Lab Members

The Boss


Yong Xiong, PhD

Dr. Xiong studied physics at Tsinghua University and came to the US to obtain his PhD in biophysics from The Ohio State University. As a faculty member here at Yale, he has made it his goal to save the world, one molecule at a time. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cars, and “all the other good things.” 

Research Associates


Kaifeng Zhou


Postdoctoral Fellows


Katie Digianantonio, PhD

Katie earned her BS in chemistry and mathematics from Miami University before getting her PhD in chemistry at Princeton. In the lab, she studies how restriction factors interact with HIV capsid to inhibit infection. Katie hopes to then pursue a career in structural biology following her stint as a post-doc at Yale. Outside of lab, Katie enjoys cats, plants, and working out.

Tat Cheng, PhD

After studying molecular biology for his BS, Tat got his PhD in the same field from CUHK. Since, he has been a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia, Boston University, and now here at Yale where he works on the structural basis of HIV hijacking of cellular trafficking machinery. Ultimately, Tat hopes to become an independent researcher. When not doing research, he enjoys music, movies, reading, and hiking. 

Timsi Rao, PhD

Following a BS in biochemistry from Kurukshetra University and an MS in biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Timsi received a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She then did a post-doc at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities before coming to Yale. Here, she characterizes the structure/function relationship of DNA repair proteins. She hopes to pursue a career in translational research working in biopharmaceutical R&D. In her free time, Timsi likes to get out of the lab and go on a hike or go camping. 

Wei Wang, PhD

Wei received his BS in chemistry from Peking University followed by a PhD in chemistry from The Ohio State University. Here at Yale, he focuses on engineering HIV-1 capsid assemblies and studying host protein-capsid interactions. After his postdoctoral fellowship here, he hopes to either become a faculty member at a research institute or a research scientist in industry. In his down time Wei likes badminton, traveling, and watching movies.

Alicia Hu, PhD 

Alicia obtained her BS in biotechnology from the University of Science and Technology of China. She then went to Oklahoma State University for her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology. Here at Yale, she investigates the structural basis for viral accessory protein antagonism of APOBEC3 proteins. With this training, she aims toward a career in structure-based drug design. She enjoys reading, singing, and all things TV and movies.

Graduate Students


Ben Slater

After receiving a BS in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Texas at Austin, Ben came to Yale for his PhD to research the interactions of costimulatory and coinhibitory molecules involved in immunity. His future goals include academic or industrial research in manipulating the immune system. He also enjoys being out in nature, programming, and music.

Kirsten Knecht   LinkedIn

Kirsten earned her BS in biochemistry from Quinnipiac University and is now working on a PhD where she studies the viral accessory protein Vif and how it hijacks host machinery to antagonize restriction factors. Kirsten is actively involved in STEM Mentors at Yale. In the future, she hopes to teach in some capacity. For now, she likes to take part in puzzle competitions and community outreach.

Brady Summers

Following his BS in biology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Brady now examines host factor binding to the viral capsid lattice and engineers capsid assemblies to further these studies for his PhD. Afterward, he plans to pursue a career in academic and/or biotech research. In his spare time, he enjoys intramural softball and basketball, fishing/kayaking, growing plants, cooking, cats, and golfing.

Josh Temple   LinkedIn

Josh attended James Madison University for his BS in biophysical chemistry. He currently works toward characterizing interactions between viral accessory proteins, their cognate restriction factors, and cellular cargo trafficking machinery. As a graduate student, he has also been a mentor for the Yale BioMed SURF Program and is in the Yale Medical Research Scholarship Program. Following his PhD, Josh plans to attend medical school. He likes to spend his free time hiking and traveling with his (absolute cutest ever) puppy, Apollo.

Ivy Huang

Ivy got her BS in biochemistry from National Taiwan University. As a PhD student at Yale, she works on host factor interaction with the HIV-1 capsid. Ivy is currently exploring future career possibilities, but is interested in being a research scientist in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Aside from research, Ivy is a McDougal GSL Arts & Culture Fellow and loves participating in science outreach programs, as well as hobbies that include handmade crafting, sketching, calligraphy, and cooking.

Chris Lim

After achieving his BA in biochemistry and biophysics from Amherst College, Chris is working toward his PhD at Yale while studying interactions between viral accessory proteins, a host restriction factor, and host trafficking machinery. He is active in oSTEM at Yale, including the Spectrum podcast, as well as the BioMed SURF program and the Medical Research Scholars Program. Chris plans to one day teach at a small liberal arts college focusing on science communication. In his spare time he likes baking, running, and annoying his cat.

