Principal Investigator

Christopher T. Nomura, Ph.D.

Christopher (Chris) Nomura was born in East L.A. and grew up in Southern California, spending time between East and South Central Los Angeles. He got his B.A. with honor in Biology from UC Santa Cruz where he studied elephant seal immunology and physiology in the laboratory of Dr. C. Leo Ortiz. He received his Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University where he studied cyanobacterial physiology and electron transport proteins in the lab of Dr. Donald A. Bryant. Chris did his post-doctoral work in Japan in the Polymer Chemistry Laboratory at The RIKEN Institute under the supervision of Dr. Yoshiharu Doi. Chris is currently an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY-ESF.

The Group

Ben Lundgren Postdoctoral Fellow

After several years of training and competing in the Alaskan Iditarod, which he valiantly won back in 2003, Ben decided it was time to fulfill his other dream of becoming a professional biochemist. Most of his time is now spent on understanding and re-wiring bacterial metabolism for the production of high-valued biomolecules, including polyhydroxyalkanoates, polysaccharides, etc. This research not only focuses on developing cost-effective fermentation routes for these compounds but also provides insight into the biosynthesis of these molecules in the native organisms.

Ata Pinto Postdoctoral Fellow

Former Venezuelan and Pan-American curling champion. Took a special participation medal in Vancouver 2010 and I am hoping to better my record and represent my country and the South American subcontinent in Sochi 2014. The sky’s the limit!

Dr. Pinto’s work in the Nomura Lab will mainly deal with the synthesis and characterization of folic acid analogs to decorate PHAU polymer nanoparticles and employ as a biodegradable carrier for site-specific drug delivery.

Lucia Salamanca-Cardona Graduate Student

Lucia is a graduate student working on characterization and optimization of cellulases and xylanases from S. coelicolor. The current focus of the research is the manipulation of B. subitlis for the expression of cellulose and hemicellulose degrading enzymes to be optimized and used in efficient biofuel production, as well as an easy carbon source for bacterial PHA production.

Xian Wang Graduate Student

Xian is Chemistry graduate student who is interested in medium chain length polyhydroxyalkanoates (MCL-PHA) synthesis from different carbon sources. Recently her work is focusing on developing an optimal condition for producing novel MCL-PHA. Xian is also developing methodologies to detect pharmaceutical compounds in waste water. Outside of work, she likes singing, playing the flute, and reading.

Alex Levine Graduate Student

Alex is a Biochemistry graduate student who graduated from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. His research interests involve bioplastics and material applications. Currently, he is working on the chemical modification of polyhydroxyalkanoates to produce novel biopolymers geared toward biomedical research. These new materials may one day replace traditional plastics in hospitals through the incorporation of antibacterial or regenerative effects.

Outside the lab, Alex is a classically trained musician (bassoon) and an avid tennis player. He also enjoys building computers and warm weather.

Tiffany Brookins-Little Undergraduate Student

Tiffany Brookins-Little is a senior at SUNY-ESF majoring in Biotechnology with minors in Microscopy and Writing. This is her first year working in Dr. Nomura’s research group and she is excited to learn new techniques. Outside of the lab, Tiffany enjoys reading, baking treats and singing Italian classical music.

Angelina Sparano Undergraduate Student

Angelina Sparano is a senior Biochemistry major who after obtaining an associate’s degree in math and science from SUNY OCC transferred to SUNY ESF for her junior and senior years. Her senior research focuses on the characterization of polyhydroxyalkanoate-based electrospun fibers.

Michael Grassa Undergraduate Student

Michael is a senior biotechnology student major from Long Island, New York. He enjoys a plethora of outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, and kayaking. In the lab he studies Pseudomonas aeruginosa metabolic pathways. After his time at ESF he hopes to attend dental school and eventually open a private general dentistry practice.

Brandon Meyers Undergraduate Student

Brandon is a freshman Biotechnology major, minoring in Chemistry who enjoys practicing martial arts, running, and studying science.

