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.”

Postdoctoral Fellows

Anjali, PhD

After obtaining her Bachelor of Engineering in biotechnology from the University of Rajasthan, Anjali completed her Master of Science in applied biotechnology from Uppsala University. Anjali then earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Auckland. Thereafter, she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School for two years. In the Xiong lab she studies the nuclear import of HBV and HIV-1 in the host cell through Cryo-EM/Cryo-ET methods and works on the cell biology of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Anjali strives to become a virologist familiarized with Cryo-EM and Cryo-ET techniques to pursue a career in industry. Outside of the lab she loves to listen to music, sometimes sing and dance, write poetry, cook, and explore new places.

Elizabeth Bailey, PhD

Elizabeth Bailey earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Columbia University as an NSF GRFP Fellow. Liz is a joint postdoc for the Xiong and Didychuk labs and is interested in studying herpesvirus genome packing with cryo-EM and cryo-ET methods. Previously, she earned an M.A. in Chemistry from Princeton University and a B.A. in Chemistry and Studio Art from Kenyon College. After her postdoc, Liz aims to lead an academic research group. Outside the lab, Liz enjoys kayaking, hiking, and writing about intersections of science and art.

Swapnil Devarkar, PhD

Swapnil earned his BS in biotechnology from D.Y. Patil Univ., Mumbai, India. He went on to earn a biochemistry PhD from Rutgers Univ. In our lab, he now works on dissecting structural and mechanistic details of tRNA packaging into virions. Following his postdoc, Swapnil aims for a career in academic research and ultimately wants to lead his own research group. Apart from work, he loves football (soccer), hiking, and photography.

Nicholas Martinez, PhD

Nick received a BS in Elementary Education/MS in Curriculum & Teaching from the University of Kansas and taught for 6 years before pursuing undergraduate coursework and research in biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at Univ. Kansas. Nick went on to attend UNC at Chapel Hill for his Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Biophysics. As a postdoc, Nick studies how lentiviruses, including HIV-1, target and degrade antiviral host proteins via proteasomal degradation. After his postdoc, Nick plans on pursuing a career in industry. In his spare time, Nick enjoys hiking, gardening, and watching/playing sports.

Megan Meuser, PhD

Megan received her BS in biochemistry from the University of Vermont and her PhD in biochemistry at Drexel University. She now works with us in the Xiong lab dissecting the mechanisms of Env incorporation into HIV-1 virions by studying how the HIV-1 MA protein interacts with the Env glycoprotein complex. In her spare time she likes to hike, paddleboard, and read.

Sayantan Roy, PhD

Sayantan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and his Master’s degree in Biochemistry from University of Calcutta. Later in his career journey, at Florida State University he earned his Ph.D. in Biology, albeit structural! Here as a joint post-doc between the Bleichert and Xiong labs he is interested in unraveling the underlying mechanisms behind DNA replication using Cryo-EM. In the next phase of his journey, Sayantan will likely stay in academia. Outside the lab, he spends most of his time cooking new recipes. His specialty is Bengali and Awadhi cuisine. He also loves to act in plays and hook up with his bass from time to time.

Shuhui Wang, PhD

Shuhui acquired his PhD degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology advised by Zihe Rao from the University of Chinese Academy of Science. He then joined Maofu Liao lab at Harvard University as a postdoc. In Xiong lab, he is interested in studying protein complexes in situ by cryo-EM and cryo-ET. He would like to stay in academia after his postdoc training. Outside the lab, Shuhui likes to hike, cycling, and badminton.

Chun-Xiang Wu, PhD

Chun-Xiang (Charlie) obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from Indiana University. Here at Yale, Charlie studies mechanisms of host-viral interplay including nuclear transport using biochemistry, biophysics, X-ray crystallography, and cryo-EM. Following his postdoc, Charlie aims for a career in academic research working on structural biology and structure-based drug design. In his free time, Charlie enjoys playing guitar, swimming, hiking, and video games.

Wei Zheng, PhD

Wei earned his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Here, Wei studies the structural mechanism of how HIV-1 capsid enters nuclear pores using cryo-EM and cryo-ET methods. After his postdoc, he aims to continue scientific research. In his spare time, Wei enjoys photography and basketball.

Research Staff

Paul Raccuia


Kaifeng Zhou


Graduate Students

Fidel Jr. Arizaga

Fidel attended UC, Santa Cruz and obtained a BS in applied physics as well as in biochemistry and molecular biology. As a grad student, he is interested in elucidating the mechanism by which HIV-1 and other viruses hijack the host proteasomal degradation pathway. He aims to continue pursuing science in an industry setting. Outside of lab he enjoys working out, sports, jamming, videogames and hanging out.

Shravani Balaji

Shravani obtained her BS/MS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, studying biochemistry and chemical engineering. As a graduate student, Shravani is interested in studying pathogenicity factors of SARS-CoV-2 and the mechanisms by which coronaviruses hijack host cell machinery. After earning a PhD, Shravani is interested in a career in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to scientific research, Shravani is a ballroom dancer and artist.

Matt Cook

Matt obtained a BS in both biochemistry and genetics at Iowa State University. Here at Yale, he focuses on structural studies of microtubule-associated proteins and relevant HIV trafficking machinery. After earning his PhD, Matt is interested in a career in academia. He’s avidly involved in science outreach and mentorship programs. Additionally, Matt loves to run, play softball, and cook/bake to make up for all that exercise.

Christian Freniere

Christian got a BS in biochemistry and molecular biology at University of Richmond and undertook a 2 year post-bac at MGH before ending up here at Yale graduate work. He focuses on structural studies of capsid-interacting factors involved in HIV cytoskeletal trafficking and nuclear import. He hopes to have a career in academia but in the meantime enjoys getting outdoors, such as skiing and hiking, in addition to cooking and baking.

Yara Mustafa

Yara obtained her BA/MS in Biochemistry, Biophysics and Physics from the University of Pennsylvania. As a graduate student, she is interested in studying the interactions between nucleopore proteins and the HIV capsid. After completing graduate school, Yara hopes to work in academia or in a government lab. Outside of the lab, she enjoys composing for the piano, playing video games, digital art, cosplaying, and collecting plushies.

Ricardo Ramírez Padilla

Ricardo obtained his BS in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University. As a graduate student, he is interested in understanding the molecular defense mechanisms against infectious diseases, like HIV-1. He ultimately aims through his work to provide structural information for drug design. Outside of lab, he enjoys playing the piano, grabbing coffee with friends and spending time with his dog, Pucho.

Zanders Peraza

Zanders graduated from Florida International University, dual majoring in Biology and Biochemistry. As a graduate student in the Chemistry department he is working between the Xiong and Batista labs, developing machine learning models to increase SNR for cryo-EM applications After earning a PhD he hopes to work at a national lab. Outside of work Zanders enjoys hiking, games and the ocean.

Michael Vetick

Michael obtained a BA in molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University and remained for a post-bac. Here at Yale, he is a MD/PhD student studying the mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 translates its viral proteins while attenuating translation of host proteins. He aims to use his MD/PhD to work in an academic clinical research center focusing on precision medicine. In his free time Michael enjoys hiking, playing piano, and working with his hands.

Yuekang Zhang

Yuekang graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a Biophysics major and Mathematics minor. As a graduate student in Yale, he is interested in studying the mechanism of how viral mRNA escapes inhibition from Nsp1, as well as pushing the limit of structural biology for application in native cellular environment. In his free time, he is an amateur pianist and enjoys distance running.

Chenghao Zhu

Chenghao obtained his BS in biological science from Shanghaitech University. As a graduate student, he is interested in studying the mechanism of how viruses like HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 produce their proteins by ribosomal programmed frameshifting in the native cellular environment. After earning his PhD, Chenghao is interested in a career in academia. In his free time, he likes reading, running and listening to music.


Faith Peña

Faith is pursuing a BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry with a concentration in Biophysics and Structural Biology. Her current interests include solving viral structures and learning electron microscopy techniques. After undergrad, Faith is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Structural Biology and/or Biophysics. Outside of class and lab, Faith enjoys exploring the many coffee shops on campus, listening to music, and reading.

Rachel Yang

Rachel is pursuing a BS in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry with a concentration in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. Here at the Xiong lab, she is interested in assembling HIV-1 cores and studying HIV-1 Gag maturation through cryoEM. After undergrad, Rachel hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and eventually enter academia. Outside of the lab, Rachel enjoys painting, trying new foods, and photography.

Support Staff


Daisy is the Xiong lab resident cockatiel, who enjoys perching on your shoulder, tweeting helpful advice, and chewing on your safety glasses. Her ex-parrot-ise in crystallography began at a young age, inspired by her love for shiny things and seeds. She is always around, revie-wing papers, cleaning beak-ers, and encouraging students to fly to new heights. You are welcome to talk science with Daisy, she’ll be your number one wingwoman!


Pucho obtained his certificate of absolute cuteness (C.AC) in the mountains of Cupey, Puerto Rico, where he was rescued by his dads, Ricardo and Reinaldo. In graduate school, he is interested in providing emotional support for Ricardo whenever he comes back from a long day of science-ing. Outside of that, he enjoys belly scratches, playing with his pet octopus, and running through New Haven.


Tiamat the Dragon is a young and passionate scientist who is currently pursuing her degree in Entropy. Her research interests are in chaos theory and real-time kinematic demonstrations. She enjoys playing with lab-coats, gazing through windows, and attempting to break the sound barrier. Tiamat’s duties are to provide laughs and smiles, in exchange for head scratchies and treats.