Z-Lab, March 2017. First row: Kelvin Cho, Roberto Zoncu, Oliver Davis, Jiayi Luo, Chun-Yan Lim, Ann Deng, Ashley Thelen, Ofer Moldavski.  Second row: Eric Schade. On the tree: Yangxue Fu, Brian Castellano, Ronja Rappold, Emma Sydir, Justin Zhang, Rosalie Lawrence.

Z-Lab, March 2017. First row: Kelvin Cho, Roberto Zoncu, Oliver Davis, Jiayi Luo, Chun-Yan Lim, Ann Deng, Ashley Thelen, Ofer Moldavski.  Second row: Eric Schade. On the tree: Yangxue Fu, Brian Castellano, Ronja Rappold, Emma Sydir, Justin Zhang, Rosalie Lawrence.

Roberto Zoncu (PI)


Roberto studied molecular biology at the University of Pisa, Italy, where he completed his undergraduate thesis on the mechanisms of asymmetric stem cell division during brain development

He then moved to Yale University to pursue a PhD in Cell Biology. Working in Pietro De Camilli’s laboratory, he used advanced microscopy and chemical genetic techniques to interrogate how a class of phospholipids known as phosphoinositides control endocytic vesicle traffic and maturation.

In 2008, he joined the laboratory of David Sabatini at the Whitehead Institute/MIT. There, he combined biochemical and microscopy-based assays to understand how lysosomes govern the signaling activity of the master growth regulator, mTORC1 kinase, and how these organelles generally function as a metabolic signaling centers.

In early 2014, Roberto became an Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology division of the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UC Berkeley. He was recently elected Pew Stewart-Scholar for Cancer Research.


Rosalie Lawrence (graduate student & NSF Fellow)


Rosalie grew up in Santa Cruz, CA and went to Swarthmore College where she majored in Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Environmental Studies, and competed with the swim team. She spent one year doing vaccine development research in Botswana prior to entered Berkeley's MCB program. She is interested in using biochemical and optical techniques to study growth signaling in mechanistic detail. In her spare time Rosalie loves being outdoors and exercising (especially when they go together), traveling, and cooking.


Brian Castellano (graduate student & HHMI Gilliam Fellow)


Originally from California, Brian grew up in Sacramento and went to San Jose State University majoring in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry. Initially planning to move to the East Coast for graduate school, Brian finally experienced a real winter during graduate school interviews and decided to stay in sunny California to pursue his graduate education in Berkeley’s MCB program. He is interested in understanding how cells determine their nutritional state to regulate anabolic and catabolic processes. In his spare time he enjoys going to the beach and trying different food around the bay area. Current favorite source of nutrients: ramen!

Ashley Thelen (graduate student & NSF Fellow)


Ashley received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she double majored in Biochemistry and Microbiology.  She worked with Professors Melanie Simpson and Joseph Barycki to investigate allosteric regulation of the metabolic enzyme UDP-glucose dehydrogenase.  Ashley joined the Zoncu Lab in 2015 and is interested in using chemical biology approaches to study nutrient sensing at the lysosome.  Outside of the lab, you can usually find her on the trails hiking or biking or in a coffee shop maximizing her daily caffeine intake. 




Oliver Davis (graduate student)


A true east coast native, Oliver grew up in Rochester, NY and from there moved to Massachusetts to attend Amherst College. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, he spent several years as a research technician in Boston, working on HIV vaccine development at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. In order to pursue advanced training in biochemistry and chemical biology, Oliver made the big move across the country to join the MCB graduate program here at Berkeley in 2014. In the Zoncu lab he is interested in investigating the mechanisms by which cells are able to sense their nutritional and metabolic states. Outside of the lab you can find Oliver enjoying the great outdoors, and rooting for the Red Sox!

Justin Zhang (graduate student)


Justin grew up in Portland, OR and did not move far for undergraduate. He went to Oregon State University majoring in biochemistry and biophysics. Justin originally wanted to move to the east coast and spent a year after college working at the NIH in D.C. He ultimately decided to come back west and joined the Berkeley MCB program in 2015. In the Zoncu lab he is interested in understanding mechanisms by which lysosomes sense and transport nutrients.

In his spare time, you can find Justin outdoors either running, hiking, or cycling. 

