Principle Investigator

Dr. Karin Musier-Forsyth

Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Ohio Eminent Scholar

Principal Investigator, Musier-Forsyth Lab


Karin Musier-Forsyth obtained a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cornell University in 1989 under the direction of Dr. Gordon G. Hammes. She was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Paul Schimmel at M.I.T. from 1989-92. She joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1992. She was named Merck Professor of Chemistry in 2003 and Distinguished McKnight University Professor in 2006. In 2007, she moved to her current position at Ohio State University, where she is the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Biological Macromolecular Structure and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She was awarded the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 1996, the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the Biological Division of the American Chemical Society in 2003, and was Elected as AAAS Fellow in 2009. In 2014 she was awarded the William H. Kadel Alumni Medal for Outstanding Career Achievement from her alma mater, Eckerd College (St. Petersburg, FLA) and in 2020 she was a co-recipient of the Diversity Enhancement Faculty Award from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio State. She has served as co-director of the NIH T32 Predoctoral Training Program at Ohio State since 2011. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed research articles, book chapters and reviews and has served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Biological Chemistry since 2018.

Office: CBEC 387

Research Scientists and Staff

Dr. Ioulia Rouzina

Research Assistant Professor

I am a theoretical biophysicist analyzing experiments and proposing testable models of viral functioning. I am currently working on understanding how HIV-1 packages its own genome, how the reverse transcription inside the mature HIV-1 capsid drives its disassembly, how LEDGF protein binding to nucleosomes affects sites of HIV-1 integration, and how SARS-COV-2 N protein selects and packages its genome. I have a lot of experience deciphering data from optical tweezers stretching single biological molecules. I am interested in all kinds of biophysical phenomena.

I like all kinds of cultural activities and travel. But most of all I like kids.

Dr. Besik Kankia

Senior Research Scientist

Research interests: Origin of life – G4 World hypothesis, G4-based biotechnologies (signal amplification, nanostructures, real-time assays), G4 structures in retroviruses

Hobbies: Landscaping, building reclaimed wood furniture

Irina Shulgina

Research Associate

I help out with all projects in the lab.

An amateur birdwatcher.

Current Lab Members


Dr. Yu-Ci Syu

Graduate Student (2016–2022)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

My research mainly focuses on how host factors interacting with HTLV-1 Gag influence viral lifecycle, especially in the reverse transcription step.

I am from Taiwan. I like playing the piano and baking cookies in my free time.

Dr. Arundhati (Aru) Kavoor

Graduate Student (2018–2022)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

My research focuses on characterizing the function of a trans-editing factor, human ProXp-Ala, in vitro and in cells.

Outside the lab, I enjoy trying new cuisines, playing video games and binging TV shows.

Graduate Students

Chathuri Pathirage

Graduate Student (2017–Present)

Ohio State Biochemistry Program

My research involves characterizing the conformational changes in the 5’ untranslated region of the HIV-1 RNA genome upon host and cellular factor interactions that lead to reverse transcription initiation.

I am from Sri Lanka. I like to travel, listen to music and to cook different types of cuisines.

Christina Ross

Graduate Student (2019–Present)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

I focus on RNA modifications and protein interactions involved in HIV-1 assembly.

I enjoy playing trumpet, spending time with friends and the church community, and eating dark chocolate.

Yehong Qiu

Graduate Student (2019–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

I focus on HIV-1 gRNA elements involved in viral RNA packaging, and the role of Gag conformational changes and oligomerization in this process.

I am a kind of Otaku person, loving ACG content and currently trying to learn drawing and cover more songs.

Rylan Watkins

Graduate Student (2020–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

I study translational quality control mechanisms in Trypanosoma brucei.

In my free time you can find me enjoying one of the local coffee shops.

Megan Sullivan

Graduate Student (2020–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

I am investigating how phosphorylation of the SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid protein impacts its interactions with viral genomic RNA.

I like hiking, knitting, and hanging out with my cats. I also enjoy collecting vinyl records and playing cello in community orchestra.

Joseph Kanlong

Graduate Student (2021–Present)

Ohio State Biochemistry Program

I focus on the regulation of HIV-1 genomic RNA translation by transcriptional start site heterogeneity and structural diversity within the 5’UTR.

