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Current Lab Members

  • Read Pukkila-Worley

    Read Pukkila-Worley, MD, FIDSA

    Read is an infectious diseases physician, Professor of Medicine, and PI of the lab. He received his MD from the UNC- Chapel Hill and completed his clincial training at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Read was a postdoc with Fred Ausubel, PhD at MGH before joining the UMass faculty in 2015. He is an avid cyclist, runner and hiker, and he plays the cello. He spends most of his spare time though chasing his two kids, Eli and Vivian, with his wife, Anya.

  • Samantha Tse

    Samantha Tse

    Sammy is an M.D., Ph.D. candidate who joined the lab in 2019. She is a proud Massachusetts native and graduate of Boston College. She loves roller coasters, rock climbing, snowboarding, adventurous foods, and anything related to intestinal immunity.

  • Amanda Page

    Amanda Page

    Amanda is a research technician/ lab manager. She joined the lab in 2021 after graduating from Gordon College in Massachusetts. Amanda was a two varsity sport athelete at the Division III level (track and field, and cross country) and is in the lab for post-bach research training prior to applying to graduate or medical school.

  • Khursheed Wani

    Khursheed Wani

    Khursheed Wani, PhD is a senior scientist in the lab who has a long-standing interest in using C. elegans as a model organism to understand fundamental biological phenomena. He has brought a wealth of energy and great ideas to the laboratory. When not in the lab, Khursheed likes to run, hike, read, visit fruit farms and orchards of central Mass, cook, bake (you must try Khursheed's banana and zucchini breads!), and spend quality time with his better half, Foziah.

  • Akshay Alaghatta

    Akshay Alaghatta

    Akshay is an M.D., Ph.D. candidate in the lab. He is interested in exploring C. elegans biology and the molecular interactions between the innate immune system, the gut microbiome, and the nervous system. After growing up in San Jose, California, Akshay moved to the east coast to attend Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in Neuroscience, minored in Space Science and Technology, and ran cross country and track. Outside of the lab, he loves playing his guitar and singing, making art, exercising, and spending time with his family and friends.

  • Dan Bollen

    Dan Bollen

    Dan is a Postdoc and Research Scientist in the lab. He received his Ph.D. from M.I.T in 2023 where he trained in the lab of Dennis Kim. Dan is from upstate New York and recently marriend his high school sweetheart.


  • Sarah Anderson

    Sarah Anderson

    Sarah was the second Ph.D. student to join the lab and second to sucessfully defend her thesis.  Sarah graduated with a PhD in Biomedical Sciences in 2021. She now works for Editas Medicine, a biotech company in Cambridge, MA.

  • Hilary Cheesman

    Hilary Cheesman, M.S.

    Hilary was our lab manager from 2014 to 2020. She was the first person to join the lab. She helped Read unpack boxes and become an excellent C. elegans geneticist. She now works as the in vitro lab manager at Biomere Biomedical Research Models, Inc.

  • Nick Peterson

    Nick Peterson

    Nick is an M.D., Ph.D. candidate who successfully defended his thesis in 2022. Nick graduated from UMass Chan with a M.D., Ph.D. in 2024 and matched into the prestigous Stanbury Physician-Scientist Training Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Richa Chhaya

    Richa Chhaya

    Richa worked with us for three summers while an undergrad at UConn. She attended medical school at UMASS Chan and matched into internal medicine residency in New York City. 

  • Mohamad Nasrallah

    Mohamad Nasrallah

    In 2023, Mo become the 4th student to sucessfully defend his Ph.D. thesis from the lab. He returned to medical school to complete his M.D. degree.

  • Kyle Foster, Ph.D.

    Kyle Foster, Ph.D.

    Kyle did his thesis research in the Pukkila-Worley lab. He successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis in September 2020. He is now working as a Scientific Consultant for Recruitomics Consulting in Boston, MA.

  • Elizabeth Salisbury

    Elizabeth Salisbury

    Elizabeth is an alumna of the lab. She worked with us for one year as a reserach technician and then went to medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

  • Subhash Mehto

    Subhash Mehto

    Subhash Mehto, Ph.D. was a senior scientist in the lab and is now Assistant Professor and Principal Investigator of a laboratory at the Indian Institute of Technology- Dharwad.