Joseph Paul (graduate student & NSF Fellow, jointly with Andy Dillin's lab)

Joseph earned his undergraduate degree in biology from East Carolina University where he developed tools for genome editing in plants and conducted research on the molecular mechanisms of neurodegeneration. He is now a joint student in the Zoncu and Dillin labs and is exploring how stress responses and metabolism are coordinated across different organelles and how organelle communication changes during aging. Outside of the lab he enjoys exploring the beautiful state of California and trying new food around the bay.    




Ronja Rappold (Master student)


Ronja is a German visiting Master’s student in the Zoncu Lab and will stay here until August 2017. Currently, she is enrolled in the Master’s program “Molecular Biotechnology” at the University of Heidelberg, majoring in Biophysical Chemistry. With her interest focused on the interplay of biology and physics, she enjoys studying the interactions of different proteins in the mTORC1 pathway with the help of microscopic techniques such as FRAP and single molecule imaging. During her free time Ronja loves hiking, enjoying the beach and playing with dogs.




Ofer Moldavski (National Niemann-Pick Foundation Postdoctoral fellow)


Ofer (NOT Offer) is a post-doc originally from Israel. He completed his Ph.D. in Maya Schuldiner's lab at the Weizmann Institute, where he investigated cellular homeostasis through high-throughput screens in Yeast, focusing mainly on aggregates and protein quality control. Ofer is currently interested in the regulation of nutrient transport to and from the lysosome. He loves to play with his kids and to cook with his wife.



Chun-Yan Lim (Postdoctoral fellow)


Originally from Malaysia, Chun-Yan received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from National University of Singapore (NUS). Working in the Laboratory of Metabolic Medicine at the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium under the supervision of Weiping Han, he combined live-cell TIRF microscopy and biochemical techniques to investigate how Akt signaling modulates actin remodeling to facilitate insulin-stimulated GLUT4 exocytosis. In Dec 2015, he joined the Zoncu lab as a postdoc where he is interested in dissecting new signaling nodes that convey the metabolite information in and out of the lysosome. Outside of the lab, Chun-Yan enjoys traveling, exploring food from different countries, and spending times with his loved ones.


Kelvin Cho (Undergraduate Student)


Kelvin is originally from San Francisco, CA, and is an undergraduate student majoring in Chemical Biology and minoring in Bioengineering.  Previously, he worked in the Vulpe Lab, studying silver nanowire toxicity.  In the Zoncu lab, he is interested in using biochemistry and microscopy techniques to study nutrient sensing.  Outside of the lab, Kelvin enjoys traveling, watching sitcoms, and trying to ‘cook’ (still a work in progress).   




Yangxue Fu (Master Student)


Yangxue is a visiting Master’s student in the Zoncu lab. She grew up in China and went to Bochum University in Germany for her undergraduate studies. She is currently enrolled in the master’s program “Biochemistry” at Heidelberg University, Germany. She worked at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and DKFZ in Heidelberg, where she gained experience in protein purification and investigations of protein-protein interactions. Since Jan. 2017, Yangxue joined the Zoncu lab and is very interested in exploring the mechanisms by which cells sense their amino acid status through binding of the mTORC1 kinase to lysosome surface. Outside of the lab, she loves traveling, fitness, playing piano and violin.





Lab Alumni

Marlies ludikhuize (master's student, utrecht university)

Currently a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Boudewijn Burgering (University of Utrecht)


Christian bindesboll (visiting postdoctoral fellow, university of oslo)


Anna Thrun (master's student, freie university berlin)

Currently a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Claudio Joazeiro (Heidelberg University)


kasper kommeren (master's student, utrecht university)


BOB van EIJKEREN(master's student, utrecht university)

Currently a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Eric Kalkhoven (University of Utrecht)


Reini van der Welle(master's student, utrecht university)

Currently a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Judith Klumpermann (University of Utrecht)



Lab Time Lapse:

Z-Lab, May 2016

Z-Lab, May 2016

Z-Lab, January 2016

Z-Lab, January 2016

Z-Lab, July 2015

Z-Lab, July 2015

Z-Lab, September 2014

Z-Lab, September 2014

Z-Lab, May 2014

Z-Lab, May 2014