I grew up in NY, in the Hudson Valley and I love anything outdoors or water related. In my free time I love to cook, listen to music, and spend time with friends! I’m also a co-chair on the social committee for the OSBP Buckeye Biochemistry Club!

Kaylee Grabarkewitz

Graduate Student, Co-mentored by Dr. Vicki Wysocki (2021–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

Determining the role of transcriptional start site differences in HIV-1 genomic RNA 5’UTRs and their role in Gag binding and selective packaging using native mass spectrometry.

I grew up in Northern Minnesota and enjoy hiking and snowshoeing.

Mahfam Shariati

Graduate Student (2021–Present)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

I am trying to figure out if HIV-1 evades the host immune response, especially the cGas/STING pathway, using human Lysyl-tRNA synthetase.

Give me a little bit of time to learn a new language. You can call me a scientist by the day and a polyglot by the night. Also, I am trying to quit my addiction to Twitter!

Morgan Bauer

Graduate Student (2021–Present)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

My research focus is on translational quality control mechanisms in humans. I am also elucidating the activity of human EPRS, and glutamyl-prolyl tRNA synthetase, in vitro and in cells.

Alezandra Hernandez

Graduate Student (2022–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

I am currently working on characterizing the role of the unique C-terminus found in the ProXp-ala trans editing domain in plants (A.thaliana) in vivo. Future plans include in vitro work as well.

I am from Puerto Rico! Island living has made winter brutal for me but we’re still thriving! I enjoy hanging out with friends, reading, and watching good movies.

Tasnin Nila

Graduate Student (2022–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

My research focuses on how the RNA structure modifies the alternative pre-mRNA splicing mechanism of Kinesin protein that is related to a neurodegenerative disorder.

I am from Bangladesh. I love to listen to music and traveling new places.

Zixi (Cecilia) Long

Graduate Student (2022–Present)

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program

My project involves host protein interaction with HTLV-1 Gag. 

I enjoy listening to music and playing video games.

Brianna Young

Graduate Student (2022–Present)

Chemistry and Biochemistry Program

I am investigating the effect of biallelic mutations on the activity and function of human glutamly-prolyl-tRNA synthetase. 

I grew up in NJ, and I love traveling and experiencing different cultures.

Undergraduate Researchers

Dina Bayachou

Undergraduate Researcher (2022–Present)

Investigating the effect of phosphorylation-mimicking mutations of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein on its interactions with viral RNA.

I like to run as I have been a distance runner for a few years now! And spend time with my family.

Anna Vradi

Undergraduate Researcher (2020–Present)

My research focuses on translational editing mechanisms of Trypanasoma Brucei. Specifically, I am studying the interactions between aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase editing domains and the tRNA acceptor stem.

I love to go on hikes and look for local wildlife, especially frogs! I’m always down for a game of badminton!

Nicholas Basile

Undergraduate Researcher (2021–Present)

Skylar Stevenson

Undergraduate Researcher (2022–Present)

I am currently understanding the complexity of G3 triplex and G4 quadruplex structures and their roles in a G4 origin of life (“quadruples world”) hypothesis as well as their ability to function as signal amplification molecules. 

In my free time, I’m an artist. I mainly enjoy creative writing and ceramics, but at the moment I’m trying to learn watercolors!

Nick Kankia

Undergraduate Researcher (2022–Present)

Joshua Sobecks

Undergraduate Researcher (2022–Present)

Recent Lab Alumni

Dr. Danni Jin

Current Position: Postdoc at Yale University in Wendy Gilbert’s lab

Postdoctoral Researcher (2021–2022)

Former Graduate Student (2015–2021)

Dr. Jun-Kyu Byun

Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor at Lafayette College,  Easton, PA

Former Graduate Student (2015–2022)

Ohio State Biochemistry Program

Kevin Garayalde Batista

Graduate Student (2019–2022)

Ohio State Biochemistry Program

John Vu

Current Position: MD/PhD student at Mayo Clinic

Post-Bac Laboratory Technician (2021–2022)

Former Undergraduate Researcher (2018–2021)

Maxwell Zywica

Undergraduate Researcher (2019–2022)

Kristoffer Hoffman

Undergraduate Researcher

Vidhya Kannan

Undergraduate Researcher

Jake Tomkovicz

Undergraduate Researcher