Principal Investigator

Jeremy Wideman

I was trained as a cell biologist investigating mitochondrial protein import in Frank Nargang’s lab at the University of Alberta. I feel at home in the land of protein extractions, differential centrifugation, and western blots. My postdoctoral research with Joel Dacks took me into the brave new world of protist genomics and eukaryotic evolution and diversity. An EMBO long-term fellowship sent me to Exeter, UK with Tom Richards where my long-term infatuation with LECA began to deepen and solidify. I was also introduced to the pleasures of single-cell genomics of heterotrophic flagellates and the incredible benefits of British ale. Prior to coming to ASU, I engaged in pleasant argumentation with Ford Doolittle about the concept of function in biology on this side of the Atlantic, at Dalhousie in Halifax. Here at ASU, my goal is to synthesize my scientific and philosophical interests into a single research program aimed at uncovering a cell biological understanding of eukaryotic diversity. Therefore, my research program combines cell and molecular biology with evolutionary genomics and protistology in order to explain the similarities and differences observed across eukaryote diversity.

Research Associate

Pak Poon

Back in the paleolithic, I basically invented Saccharomyces – you’re welcome. As a pioneer of the molecular era, I cut my teeth with the membrane trafficking system. If you say ARF!, I say to which membrane and at what time. Although I have dabbled in evolution in the past, I have never considered myself an evolutionary biologist… until now. In the Wideman lab, I lead a number of projects capitalizing on my past experience in molecular biology, cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry. Primarily, I am using the yeast system to investigate how eukaryotic ATP synthases and mitochondrial protein import apparatuses have evolved and diversified. In addition, I am developing spatial proteomics methods for various eukaryotic species.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dagmar (Dasa) Jirsová

I'm a postdoc in Wideman's newly growing kingdom. Besides the passion for science, I also have a very particular set of skills that come in very handy during the fieldwork. My projects are focused on making the impossible a reality. Pioneering my way through finding the optimal conditions for protist cultivation, adapting and improving protocols, and on a hunt to discover new and corky representatives of heterotrophic stramenopiles.

PhD Student

Timothy Licknack

I'm a Ph.D. Candidate interested in evolutionary cell biology. I grew up in New Jersey, graduating from Stockton University with a B.S. in Biology. I did post-graduate work studying the genetics of heart-disease in fast-growing broilers before joining the Center for Mechanisms of Evolution with Michael Lynch. I'm now jointly in the Lynch and Wideman Labs as my work has recently centered around mapping the sub-cellular proteome of Paramecium tetraurelia (and potentially more unicellular eukaryotes). I'm interested mainly in the evolution of duplicate genes and how spatial proteomics can be used to detect changes in localization patterns between paralogous and orthologous proteins.

High School Volunteer

Savar Sinha

In my spare time I like to meander Python and R scripts in a never-ending quest for computational satisfaction. When I am not investigating the evolutionary diversity of eukaryotic electron transport chains and ATP synthase, I am probably eating or sleeping. Sometimes I also play video games or attend auxiliary meetings about the prokaryotic origins of mitochondria. As the youngest member of the Wideman lab, at 16 I only have a single publication to my name, but I am working on increasing that number.

Undergraduate Student

Rohan Singh

I really did not know what I was getting into when I entered the Wideman lab. At first, I was looking into the mitochondrial genomes of Picozoans, then I was looking at mitochondrial fission in S. cerevisiae, and now I am looking into the evolution of non-vesicular lipid transport in eukaryotes. As a junior, I already have one co-authorship under review and am working on my own project for eventual publication. I am currently investigating the evolutionary history of the oxysterol binding proteins (OSBPs). So far, I have demonstrated that five OSBPs were present in the ancestor of fungi and six OSBPs were present in the ancestor of animals. Of these one in each of animals and fungi were previously unknown. To investigate the specific function of these newly found OSBPs I will use S. cerevisiae as a heterologous expression system.

