Kim Laboratory

Principal Investigator

Research Assistant Professor

Postdoctoral Associate

Graduate Students

  • Luke Helminiak, B.S., Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
  • I received my B.S. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. I then went and worked at the Next Generation Sequencing Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN. For my dissertation, I study Rickettsia pathogenesis with a focus on hemolysin secretion and function. Following my graduation, I aim to work on infectious disease diagnostics and have the opportunity to have a direct role in helping patients. Thus, my goal is to work as a Laboratory Director in a clinical microbiology laboratory. I have a love of sports, and enjoy running, basketball, snowboarding, and archery. During my down time, I love listening to music and watching movies.

    E-mail: luke.helminiak at
  • Smruti Mishra, M.S., Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
  • I am from Bhubaneshwar, India. I did my bachelor’s in Dental Surgery from Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences, India and my MS in Molecular Biosciences from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. While at ACPHS I worked in Dr. Meenakshi Malik’s lab using an in vitro bioreactor infection model to study the evolution of daptomycin resistance in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. For my PhD thesis I am working on understanding the contribution of polysaccharide synthesis operon on tick-borne rickettsiosis as well as its role in shaping host immunity. My research interests lie in the field of bacterial pathogenesis and infectious diseases, specifically in understanding the host-pathogen interactions and molecular mechanisms involved in the same. In my free time I love travelling and exploring new places with my husband and learning to cook new Indian dishes. I enjoy watching movies and dancing as well.

    E-mail: smruti.mishra at

Lab Manager

  • Hara Seo, B.S.
  • I have an interesting academic background where I fell in love with Music in my youth but learned the beauty of Chemistry as an undergraduate student. Interestingly, this unusual learning experience helped me raise two little monsters and sourdough starters! Over time, I became a microbiologist by self-teaching about the mysteries of sourdough baking. I started my career as an administrative assistant to the director of Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory. Since moving to Stony Brook, I am learning whole new knowledge about tick-borne Rickettsia. I am quite excited about this new journey! And, I enjoy baking, listening music, and spending time with one big and two little monsters.

    E-mail: hara.seo at

Research Technicians

  • Justin Le, B.S.
  • I am currently a senior majoring in biochemistry and hope to apply to medical school in the future. Although I have had some research experience in the past using computational tools to map animal pose estimations, after taking and being a TA for a microbiology course here at Stony Brook, I am excited to start my first wet lab experience in a field I am really interested in! In my free time, I love to play the violin, which I have been doing for over 17 years, play video games, and am currently a cabinet member of the Stony Brook Vietnamese Student Association.

    E-mail: justin.le at
  • Rhyan Mellett, B.S.
  • I received a B.S degree in Biology from Coastal Carolina University. During my undergraduate degree, I took part in research on Alzheimer’s disease, using Drosophila melanogaster as the disease model. My research primarily focused on designing and generating 3-D printed courtship behavior mazes, which were then employed to test and analyze the behavioral traits of the flies. In my free time, I enjoy going for walks and car rides with my dog Nellie.

    E-mail: rhyan.mellett at
  • Molly Thompson, M.S.
  • I received my M.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland. While there, I worked in Dr. Utpal Pal's laboratory studying I. scapularis (deer tick) developmental pathways. I am excited to keep working with ticks, and branching out with both experimental work as well as species of tick! I hope to pursue public outreach and teaching roles in the future. Other than biology, I have a huge interest in classics, especially the Latin language and Roman culture. In my spare time I am often in Pennsylvania visiting my family (including my 5 brothers!).

    E-mail: molly.thompson at

Undergraduate Students

  • Ana Barreira
  • I am currently a junior at Stony Brook University. I am majoring in Biology and am planning on applying to medical school. This is my first time participating in research and I’m very excited to become a part of this lab. In my free time I like to read, paint and bake.

    E-mail: ana.barreira at
  • Ivy Lu
  • I am currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University, double-majoring in Chemical and Molecular Engineering and Psychology BS. In the future, I plan to apply to medical school, but I’m also considering going into research related to healthcare. Since this is my first time being part of a wet lab, I’m looking forward to learning new skills and interests! In my free time, I love to ice skate, go for walks with my dog, and read fantasy novels/webcomics.

    E-mail: at
  • Kim-Le Tran
  • I am currently a junior at Stony Brook University majoring in Clinical Laboratory Science. In the future I plan to go to graduate school and work in a microbiology laboratory at a hospital after I graduate. This is my first time being part of a research lab so I’m excited for all the experiences I will gain. In my free time I love to play piano, violin, and to crochet! I am also part of the Vietnamese Student Association on campus.

    E-mail: kim-le.tran at