Schmidt-Ott Lab

Urs Schmidt-Ott

Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy

Urs trained as a zoologist and molecular developmental biologist and is interested in the developmental and genetic basis of animal diversity. He received his graduate training in the laboratory of the Drosophila neurobiologist Gerhard Technau at the University of Mainz in Germany and postdoctoral training under the mentorship of the molecular developmental biologist Herbert Jäckle at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, where he started his own research group in 1997. In 2002, he moved his laboratory to the University of Chicago, where he uses a variety of dipteran insects (flies, midges, mosquitoes) to study developmental mechanisms in their phylogenetic context.

Committee on Evolutionary Biology 
Committee on Development, Regeneration, and Stem Cell Biology
Committee on Genetics, Genomics and Systems Biology

Ezra Amiri

Graduate Student

Ezra is a graduate student in the Committee on Development, Regeneration and Stem Cell Biology (DRSB) and interested in the evolution of the epigenetic landscape of early fly embryos.

Contact: emsy<at>

Muzi Li

Graduate Student

​Muzi Li is a graduate student in the Committee on Integrative Biology, a graduate program housed in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, who studies mechanisms of symmetry breaking during zygotic genome activation in the midge Chironomus riparius, which uses a TCF-related cysteine clamp protein, called Panish, for establishing embryo polarity.

Contact: muzi1<at>

Sam Swank

Graduate Student

Sam is a graduate student in the Heckscher Lab co-advised by Dr. Urs Schmidt-Ott.

Koray Kasan

Graduate Student

Ayse Tenger-Trolander

Postdoctoral Scholar

Ayse joined the lab as a postdoctoral scholar in June of 2023. In the Schmidt-Ott lab, Ayse is studying the role of microRNAs in dipteran evolution. Ayse completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in Marcus Kronforst’s lab where her research focused on using naturally occurring variation in monarch butterfly populations to investigate the underlying genetic origin of migration. Ayse then joined Wittkopp Lab where she explored the role of microRNAs in Drosophila’s pigmentation gene regulatory network.

Contact: ayse.trolander<at> or atengertrolander<at>

Michael "Misha" Ludwig

Associate Research Professor

​He is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution. He studied genetics at the University of  Novosibirsk, received his PhD from the Institute of Developmental Biology (Russia), and postdoctoral training at Indiana University.


Contact: mludwig<at>

Suzanne Stratton


​Dr. Stratton has over 28 years of experience as an academic researcher, drug development scientist, educator, and executive. She holds a BS in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, and a PhD from the University of Arizona. She served as faculty at the University of Arizona and later became the Vice President for Research at Carle Foundation Hospital and faculty at University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana (UIUC). Dr. Stratton has been a leader in small biotech companies, driving bench-to-bedside drug development. She is involved in the Schmidt-Ott lab’s work on Hermetia illucens.

Contact: t-9sstr0<at>

Abubacarr Jalloh


Abubacarr is an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago College who plans to major in biochemistry who works with graduate student mentor Muzi Li.

Contact: abubacarrj<at>

Former Lab Members

  • Christine Kwon (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2023)
  • Koray Kasan (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2019)
  • Jaeda Patton (Graduate Rotation Student, Summer Quarter 2014)
  • Elise Lemp (Undergraduate Student, 2018-2019)
  • Yoseop Yoon (Graduate Student, 2014-2019)
  • Jessica Huang (Lab school Summer Link program, summer 2019)
  • Livia Guttieres (RIBS2 program, summer 2018)
  • Henry Schaeffer (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2018)
  • Danny Chen (Undergraduate Student, 2015-2018)
  • Chun Wai Kwan (Graduate Student, 2011-2017)
  • Nicole Horio (Lab school Summer Link program, summer 2017)
  • Scott Molloy (RIBS2 program, summer 2017)
  • Claudia Vacca (RIBS2 program, summer 2016)
  • Carlos Martinez (Postdoc, 2013-2015)
  • Jeff Klomp (Postdoc, 2012-2015)
  • Lindsey Montefiori (Graduate Rotation Student, Summer Quarter 2014)
  • Erick X. Bayala Rodriguez (Summer 2014)
  • Adi Bitanski (Visiting student from Israel; NSF-EDEN program, 2014)
  • Vasanthanarayan Murugesan (Summer 2014)
  • Derek Athy (Junior Research Assistant, 2012-2013)
  • Austen Barnett (Visiting Graduate Student, NSF EDEN program, 2012)
  • Christopher Quintanilla (Graduate Rotation Student, Fall Quarter 2012)
  • Mijung Kim (Postdoc, 2010-2012)
  • Motolani Akinola (REU Summer Student, 2012)
  • Megan Wilson (Junior Research Assistant, 2011-2012)
  • Steffen Lemke (Masters student, 2002; Graduate student, 2002-2006; postdoc, 2006-2011)
  • Matteen Rafiqi (Graduate student, 2002-2008; Postdoc, 2009-2010)
  • Caroline Albertin (Graduate Rotation Student, Winter Quarter 2010)
  • Kacy Gordon (Graduate Rotation Student, Autumn Quarter 2009)
  • CheeHyurng Park (Undergraduate Student, 2006-2011, Honors Thesis 2010)
  • Benjamin Krinsky (Graduate Rotation Student, Spring Quarter 2008)
  • Arun Pelniker (Summer Student, 2009)
  • Natasha Bloch (Pregraduate Student, July 2006- August 2007)
  • Steven Green (Graduate Rotation Student, Spring Quarter 2006)
  • Sofya Leonova (Undergraduate, June 2004 – June 2006)
  • Stephanie E. Busch (Undergraduate, October 2004 – March 2006)
  • Sean Ferguson (Junior Research Assistant, 2003-2005)
  • John Raedts (Visiting Student from University of Wageningen, The Netherlands, July 2005 – December 2005)
  • Elisabeth Finn (Undergraduate, Autumn 2005)
  • Christine E. Boylan (Summer Student, 2005)
  • Iza Wolnowska (Summer Student 2004)
  • Sruthilaya Swaminathan (Summer Student 2004)
  • Alexander Prell (Diploma Thesis, 2000; Graduate Student, 2000-2004)
  • Emanuel Busch (Diploma Thesis, 2001)
  • Michael Stauber (Graduate Student, 1997-2001; Postdoc, 2002-2004)