Michael C. Saul

Postdoctoral Fellow

IGB GNDP Theme Postdoctoral Fellow

Michael has now moved on to a Postdoctoral Position at Jackson Laboratories working with Dr. Elissa Chesler!

Academic History

  • Ph.D. Zoology, The University of Wisconsin-Madison 2010-2014 (Advisor: Stephen C. Gammie)
  • B.S., Biology; B.A., Religious Studies, The University of Iowa 2003-2008


I am an organismal biologist interested in the physiology and evolution of neural and genetic systems underlying behavior. I study animal systems that allow the testing of new ideas about disposition and sociobiology. For more information about me, please visit my personal website.

Current Project

At the IGB, I primarily work on the Simons Foundation Project. This project was designed to examine the similarities and differences between three species—mice, three-spined sticklebacks, and bees—under conditions of social challenge and social opportunity.

Past Projects

My Ph.D. dissertation work utilized high-throughput tools such as automated video ethometry, gene expression microarrays, and next-generation sequencing to address the phenotype and genotype of an inbred mouse strain called Madison that displays aspects of bipolar disorder. I also worked on the neural genetic correlates of motherhood, their potential relationship to autism, and what these correlates tell us about sociobiology. Before graduate school, I spent a year studying wild white-faced capuchin monkeys in the jungles of Costa Rica under the direction of Susan E. Perry.


In Preparation or Under Review

  • Saul MC, Stevenson SA, Zhao C, Driessen TM, Eisinger BE, and Gammie SC. “Exome Resequencing of the Madison Mania Model Reveals Variants Related to Chromatin Packaging, Chronobiology, and Non-Canonical Cannabinoid Signaling.” (in preparation).


  • Mitchell CL, Saul MC, Lei L, Wei H, and Werner T. “The Mechanisms Underlying Alpha-Amanitin Resistance in Drosophila melanogaster: A Microarray Analysis.” Open Access.
  • Driessen TM, Eisinger BE, Zhao C, Stevenson SA, Saul MC, and Gammie SC (2014). “Genes Showing Altered Expression in the Medial Preoptic Area in the Highly Social Maternal Phenotype are Related to Autism and Other Disorders With Social Deficits.” BMC Neuroscience 15: 11 (Highly Accessed). Open Access.


  • Eisinger BE, Saul MC, Driessen TM, and Gammie SC (2013). “Development of a Versatile Enrichment Analysis Tool Reveals Associations between the Maternal Brain and Mental Health Disorders, Including Autism.” BMC Neuroscience 14: 147 (Highly Accessed). Open Access.
  • Saul MC, Stevenson SA, and Gammie SC (2013). “Sexually Dimorphic, Developmental, and Chronobiological Behavioral Profiles of a Mouse Model for Mania.” PLoS ONE 8(8): e72125. Open Access.
  • Eisinger BE, Zhao C, Driessen TM, Saul MC, and Gammie SC (2013). “Large Scale Expression Changes of Genes Related to Neuronal Signaling and Developmental Processes Found in Lateral Septum of Postpartum Outbred Mice.” PLoS ONE 8(5): e63824. Open Access.


  • Zhao C, Saul MC, Driessen TM, and Gammie SC (2012). “Gene Expression Changes in the Septum: Possible Implications for MicroRNAs in Sculpting the Maternal Brain.” PLoS ONE 7(6): e38602. Open Access.
  • Saul MC, Gessay GM, and Gammie SC (2012). “A New Mouse Model for Mania Shares Genetic Correlates with Human Bipolar Disorder.” PLoS ONE 7(6): e38128. Open Access.

Outside the Lab

When I’m not in the lab, I gravitate toward old bicycles, new passport stamps, craft beers, beautiful places, and strange animals.

Email Michael

msaul [at] illinois [dot] edu

Veena Chatti

Graduate Student, CDB

Graduate Student, CDB

I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences from Rochester Institute of Technology, and a minor degree in French (2011).

My previous research mentors have been Henk Roelink (University of California, Berkeley) and Aurnab Ghose (Indian Institute of Science Education & Research, Pune).

My project at the Roelink lab involved developing the cell-lines and expression constructs to test if calcium ions were acting second messengers upon activation of the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Under Aurnab Ghose’s mentorship, I worked on oxidative stress on the neuronal cytoskeleton.

As a masters student in the Stubbs lab, I worked towards characterizing certain zinc finger protein encoding genes during mouse embryonic and postnatal development, and primarily used in situ hybridization to study their gene expression patterns.

From the Stubbs lab, I moved on to join Scott Holley‘s lab as a Postgraduate Associate in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University.

