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.    



Regina Shin (Postdoctoral Fellow)



Hijai Regina Shin was born and raised in France. She then moved to South Korea and received her Ph.D at Seoul National University. Her Ph.D thesis was on the epigenetic and transcriptional regulation of autophagy.
Regina is now a postdoc at Roberto Zoncu’s lab. She is interested in nutrient sensing mechanisms by the lysosomes and their long-term effects in metabolism and health when challenged. Outside the lab, Regina enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the Bay area.




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.


  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.


Emma Sydir (Undergraduate Student)



Emma grew up in nearby San Jose, California and previously worked at the Bhaya Lab at the Carnegie Institute for Science exploring phototaxis in cyanobacteria. She is now an undergrad majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minoring in Music. At the Zoncu lab, she is interested in using in vitro systems to probe the mechanistic basis of nutrient signaling at the lysosome. Outside of lab, Emma enjoys skiing (water and snow!), playing soccer, singing, and eating good food. 



Ben Croze (Lab Specialist)


Ben Crozw Picture.jpg

Ben is a Bay Area native from Lafayette, California – located in the East Bay near Mt. Diablo. He attended the University of California, Davis where he studied Biochemical Engineering. In college, Ben also did research on a variety of topics ranging from microbiology to sleep patterns to air pollution. After graduation in June 2017, he chose to stick with the UC system and is now a lab manager/junior specialist in the Zoncu lab at Cal! Ben is interested in keeping the lab running smoothly and in pursing MCB research as it relates to drug discovery. In his spare time, Ben enjoys soccer, music of all sorts, being outdoors, trying out new coffee shops, and spending time with friends.


Marie Tofaute (Master student)


Marie Tofaute.jpg

Marie grew up in Lübeck, Germany, and moved to Munich for studying Biochemistry at the Technical University of Munich. During the master´s program “Biochemistry”, she concentrated on neurobiology and posttranslational protein modification. She gained experience in analyzing cellular signaling networks and intercellular communication while working in different TUM labs and at the Helmholtz Institute for Molecular Toxicology and Pharmacology. In October 2017, she joined the Zoncu lab for an internship and is very interested in cholesterol sensing and transport in the lysosome. Outside of the lab, she loves traveling, spending time with her friends and volunteering for international students.



Lab Alumni


Currently a Ph.D. student in the Stanford University Graduate Program



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