Group Members


Maanasa Raghavan

Principal Investigator/Neubauer Family Assistant Professor

Email: mraghavan[AT]

Maanasa Raghavan is a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in Human Genetics. Maanasa earned a PhD from the University of Copenhagen in 2011 and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for GeoGenetics, Denmark (2012-2015) and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge (2016-2018). Maanasa's doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on resolving aspects of the early peopling of the Americas using ancient genomics. Her current research leverages modern and ancient DNA to investigate how and when patterns of worldwide genetic diversity were formed and implications for present-day human health and disease. Outside of the lab/office, Maanasa enjoys playing the drums, fussing over her cat nephews and watching hockey (Go Leafs!).


Constanza de la Fuente

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Email: cdelafuente[AT]

Constanza is a postdoctoral scholar in the lab. She previously completed a PhD at the Center for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where she applied molecular and bioinformatics tools to study past populations in Siberia and the Americas. Constanza is developing sustainable research strategies for incorporating ancient DNA tools to answer regional questions across the Americas, in particular her home country, Chile. Besides her academic interests, she enjoys travelling, cooking and rock climbing.


Shreya Ramachandran

PhD Student (Human Genetics)

Email: shreya23[AT]

Shreya is a second-year PhD student in Human Genetics interested in population and evolutionary genetics and the human gut microbiome. Before coming to Chicago, she graduated from Stanford University with her BS (2016) and MS (2017) in Biology and spent a year on a Fulbright fellowship in Maria Avila's lab in Querétaro, Mexico. Shreya's rotation project focuses on the testing and implementation of computational tools for the analysis of metagenomics and microbiome data. When she's not thinking about genes and bugs, she likes reading, baking, and teaching English as a Second Language.


Esha Bandyopadhyay

PhD Student​ (Human Genetics)

Email: eshab5[AT]

Esha is a second-year grad student in Human Genetics interested in population genetics. She completed her B.Tech (2015) and M.Tech (2017) in Genetic Engineering from SRM University, India. As a part of her M.Tech thesis work, she spent six months at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Esha's rotation project focuses on South Asian ancient genomics. Besides genetics, she enjoys painting, photography, traveling and reading [Psst: She is a huge Sherlock fan!]



David Witonsky


Email: wito[AT]

David is a bioinformatician and genetic data analyst who has worked in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago for over 15 years. During these years, he has worked closely with the labs of Anna Di Rienzo, John Novembre, and Sonia Kupfer developing and applying a diverse array of statistical and computational methods in research directed towards uncovering the mechanisms giving rise to phenotypic diversity in modern humans. Much of this work has focused on the genetic adaptation of humans to the unique stresses of high altitude environments. In his spare time, David likes to relieve his own stress by running and playing the piano.


Nagarjuna Pasupuleti

Research Affiliate

Email: nagarjuna.ambu[AT]

Nagarjuna is a research affiliate, based in India. He completed his Masters in Biotechnology from Bharathiar University, India, and has since worked in several research institutes in India such as the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (DST-BSIP) and Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI). His research interests include population and evolutionary genetics and microbiome studies, particularly the role of gut microbiota in human health and disease. His current project involves working with communities across India to develop microbiome projects. When not in the field or the lab, Nagarjuna enjoys learning new languages, travelling and trekking.


Jovan Stanisavic

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Email: jstanisavic[AT]

Jovan is a first year undergraduate student in the College at the University of Chicago. He recently graduated from the International School of Belgrade. He is currently majoring in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Med track. His research interests span questions in various fields such as pathology, genetics, and evolutionary biology.
Jovan's project in the GenSCAPE lab is aimed at evaluating and optimizing DNA extraction and NGS library preparation techniques from FFPE samples. Besides biology and chemistry, Jovan's interests include politics, public policy, and psychology - reasons why he partakes in student government activities, debating, and community service. He also enjoys reading, playing basketball, and spending time outdoors with his friends and family.


Tabitha Willis

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Email: willis.592[AT]

Tabitha Willis is a Junior at The Ohio State University, studying Medical Anthropology and Biology on a Pre-med track. As an LSAMP-SURE Grant Research Scholar, her research interests include evolutionary biology, anthropology and human genetics. Tabitha’s project in the GenSCAPE Lab involves testing various mtDNA haplogroup assignment tools on ancient DNA data and assisting in the mining and analysis of ancient pathogens. Out of the lab, Tabitha is interested in entrepreneurship and social justice. She also enjoys playing tennis, exploring museums, engaging in environmental justice projects and mentoring underrepresented students in STEM.


Emily Koch

Summer Undergraduate Researcher

Email: emilykoch[AT]

Emily Koch is a rising senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is currently working on a Stable Isotope Analysis project for her Honors Independent Study in an effort to reconstruct the diet of the Ancient Italian Noli population (11th – 15th century). At the GenSCAPE lab, she is going to continue her research of the Noli people using ancient DNA, in addition to working on other numerous projects. In the future, she hopes to pair her Biochemistry and Molecular Biology background with her skills obtained in the lab in pursuing Ancient DNA (aDNA) research or evolutionary genetics. Outside of the lab, she is a huge hockey fan (Go Rangers!) and yogi -- Namaste!


Bridget Chak

Rotation Student

Email: bchak[AT]

Bridget is a first-year PhD student in Genetics, Genomics, and Systems Biology interested in population genetics, human evolution, and global health. Before coming to Chicago, she was at Harvard University and the Broad Institute working on projects in viral genomics and outbreak response in Western Africa. Bridget’s rotation project is geared towards designing a South Asian capture panel with a focus on immune-related variants. Outside of the lab, you’ll probably find her trying out new bars/restaurants in Chicago. She also enjoys pilates, music, football (go Liverpool!), and F1.


Mayher Kaur

Summer Undergraduate Researcher
Email: mkaur1[AT]

Mayher is a rising first year undergraduate at the University of Chicago. She plans to major in Biological Sciences on the Pre-Med track with a minor in Computer Science. Her interests include bioinformatic and biostatistical work. Her project in the GenSCAPE Lab centers around data collection, comparing/analysis of genome-wide data, and population structure. When she’s not working in the lab, she enjoys spending time with her giant goldendoodle, drawing, playing the violin, and going on bike rides with her family. Academically, outside of biology and computer science, Mayher is a big economics enthusiast, and often partakes in conversations surrounding environmental and community issues.

Lab Alumni

Suzanne Freilich (suzanne.freilich[AT]

Visiting PhD student at GenSCAPE Lab, Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation scholarship

Suzanne is a fourth-year PhD student in archaeogenetics at the University of Vienna.

Amali Fernando (amalishanya92[AT]

Visiting PhD student at GenSCAPE Lab

Amali is a PhD student at the University of Colombo, studying the population history of Sri Lanka.

William Barrie (wb275[AT]

Undergrad thesis student (gene-culture interaction in the Americas), Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Will is a PhD student with Prof. Eske Willerslev at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.

Anoushka Menon (am2599[AT]

M.Phil. thesis student (South Asian population genetics), Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge

Anoushka works on the Growth Team at Thriva, a med-tech start-up, where her role is Growth Analytics and Performance Marketing.

Ece Akdoğan (ecakdogan[AT]

Erasmus Programme M.Sc. student (Environmental DNA), Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

Ece is a sustainability consultant with S360 Sustainability Consultancy.