Stefania Nicoli, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor


I established my lab here at Yale Cardiovascular Research Center in 2012 after finishing my postdoctoral work at UMASS Medical School, Worcester, MA in the Lawson Lab. My goal is to undestand the function of RNA based mechanisms in driving endothelial and neuronal cell behaviors.

Email:  [email protected]

Meredith S. Cavanaugh, M.S.   
Zebrafish Aquaculture Technician


Meredith joined the Nicoli Lab in November 2015 after receiving her Master's of Science degree in Tropical Marine Ecology and Fisheries Biology at James Cook University in Australia.  She is now the Zebrafish facility manager for the Yale Cardiovascular Research Center, here at 300 George St. Please contact Meredith for specific Zebrafish line requests.

Email: [email protected]
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Dionna M. Kasper, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dionna investigated the epigenetic mechanisms that control piRNA biogenesis in the C. elegans ​germ line with Dr. Valerie Reinke at Yale University, earning her Ph.D. in 2014. Dionna joined the Nicoli lab for her postdoctoral work in December 2014. Using the zebrafish model, she made the fundamental discovery that microRNAs limit endothelial cell heterogeneity as a way to preserve vascular homeostasis during development (Kasper et al., Dev. Cell 2017). Currently, she is dissecting microRNA-dependent regulation of hematopoietic stem cell production from endothelium. She was supported by NHLBI NRSA (F32) postdoctoral fellowship and NIDDK Hematology Partner Pilot & Feasibility grant. She is has now an NIH NHLBI K99/R00 Pathway to Independence award, which will support the establishment of her own lab to study small RNA function in HSC development.

Email: [email protected]

Joey Ghersi, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Joey joined the lab in April 2018. He obtained his Ph.D in Julien Bertrand’s Lab at University of Geneva, Switzerland, where he deciphered the role of new genes involved in zebrafish erythropoiesis. Joey has strong interest in cardiovascular and hematopoietic development as a tool to understand better cell fate decision. Joey’s project will be exploring cardiovascular and hematopoietic phenotypes in CRISPR/Cas9 mutants in order to decipher the function of several single- and multi gene miRNA families during zebrafish embryogenesis

​Email: [email protected]


Liana Boraas, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Liana joined the Nicoli lab in February 2018 with a core research interest in the complex relationship between the physical microenvironment and cell fate as mediated by mechanosensing mechanisms. She received a B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College in 2013. As a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering, she identified several of cytoskeletal structures as mechano-regulators of pluripotent stem cell differentiation with Dr. Taby Ahsan at Tulane University. In the Nicoli lab, Liana is focused on mechanotransduction mechanisms that utilize post-transcriptional mRNA modification relevant in mechano-homeostasis. 

​Email: [email protected]


Kevin Salinas
Undergraduate Student

Kevin joined the Nicoli lab during the Spring 2016 semester. An undergraduate from a border town in South Texas, he took a gap year to study Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan and explore East Asia after that summer through the Richard U. Light Fellowship at Yale. With a deep interest in cardiovascular disease and development, he joins us again as he begins to work on identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating hematopoietic stem cell formation from the zebrafish endothelium.

​Email: [email protected]

Jared Hintzen
Postgraduate Student

I received my B.S. in Molecular Genetics at SUNY Fredonia where I characterized oral and ovarian cancer based on mitotic defects.  From there I received my M.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of New Haven studying the effects of Borrelia Burgdorferi, lyme disease causing bacteria on neuronal cells in correlation to neurodregenerative diseases.  My scientific interests lie within the field of translational biology, as well as, disease development.  

​Email: [email protected]

Siyuan (Lily) Chen
Graduate Student

Siyuan (Lily) earned a Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude and with High Distinction in Integrative Biology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2017. Lily joined the Nicoli Lab in March 2018 for her graduate study in Department of Genetics as a Gruber Science Fellow. She is interested in complex morphogenesis of brain vasculature and its functional and physiological implications.  

​Email: [email protected]

Former members 
Emma Ristori, M.S.






Albertomaria Moro, Ph.D.






Amy Warner










William Armero