Undergraduate Student

Kourtney Quiel

Eukaryogenesis is as mysterious as my natural hair color. Seriously, mitochondria late or early has nothing on green, pink, blue, or purple. I jest; but seriously, I joined the Wideman lab as a junior just prior to the COVID shutdown. I was originally going to investigate the diversity of heterotrophic flagellates in Tempe town lake, but after lockdown my research pivoted towards a phylogenomic analysis of previously sequenced heterotrophic flagellate single amplified genomes (SAGs). Over the course of 2020, I became adept at bioinformatic analysis and phylogenomically determine that a particular SAG was an unknown cercozoan rhizarian. In my final term, I have been finalizing a dataset and manuscript reporting five SAGs and a bioinformatic pipeline for placing them into the context of eukaryotic diversity.

Undergraduate Students

Jordan Marshall

Ever since I joined the lab, I have been clawing my way back to favourability due to an ill-received joke about not liking science. My lack of foresight has now chained me to an undergraduate degree of servitude and penance before I embrace my true calling and pursue a career in medicine. My fascination with mitochondria began shortly after I was introduced to their existence. Although they are famously called the ‘powerhouses of the cell’, their cell biology is much more interesting. For example, mitochondria are dynamic organelles, constantly moving, fusing, and dividing. Although the mechanism of mitochondrial fission is well understood in both animals and fungi, how mitochondria fuse in other eukaryotes is unknwon. In the Wideman lab, I am investigating the evolution of mitochondrial fusion by expressing putative fusogens from diverse eukaryotic lineages in yeast.

Undergraduate Students

Kamawela Leka

Since I am an engineer by training, I believe that life is a mysterious phenomenon that can only be explained by magical forces – only kidding! While taking Jeremy’s course on Advanced Cell Biology, I fell into the trap of mitochondrial cell biology and evolution. In the Wideman lab, my research is focused on determining the evolutionary history of TOM (translocase of the mitochondrial outer membrane) complex phosphorylation. In both animals and fungi, TOM complex receptors are phosphorylated; however, it is unclear if post-translational modification is an ancestral or convergent trait. My bioinformatic analyses will uncover the similarities and differences between TOM complex phosphorylation in animals and fungi, while also determining if this phenomenon is present in other eukaryotic lineages.

Undergraduate Students

Daniel Richardson

Hi! I’m Daniel Richardson, and I grew up in the metropolis of Thatcher, Arizona before attending Arizona State University. I’m currently studying Biological Sciences, and minoring in Communication. I’m excited to be a part of the Wideman Lab! For my research, I am investigating mitochondrial fission and fusion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Undergraduate Student

Stephanie Larson

My plan A in life is to star in a Broadway production of Oklahoma!, my plan B is to become a medical doctor. In the meantime, I am doing research into the evolution and diversification of eukaryotic cholesterol transport. Specifically, I am investigating the function of TSPO (translocator protein), which, in animals, plays a role in steroidogenesis and cholesterol transport into mitochondrial membranes. Steroidogenesis and cholesterol are animal-specific traits, but TSPO is present in diverse eukaryotes suggesting that its function may be important for sterol transport and metabolism in general. First, I will bioinformatically map the presence and absence of TSPO and associated proteins across the eukaryotic lineages. Second, I will express Homo sapiens and Neurospora crassa TSPO in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to determine its cell biological and biochemical affects.

Undergraduate Student

Jessica Oswalt

I proudly bring the youngest member to lab meetings. Little Stephanie…or is it young Stephanie? – Big, old Stephanie has not weighed in on the moniker yet. Jokes aside, my research in the Wideman lab involves the ER-mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES), a multi-protein complex with multiple functions. ERMES acts as a tether between the ER and mitochondria at membrane contact sites (MCSs). I am currently investigating the phyletic distribution of Emr1, a very small protein recently implicated in the regulation of ERMES function.

Past Members

Sergio A. Muñoz-Gómez

Current Position: EMBO Long-term Fellow with the DEEM team at Paris-Sud University