Gokcumen Lab Team

We are curiosity-driven scholars from various disciplines.

Professor, PI

Omer received his Ph.D. at University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Theodore Schurr and studied with Dr. Charles Lee at Harvard Medical School in Harvard Medical School before establishing the laboratory. He is interested all things evolution and anthropology.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Charikleia received her PhD from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, studying polymorphic inversions in Drosophila subobscura. She is particularly interested in genome structure evolution and the mechanisms underlying structural variant formation. She aspires to identify and characterize structurally complex regions genome-wide across different primates.

Ph.D. Candidate, Departmental Fellow

Petar’s work is tied to understanding how novel structural variants, “variable number tandem repeats” in particular, can create/change gene function. He is generally curious on how common structural variants contribute to evolution and disease susceptibility. Read More

Ph.D. Candidate, Presidential Fellow, CAS Dissertation Fellow

Alber received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). He is interested in the evolution of structural variants in humans.

Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Sciences

Kendra graduate from the University of California, San Diego with a dual degrees in Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology and Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution along with a minor in Chinese Studies. She is primarily interested in diet related gene by environment interactions across human populations. Her current work involves describing the copy number variation of salivary amylase, a starch digesting enzyme, across human populations.

Ph.D. Student, Biological Sciences

Luane has a B.Sc. in Biology (2020) and a Ms. in Genetics and Evolution (2022) from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil. She is now a second year Ph.D. student interested on the evolution of gene expression. Particularly, she works with sex-specific and and strain-specific gene expression evolution in salivary glands of mice.

Undergraduate Researcher (UB) Biological Sciences

Valentina works on mucin genetic variation and is the main reason why our laboratory is clean and functinal.

Undergraduate Researcher (UB) Biological Sciences

Lindsey is a sophomore majoring in Biomedical Sciences who is working with salivary samples of humans and the digital PCR to determine the copy number variation of AMY1 in Andean populations.

Undergraduate Researcher, (UB) Biological Sciences

Sarah is working on bioinformatically annotating variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) copy number variation in mucin genes across different primate species. Her efforts are leading to understanding how these mucus-making genes evolve in the primate lineage. In parallel, Sarah is conducting ddPCR experiments to estimate copy numbers of certain genes, and is also training in Oxford Nanopore long-read sequencing techniques.


Postdoctoral Fellows

2017 – 2020

Dr. Marie Saitou (she/her/hers) – (was an Astellas Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow). Assistant Professor at Center for Integrative Genetics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Her lab webpage is here: https://sites.google.com/view/saitou-lab/home

2014 – 2016

Supervised DNA sequencing facility of the Biofuel project that housed Ion Torrent PGM, ABI 3500 Genetic Analyzer, Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer, ABI Veriti Thermal Cyclers and related equipment. Now a Senior postdoctoral fellow at Lachance Laboratory at Georgia Tech.

Ph.D. Students


Ozgur Taskent (Ph.D. 2019) – Now a postdoctoral fellow in the Tatiana Giraud Lab at University of Paris, Sud.


Andre Campelo Dos Santos (Visiting, Ph.D. 2020) – Currently a PostDoc at Miami International University at Degiorgio Lab.


Yen Lung ‘Onta’ Lin (Ph.D. 2019) – Now a postdoctoral fellow in the Barreiro Lab at the University of Chicago


Duo ‘Erica’ Xu (Ph.D., 2018) – Now a postdoctoral fellow in the Khurana Lab at Weill Cornell


Skyler Resendez (Ph.D. 2019) – Now a postdoctoral fellow in the Peter Elkin lab at UB.

Starr used computational modeling to investigate how microbes that live on the skin influence how a person’s genes are expressed, and how that in turn affects immunity. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35154781/

M.Sc. Students

Maddie worked on Neanderthal and Denisovan structural variations. She is currently a bioinformatician in UB Sequencing core.

Achisha worked on salivary gland transcriptome evolution in mice. She is now a bioinformatics researcher in UT Southwestern Medical Center in Houston.

2017 – 2018

John Sebastiani (M.S., 2018) – Now a Ph.D. student at the University of Miami

Undergraduate Researchers


Benjamin Stein (B.S. 2022) – Now @GWU anthropology


Maddie Bartz (B.S. 2021) – Now @M.S. Student at UB Bio


Megan Dwyer (B.S., 2020) – Now @ Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions.


Umair Syed (B.S., 2021) – now an undergraduate researcher in the Feltri Lab at UB Med.


Therese Wild (B.S., 2021) – Now an undergraduate researcher in the Lin chemistry lab at UB


Kirsten Dean (B.S., 2019) – Now a Research Scientist I at AMRI in Buffalo

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