Olga Buzovetsky

Olga received her BA in molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan University. For her PhD, she is pursuing structural characterization of proteins important in DNA repair and metabolism. As a graduate student, she also participates in the STEM Mentors at Yale while enjoying crossfit, barre, ultimate frisbee, and eating dessert. Her future goals are to remain in academia.

Sammie Ziegler   LinkedIn

Sammie obtained her BA in biology from the College of the Holy Cross. She currently studies APOBEC3-DNA interactions, which have implications not only for HIV-1 but also some cancers. Outside of the lab, she is involved with intramural softball and STEM Mentors at Yale and enjoys baking pies and amateur photography. In the future Sammie hopes to pursue a career at the interface between science and national security.

Sarah Smaga   LinkedIn

After earning her BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from Michigan State University, Sarah came to Yale where she studies restriction factor recognition of the viral capsid. She is actively involved as the MB&B department representative in the Graduate Student Assembly and as the co-president of Yale Science Diplomats. After her PhD, Sarah plans to use her experience as a scientist to better inform policymakers on crafting scientifically sound public policy. In her free time, she enjoys travel, photography, cats, and coffee.

Undergraduate Students


Eva Gerber

Eva is working towards her BS in molecular biophysics and biochemistry (and probably a BA in chemistry) as an undergraduate here in Yale College. In lab, she works toward understanding interactions between HIV-1 integrase and capsid. After graduating, she hopes to continue research in some capacity. Eva works as a gallery guide at the Yale University Art Gallery and likes to volunteer at Planned Parenthood with the Yale Doula Project.

Max Mao

Max is currently earning his bachelor’s degree as a member of Yale College. He is researching the viral accessory protein Nef and it’s interactions with restriction factors. Once he graduates, he wants to continue biological research and ultimately become a physician. In his free time, he enjoys soccer, basketball, ukulele, weight lifting, and all things food.

Support Staff



Apollo, Destroyer of Socks, is a rescue labrador/collie mix from Georgia and is now happy helping Josh with his lab reports in grad school. He has a fur-ocious appetite and thinks the world is his dog bowl – he enjoys fine dining such as dirt, his foot, anything you’re eating, and most im-paw-tantly peanut butter. His work in the Xiong lab is gaining him renown as a prominent crystallogra-fur (see photo to left) and he is very thankful for this op-paw-tunity to do research. Having a ruff time? No fear, Apollo’s always there to cheer you up if you’re feeling melan-collie. 


Harry is Sarah’s Craigslist kitty from Michigan. As you can see, coming in at 16 lbs and a lot to love, he’s not the most cathletic of our support staff. Around the apartment he pre-furs to lounge around on meow-ntains of pillows. Harry is litter-aly a feather toy fanatic too. At any given mew-ment, you can find him in the nearest box, feline good about himself.

Dudley & Linus

Dudley and Linus are both rescue cats from New Haven-area shelters. They share an apartment with Brady and Caroline, but almost never contribute to rent or house cleaning. Dudley has expertise in hiss-tology and Linus in sample prep-purr-ation. Un-fur-tunately, other than the donation of whiskers to seeding trials, neither skill-set is very useful to the Xiong lab. Nev-fur-theless, they are well-loved at home and help keep Brady and Caroline happy.

Mabelline & Cat

Mabel and Cat are Katie’s (and Kyle’s*) Connecti-cats. Keep your paws away from Cat, as she is known to defend her territory at lab parties. Speaking of lab parties, no open containers allowed at Katie’s, or else Cat will meow-schieviously knock them over. Mabel is very shy, and will only let you pet her while Katie and Kyle are on va-cat-ion. While they have little chemistry with each other, Mabel and Cat make our cat-ionic buffers and purr-ify proteins.

*non-feline support staff, not pictured


When Chris saw her at the local animal shelter, he knew at that mew-ment that he and Goose had a lot in common: originally a New Yorker with serious cat-titude, a serial pro-cat-stinator, and in love with used pizza boxes. Though she doesn’t seem like a tail-ented crystallographer, she is paw-some at cloning and is a purr-fect companion during remote shoots. Goose’s favorite activities include: dashing around the apartment at 3am, being carried so she can rub her face on tall corners, and treating Chris like her personal couch.


Musya cat-burgled Olga’s heart when she was put up for adoption by her friend. Although Musya is one of the newest of our support staff, she isn’t kitten around. She is paws-itively pawlite when asking you to work less and play more. To prevent cat-astrophe, she has purr-fected her compromising skills. And if you’re feeling blue, Musya is always willing to strut down the catwalk with you.