Teams

Beatriz Veronese

Joined the lab in January 2021

Position: Graduate student

Email: bveronese at ufl.edu

Lab: 352-273-9897

Education: Bachelors in Dentistry,

Federal University of Para, Brazil


I am a dentist who decided to exchange a clinical career to explore my passion for science. Since my Ph.D. journey began, I had the opportunity to work with very motivating research projects and have had hands-on experience in a broad range of techniques. I decided to join Dr. Ma's lab because I am interested in how Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) modulates cell signaling pathways in the host organism. I believe that the identification and characterization of KSHV proteins, as well as their targeted pathways, may pinpoint novel approaches for treating or preventing KSHV-triggered cancer. I am confident that my research in Dr. Ma's lab will help me acquire meaningful experience and learning and will contribute to my path towards progressively independent researcher.

Kimberly Paulsen

Joined the lab in November 2021

Position: Graduate student

Email: kimberlypaulsen at ufl.edu

Lab: 352-273-9897

Education: Bachelors in Science, Bachelors in Spanish Studies

Brigham Young University, United States

I graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Spanish Studies. As an undergraduate, I worked in both wet and dry labs doing research on evolutionary biology and bioinformatics predictions of cancer patient outcomes. Since joining UF as a Ph.D. student, I have explored the complex mechanisms of oncogenesis in the field of hematology and am excited to engage in KSHV research with Dr. Ma. Outside of research, I also enjoy camping, kayaking, biking, and traveling.

Tiffany Nelson

Joined the lab in March 2022

Position: Graduate student

Email: tiffanysnelson at ufl.edu

Lab: 352-273-9897

Education: MSc in Medical Sciences, University of Florida

BSc in Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida

I graduated from the University of Florida with my B.S. in Microbiology & Cell Science and a minor in German. My undergraduate research focused on neurodegenerative diseases such as Spinocerebellar ataxia-Type I and Alzheimer’s. Following my bachelor’s, I stayed at UF to earn my M.S. in Medical Sciences through a graduate research assistantship. My thesis focused on developing novel gene-independent, metabolic-based approaches to inherited retinal disorders using AAV and in vivo mouse models. Throughout the years, I have developed a passion for studying viruses and knew I wanted to research herpesvirus for my Ph.D. Currently, I’m a first-year in the graduate program in Biomedical Sciences: Immunology & Microbiology concentration. My work in the Ma lab focuses on discovering stimulators of the cGAS-STING pathway and Type I interferon antiviral response. In my free time, I love to rock climb, play bingo, and cuddle my cats.

Amy Nguyen

Joined the lab in May 2021

Position: Research Technician

Email: amy.nguyen at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: B.Sc. in Biology,

University of Florida, United States


I recently graduated from UF in May 2021 with a Bachelor's in Pre-Professional Biology and a certificate in Spanish. I previously worked in the Bryant lab investigating circadian rhythm and pulmonary hypertension. In this lab, I hope to gain a better understanding of how KSHV functions and how anti-cancer drugs will affect tumor growth in mouse models. I hope to learn how to optimize my lab techniques and more about what our research will add to the medical field. In the meantime, I am applying to medical school and building my experiences in clinical and non-clinical settings. In my free time, I enjoy painting/drawing, cooking, and trying new food around Gainesville!

Noah Benscher

Joined the lab in October 2020

Position: Research Technician, Lab manager

Email: noah.benscher at ufl.edu

Lab: 352-273-9897

Education: B.Sci. in Biomathematics,

Florida State University, United States

I began my undergraduate career at FSU as a physics major but switched to biomathematics when I realized I enjoyed studying nature much more than its underlying forces. Shortly after, I began volunteering in Dr. Zhu’s laboratory, where I primarily investigated ORF52 of KSHV and acquired fundamental research techniques. Under the guidance of an inspiring and amicable doctoral candidate, I grew very fond of doing research and decided to pursue this career path. In Dr. Ma’s laboratory, I will develop my skills as an effective researcher, progress our efforts in discerning the complex relationships between KSHV and innate immunity, and do my best to keep the lab organized and clean. Aside from work, my hobbies are rather geriatric and include gardening, playing chess, and (as of recently) playing Go. Feel free to challenge me to a game after work.

Salma Drew

Joining the lab in January 2021

Position: Undergradute Research Assistant

Email: salma.drew at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: Senior, Biochemistry,

University of Florida, United States


I am a sophomore Biochemistry major here at UF, and I hope to also minor in Health Disparities and Mathematics. I hope to pursue a research career in Biochemistry, and my goal is to pursue graduate school, and hopefully one day, work toward a Ph.D. somewhere in the field of biochemistry. I joined Dr. Ma’s lab to learn the basics of research, learn from researchers far more experienced than me, and develop important research skills that I can hopefully use throughout my career. In my free time, I really like playing piano, painting, and writing!

Cathrine Pacini

Joined the lab in May 2022

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Email: cpacini at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: Junior, Public Health,

University of Florida, United States

I am a junior Public Health major at the University of Florida, double minoring in Health Disparities in Society and Anthropology. I hope to pursue a career that combines my interests in global public health with oncology and pathology, working towards an MPH and PA-C. I joined Dr. Ma’s lab to develop research techniques and gain a deeper understanding of immune responses and virology that can be translated to community health and medical settings. In my free time, I enjoy yoga, hiking, and collecting sea shells.

Rosenna Chan

Joined the lab in June 2022

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Email: rosenna.chan at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: Sophomore, Biochemistry,

University of Florida, United States

I am second year Biochemistry major at UF, and I also plan to pursue a minor in Anthropology. My goal for the future is to attend medical school but, in the meantime, I aim to continue exploring my interests in molecular biology, specifically regarding immunology and virology. I am excited to learn more about oncogenic viruses and innate immunity through Dr. Ma’s lab, and I hope to gain more insight into scientific research as a whole. In my spare time, I love spending time outdoors, cooking/baking, and constructing 3D origami models!

Khushil Patel

Joined the lab in June 2022

Position: Undergraduate Research Assistant

Email: khushil.patel at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: Sophomore, Biology,

University of Florida, United States

As of writing, I am a sophomore Biology major at the University of Florida working to achieve a career in the medical field. I have always been intrigued about microscopic elements unbeknownst to our naked eyes impacting the natural world—beneficial or detrimental—so working with the KSHV and investigating its impact on the innate immune pathway under Dr. Ma’s lab has enabled me to explore my interest to another level. As a novel undergraduate research assistant, I hope to develop and hone my research skills, as well as, to better grasp the complex system of oncology and virology through KSHV. In my downtime, I enjoy cuddling with my cats, playing video games, participating in volleyball, and Netflixing.

Lab alumni


Natacha Jn-simon

Rotation student: 04-05/2021

Current position: Ph.D. student in Tulane University

Education: B.Sc. Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida


Mahamuda Akter

Rotation student: 09-12/2022

Current position: Ph.D. student in Dr. Huang lab.

Education: B.Sci. in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

M.Sci. in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

Khulna University, Bangladesh

Gary Brown

The Ultimate Savior and Lab manager: 01/2021-05/2022

Current Position: Lab manager in Dr. Scott lab

Education: B.Sc. in Botany, University of Glasgow, Scotland