Current Lab Members

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. | (608) 265-3936 |

Claudia P. Alvarez-Baron


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. | (608) 262-3520 |

Ruohan Zhang


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. | |

Debanjan Tewari


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. | (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. | (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. | (608) 262-3520 |

Hongbo Chen

Graduate Student, Biophysics Training Program  

Hongbo received his B.S from Peking University in China in 2013, where he conducted his first-round of undergraduate research studying non-coding RNAs with Dr. Zicai Liang and Dr. Quan Du. While occupied with courses at Peking University in the last year of his undergraduate study, he joined Dr. Xinquan Wang’s lab in Tshinghua University (across the road from Peking University) and used X-ray crystallography to study cell surface receptor-ligand interaction. He became a graduate student in the Biophysics Program at UW Madison in the fall of 2013 and is currently a joint student under Katherine Henzler-Wildman and Baron Chanda. His interest is to use NMR to study the temperature-sensitivity of ion channels. Outside the lab, his dream is to become a professional tennis player after he retires. | (608) 890-1879 | LinkedIn

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.  After three years as an undergraduate researcher in synthetic chemistry, David developed an interest in merging his two scientific passions: chemistry and neuroscience. David joined UW-Madison’s Neuroscience Training Program in 2015 and is a joint student between Dr. Baron Chanda of the Department of Neuroscience and Dr. Randall Goldsmith of the Chemistry Department. His primary research interest is to study ligand binding to ion channels using single-molecule fluorescence microscopy. Currently, David is learning how to nanofabricate zero-mode waveguides for single-molecule experiments in physiological concentrations and adapting new machine-learning algorithms for the fast and accurate analysis of single-molecule time series. | (608) 890-1879 | LinkedIn

Nandini Nallappan

Research Specialist  

Nandini Nallappan graduated with Bachelor’s degree in Genetic Engineering from SRM University, India. After graduation she was involved in drug development for 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. | |

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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Stephen Pan

Undergraduate Researcher  

My name is Stephen (Junkun Pan). I am a senior undergraduate at UW-Madison majoring in biochemistry with certificate in physics. For the past 2 years, I have been doing atomistic Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation of protein in Cui Group. Currently, I am working on MD simulation of potassium ion channel in a micelle and lipid bilayers as well as learning to do single-molecule experiments with post-doc Ruohan Zhang in the Chanda lab. After graduation, I want to go to graduate school to study chemical physics or biophysics.

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Owen Rafferty

Undergraduate Researcher  

Owen is a sophomore majoring in physics and probably mathematics. He joined the Chanda Lab in May 2018 and is tentatively set to work on ligand binding theory and, with David White, the computational end of single-molecule measurements. He hopes to go to graduate school for condensed matter physics or applied atomic, molecular, and optical physics. In his free time, he enjoys drumming, reading, moviegoing, and being an overenthusiastic user of free/libre and open-source software.

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