Gavin received his B.Sc in Biochemistry (First Class Honors) from the University of Wales, and completed his PhD under the supervision of Dr Alan Berry at the University of Leeds. He then completed a postdoc at UW-Madison with Prof Jon Thorson, was appointed Assistant Professor at NC State in 2009, promoted to Associate Professor in 2015 and Full Professor in 2020. Gavin received the NSF CAREER Award inn 2013, was named a University Faculty Scholar in 2015 and LORD Distinguished Scholar in 2019, and received the Chancellor’s Innovation Award in 2016 and 2020.


Current Graduate Students:

Miles Calzini Miles graduated from Skidmore College with a BA in Chemistry in 2016. He spent some time at Albany Molecular Research Inc., before joining our lab in the Fall of 2018. Miles is working merging polyketide and isoprenoid metabolism.



Jared Crossin Jared is originally from Lakeland, Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Florida State University where he developed a background in chemical synthesis and bioorthogonal chemistry. Here, I am pursuing natural product modification by means of chemical synthesis, enzymatic engineering, and various other methods. I hope to discover new ways to incorporate new-to-nature chemistry into living systems.

Jessie Garcia Jessie graduated from Binghamton University, State University of New York, with a BS in Chemistry (Education minor). Jessie joined the group in the Fall of 2017. After growing up in a suburb of New York City, Jessie is now becoming acclimatized to life in the South.



Anuran Kumar Gayen Anuran completed his BS in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology in 2017 and joined the Williams Lab in the Fall of 2017. Anuran is interested in combining chemical and biosynthetic synthesis for drug discovery.




Melissa Mitchler Melissa graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia with a BS in Chemistry and a minor in Biology. She joined the group in the Fall of 2018 and is interested in using genetically encoded biosensors to evolve novel metabolic pathways.XXXXX



Nichole Montero-Marin – Nichole graduated from InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico with a B.S. in Biotechnology and Industrial Chemistry. She joined the Williams Lab in the Fall 2019. She is interested in the biosynthesis of vitamins and antibiotics by synthetic biology.



Catherine Odhiambo – Catherine graduated from Georgia State University with B.S. in Chemistry (Biochemistry concentration) and M.S. in Chemistry. Catherine joined the Williams group in the Fall of 2020.




Thaddeus Paulsel – Thaddeus received his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Georgia and joined the Williams lab in Fall 2019.  He is interested in leveraging the combination of synthetic organic chemistry with enzymatic biosynthesis to develop routes to pharmaceutical discovery.



Elizabeth Riser – Liz graduated from High Point University in May 2021 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in English Literature. Liz joined the Williams Lab in the Fall of 2021 and is interested in the synthetic biology of terpenes.



Sydney Welch – Sydney graduated from Georgia Southern University with her BS in Chemistry in 2020 and joined the Williams lab in the Fall of 2020. She is interested in creating a library of biologically active compounds using biosynthetic strategies.




Undergraduate research assistants:


Jenay Brown – Jenay joined the group in Fall 2018 as a Goodnights Scholar and Sophomore majoring in Bioprocessing Science.




Christian McRoberts – Christian joined the group in the Spring of 2018 as a junior enrolled in the Bioprocessing Sciences major with minors in Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing. Christian was a transfer student from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and worked with biosensor-guided high-throughput engineering of natural product biosynthesis.


Monique Reid – Monique joined the group in the Spring of 2017 as a Freshman in Engineering, with Biomedical intent.




Breck Wcisel – Breck joined the group in the summer of 2019 as a rising Junior in Chemistry.




Lab Alumni

IMG_0755Katherine Almasy – Katherine is a Junior majoring in Chemistry. Katherine is a Goodnights Scholar and a Chancellors Leadership Scholar. She is now a PhD candidate in the Chemical Biology training program at Vanderbilt University.



