Moriarity Lab Members


PhD Students

Kelsie Becklin

Kelsie is a second-year graduate student in the Comparative Molecular Biosciences (CMB) program. Her research focuses primarily on generating new cancer models using induced pluripotent stem cells and genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9. Kelsie hopes these models will provide an improved platform to screen cancer therapies prior to clinical testing and aid in the investigation of the genes and pathways that lead to cancer initiation, progression, and various drug responses. 

Patricia Claudio Vázquez

Pat is a third-year graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDB&G) PhD Program. She has a BS in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. Her research is focused on the genetic correction of SCID-A, a form severe combined immunodeficiency, using Cas9 base editors. When not in the lab, Pat loves cooking, baking, practicing aerial and petting any and all dogs, including her very own pup named Oliver.

Kanut Laoharawee

Kanut is a third-year graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics (MCDBG) Program. His research focuses on engineering primary human B lymphocytes (a.k.a. B cells) to create clinical products for treating human genetic inherited diseases. Kanut's long-term goal is to engineer B cells for cell-based protein/enzyme replacement therapies.

Emily Pomeroy

Emily is a third-year graduate student in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology (MICaB) Program. She has a BS in Physiology and an MS in Neuroscience from Northern Michigan University. Her research involves engineering primary human NK cells with the goal of creating clinical products for treating cancer. Emily's long-term goal is to become an independent investigator in the fields of immunology and genome engineering, with a focus on clinical translation. Emily loves her dog and cat, camping, cooking, and music. 

Gabrielle Robbins

Gabrielle is a third-year DVM PhD student in the Comparative Molecular Biosciences (CMB) program. Her research aims to modify primary human NK cells by knocking-out inhibitory genes and integrating novel NK cell chimeric antigen receptors in order to improve their potential as an effective treatment against osteosarcoma. Gabbie’s long term goal is to become a physician scientist focused on harnessing the power of the immune system in order to develop more effective and safe treatments against cancer. Outside of the lab, Gabbie enjoys hiking with her dogs, cooking, gardening, and scuba diving. 

Minging Wang

Research Staff

Anthony P. DeFeo

Tony is a research scientist who joined the lab in December of 2018 after spending the prior decade in the Tolar lab collaborating with Dr. Webber.  He has multiple graduate degrees including Masters degrees in Secondary Education and Genetics from SUNY New Paltz and a Masters’ degree from NYU School of Medicine in Molecular Oncology.  He has held research positions at NYU, and Cornell in addition to spending 8 years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Mercy College.  His projects in the lab include the Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocyte (TIL) clinical trial, and the T-Cell and iPSC Cancer Modeling teams.  Tony bike commutes all year long.

Micki Diers, Lab Manager

Micki is a Research Scientist and the Moriarity Lab Manager. She has a combined 24 years of research experience at the UMN. She has had the opportunity to work with some great doctors over the years including Dr. Scott McIvor, Dr. David Largaespada, Dr. Brenda Weigel, Dr. Bruce Blazar, Dr. Branden Moriarity, and Dr. Beau Webber, contributing to several areas of cancer research. Her current focus in the Moriarity/Webber labs is T-cell work, engineering T-cells for enhanced cancer immunotherapy. She loves dogs, spending weekends at the lake, and traveling.

Matt Johnson

Matt, a research scientist, joined the lab in March 2016 and works on the B cell, Dendritic cell, and T-cell projects. Prior to joining the lab he researched methods of HIV vaccination as a post-doc at the Emory Vaccine Center. He completed his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology as a member of Dr. Richard Koup's lab in the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH through Georgetown University. He has a BSc in Medical Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Mitchell Kluesner

Mitch joined the lab in the spring of 2016 while an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, where he received his BS in Biochemistry and Neuroscience, with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. As a lab technician, Mitch uses bioinformatic techniques to design, employ, and analyze CRISPR-Cas9 base editing approaches. When not in the lab or on his computer, Mitch likes to spend time in the woods mushroom hunting or playing music.

Walker Lahr

Walker joined the lab in December of 2016 and works with primary human T, B, and NK cells to further develop base editor and varioius HDR techniques. He has a BS in Biology from the College of Holy Cross. His research has the goal of creating clinical products for therapy. Walker is working towards a career in medicine and hopes to deliver translational therapies to interested patients.

Cara-lin Lonetree

Cara-lin joined the lab in November 2017 and is the lead technician on the T-cell base editor project. She has a BSc in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and an MSc in Cell & Gene Therapy from University College London. She eats a lot of chocolate and you can bring her some any time.

Rebecca Madden

Rebecca joined the lab in May 2019 and works on the induced pluripotent stem cell projects. She has a BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a MS in Integrated Biosciences with a focus in biomedical sciences from the University of Minnesota. She loves animals, biking, cross country skiing, ice skating, and autosports!

Xiaohong Qiu
Blaine Rathman
Nicholas Slipek

Nick joined the lab in the fall of 2018 to work on several projects developing better T-cell therapies. He has a BA in biology from the College of Holy Cross. Nick is looking forward to attending medical school and hopes to focus his career on improving clinical trial design and participation as well as medical ethics. Nick loves to ski and will take you skiing any time you want!

Administrative Team

Emerson Fuller, Administrative Assistant
Allyce Amidon, Administrative Support
Bilisuma Nebi


Aneesha Andrew
Joseph Peterson
Kenta Yamamoto

Kenta is a fourth-year undergraduate student in the College of Biological Sciences, majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. His research uses Base Editor technology to correct disease-causing mutations in hematopoietic stem cells. Kenta's long-term goal is to pursue medical research such as genome engineering or medicinal chemistry, as well as potentially practice medicine.

Past Lab Members

Tianxia Lan (MS Student)
Branden Smeester (PhD Student)

Branden a 5th year graduate student in the Comparative Molecular Biosciences (CMB) program at the University of Minnesota. In his research, he aims to develop an understanding of the genes and pathways that promote tumor formation, progression, and metastasis in order to provide new targets for therapeutic development and clinical translation for patients with osteosarcoma. When not in the lab, Branden enjoys riding his motorcycle, tandem biking around town with his wife, and listening to Steely Dan.