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Our lab welcomes scientists from all backgrounds regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic background, or other historically marginalized groups. We strive to foster an inclusive lab environment where black, brown, and underrepresented scientists will thrive in. We celebrate diversity and its power to drive the creativity needed to make innovative scientific discoveries.


James Nuñez, PhD

Principal Investigator

James is an Assistant Professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UC Berkeley, a Hanna Gray Fellow of HHMI, and an Investigator of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. Previously, he was a postdoc fellow with Jonathan Weissman at UCSF and earned his PhD at UC Berkeley in Jennifer Doudna's lab. James is interested in all things CRISPR and chromatin biology. Outside the lab, you will likely find James on a tennis court or outdoors on his bike or hiking boots.

contact: jamesnunez[at]


Nikita Divekar, PhD


Nikita earned her PhD from Northwestern University. She is a recipient of a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). 

contact: nsd178[at]



Da Xu, PhD


Da earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Science and Technology of China. Currently, Da is interested in the development and engineering of epigenetic editing tools, with a focus on protein-directed evolution research. Outside of the lab, Da enjoys cooking and hiking.



Rithu Pattali

MCB Graduate Student

Rithu is a third year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department, jointly advised by Dr. Jennifer Doudna. She is a graduate fellow of the University of California Cancer Research Coordinating Committee and an Innovation Fellow of Bakar Labs.


contact: rithupattali[at]



Izaiah Ornelas

MCB Graduate Student

Izaiah is a third year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department and a recipient of a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a UC Berkeley Mentored Research Award.

Izaiah works on developing CRISPR based epigenetic editors and aims to modulate gene expression in human cells for transient and heritable gene expression.

contact: izaiah_ornelas[at]


Justin Lubin

Computer Science Graduate Student

Justin is a fourth year PhD student in the Computer Science Department and a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. He researches programming languages and human-computer interaction to design programming systems for nontraditional programmers. 

contact: justinlubin[at]


Anna Christenson

MCB Graduate Student

Anna is a second year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department. 

She is studying the biological mechanisms of heterochromatin establishment and spreading in human cells. 

contact: anna_christenson[at]


Swen Besselink

Visiting Scholar

Swen is a second year Masters student in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease from the Radboud University, the Netherlands. During his internship in the Nuñez Lab, he will be investigating new epigenetic-editing tools for therapeutic applications.

contact: swenbesselink[at]

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Ngan Phan

MCB Graduate Student

Ngan is a first year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department.

contact: ngan_phan[at]


Jinna Brim

MCB Graduate Student

Jinna is a first year PhD student in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department.

contact: jinnabrim[at]


Carolyn Nguyen

Undergraduate Student

Carolyn is a second year studying Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology and Business Administration. Carolyn is a SURF Rose Hills Fellow.


contact: carolyndvn[at]


Peter Colias

Undergraduate Student

Peter is a fourth year Molecular and Cell Biology major with an emphasis on Genetics, Genomics & Development.


contact: pjcolias[at]


Jerry Roberts

Undergraduate Student

Jerry is a fourth year studying Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Molecular Therapeutics. 


contact: jerryroberts[at]


Mitzi Hernandez

Undergraduate Student

Mitzi is a third year Integrative Biology major with an emphasis in human biology.

contact: mh29[at]


Bernardo Moreno

Undergraduate Student

Bernardo is a junior transfer studying Bioengineering with an emphasis on Tissue Engineering.

contact: bmorenoarteaga[at]


Andrea Nuñez

Administrative Assistant

Andrea earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration at Colorado State University. In addition to being the Nuñez Lab administrative assistant, she is also a mother of two boys and a german shepherd.

contact: andreanunez[at]



Postdoc • Graduate Student • Research Assistant • Undergraduate Student • Visiting Scholar

We accept graduate students from the Molecular and Cell Biology PhD program. Postdocs, research assistants, undergraduate students, and visiting scholars should reach out to James: jamesnunez [at] berkeley [dot] edu


Former Undergraduate Students

Anatori Prieto, Ted Llera (McNair Scholar; now PhD student at UC Berkeley), Paulina Rios (Summer Amgen Scholar; now NSF GRFP PhD Student at MIT), Michelle Adutwum (Summer UCSF SSRP/CIRM Scholar; now college student at Johns Hopkins), Lily Baulete (Summer Intern), Eric Bass (Amgen Scholar), Jason Tello (REU Summer Scholar)

Former Research Associates

Scarleth Chalen Ulloa (now PhD student at UC Berkeley)

Former Visiting Scientists

Marco Klanschnig (PhD Student at Universität für Bodenkultur Wien)

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