Li-Hsin Chang

Graduate Student, CDB

Graduate Student, CDB


  • PhD, Cell and Developmental Biology, UIUC 2017
  • MS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – National Taiwan University
  • BS, Pharmacy – National Taiwan University

Current Project


Liu H, Chang LH, Sun Y, Lu X, Stubbs L 2014. Deep vertebrate roots for mammalian zinc finger transcription factor subfamilies. Genome Biol Evol. 2014 Mar;6(3):510-25. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evu030.

Email Li-Hsin

Derek Caetano-Anollés

Derek Caetano-Anolles

Derek Caetano-Anollés, Ph.D.


Research Interests

  • Recent gene duplication of zinc finger transcription factors – Derek’s PhD research in the Stubbs Lab focused on investigating the role of ZNF286A, a Krüppel-type zinc finger transcription factor with a recently evolved human-specific duplicate, ZNF286B. These transcription factors drive differentiation of neural precursor cells and may play undiscovered key roles in critical neuronal developmental pathways, including pathways that have been implicated in microcephaly, schizophrenia, and other neurological disorders.
  • Molecular roots of the social brain – During his graduate career, Derek also worked on the Simons Project, which investigates the conserved molecular foundations for social behavior in animal brains utilizing mice, stickleback fish, and bees as models. He focused on analyzing the RNA and protein expression profiles of the mouse brain after encountering aggressive or maternal-caring stimuli.
  • Genetic framework for mouse facial structure under selective pressures – Derek has since left the Stubbs Lab to work at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, where his research involves identifying the genes responsible for controlling skull shape and facial structure during mouse development, and how those features are impacted by evolutionary and selection pressures.

Selected Publications

  • Rittschof C, Bukhari S, Sloofman L, Caetano-Anollés D Cash-Ahmed A, Kent M, Lu X, Sanogo O, Weisner PA, Zhang H, Bell A, Ma J, Sinha S, Robinson G, Stubbs L. (2014). Neuromolecular responses to social challenge: Common mechanisms across mice, fish and bees. PNAS, 111(50):17929–17934. [Link]
  • Caetano-Anollés D. (2013). Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). In: Maloy S, Hughes K, editors. Brenner’s Encyclopedia of Genetics 2nd Edition. Waltham: Academic Press. Volume 5, pages 392-395. [Link]
  • Nowick K, Fields C, Gernat T, Caetano-Anollés D, Kholina N, Stubbs L. (2011). Gain, Loss and Divergence in Primate Zinc-Finger Genes: A Rich Resource for Evolution of Gene Regulatory Differences between Species. PLoS One, 6(6):e21553. [Link]
  • Stubbs L, Sun Y, Caetano-Anollés D. (2011). Function and evolution of C2H2 zinc finger arrays. Subcellular Biochemistry, 52:75-94. [Link]

Full publication list at LinkedIn, ResearchGate, and ORCID.

LinkedIn Profile

Outside the Lab

  • Derek practices art in both traditional and digital media (visit his Bēhance). He is also very well-versed in the art of illeism.

Email Derek

Annie Weisner

Annie Weisner, Neuroscience

Annie Weisner, Neuroscience

History Annie is a native Nashvillian who started her research career at Vanderbilt University, where she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Neuroscience and Theatre. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked in the Center for Human Genetics, where she investigated the role of heavy-metal processing in autism by screening patients and families for polymorphisms in heavy-metal transport genes. Additionally, she worked on projects investigating the role of glutathione during oxidative injury through site-directed mutagenesis of the gamma-glutamylcysteine gene, and performed large-scale screening of patient populations for polymorphisms in urea cycle genes.

She joined the UIUC Neuroscience Program and Medical Scholars program in 2009, and is working toward her M.D. and Ph.D. Upon completion of her degrees in 2018, she plans to pursue a career as a physician-scientist specializing in Pediatric Neurology, and she intends to continue her research in developmental neuroscience.

Current Project Annie is investigating the role of newly discovered neurodevelopmental gene, Auts2, in abnormal neurodevelopment. Mutations in the Auts2 locus cause autism, epilepsy, and mental retardation in humans, but little is known about the function of this gene or its role during neurodevelopment. She is analyzing the role of AUTS2 in differentiation of neurons in culture to ask what the function of AUTS2 is in normal neurodevelopment. As well, Annie utilizes a unique translocation mutant called 16Gso which displays epilepsy and autistic-like behaviors resulting from a reduction in AUTS2 expression to how AUTS2 disruption can lead to abnormal neurodevelopment.

