Lab Members

I'm a title. ​Click here to edit me.

Doaha Awad

My name is Doaha Awad. I am a junior majoring in Biology (B.S.) and minoring in Chemistry and Psychology and I aspire to attend medical school in the future. I am originally from the Bronx, NY, but moved to Charlotte, NC, a couple of years ago. I joined Dr. Afonin’s lab because I was interested in research, specifically in the field of Biochemistry, but also because his work with RNA nanotechnology was very fascinating and I wanted to learn more. Through my experience in Dr. Afonin’s lab, I have developed more of an interest and appreciation in research and am excited to continue research in the lab.

Sandra Arroyo-Becker

Hey there! My name is Sandra Arroyo-Becker and I grew up in Miami, FL. I initially began my undergraduate career at the University of South Carolina and transferred to UNC Charlotte in order to pursue a B.S. in Chemistry (Biochemistry concentration) as well as a B.A. in French Literature and Language. While working on my undergraduate degrees, I have had the opportunity to conduct research at institutions both abroad (Institut Pasteur, Paris, France) and local (UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC). Throughout my experiences, I have ameliorated my capabilities as a researcher and have acquired newfound interests (i.e. RNA nanotechnology). By working in the Afonin lab, it is my goal to continue this development to better prepare myself for future graduate studies.

Dana Elasmar

My name is Dana Elasmar. I was born in Amman, Jordan, and moved to North Carolina at a young age and have lived here ever since. As a junior, pursuing a BA in biology a UNCC my goal is to attend PA school and enter the medical field to use my knowledge as a way to help people. Being given the opportunity to work in Dr. Afonin’s lab increased my level of interest and appreciation to the field of research, as well as assisting me in expanding my knowledge and understanding the importance of RNA Nanotechnology.

Nguyen Truong

My name is Nguyen (Rosalie) Truong. I was born in Vietnam and moved to the U.S. in the summer of 2012. I graduated from Leonardtown High School in Hollywood, MD and moved to NC to pursue a B.S. in Biology, B.A. in Chemistry, and a minor in Biotechnology at UNC Charlotte. After I graduate, I hope to attend dental school and become an orthodontist.&nbsp;This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work in Dr. Afonin’s lab. His research&nbsp;will surely prove to be an excellent platform for me to establish my research skills and knowledge in RNA nanoscience.</span></span></p>

Leyla Danai-noldner

<p class="font_8">Hello! My name is Leyla and I am a senior pursuing a B.S. in Biology with a minor in political science. Originally from Germany, I have lived most of my life in Raleigh, NC. I began my undergraduate experience here at UNCC in 2017 and upon graduating, I plan to continue my research in nucleic acid nanotechnology as a PhD student in Dr. Afonin’s lab.</p>

Lizzie Stassenko

<p class="font_7" style=""><span style=""><span style="font-weight:normal">My name is Lizzie Stassenko, and I have lived most of my life here, in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am currently a sophomore student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Biology (BS) and Sociology (BA) with a minor in Chemistry. Eager to gain research experience, I joined Dr. Afonin’s lab the summer before my freshman year at UNC, where I ended up developing a passion for nanoscale science that I plan to apply to my future career as a physician. Researching RNA therapeutics in the Afonin Lab has inspired me to pursue an MD/</span></span><span style="font-weight:normal"><span style="">PhD</span></span><span style=""><span style="font-weight:normal"> degree after graduating, as I plan to continue clinical research after medical school.</span></span></p>

Melina Richardson

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style=""><span style="">My name is Melina Richardson. I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and moved to Charlotte during the summer of &nbsp;in 2015. After graduating South Mecklenburg High School, I began pursuing a B.S. in Biology with minors in statistics and bioinformatics. After graduation, I hope to enter a PhD program in Microbiology and Virology.</span></span></p>

Allison Tran

<p class="font_8" style=""><span style=""><span style="">My name is Allison (Ally) Tran. I was born in Ho Chi Minh City and came to the U.S. when I was five years old. Since then, my family has lived in many different states, but I finally ended up in Charlotte the summer of 2016. I'm currently a sophomore at UNC Charlotte pursuing a degree in Biology (B.S.) with minors in Biotechnology and Criminal Justice. Working in Dr. Afonin's lab helped me realize my strong passion for research and how excited I am about the idea of exploring new, break-through science. After I graduate, I plan to attend medical school and then complete my PhD in order to continue with clinical research.</span></span></p>

Jonathan Black

<p class="font_8"><strong>My name is Jonathan Black. I’m a North Carolinian through and through. After recently returning to the Charlotte area, I am pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry at UNCC. Upon completing my undergraduate degree, I plan to pursue an MD/PhD, where I can combine my passions of science and service to my community.</strong></p>

Jay Shah

My name is Jay Shah. I am currently a senior at UNC Charlotte. Originally, I am from Fayetteville, NC. I am pursuing a major in health systems management, but my focus is pre-med. I joined Dr. Afonin’s lab in hopes of gaining more experience with scientific research. By working in this lab, I hope to gain more knowledge on nanotechnology. My goal is to one day do clinical research with the purpose of improving the quality of other’s lives.

Doctoral Researchers

Graduate Students