Anderson Biophysics Research Group - About Research

About Our Researchers


Principal Investigator

Rae Robertson-Anderson received her PhD in physics from the University of California, San Diego in 2007. Her research, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, focused on understanding molecular transport and intermolecular forces in entangled DNA systems. Following her PhD, Rae spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. David Millar’s lab in the Molecular Biology Department at The Scripps Research Institute. Her research at TSRI, supported by a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Training Fellowship, employed total internal reflection microscopy to investigate the binding kinetics of the HIV-1 regulatory protein REV to viral RNA.

After first falling in love with physics in high school in Cincinnati, Rae continued to pursue physics as an undergraduate at Georgetown University, funded by a Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Scholarship. Rae received a B.S. in Physics from Georgetown in 2003 where her thesis focused on the diffusion of granular material. Because her undergraduate experience had such a powerful impact on her, she wanted to join a physics department at a liberal arts institution that prized undergraduate teaching and research as much what she experienced at Georgetown - which brought her to University of San Diego.

Anderson joined the Department of Physics and Biophysics at USD in 2009. Here she serves as Program Coordinator for the interdisciplinary Biophysics Major, which she designed and introduced in 2011, and has served as Chair of the department since 2015. Anderson has been awarded several prestigious grants during her time at USD including an NSF CAREER Award and an AFOSR Young Investigator Award. She has also been named a Cottrell Scholar, a Councilor for the Council on Undergraduate Research, and USD Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year.

Dr. Anderson's CV may be accessed here.

Current Researchers

Jon's Photo Jonathan Garamella
Jonathan obtained his PhD in physics from the University of Minnesota in the Noireaux lab. During the course of his graduate studies, he optimized and utilized a cell-free protein expression platform (TXTL) to develop synthetic cell prototypes. Having graduated as a student of Dr. Robertson-Anderson’s in 2012, Jon is returning as a postdoctoral researcher to work with both her and Dr. Ryan McGorty to investigate DNA transport in cytoskeleton networks by blending two techniques: single molecule particle tracking and differential dynamic microscopy.    

Gloria's Photo Gloria Lee
I received a BA in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013 and a PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2019. During college I was interested in nanoscience, and nanofabricated solar cells, graphene aerogels, and miniature microphones modeled after how fruit flies hear. In graduate school I switched to biophysics, tracking the behavior of ‘jumping genes’ with fluorescence microscopy and describing their evolutionary impact with statistical mechanics. What carried me through these experiences was finding and building inclusive mentoring communities among fellow physics students (and playing ultimate frisbee J). I’m excited to now work as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Rae Anderson, creating biomaterials that can rhythmically alter their mechanical properties.    

Karthik' Photo Karthik Reddy Peddireddy, PhD 
Karthik obtained his PhD from Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany. He investigated interfacial instabilities in liquid crystal-water systems during his PhD. As a postdoctoral researcher in our group, his work focuses on mapping molecular-level dynamics to mesoscale mechanics in composite DNA-based biomaterials. His favorite person on the planet is his niece. He loves volleyball, cycling, experiencing new cultures and traditions. More details about his research background are available here    

Shea' Photo Shea Ricketts
Shea Ricketts earned her B.A. in Biophysics from the University of San Diego in 2018. Shea became interested in biophysics as a second year undergrad when learning about its vast applications in biomedical sciences and materials engineering, to name a few. As such, she has been conducting research on the cytoskeleton in the Robertson-Anderson Lab since summer 2016. Specifically, Shea aims to characterize the relationship between force and deformation and network mobility and integration in varying cytoskeletal composites of actin and microtubules. During her undergraduate research, Shea has been a recipient of SURE, a research grant funded by the University of San Diego, Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, and a Beckman College Fellowship by the University of San Diego. Shea also ran distance for the Toreros NCAA D1 Cross Country where she was named the 2018 West Coast Conference Female Sportsmanship Award recipient. Shea plans to take her research experience to graduate school to pursue a PhD in biomedical sciences.    

Sylas' Photo Sylas Anderson
Sylas Anderson is a Junior Biophysics major with a double minor in Chemistry and Business Administration. Sylas has developed his interest in biophysics and more specifically in DNA diffusion because of a personal connection to its possible impact on DNA-linked drug delivery. Through research in how DNA moves through the cytoplasm of the cell, it is possible to create better drugs that use DNA as a gene therapy delivery system which can be used to fight genetic disorders like ataxia telangiectasia (A-T). He started working in Dr. Anderson’s lab in October of 2017, working with DNA until the summer of 2018. This is where he began his first project on DNA diffusion in crowded, cross-linked cytoskeletal environments. With the help of the University of San Diego’s SURE grant, he continues his research on DNA diffusion in Dr. Anderson’s lab.    

Ren's Photo Serenity Adalbert
Ren is a Physics major with a Math and Computer Science minor planning to graduate in the spring of 2021. Ren previously attended California Lutheran University and Gonzaga University before arriving at USD and has enjoyed being a Torero ever since her arrival. She began research in Dr. Anderson's lab in the summer of 2019. Currently, she is working on finding the diffusion coefficients of fluorescent micro spheres as they undergo Brownian motion in DNA. She also spends time on another project that uses KaiC proteins and micron-sized beads that focuses on creating oscillating networks. On her free time this Washingtonian enjoys volleyball, photography, and free food!    

Maddie's Photo Madison Francis
Madison Francis is a senior biophysics major with a minor in math. She has been working in Dr. Anderson’s lab since the fall of 2017. Her research focuses on the cytoskeletal proteins actin and microtubules. Specifically she is interested in how varying the concentration of crosslinker proteins within actin-microtubule networks influences the mechanics of the cytoskeleton. She is especially interested in this project because of its implications in numerous different pathologies associated with cytoskeletal proteins. Outside of lab Madison is a member of the USD club soccer team, a member of the Society of Physics students and enjoys surfing, running and playing piano.    


Dr. Jennifer Ross is Associate Professor in the Physics Department at UMass, Amherst. We are currently collaborating to create active materials from microtubules and actin coupled to the circadian oscillatory KaiABC system from cyanobacteria. Click here to go to Dr. Ross' webpage.

Dr. Michael Rust is Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at University of Chicago. We are currently collaborating to create active materials from microtubules and actin coupled to the circadian oscillatory KaiABC system from cyanobacteria. Click here to go to Dr. Rust's webpage.

Dr. Dimitri Deheyn is Associate Professor in the Marine Biology Research Division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We are researching the rheological properties and bioluminescence of the mucus produced by chaetopterid marine tube worms. Click here to go to Dr. Deheyn's webpage.

Dr. Omar Saleh is Associate Professor in the Department of Materials and Biomolecular Science & Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. We are researching the salt-dependent microrheological properties of novel aging DNA-star hydrogels. Click here to go to Dr. Saleh's webpage.

Dr.Gregory McKenna, is Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at Texas Tech University. We are currently collaborating with McKenna to characterize the macroscopic rheological properties of entangled linear and circular DNA, and optimizing purification of long circular DNA molecules. Click here to go to Dr. McKenna's webpage.

Dr. Charles Schroeder, is Associate Professor in the Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department at UIUC. We are currently collaborating with Schroeder to characterize the single molecule extensional flow dynamics and relaxation of long circular DNA molecules. Click here to go to Dr. Schroeder's webpage.