Ethan Becherer PhotoEthan Becherer – Ethan is currently a sophomore undergraduate research assistant majoring in Chemistry. He is working on diversifying terpenes by synthetic biology.




kyleKyle Bingham – Kyle is a Park Scholar in the class of 2017. He is double majoring in Chemistry and Human Biology and is interested in engineering the ligand recognition properties of riboswitches. His research was funded by an NC State Office of Undergraduate Research Award.



MeiserSamantha M. Carpenter –  Sam received a BS in Chemistry from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She joined the Williams Lab in the Fall of 2013 and probed the scope and utility of trans-ATs. Sam is currently at BASF as part of their Rotational Leadership Program.



Edward KalkreuterRobert (Edward) Kalkreuter Edward graduated from Emory University with a BS in Chemistry. He joined the group in fall 2013 as a PhD candidate. His research interests included metabolic engineering of polyketide biosynthesis and developing ultra-higthroughput screening platforms. He is now a postdoc in the Shen lab at Scripps -Florida.


Aaron Keeler – Aaron joined the lab in Spring 2017 as a Sophomore majoring in Chemistry.




Linna Han – Linna joined us after completing work as a research scholar at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at FAU and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Missouri. She received her BSc (Biotechnology) and MSc (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) from Shandong Agriculture University and her PhD from the College of Pharmacy at Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She worked on a macrolide synthetic biology project funded by the NCBC.

JaredJared CroweTipton Jared completed his BS in chemistry from Furman University in 2015 and joined the Williams lab in the fall of 2015. He graduated with a MSc. in 2017.




1426705_10202503501176882_1591930067_nKimberley Castelli – Kim earned her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from NC State in 2012. After working in the pharmaceutical industry, Kim returned to NC State in 2014 to and graduated with a MSc. in 2016.



NicoleNicole Coggins – Nicole joined the group in 2010 and graduated with a MSc. in 2012. Nicole developed high-thrpoughput droplet based screens and selections for riboswitches.




Taylor Courtney lab photoTaylor Courtney –Taylor joined the group in Fall 2013 as a Junior in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Her research was funded by an NC State Office of Undergraduate Research Award. Taylor won the Merck Award by the Department of Chemistry in recognition of her remarkable scholarly achievements at NC State and won the College of Science Outstanding Senior Award for Scholarship. She is now in the chemistry Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh.


Hemant Desai – Hemant joined the group as an Hemantundergraduate research assistant in 2010. He graduated from NC State in 2013 with a double major in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Along the way he won the 2013 ACS Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry, the PAMS Senior Award for Scholarly Achievement, was the Highest Ranking student in College of PAMS, and was a recipient of an NCBC Undergraduate Research Fellowship. He is now in the M.D. program at UNC.


Matthew DraelMatthewos – Matthew graduated from NC State with a double major in Chemistry & Biochemistry, and a minor in Physics. Matthew was an NC State University Park Scholar, and recipient of the F. Ivy Carroll NC-ACS Undergraduate Scholarship Award. He won the Chemistry Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in the categories of Scholarly Achievement and Research. He also won the Biochemistry Undergraduate Horton Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Research.


HallRachael Hall Rachael completed her BS in Professional Chemistry and MS in Chemistry focusing on chemical education at Middle Tennessee State University. She joined the Williams Lab in the Fall of 2014 and was involved in research investigating polyketide and terpene biosynthetic pathways.


ChristianChristian Kasey – Born and raised in Louisville, KY, Christian attended the University of Louisville (2013 NCAA Division 1 Mens basketball champions) and earned bachelors degrees in history and chemistry. He was involved with the creation of biosensors for polyketide detection and is now a scientist at Novozymes, NC.


Irina KoryakinIrinaa – Irina obtained her BS in Pharmacy at the Perm State Pharmaceutical Academy in Russia, and graduated from NC State with a PhD in Chemistry in the Spring of 2014. Irina’s work focused on probing and engineering the extender unit promiscuity of type I polyketide synthases. She is now a senior research scientist at Amyris.


