.

Isabel Kim

Undergraduate Student

IMG_0978.jpgIsabel is a sophomore majoring in Biometry and Statistics with a concentration in Statistical Genomics and a minor in Applied Economics. She is interested in modeling gene drive scenarios using SLiM. On campus, Isabel is a member of the Korean American Student Association and Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity. Isabel joined the lab in September 2018.

Lin Xie

Undergraduate Student

photo_lin.jpgLin is a junior majoring in Biometry and Statistics. She is interested in modeling gene drives using SLiM and math/statistical modeling. On campus, she is part of Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity, and Cornell Statistics Club. She joined the lab in September 2018.

Sandra Lapinska

Undergraduate Student

photo_sandra.JPGSandra is a junior majoring in Biometry and Statistics with a concentration in Computer Science and a minor in Business. She is studying the dynamics of Drosophila populations and modeling gene drive systems in SLiM. At Cornell, Sandra is involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a coed service fraternity. She is also a CALS Ambassador and Biometry Peer advisor working closely with prospective and current Cornell students. Sandra joined the lab in November 2018.

Matthew Metzloff

Undergraduate Student

photo_matt2.jpgMatt is a sophomore majoring in biological engineering with a focus in synthetic biology. He is testing new gene drive constructs, working towards improved efficiency and reduced resistance allele formation. On campus, he is involved in rock climbing and the recreational fencing club. Matt joined the lab in spring 2019.

Former members:

Jingxian “Clara” Liu: Undergraduate Honors Student
Andrew Vaughn: Undergraduate Honors Student
Yineng Xu: Graduate Rotation Student (GGD)
Hongya Zhu: Graduate Rotation Student (GGD)
Shagun Gupta: Graduate Rotation Student (CB)
Joanna Zhao: Undergraduate Student
Anisha Luthra: Undergraduate Student
Runyang “Nicolas” Lou: Graduate Rotation Student (NR)
Andrew Marderstein: Undergraduate Honors Student
Henry Kunerth: Graduate Rotation Student (EEB)
Aaron Sams: Postdoctoral Research Associate
Lucas Ducrot: Undergraduate Student
Ying Qiao: Graduate Rotation Student (CB)
Antoine Barthelet: Graduate Rotation Student (CB)
Rebecca Stambler: Undergraduate Student
Andy Ding: Graduate Rotation Student (GGD)
Florencia Schlamp: Graduate Rotation Student (GGD)
Jamal Elkhader: Graduate Rotation Student (Tri-I CBM)
Manisha Munasinghe: Graduate Rotation Student (CB)
Madeline Kwicklis: Undergraduate Student
Lewis Chesebrough: Undergraduate Student
Julian van der Made: Graduate Research Assistant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s