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Christopher J. Potter

email: cpotter [AT]

Principal Investigator (lab started March 2010 )

Birthplace:  Johannesburg, South Africa
Hometown:  North Hollywood and Woodland Hills, California, USA


  • Undergraduate: University of California, Berkeley, CA with Honors;  BA;   Major: Molecular Biology and Genetics 1992-199    
  • Graduate: Yale University, New Haven, CT; Ph.D;  Discipline: Genetics; Thesis Advisor: Tian Xu, PhD.  Thesis: “Characterization of PTEN, Tsc1, and Tsc2: Negative Regulators of the Insulin Signaling Pathway” 1996-2002   
  • Postdoctoral:  Stanford University, Stanford, CA; Discipline: Neuroscience; Advisor: Liqun Luo, PhD. 2002-2010. 


  • Outstanding Undergraduate Geneticist Award, UC Berkeley (1996)
  • Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship, 2003-2006
  • Whitehall Foundation Fellowship, 07/1/2011 – 06/30/2014
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2014 Synergy Discovery Award, 07/1/2014 –  06/30/2015
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Grant R21NS088521, 02/01/2015 – 01/31/2017
  • Johns Hopkins School of Public Health JHMRI Pilot Grant, 07/01/2015 – 06/30/2017       
  • Johns Hopkins University 2017 Discovery Award, 09/01/2017 – 08/31/2018                    
  • National Institute of Deafness and Communicable Diseases (NIDCD) Grant R01DC013070, 03/01/2013 – 02/28/2018                                                                              
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine 2018 Catalyst Award, 09/01/2017 – 08/31/2018
  • Department of Defense Grant W81XWH-17-PRMRP, 11/1/2018 – 10/31/2021
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Grant  R21AI139358, 07/01/2018 – 06/30/2020
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Grant R01Al137078, 09/17/2018 – 08/31/2023          
  • Hamilton Smith Award for Innovation 2020         

Research Interests:  Insect sensory biology, genetic tools and methods, olfaction, odor receptor expression, mosquitoes, Drosophila, non-model organisms,

Interests outside the lab:  family, reading (science fiction/fantasy), TV

Fun Fact: Enjoyed skydiving and bungee jumping in college; Identical twin (I’m the good one)


Chris Potter

Darya Task
Nickname: “Dasha”

email: dtask1 [AT]

Graduate Student (2013-2019) / Postdoc (2019-)

Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Hometown: Lima, Ohio


  • Undergraduate: The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. B.S. in Psychology, summa cum laude, with Honors in the Arts and Sciences. B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature, summa cum laude, with Honors in the Arts and Sciences. 2008-2011.
  • Graduate: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Ph.D., Neuroscience. Thesis Advisor: Christopher Potter, Ph.D. Thesis: “Neurogenetic investigation of olfactory receptor expression in Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles coluzzii insects.” 2012-2019.

Awards/ Fellowships/Scholarships (include dates):

  • Images from Science 3 Juror Selection Award (2019)
  • Gordon Research Seminar on Neuroethology Presenter Reimbursement Award (2019)
  • Cold Spring Harbor Neurobiology of Drosophila Travel Grant (2015)
  • The Johns Hopkins Graduate Student Association Travel Award (2015)
  • The Ohio State-Lima John T. Mount Award (2011)
  • The Ohio State College of Arts and Sciences Certificate for Excellence in Scholarship (2011)
  • 1st Place in Psychology, Denman Undergraduate Research Forum (2011)
  • National Merit Scholarship (2008 – 2011)
  • Distinguished Merit Scholarship (2008 – 2011)
  • Ohio Academic Scholarship (2008 – 2011)
  • Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship (2008 – 2011)
  • Robert and Mary Reusche Study Abroad Scholarship (2010)
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society (2010)
  • Psi Chi Psychology Honors Society (2010)
  • Alpha Lambda Delta/Phi Eta Sigma Honors Societies (2009)

Research Interests: sensory biology; neuroethology; non-model organisms; flies; mosquitoes; olfaction; the chemical senses; brains; neurogenetic tools; neuroscience; circuits; behavior.

Interests outside the lab: photography, cooking, crafting, outdoor pursuits, science outreach, movies.

Fun fact: I was a drummer throughout middle and high school; I once mushed sled dogs in Michigan.