ChrisChris Ladner – Chris graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL with a BS in Chemistry and Mathematics. He joined the group as a PhD candidate and used directed evolution to alter the specificity of natural product biosynthesis and to improve enzymes that site-selectively modify proteins.


YiweiYiwei Li Yiwei graduated from Beijing Normal University with a BS in Chemistry. She joined the group in fall 2014 as a PhD candidate. She was involved with constructing biosensors for directed evolution.



SeanLundPictureSean Lund – Sean studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, and at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he received his BS in Chemistry. Sean joined the group in the Fall of 2012 and developed a novel in vitro and in vivo precursor-directed biosynthesis platform for terpene diversification. He was supported by a Department of Chemistry Graduate Fellowship.

lexieLexie Malico Lexie graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in Chemistry. She joined the Williams Lab in Fall 2016 and applied biosensors for the directed evolution of terpene biosynthesis.



Gabriella Mamlouk – Gabriella is an undergraduate in the Goodnight Scholars and Solomon Scholars Programs majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology.



John McArthur –Johnny John completed his BS at the University of South Carolina and joined the group as a PhD candidate in 2009. John graduated with a PhD in the Fall of 2014, his research involved devising new methods for evolving novel enzymatic functions. John is now a postdoctoral research assistant in the group of Xi Chen at UC-Davis.



JessicaJessica Neville – Jessica first joined the group as an REU student in the summer of 2010 and then was an undergraduate research assistant until 2012. She is now taking part in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland.



Phung Nguphungyen – Phung graduated with a BS in chemistry from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA, in 2012, and joined the group shortly after. Her research in the Williams group focused on using computational redesign to alter the specificity of unnatural extender unit incorporation in the biosynthesis of natural products by type III polyketide synthases. Phung is now an adjunct chemistry instructor at Savannah Technical College, Georgia.


lindsayLindsay Nichols  Lindsay received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She joined the Williams group in 2016 and developed biosensors for polyketides. She is now a scientist at Baebies, Durham.



Vishwas_GavinGroupVishwas Rao – Vishwas joined the group in the Fall of 2013 as a Freshman Park Scholar who double majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry, with a minor in Music. He is now carrying out research as a Fulbright Scholar at McMaster University with Prof Gerry Wright.



sarahSarah Schultheis –  Sarah graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a B.S. in Chemistry.  She joined the Williams lab in Fall 2013 and graduated May 2015 with a Masters in Chemistry. She is now employed as a Senior Research Associate at Novozymes, North Carolina.



graceGrace Simaan – Grace joined the lab in the Fall of 2016. She plans on majoring in Polymer and Color Chemistry, class of 2020, and hopes to continue on to Dental school.




SteveSteve Walsh – Born and raised in Massachusetts, Steve then took his talents to New York where he got a BE in chemical engineering from The Cooper Union. He graduated in May 2015 with a PhD and is now employed at BASF. Steve was also Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006.



Zhixia Ye – ZhiZhixiaxia graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology with a BS in Chemistry and joined the Williams lab in fall 2009. She graduated from NC State with a PhD in Chemistry in the Spring of 2014 and is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Duke University. Her research focused on probing and manipulating protein-protein interactions in biosynthetic assembly lines.



Mounir ZerradMounir Zerrad – Mounir joined the group in the summer of 2014 and majored in Biomedical Engineering. His work involves fermentation scale synthesis of novel polyketide analogues and is funded by an Atlantic Coast Conference Inter-Institutional Academic Collaborative (ACCIAC) Fellowship. Mounir is now an engineer at Novozymes.


Zhongtian (Nemo) Zhang Nemo completed his B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and M.Sc. in Biosystems Engineering. He joined the Williams Lab in the Fall of 2017. His research involved the characterization of a novel CRISPR-Cas system. He is now employed at Amyris.