Jack Ganley Undergraduate Student

Jack is a junior Biochemistry and Natural Products Chemistry major and has been working in the Nomura lab since his freshman year. Currently, Jack is developing a sonication process to efficiently sheer bacterial DNA. Outside of the lab, Jack enjoys competing in strength and endurance competitions and staying active. After completing his undergrad, Jack plans on going to graduate school to continue his studies in biochemistry.

Josh Harris Undergraduate Student

Josh is a senior Biotechnology and Chemistry double major. He is currently investigating 3-hydroxybutyrate metabolism in P. aeruginosa.

Joe Shoytush Undergraduate Student

After witnessing a gruesome crime in 2010, “Joe” was placed in the witness protection program having to give up a promising career as a professional cricket player. This is when he decided to pursue biotechnology at ESF. He has been working in Dr. Nomura’s lab for about two years now. The most recent project that he has undertaken is the role of the gene aauR in the biosynthesis of pyoverdine in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. After graduating, he hopes to stay at ESF working for his masters in biochemistry under Dr. Nomura.

Morgan Connolly Undergraduate Student

Morgan Connolly is a senior in Environmental Biology with a minor in Chemistry. She works in the lab on producing knock-out mutants in both human and plant pathogenic bacteria. Outside the lab, she is very engaged in the musical groups on campus. She directs the ESF A Cappella group and co-directs the show choir.

Seamus McKenney Undergraduate Student

Seamus is a sophomore at SUNY ESF majoring in biotechnology. He just started working in the lab this year, and hopes to learn many new and applicable techniques. He enjoys genetic engineering in particular and hopes to continue in the lab with his own project in that field in the future. Outside of the lab, Seamus enjoys fishing, video games and playing basketball.

Ryan Scheel Undergraduate Student

Ryan is a senior in Environmental Biology with a dual minor in Chemistry and Biotechnology. He started working in the Nomura lab during the second of six semesters here, and is continuing some of former graduate student Ryan Tappel’s work on novel strains of E. coli. Although he enjoys tinkering with bacterial organisms, his real passion is to work with plants in some way, combining field work with his growing experience and laboratory techniques. Perhaps its just because they usually smell better.

Chris Esworthy Undergraduate Student

Chris is a junior Biotechnology major with a minor in Chemistry and is on the pre-medicine track. He has been working with the Nomura Research Group since the Spring of his sophomore year. Currently in the lab, Chris is working on a project involving gene deletions from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Outside of the lab, Chris enjoys staying active and going to the gym. After graduating from ESF, Chris plans on going to medical school to obtain his M.D.


Ryan Tappel Alumnus

Ryan received his Ph.D. in 2013 and he is currently a postdoc in Pat Mather’s group at Syracuse University.

Wenyang Pan Alumnus

Pan received his Ph.D. in 2013 and he is currently a postdoc in Pat Mather’s group at Syracuse University. His current research is to construct a novel shape-memory polymeric composite. In his spare time, He enjoys hiking and playing basketball. He is a huge fan of the Syracuse University Basketball Team. Let’s go Orange!

Leticia Izquierdo Alumna

Leticia finished her MPS degree in December 2013.

Mike Cook Alumnus

Mike is currently a graduate student at SUNY ESF.

Diana Dunn Alumna

Diana graduated in 2013 with a BS degree in Biotechnology. Diana is currently a 1st year graduate student at Upstate Medical University right here in Syracuse. She is doing lab rotations to figure out where she will do her Ph.D. research.

Chris Ashe Alumnus

Chris graduated with a BS in Biotechnology in 2013. Chris is currently working at the University of Georgia, Athens bioconversion plant.

Ivory Patterson Alumna

Ivory was an REU student in the lab. She is currently working at The Ohio State University, through Discovery PREP (Post-baccalaureate Research Experience Program) as a research intern focusing on reducing metastasis and angiogenesis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

Graham Heberlig Alumnus

Graham graduated in 2013 with a BS in Chemistry. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Ottawa in the lab of Chris Boddy.