Ali Afify

email: ali.afify [AT]
 Postdoctoral Researcher  (started March 2016)

Birthplace: Kuwait
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt


  • 2001: B.Sc. in Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University.
  • 2009: M.Sc. in Zoology and Agricultural Nematology, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University. Thesis Advisor: Muhammad Shamseldean.
  • 2014: PhD in Natural Sciences (Biology), University of Konstanz and the International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology. Thesis Advisor: Giovanni Galizia.

Awards/ Fellowships/Scholarships:

  • 2007: Fulbright student scholarship.
  • 2010: PhD scholarship from the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Organismal Biology.
  • 2017: Fellowship of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI).
  • 2017: Postdoc Poster Award at the Johns Hopkins Annual Neuroscience Retreat.
  • 2019: Drescher Travel Award from the Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • 2020: Alfred Blalock Award for Young Investigators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Research Interests: Mosquito olfaction, repellents, attractants, calcium imaging, electrophysiology, behavior.

Interests outside the lab: Reading/Writing, playing lute, travel.

Fun fact: Right after I finished my PhD, I wrote a 200-page novel (not PhD related), because writing a thesis is not enough!



Sarah Maguire

Email: smaguir3 [AT]

Postdoctoral Researcher (started July 2016)

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA


  • Undergraduate: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; AB; Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 2004-2008
  • Graduate: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA; Ph.D; Discipline: Neuroscience; Thesis Advisor: Amita Sehgal, Ph.D. Thesis: “The ins and outs of sleep: how external temperature cues and internal metabolic cues affect sleep processes.’
  • Postdoctoral: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ; Discipline: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Advisor: Lindy McBride, PhD. 2015-2016
  • Postdoctoral: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; Discipline: Neuroscience; Advisor: Chris Potter, PhD. 2016-present

 Awards/ Fellowships/Scholarships:

  • Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute (JHMRI) Postdoctoral Fellowship      2019-present
  • NIH Traineeship in Circadian and Sleep Disorders                                               2012-2014
  • Editor’s Choice Distinction, PloS One publication voted top article in Science             2013
  • NSF IGERT Traineeship in Language and Communication Sciences                     2009-2011
  • Senior Poster Prize, best undergraduate thesis in behavior                                       2008

Research Interests:  Anopheles gambiae; Olfactory System Development; Behavioral Genetics

Interests outside the lab:  Cooking, hiking, reading, playing with my baby

Fun fact: In graduate school, Sarah played roller derby for the ‘Philly Roller Girls’ under the name, ‘Sarah Impalin.’ Her derby career ended when she broke her rib, ouch!



Joanna Konopka

Email: jkonopk1 [AT] 

Postdoctoral Researcher  (started July 2019)    

Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Hometown: Warsaw and Gdynia, Poland.


  • Undergraduate: The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; BSc (Bachelor of Science): Ecology and Evolution 2006- 2011
  • Graduate: The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; MSc (Master of Science): Biology; 2011-2013
  • Graduate: The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; PhD: Biology; Thesis advisors: Jeremy N. McNeil and Tara Gariepy; Thesis: “Trophic and Competitive Interactions among Egg Parasitoids of Stink Bugs” 2014-2018
  • Postdoctoral: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; Neuroscience; Advisor: Christopher Potter, PhD. 2019-present

Awards/ Fellowships/Scholarships:

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship (NSERC PDF), 2020- 2022
  • Outstanding Research Contribution Scholarship, University of Western Ontario (PSAC Local 610), 2018
  • Doctoral Excellence Research Award (DERA), 2016
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), 2016-2017
  • Nominated for Governor General's Academic Medal (Gold), 2015
  • Doctoral Post Graduate Scholarship (NSERC- PGSD3), 2014-2016   
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) 2014-2015 (declined- NSERC already chosen)
  • Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (NSERC- CGS M) 2012-2013
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) 2012-2013 (declined- NSERC already chosen)

Research Interests: behavioral ecology, entomology, neurobiology and neuroethology, arthropod disease vectors, vector-borne diseases.

Interests outside the lab: puzzles, reading (mystery, thrillers, science), cooking, nature and hiking, snorkeling

Fun fact:  I was a solo vocalist while growing up; I hiked around the Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps; my 2nd “adopted” country is Mauritius.  



