Graduate Students

Jason Ray's picture

Jason grew up in North Carolina and decided at age ten to become a scientist. He studied chemistry at Brigham Young University, where his coursework focused on organic chemistry and biochemistry. He did research with Dr. Jeffery Tessem on genetic pathways that could be targeted to reverse type 1 and type 2 diabetes. He was a teaching assistant for several general chemistry classes and tutored students extensively in both math and chemistry. Because of his love for research and teaching, Jason plans to become a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution. His research in the Spiegel lab focuses on novel uses of bifunctional molecules. Outside of lab, Jason enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his wife.

Rebecca Howell's picture

Rebecca grew up in Connecticut and attended Bucknell University where she majored in Cell Biology/ Biochemistry.  At Bucknell, she worked in Dr. Charles Clapp’s laboratory using site-directed mutagenesis to probe conformational changes of soybean lipoxygenase.  After graduation, she completed a one-year appointment in the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Dr. Joern Schmitz’s laboratory.  Here she generated stable cell lines expressing soluble and membrane bound Fc receptors to explore differences in therapeutic antibody binding in Rhesus macaques and humans. Next, she joined the Immunology team at Moderna Therapeutics and worked under the guidance of Dr. Gilles Besin for three years developing high-throughput flow cytometry-based screening methods to assess biological interactions of novel delivery and mRNA chemistries.  Her work on the Moderna platform contributed to several drug candidates currently in the clinic.  She began her graduate studies at Yale in Chemical Biology in 2018 and joined the Spiegel lab to work at the interface between chemistry and immunology. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys baking, traveling and playing with her dog.

Jovan Lopez's picture

Jovan considers himself a Texafornian, having grown up in Texas and spent most of his adult life in California. Though he majored in Chemistry at Stanford University, he first worked in the Translational Immunology lab of Catherine Blish. His work there seeded his interest in immunology but planted ideas of doing science and medicine. However, he was charmed by his organic chemistry professor and so switched to the lab of Noah Burns, where he worked on synthetic methods development. After his undergraduate, he began working at Merck Research Laboratories, San Francisco as a medicinal chemist. Over three years, he was involved in the discovery, lead optimization, and pre-clinical development of several small molecules and antibody-drug conjugates. This formative experience cemented his desire to pursue dual MD/PhD degrees. He started at Yale’s Medical Scientist Training Program in 2020 and completed two years of medical school before joining the Spiegel lab as an Immunobiology student. His research applies chemistry to understand and treat autoimmune diseases. Meanwhile, he practices sexual and reproductive healthcare at HAVEN Free Clinic. He also enjoys board games with friends, replaying Legend of Zelda video games, and occasionally making noise on the French horn.

Shikun 'Rinco' Wang's picture

Born and raised in Guangzhou, China, Rinco attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for her undergraduate degree, where she double majored in biology and chemistry. During her time at UNC-Chapel Hill, Rinco joined Professor Gary Pielak’s lab and worked on protein chemistry, using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy to investigate the mechanism behind a desiccation-tolerant protein in Tardigrades. Currently, Rinco is pursuing her PhD at Yale University and working in Spiegel’s lab, where she is focused on expanding bifunctional molecules to cross the blood-brain barrier. In her free time, Rinco enjoys reading and working out, which helps her to stay balanced and focused. She is committed to using her skills and knowledge to make a positive impact in the world and is always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. As a member of this community, Rinco is excited to collaborate with others and contribute to the group’s shared goals.