People

Carolyn Elya, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology Zombiologist in Chief

Carolyn received her Ph.D. in 2017 from UC Berkeley (go bears!) working with Dr. Michael Eisen where she accidentally discovered zombies in her backyard. She developed the zombie fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster-Entomophthora muscae) lab system based on this encounter, and brought it with her to Dr. Benjamin de Bivort’s group at Harvard University where she completed her postdoc investigating the neuromechanistic basis of zombie behaviors. As the head of her own lab, Carolyn is thrilled to dive even deeper into the zombie fruit fly system to explore all things behavior manipulation.

cnelya@g.harvard.edu

Diana Redlund

Faculty Assistant

Diana is our in-house administrative, logistics and ordering ninja.

diana_redlund@fas.harvard.edu

Brandon Fricker, (soon-to-be) Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Brandon will receive his Ph.D. from Emory University in 2024 working with Dr. Aubrey Kelly on the neural circuits driving social behaviors in the cooperatively breeding spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus). He is broadly interested in how the activity of individual neurons produce specific, complex, and often stereotyped behaviors. In the Elya Lab, Brandon is interested in a variety of projects, including how E. muscae manipulates fruit fly neural activity to produce summitting behavior.

Charlie Heacock

Research Assistant

Charlie received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern in 2023. She is hard at work with Carolyn preparing the new lab space.

cheacock@fas.harvard.edu

Lucy Hurlbut

Undergraduate Researcher

Lucy is an IB concentrator in her Junior year. Among other interests, she is curious to understand how host fecundity is altered by E. muscae infection.

Haesung Jee

Undergraduate Researcher

Haesung is an IB concentrator in her Senior year. She is currently pursuing a Senior Thesis looking for candidate summiting effector genes in E. muscae.

Julius Tabin

Graduate Student (OEB)

Julius is a graduate student in the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology department, broadly interested in behavioral genetics. In the past, he has studied a variety of organisms, including cavefish, zebrafish, catsharks, gars, skates, big cats, and deer mice. He is currently working on understanding the molecular and mechanistic basis of E. muscae induced summiting behavior. Julius is also trained in Egyptology and, in his free time, continues to research the morphology of ancient Egyptian hieratic. 𓋴𓐠𓄿𓎛𓃃𓂻𓃭𓏤𓆷𓄿𓇋𓏲𓁶!

jtabin@g.harvard.edu

Rina Sotiropoulou

Research Assistant

Rina is a Research Assistant who is interested in all things bugs. Her past research in microbial ecology focused on host-symbiont interactions between ectomycorrhizal fungi and their tree hosts across New England forests. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Boston University and plans to pursue graduate studies. In her free time, Rina enjoys rock climbing, ballroom dancing, and playing the piano. Her menagerie of pets include snakes, beetles, and other creepy crawlies.

Wanted: curious scientists!

Post-docs: Please apply through Harvard’s ARIes portal.

Grad students: Our primary affiliation will be with the MCO graduate program, but we are happy to consider any students within the HILS alliance.

Undergraduates: Send Carolyn an email with your CV as well as and why you’re interested in the lab.

Summer students: There are several mechanisms to pursue summer research at Harvard. Send Carolyn an email with your CV and why you’re interested in the lab. Please also indicate which programs (at Harvard or elsewhere) would be appropriate to support your work.