Randy Lawrence
/ˈrandē/  (He/Him/His)

Email: rlawre12 [AT]

Research Specialist (started August 2019)

Birthplace: El Paso, Texas 
Hometown: Bel Air, Maryland (since 1999)


  • Undergraduate: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD; BS; Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2005-2009
  • Graduate: University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL; PhD; Discipline: Chemistry with a focus in Nanomaterials; Thesis Advisor: Marc R. Knecht PhD; Thesis Title: “Photoswitchable Materials for Catalytic Modulation of Nanoparticles” 2012-2018
  • Postdoctoral: TBA

Awards/ Fellowships/Scholarships (include dates):

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Graduate Teaching Fellowship, 2015-2017
  • National Institute of General Medical Sciences Graduate Teaching Fellowship, 2017-2018

Research Interests: Bio-insipred Nanomaterials, Nanopharmaceuticals, Proteins, X-ray Crystallography, Organic Synthesis, Surface Chemistry, Synthetic Biology

Interests outside the lab: Video Games, Camping, Flow Arts, Collecting Art Books, Cooking, My Cats

Fun fact: I’m a certified SCUBA diver.



Joshua Raji

Email: jraji1 [AT]

Postdoctoral Fellow (started February 2020)

Birthplace:  Ibadan, Nigeria 
Hometown:  Ekiti, Nigeria


  • Undergraduate: Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, Bachelor of Technology;   Major: Biology 2005-2010    
  • Graduate: University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria. Master of Science; Major: Cell Biology and Genetics; Thesis advisor: Peter Odeigah, PhD. Thesis: Artemisinin combination therapy depressed mitosis and induce chromosome aberrations” 2012-2014
  • Graduate: Florida International University, Miami, Florida. Ph.D; Discipline: Biology. Thesis Advisor: Matthew DeGennaro, PhD. Thesis: “The genetics of olfactory and visually guided attractive behaviors in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes” 2015-2019


  • Outstanding undergraduate student, Ekiti State Scholarship Board: 2007-2010.
  • Graduate student scholarship, Florida International University Student Government Association, 2016
  • Outstanding graduate teaching assistant, Florida International University Provost Award, 2018
  • T. Wainwright Miller, Jr. Scholarship award, Florida Mosquito Control Association, 2018
  • Dissertation Year Fellowship, Florida International University, 2019

Research Interests:  Mosquito sensory biology, olfactory receptors, mosquito chemical ecology

Interests outside the lab:  Listening to music and playing piano. 

Fun Fact: I enjoy killing mosquitoes in flight



Kate Deibel

Email: kdeibel1 [AT]

Graduate Student (April 2020 -          )

Birthplace/Hometown:  Havre de Grace, MD


  • Undergraduate: McDaniel College, Westminster, MD. BA in Biology, Chemistry minor, summa cum laude, with Honors; 2011-2015


  • The Gordon B. Shelton ’68 Award for Excellence in the Life Sciences (2015)
  • McDaniel College Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Stipend (2014)
  • Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society (2014-2015)    
  • TriBeta Biological Honor Society (2013-2015)
  • Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society (2012-2015)
  • McDaniel College Honors Program (2011-2015)
  • State Senatorial Scholarship (2011-2012)

Research Interests:  olfaction; mosquitoes; parasites

Interests outside the lab:  family, video/board games, puzzles, true crime podcasts 

Fun Fact: I’m proficient in American Sign Language!




Kateline Robinson

Research Technician      

July 2017-Feb 2019

Katie is persuing her interest in bugs at the Pennsylavia Department of Agriculture in the Entomology Division.









Elizabeth Marr

Research Technician      

Jan 2012-July 2017  

Liz is currently persuing a career as a Medical Technician in the Baltimore area.










Chun-Chieh Lin

Graduate Student (2010-2015) and Postdoc (2015-2016)

Chun-Chieh earned his M.D. from Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan before joining the Dept of Neuroscience in 2009.  Chun-Chieh characterized a novel pheromone, developed FgSSR, and developed the HACK method for swapping transgenic components. He is now a Resident in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University Medical Center.









Sonia Chin

Graduate Student (2011-2016)

Sonia developed a olfactogenetic approach to link neuron acttivities to behaviors. A paper describing her Thesis work regarding olfactory-guided oviposition is in progress. She is now pursuing her interest for teaching biology at Friends School in Pennsylvania.










Deidre St. Peter

Research Technician       10/1/10 to 11/24/11

Deidre is currently a medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. 











Olena Riabinina

Postdoctoral Researcher 05/2012 to 03/2016

Lena received a MSc in Applied physics from the National Technical University of Ukraine in 2006, and a PhD from the University of Sussex in the UK in 2009. She joined the lab in 2012, and developed the second generation of the Q-system (QF2)(Riabinina et al, 2015, Nat Methods). Lena introduced the Q-system into the malaria mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Dept of Biosciences at Durham University. 

Durham website:

Lab website: