Alina's Defense Party 04/09/21
This is a picture of our end of summer, socially distant party in front of Coffman Student Union
Group Photo outside Nils

Principal Investigator

Dr. Wendy Gordon

Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota - Pew Biomedical Scholar - Director of Graduate Studies (BMBB PhD Program) - Notch your average PI

Email: wrgordon (at)

Current Lab Members

Andrew Lemmex

Andrew’s research is focused on the mechanobiology of the Notch receptor through the application of tools such as phage display biopanning and molecular tension sensors. His goal is to better understand how dynamic tensions sensed by Notch correspond to its regulation of cell fate as well as its role in disease.

Matt Pawlak

Matt's research focuses on the development and use of molecular tension sensors. He aims to use these tools to study forces that contribute to cancer metastasis. He hopes that these tools will uncover novel thereupeutic targets.

Natalia S. Babilonia-Díaz

Natalia is a first-year graduate student in Wendy's lab and her research focuses on engineering novel protein based tools to modulate and perturb cellular tensions, forces, and signaling cascades.

Erin Nolan

Erin is a first-year graduate student co-mentored by Dr. David Largaespada and her research focuses on developing in vivo applications for the tools we develop in lab for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes. 


Dr. Klaus Lovendahl

For his PhD, Klaus did the initial development of the HUH tags as bioconjugation tools - identifying promising proteins, showing that they function as fusion proteins in vitro and in cells, and using them for imaging and single-molecule experiments. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Washington, where he is using hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry to study the structural dynamics of viral proteins. 

Dr. Amanda Hayward

Amanda's research in the Gordon Lab focused on dystroglycan disease mutations and mechanobiology protein technology development. She identified the impact of disease mutations in dystroglycan's proteolysis domain, and also created a toolkit for interrogating cell surface receptor proteolysis (SNAPS). Amanda is currently at the University of Minnesota and divides her time between being a Grant Coordinator for the Department of Surgery and an Assistant Program Manager for the Institute of Engineering in Medicine's Center Accelerator program.

Dr. Eric Aird

Eric’s research in the Gordon Lab focused on technology development in the fields of both genome editing and mechanobiology. He developed a unique strategy to tether genome editing DNA templates directly to Cas9 via a fused HUH-endonuclease, and also created a molecular tension sensor based on bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET). Eric is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Jacob Corn’s Lab at ETH Zurich.

Dr. Kassidy Tompkins

Kassidy applied both structural and experimental techniques to uncover the molecular basis of single-stranded DNA recognition and cleavage by HUH-tags - our fusion protein bioconjugation technology. His aim was to further enhance and engineer orthogonality, specificity, and flexibility into HUH-tag based applications.

Karen Evans

Karen is the former Gordon lab manager, and thus she did all of the regular and not so regular odd jobs that come up from day to day in an effort to keep everything running smoothly. She learned a lot about everyone's research and biochemistry in general during her time in lab.

Dr. María Paz Ramirez

Maria was co-advised by Dr. James Ervasti, and her research focused on the mechanobiology of muscular dystrophy using molecular tension sensors, based on Bioluminescence Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET).  After a brief postdoctoral fellowship here at UMN, she has accepted a position at Olympus.

Dr. Marcus Kelly

Marcus’ research focused on the biomechanics of cell migration in glioblastoma across external factors such as the extracellular matrix (ECM) and substrate stiffness. His goal was to use cancer migration modeling to better understand cancer development and metastasis.

Dr. Lidia Limón

Lidia's research focused on the utilization of HUH-endonucleases (HUH-tags) as novel fusion tags for biotechnology applications reliant on protein-DNA bioconjugation.

Dr. Michael Anderson

Mike used structural and biochemical techniques to understand how the mechanoreceptor protein dystroglycan is affected in cancer cells and contributes to metastasis. He hopes this information can be used to understand how mechanosensation contributes to cancer growth and metastasis. He is now in medical school finishing the other component of his dual MD PhD degree. 

Dr. Adam Smiley

Adam's research was focused around directed evolution of HUH-endonucleases towards novel substrate specificity, sequence specificity, and enhanced cleavage reaction efficiency. His goal was to understand how developable HUH-tags are and to develop and deploy them in novel contexts. He also did a lot of the bioinformatics around the lab. Adam ran this website and is interested to see how long it takes to update without him.

Undergraduate Alumni


Dr. Robert Evans

After working in the Gordon Lab for three years as a Postdoctoral Fellow, Bob became an Assistant Professor in the BMBB Dept. He remains active in the Gordon Lab, mentoring undergraduates, principally, in the physical science and work-flow behind x-ray crystallography.  Bob’s heart is in mentoring and teaching (he and his wife taught high school math and science for a number of years at the George Washington Academy, Casablanca, Morocco). Bob has a MS Ed degree, along with a PhD in BMBB that he earned right here at the UMN. Bob loves exploring the “physics of the chemistries of life” and enjoys designing/building instrumentation for aiding in those studies. Bob is a member of the BMBB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. He and his wife, Karen, enjoy camping, exploring, biking, decorating birthday cakes, making maple syrup, and spending time with their family (which includes 8 grandchildren!)