People

Baron Chanda

Principal Investigator  

Baron’s primary research interest is to understand the mechanisms of electrical signaling by membrane proteins such as ion channels. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from the University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Biotechnology (Biophysics specialization) from the University of Pune, India. He obtained his Ph.D. at the National Center for Biological Sciences in India where he gained expertise in membrane protein biochemistry, fluorescence spectroscopy and basic electrophysiology. In 2000, he moved to University of California, Los Angeles to conduct postdoctoral research with Dr. Francisco Bezanilla. During this time, he did foundational work on mechanisms of gating of sodium and potassium channels using the newly developed voltage-clamp fluorometry. In the fall of 2006, he joined the Department of Physiology (now Neuroscience) at University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2012. In 2015, he was jointly appointed as a professor in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry. While his scientific approach is rooted in reductionism, Baron’s long-term interest is to gain a comprehensive understanding of ion channel function in a physiological context. Throughout his scientific career, he has also been actively involved in either developing or adopting new technologies to study mechanistic underpinnings of ion channel function.

chanda@wisc.edu | (608) 265-3936 |

Dima Klenchin

Scientist and Lab Manager  

Dima aka Vadim Klenchin dons many hats in the Chanda lab. He obtained his undergraduate and doctorate education at Moscow State University (Russia), majoring in Biophysics. Since then, he worked at several UW-Madison labs researching topics that included signal transduction in photoreception, biochemistry and cell biology of exocytosis and crystallographic studies of protein structure. Dima’s immediate scientific interests encompass all aspects of protein structure-function relationship. He joined the Chanda lab in the Spring 2013 aiming to spearhead the lab’s efforts in protein expression, purification and structural characterization.

klenchin@wisc.edu | (608) 262-8580 |

Claudia P. Alvarez-Baron

Postdoc  

Claudia received her M.D. from the National University of Colombia in 2003 and her Ph.D. from the University of Houston in 2010. During graduate school she worked at Dr. Stuart Dryer’s laboratory studying potassium channel trafficking and the involvement of ion channels in oncogenic transformation. After graduating, she worked in Nick Spitzer’s laboratory at UC San Diego to study activity-dependent neurotransmitter switching in the adult rat brain. In 2014 she joined the Chanda Lab to study the mechanisms of temperature sensitivity in ion channels and develop tools for all-optical electrophysiology. Claudia is interested in the mechanisms of cellular signaling in neurons at all levels from the functioning of ion channels to circuit development.

alvarezbaron@wisc.edu | (608) 262-3520 |

Ruohan Zhang

Postdoc  

Ruohan graduated from USTC with Bachelor’s degree in the Department of Chemical Physics in 2011, and then he received his Ph.D. degree from the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry of ASU in 2017. Ruohan used to be a traditional spectroscopic person studying the rotational and vibrational structures of small metal-containing molecules in the gas phase in Dr. Timothy Steimle’s group. However, Ruohan has recently become motivated to expand  his knowledge into biochemistry and begin applying spectroscopic techniques to study large protein molecules. This drove him to become a joint post-doc in labs of Dr. Baron Chanda in the Department of Neuroscience and Dr. Randall Goldsmith in the Chemistry Department with research interests on using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to study the ion channel activities.

mailto:ruohan.zhang@wisc.edu | |

Debanjan Tewari

Postdoc  

Debanjan was awarded a Master degree in Biotechnology from Pondicherry University, India in 2009 and completed his doctoral research at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. His thesis primarily focused on the modulation of Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel (VDAC) by small anti-cancerous compounds. Following his doctoral degree in 2016, he joined the University of Montreal as a post-doctoral fellow where he worked on Voltage Clamp Fluorometry (VCF) as well as Bilayer Lipid Membrane. Since February 2018, Debanjan is working in Baron’s lab as a post-doctoral fellow, wherein his broad domain is to study different ion channels. During his free time, he enjoys wild-life and bird photography.

