Dr. Manal A. Swairjo

Principal Investigator

Manal obtained her B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics at Kuwait University in 1988 and her Ph.D. in Cellular Biophysics from Boston University in 1996 under the mentorship of crystallographer Barbara Seaton. After a short postdoctoral traineeship in the pharmaceutical industry, Manal moved to San Diego in 1998 where she held a Senior Research Scientist position in the group of Paul Schimmel at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA. She then joined the faculty of Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA as an Assistant Professor in 2010 where she established her research group before moving in 2015 to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at San Diego State University as an Associate Professor. In her free time, Manal enjoys reading, gardening and swimming a mile a day!​

Dr. Shr-Hau Hung

Postdoctoral Fellow

Shr-Hau is from Taiwan, a beautiful island in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Shr-Hau obtained his B.Sc. in Microbiology from Soochow University in Taipei and M.Sc. in marine environmental chemistry and ecology from National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung. Afterward, Shr-Hau received a scholarship from the Taiwanese government and came to San Diego pursuing his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at SDSU/UCSD under the supervision of Drs. Anca Segall and Forest Rohwer. After completion of his Ph.D. degree and an internship at Illumina, Inc, he joined the Swairjo group in October 2019. His research interests at SDSU involve the tRNA modification enzymes and phage biology. In his free time, Shr-Hau enjoys playing clarinet and guitar.

Evan Wood

Doctoral Student

Evan is from Camarillo, a suburb in southern California. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Oregon. During the last two years as an undergraduate he worked with Dr. Scott Hansen where he utilized TIRF microscopy to characterize proteins involved in phosphatidylinositol phosphate lipid synthesis. Afterwards he worked in the formulation department at Coherus Biosciences for a year before joining the Swairjo Lab in Fall of 2020. In his free time, Evan enjoys surfing, fishing, and reading.

Ana Kutchuashvili

Doctoral Student

Ana is from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (country). She obtained her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University Georgia in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry, where her education was fully funded by Millenium Challenge Corporation. While doing her bachelor’s degree, her main research focus was organic synthesis and analysis. Ana was involved in molecular biology and microbiology externship at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research branch located in Georgia. After graduating from SDSU Georgia, she got a scholarship from Georgian government to continue her studies at San Diego State University main campus where she joined Swairjo Lab in Fall 2020. In her free time she enjoys traveling, watching movies and going to the beach.

Emily Zahn-Schmitz

Lab Manager

Emily is from San Diego, CA and joined the Swairjo Lab in Summer 2021. She graduated in December 2021 with her Bachelors in Biochemistry and Criminal Justice. Her current research interests include the purification and crystallization of BmTsaE-AmgK. In her free time, she enjoys reading about true crime and hanging out with her dogs.

Nicholas Towns

Graduate Student

Nicholas C Towns is from Rancho Bernardo, CA who joined Swairjo Lab in the Spring of 2022. Previously, Nick has obtained a B.S. in Biochemistry/Chemistry from Muir College, UCSD, and was trained at CiHED in IMSD. His current research interests include the role of kinase activity of TsaE in t6A biosynthesis. In his free time, Nick enjoys cooking, skating, playing violin, and discussing politics and current affairs.

Rylie Johnson

Undergraduate Student

Rylie is from Fort Collins, Colorado and joined the Swairjo Lab in Fall of 2022. She is an undergraduate and plans to graduate in 2025 with her B.S. in Biochemistry. She is interested in any research related to biology or chemistry! In her free time, Rylie enjoys being outdoors, painting, podcasts, and reading.

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