Katie McKissick Alumna

Katie graduated in 2012 with a BS in Biotechnology. Since graduating Katie has earned her American Society of Clinical Pathologists certification. She is currently working for Laboratory Alliance at St. Joseph’s Hospital as a Medical Laboratory Technologist. Graduate school will come someday, but right now she enjoys the working life!

Jason Kucharski Alumnus

Jason graduated in 2012 with a degree in Bioprocess Engineering. He is currently a reliability engineer at Georgia-Pacific.

Joe Gredder Alumnus

Joe received his BS in Biotechnology in 2010. He is currently a Process Development Engineer at Metabolix.

Frederick Twigg Alumnus

Frederick was a summer REU student in the lab in 2013. After graduating from Tulane, he is working as a lead chemical engineer for Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies in New Orleans.

Masami Nonaka Alumnus

Masami graduated with a BS in Biotechnology in 2010.

Alex Mottern Alumnus

Alex graduated with a BS in Chemistry in 2012. He is currently working as an Environmental Technician in Portland, OR. Alex still enjoys playing Frisbee-golf and basketball while secretly working on opening his own nanobrewery.

Chengjun Zhu Alumnus

Chengjun received his Ph.D. in Biology in 2011. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher in
Anthony Garza’s lab at Syracuse University.

Alex Mueller Alumnus

Alex graduated with his M.S. in Biochemistry in 2011. He is currently a scientist at LanzaTech.

Qin Wang Alumna

Qin graduated with her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2012. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher
in David Kaplan’s lab at Tufts University.


Hoa Nguyen Alumna

Hoa is a Biochemistry alumna from SUNY-ESF. Her research involved protein engineering of Escherichia coli through cloning, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and transformation to produce recombinant bacteria strains that will produce polyhydroxyalkanoates. Currently, she is working towards her Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

Greg Boyd Alumnus

Gregory D. Boyd graduated in December 2007 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biotechnology. Greg is currently an assistant scientist with the SEA program. During the 2.5 years he spent here at SUNY-ESF he has made many contributions to the college. One of his biggest accomplishments is the Biodiesel Demonstration facility he had set up and operated. Since the project began the school is now fueling their fleet vehicles on B20 produced on campus. His hobbies include adventuring of any sort…

Matthew Martino Alumnus

Matthew graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from SUNY-ESF (Natural and Synthetic Polymers option) with a minor in Entrepreneurship from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. He is currently a scientist at Metabolix, Inc.

Erica Hansen Alumna

Erica graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Outside of the lab Erica loves watching SU basketball and she always hopes that they make the NCAA tournament. Currently Erica is a technician in Dr. Frederick Alt’s Laboratory at the Immune Disease Institute.

Jackie Mueller Alumna

Jackie graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from SUNY-ESF. She keeps herself busy outside the lab through dancing tap, jazz, modern, and hip-hop, swimming, TAing and tutoring chemistry, working in a student dining hall, cooking, and traveling the world. Jackie is currently in a doctoral program at the University of Hawaii working with Dr. Grieg Steward on marine viruses.

Jingnan Lu Alumna

Jingnan graduated from SUNY-ESF with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Jingnan is currently a graduate student at M.I.T. in the lab of Dr. Anthony Sinskey. Jingnan has a wide variety of interests such as reading forensic science, singing, playing piano, performing in musicals, playing cards, playing GO, making coffee drinks, swimming, collecting foreign coins and stamps, complaining, and making people laugh.

Ben Murphy Alumnus

Ben graduated from SUNY-ESF with a B.S. in Biochemistry and is now in Officer Candidate School. Hobbies include: Exercise, football, socializing, people watching, meditation, reading on psychology, religion, and sales.

Dan Nicholson Advisor

Dan is a quasi-Graduate Student in Bioprocess Engineering and a part-time Research Support Technician in the Chemistry Department. His research interests are Biofuels, alternative chemical feedstocks, and the re-engineering of biowaste into useful products.

Group Gallery