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) modulate 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: BSc in Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida

MSc in Medical Sciences, 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

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: Lab assistant

Email: salma.drew at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-9897

Education: Sophomore, 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!

Gary Brown

Joined the lab in January 2021

Position: The Ultimate Savior and Lab manager

Email: gabrown at ufl.edu

Office: 352-273-6569

Education: B.Sc. in Botany,

University of Glasgow, Scotland

I have worked in a diverse area in my science career, tackling everything from transgenic production, stem cell manipulation, small animal surgery and virus production to name but a few. I have trained many dozens of researchers over my career in such areas, and currently am the University trainer for the Perkin Elmer IVIS Spectrum bioluminescent/fluorescent imager. My goal is to leverage my experience to assist personnel in acquiring additional skills, maintain the laboratory and provide the group with regulatory compliance support as needed. Over my 20 year tenure at UF, I have developed a substantial network of resources across the UF Health Sciences Center over the years and understand the criticality of relationship building for future flexibility. My goal is to be a problem fixer and process improver; a resource that motivates, engages and is not hesitant to evolve. I am always eager to learn, improvise and innovate.

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. Melike Caglayan lab.

Education: B.Sci. in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

M.Sci. in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering

Khulna University, Bangladesh