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Megan Martik

Assistant Professor

Megan received her B.S. in Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. As an undergrad, Megan became interested in gene regulation and evolutionary developmental biology in the lab of Dr. Veronica Hinman. She then completed her PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Dave McClay at Duke University where she studied the transcriptional control of morphogenetic processes. After her PhD work, Megan began studying gene regulatory network control of neural crest development and evolution at Caltech in Dr. Marianne Bronner's lab. Megan is fascinated by the regulatory logic dictating complex processes such as cell differentiation, evolution, and regeneration. In her spare time, she likes to travel, SCUBA dive, spend time with family and friends, and hang with her dog, Little Edie.

Email: martik [at] berkeley [dot] edu

Twitter: @MeganMartikPhD


Charles Tralka

Lab Assistant

Charles has fostered his life long passion for working with animals through his experiences studying marine biology at UC Santa Cruz and working for the ELVer Lab run by Dr. Rita Mehta, and the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab run by Dr. Colleen Reichmuth. There, he became familiar caring for seals and moray eels while investigating the SDA of snowflake morays. At the Martik lab, Charles hopes to expand his knowledge of developmental biology and the role neural crest cells play in heart regeneration.


Rekha Dhillon-Richardson

Lab Assistant

Rekha is a lab assistant in the Martik Lab. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Brown University in 2021. At Brown, she worked in the Plavicki laboratory studying the impact of PFOS exposure on neurodevelopment and immune response to brain injury in embryonic zebrafish. She is excited to continue working with zebrafish in the Martik lab and explore the role of neural crest cells in heart regeneration processes. In her spare time, she likes to rock climb, hang out with friends, read, watch TV, and play board games.

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Alex Haugan

Graduate Student

Alex received her B.S in cell and developmental biology from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. As an undergraduate Alex became passionate about the processes of development and regeneration through the studies of both glial reprogramming in the retina and human stem cell-derived organoids in Dr. Tom Reh's laboratory. Now as a graduate student in the Martik Lab, Alex studies cardiac regeneration and the unique contribution of neural crest cells to this process. Alex is passionate about scientific mentorship, equity and justice in science, and transgender rights. Outside of lab Alex loves to bake, travel, and talk all things television and books.


Xylina Rusit

Graduate Student

Xylina graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Evolutionary Anthropology. Wanting to combine her scientific passions, she sought to ask evolutionary questions in the context of molecular biology. In the Martik Lab, she now studies the evolution and development of the cardiac neural crest with the assistance of the mighty sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), a basal vertebrate, and the elegant and divergently evolved Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus). You may encounter a wild Xylina getting boba/coffee or thrifting around downtown Berkeley.


Hannah Van Mullem

Undergraduate Student

Hannah is an undergraduate in her senior year at UCB. Currently she is working on understanding axial regionalization of the neural crest, and will be exploring epigenetic and regulatory differences in the neural crest networks across vertebrates. She hopes to continue studying genetics and development after graduation. In her free time she enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction novels, playing board games with friends, and cooking.

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Luke Lyons

Undergraduate Student

Luke is a fourth-year undergraduate double-majoring in molecular and cell biology, and English. His interest in research began while evaluating the reliability of forebrain and midbrain organoid protocols in the Bateup lab. Now in the Martik lab, he studies the contribution of neural crest cells during cardiac regeneration. Luke is passionate about the intersection between literature and science, and transfer mentorship. Outside of lab, Luke can be found spending time with friends, listening to music, or perusing bookstores.


Maria Luisa Maas Gamboa

Undergraduate Student/McNair Scholar

Maria Luisa is an undergraduate student majoring in molecular and cell biology. She's passionate about all things research and is currently studying the neural crest genetic regulatory network. She enjoys reading, crocheting, hanging out with friends, and exploring the bay area.


Natalie Williams

Undergraduate Student

Natalie is a fourth year undergraduate majoring in molecular cell biology- genetics, genomics, and development and minoring in climate science. She is excited about the future of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. In the Martik lab, she's studying gene regulatory networks in zebrafish embryos. She loves spending time outdoors, running, traveling, and environmental sustainability.


Jill Liang

Undergraduate Student

Jill is an undergrad in the Martik Lab. She began her interest in research back in high school, where she studied lncRNAs in transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease at Irene Lab in Taiwan. Her passion for research and science continues here at Cal as she finds out how neural crest cells affect cardiac regeneration. Apart from research, she is a figure skater who enjoys watching Netflix and skiing.



The Martik lab is an inclusive, supportive group and is actively recruiting motivated, curious, and creative scientists at all levels. Please reach out if you're interested in joining the team!

Personnel: Lab Members
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