tewari3@wisc.edu | (608) 890-1879 |

John Cowgill

Graduate Student, Biophysics Training Program  

John graduated from UW-Madison with a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry in 2010. He received a Masters in Biochemistry from ASU in 2012 studying the biophysics of Type-I photosynthetic reaction centers in Kevin Redding’s lab. John joined the Biophysics doctorate program and Dr. Chanda’s lab in the Fall of 2014. His primary research interests include examining the different mechanisms of coupling sensing domains (temperature, voltage, and ligand) to pore domains in various voltage gated channels. He uses a combination of sequence and structural analysis to guide experimental design. Outside the lab, John likes playing ultimate frisbee, fishing, and taking his dog to the park.

jcowgill@wisc.edu | (608) 890-1879 |

Yihao Jiang

Graduate Student, Biophysics Training Program  

Yihao received his Bachelor’s degree from Peking University (Beijing, China), majoring in Biological Sciences, in 2014. Since then, he was enrolled in the Biophysics Graduate Program at UW-Madison in Dr. Baron Chanda’s lab. His principal research project is focused on the mechanism of temperature sensation of ion channels. Yihao uses proteoliposome bilayer and patch-clamping techniques to study the temperature effects on various ion channels.  He’s particularly interested in applying thermodynamic analyses to uncover the molecular mechanisms of temperature sensation. Beyond the bench, he likes to play soccer and basketball, as well as to explore the gorgeous world with his fancy camera.

jiangyihao1991@gmail.com | (608) 262-3520 |

Hongbo Chen

Graduate Student, Biophysics Training Program  

The dynamic properties of proteins that underlie their functional diversity make Hongbo “addicted” to science. Previously in 2013, he received his B.S from Peking University in China, where he conducted his first-round undergrad research studying non-coding RNAs with Dr. Zicai Liang and Dr. Quan Du. While occupied by courses at Peking University in the last year of his underdrad study, he joined Dr. Xinquan Wang’s lab in Tshinghua University (across the road from Peking University), using X-ray crystallography to study cell surface receptor-ligand interaction. He became a graduate student in biophysics program at UW Madison in the fall of 2013 and is currently a joint student under Katherine Henzler-Wildman and Baron Chanda. Although his interest to uncover the “hidden truth” behind the temperature sensitivity of ion channel keeps him busy, he never gives up building his muscle in the gym and challenging himself by new things.

hongbo.chen@wisc.edu | (608) 890-1879 |

David White

Graduate Student, Neuroscience Training Program  

David graduated from Wayne State University with Bachelor’s degrees in both Biochemistry & Chemical Biology and Psychology in 2015.  Having spent three years as an undergraduate researcher in a synthetic chemistry lab, David developed an interest in applying novel chemical tools to studying the molecular underpinnings of neuronal function. Toward that end, David joined UW-Madison’s Neuroscience Training Program and is a joint student between Dr. Baron Chanda of the Department of Neuroscience and Dr. Randall Goldsmith of the Chemistry Department where he is able to merge his two scientific passions: chemistry and neuroscience. His primary research interest is to study voltage-gated ion channels using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy.  Currently, David is studying the kinetics and cooperativity of cyclic nucleotide binding to HCN2 channels at physiological concentrations by employing single-molecule fluorescence measurements in zero-mode waveguide nanofabricated devices.

dwhite7@wisc.edu | (608) 890-1879 |

Nandini Nallappan

Research intern  

Nandini Nallappan graduated with Bachelor’s degree in Genetic Engineering from SRM University, India . After graduation she was involved in Drug Development of potassium channels at Prof.George Chandy’s Laboratory in Singapore. Having developed keen interest in the structure and functionality of Ion channels, she joined Dr.Baron Chanda’s laboratory to broaden her knowledge. She plans to pursue post doctorate in the near future.

nnallappan@wisc.edu | |

Alexander Blair

Undergraduate Researcher  

Alex is a senior undergraduate at UW Madison studying Neurobiology.  He has worked in the Chanda lab for the last 3 years on hyperpolarization activated channels (HCN and EAG) with graduate student John Cowgill. After college he hopes to go to medical school and become a physician.  In his free time Alex likes to play guitar and go sailing.

Recipient of the Hilldale Undergraduate Research Award.

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Natalie McCraw

Undergraduate Researcher  

My name is Natalie McCraw and I am a first year student studying Biomedical Engineering at UW-Madison. I plan to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in BME and possibly pursue a master’s degree. I currently hold a student help position in the Chanda lab and enjoy working with people who share my interest in biology and chemistry.

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Former Members 

Lab Photos