Information for Applicants

Prospective graduate students should apply to the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (GDBBS):

Dr. Ortlund is a training faculty member of the Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB) and Molecular Systems Pharmacology (MSP) programs within the GDBBS.

Interested postdoctoral fellows should contact Dr. Ortlund directly by email. Applications should include a summary of research experience and interests, and a C.V. with contact details for at least three potential references. Candidates with their own funding or interested in applying for fellowships should contact Dr. Ortlund at any time.


OrtlundEric A. Ortlund, PhD
Associate Professor

Eric received his B.S. and Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, and followed this with postdoctoral research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC. Eric Was a Lineberger Cancer Center NRSA postdoctoral fellow and joined the Department of Biochemistry at Emory as an Assistant Professor in September 2008. 

Jennifer ColucciJen Colucci, PhD
Senior Research Specialist

Jen earned her Ph.D. from Emory University's Department of Biochemistry in 2013. Her research focuses on the historical mechanisms driving ligand specificity in steroid hormone nuclear receptors. 

Emma D'Agostino
Graduate Student, BCDB Program

Emma received her BS degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Biology and Chemistry. While at UNCCH, Emma worked in the lab of Dr. Matthew Redinbo where she studied structural and functional diversity of the bacterial beta-glucuronidase enzyme. Emma enrolled in the BCDB program in the Fall of 2016 and joined Dr. Ortlund's lab in 2017. Emma will be studying the roles of liver receptor homolog-1 (LRH-1) and Steroidogenic Factor-1 (SF-1) in metbolism and systems biology. 

HeatherHeather Donaldson
Research Specialist

Heather received her BS in Biology from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA in 2014. Previously, Heather did research in evolutionary genetics at UGA before joining the Ortlund lab in late 2014. 

no pictureRegan Esposito
Graduate Studen; BCDB Program

Regan received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Colgate University in 2014. She enrolled in the BCDB program the same year and joined the Ortlund lab in 2015. Her research is focused on using biochemical and structural approaches to investigate the role that lncRNA Gas5 plays on transcription and cell regulation. Regan is currently a BCDB Training Grant Awardee.

FFFilipp Frank, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Filipp received a B.S. and M.S. in molecular biotechnology from Ruprecht-Karls-University in Heidelberg, Germany, and a PhD in biochemistry from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He then carried out postdoctoral research in single-molecule biophysics at UC Berkeley before he joined Emory in 2016. Here he spends half his time as an HHMI curriculum development postdoctoral fellow and the other half investigating the functional and structural characteristics of the lncRNA Gas5 in the Ortlund lab. 

Xu Liu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Xu received a B.S. in food science and engineering from Shandong Normal University in 2005 and M.S. in biochemistry from Beijing Normal University in China in 2008. He finished his PhD studies centered on PDZ domain-mediated protein/ligand interactions in University of Iowa in 2014. He then performed a short-term postdoctoral research in structure and inhibition of a histone demethylase family in Cheng lab in Emory University before he joined Ortlund lab in 2016. Here he focuses on investigating the structure-dynamics-function relationship of glucocorticoid receptor and an acyltransferase called tafazzin.

Suzanne MaysSuzanne Mays
Graduate Student, MSP Program

Suzanne received a B.S. from Kennesaw State University in 2008.  Before starting graduate studies, she spent five years in the Petros/Liotta lab at Emory, researching anti-cancer effects of novel sphingolipids.  She enrolled in Emory’s MSP Ph.D. Program in 2013 and joined the Ortlund lab in April 2014.  Suzanne’s research focuses on ligand regulation of the orphan nuclear hormone receptor, LRH-1.

Elizabeth Millings

Elizabeth Millings, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Emory FIRST Fellow

Elizabeth received a B.S. in chemistry from Stony Brook University, and a PhD in nutritional and metabolic biology from Columbia University. She joined the Ortlund lab in 2017, where she studies the role of nuclear receptors in metabolic disease using mouse models. She is also a FIRST postdoctoral fellow at Emory.


Denise OkaforC. Denise Okafor, PhD
FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow

Denise received a B.S. in Biomedical Chemistry at Oral Roberts University. She then completed an M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined the Ortlund lab in September 2015, where she will use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate interactions between nuclear receptors and ligands. She is currently a FIRST postdoctoral fellow at Emory.

Anamika Patel, Ph.D.

Anamika Patel, PhD
Assistant Professor

Ayushi Sharma

Ayushi Sharma
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ayushi is an undergraduate student at Emory University double majoring in Biology (B.S.) and Sociology. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, and joined the Ortlund Lab in 2016. Her research focuses on the elucidation and crystallization of START domain-containing proteins.

Matthew TillmanMatthew Tillman
Graduate Student, MSP Program

Matt received his B.S. in Biology from Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA in 2013.  Matt enrolled in the MSP graduate program the following year and joined the Ortlund lab in 2015. His research centers on the role of fatty acid binding proteins in the cell using structural and biochemical analysis.

Former Members

Postdoctoral Fellows

Mireille El Bejjani, MD

2017 Medical Doctor, Lebanon 

Michael Tuntland, PhD


Research Scientist in the Discovery Crop Protection Group at Dow AgroSciences

Manish Pathak, PhD 2011 Indian Institute of Science Education and Research

Michael Murphy, PhD


Microlytic, Inc.

Kristal Maner-Smith, PhD


Emory Integrated Lipidomics Core (EILC)

Graduate Students

Emily Rye Weikum

2017 Medical Writer, SciMentum 

Jen Colucci

2013 Senior Research Specialist, Emory University Department of Biochemistry

Paul Musille

2014 Program Manager, NineSigma, Cleveland, OH
Eric Armstrong 2014 Faculty, Montgomery Bell Academy Preparatory School

Will Hudson


Post Doc, Rafi Ahmed, Emory University Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Jeffrey Kohn


Post Doc, Rockefeller University

Other lab members/visitors

Monah Clark


Emory Summer Undergraduate Research (SURE) Fellow 

Austin Herbst

2014 Emory Summer Undergraduate Research (SURE) Fellow

Christine Youn

2011 Emory Summer Undergradaute Research (SURE) Fellow
Conner Carter 2010 Visiting Student from Morehouse
Kirti Desphande 2008 Research Specialist
Sean Carroll 2009 Visiting Student from the University of Oregon
June Keay 2008   Visiting Student from the University of Oregon