Annie also works on the Simons Project, investigating the genetic pathways underlying evolutionarily conserved social behaviors, such as aggression and maternal caring, through RNA-sequencing and protein expression analysis of mouse brain after acute social stimuli.

Past Projects Annie began her work in the Stubbs lab studying the role of Pax6 alternative transcripts in development of the eye through histological analysis of the 1Gso translocation mutant.


Elso, C; Lu, X; Weisner, PA; Thompson, HL; Skinner, A; Carver, E; Stubbs, L (2013). A reciprocal translocation dissects roles of Pax6 alternative promoters and upstream regulatory elements in the development of pancreas, brain, and eye. Genesis, 51:9, 630-646.

Le, TM; Magarik, JA; Cunningham, GR, Weisner, A et al (2008).  gamma-Glutamylcysteine co-migrates at the peak typically assigned to L-aspartate in ion-exchange chromatography-based amino acid analysis.  Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 93:3, 255-255.

Outside the Lab Annie is the Grants Director of Champaign-Urbana’s only free charitable clinic, Avicenna Community Health Center, and manages a team of 12 graduate, medical, undergraduate student, and faculty volunteers to secure funding for the clinic. She also has twice organized the Illinois Summer Neuroscience Institute, a weeklong research program for undergraduates from underrepresented groups who are interested in pursuing a career in Neuroscience research. She has taught the Medical College’s Cell and Tissue Biology laboratory course since Fall of 2012, and last year ranked in the top 10% of all University instructors, as rated by her students.

In her free time, Annie is an avid powerlifter, cyclist, and climber. She loves to garden and to cook, and teaches healthy cooking classes at the Common Ground Food Co-op. She also volunteers with several organizations for special needs children in town, including taking students on the Swann School’s nature walks, volunteering for the Challenger softball league, and teaching at the CIRCLE Academy.

Email Annie

Younguk-Calvin Sun

Graduate Student

Graduate Student, CDB


  • BS Department of Genetic Engineering, SungKyunKwan University, Seoul, South Korea
  • PhD (2016) CDB MCB, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Current Project

  • Dissecting the role of kruppel-type Zinc finger transcription factor ZSCAN5 and Zim1

Past Projects

Everything is ongoing.

Outside the Lab

Auto aficionado. Computer maniac. Gadget savant. Beer lover. Photography hobbyist. Cuisine hound.


1.Stubbs L., Sun Y. and, Caetano-Anolles D. Function and Evolution of C2H2 Zinc Finger Arrays. Subcellular Biochemistry 52:75-94, DOI 10.1107/ S1744309110034135. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Irrelevant Publications

1. Sun Y, Seo MS, Kim JH, Kim YJ, Kim GA, Lee JI, Lee JH, and Kwon ST. Novel DNA ligase with broad nucleotide cofactor specificity from the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Sulfophobococcus zilligii: influence of ancestral DNA ligase on cofactor utilization.Environmental Microbiology. 2008 Dec;10(12):3212-24. Epub 2008 Jul 16. @PubMed

2. Kim GA, Sun Y, Song JG, Bae H, Kim JH, Kwon ST. Properties of cold-active uracil-DNA glycosylase from Photobacterium aplysiae GMD509, and its PCR application for carryover contamination control.Enzyme and Microbial Technology. 2009 May;44(5)263-68. @ScienceDirect

3. Cho SS, Sun Y, Yu M, Kwon SH, Kwon ST. Characterization and PCR applications of dUTPase from the hyperthermophilic euryarchaeon Thermococcus pacificus.Enzyme and Microbial Technology. 2012 Dec;51(6-7):342-7 @PubMed

4. Supangat S, An YJ, Sun Y, Kwon ST, Cha SS. Purification, crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of a multiple cofactor-dependent DNA ligase from Sulfophobococcus zilligii. Acta Crystallography Section F Structural Biology Crystallography Communication. 2010 Dec 1:66(Pt12):1583-5 @PubMed

5. Kim JH, Lee KK, Sun Y, Seo GJ, Cho SS, Kwon SH, Kwon ST. Broad nucleotide cofactor specificity of DNA ligase from the hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon Hyperthermus butylicus and its evolutionary significance. Extremophiles. 2013 May;17(3):515-22 @PubMed

6. Kim GA, Lee MS, Sun Y, Lee BD, Lee JI, Lee JH, Kwon ST. Characterization of cold-active uracil-DNA glycosylase from Bacillus sp. HJ171 and its use for contamination control in PCR. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2008 Oct;80(5):785-94. @PubMed

7. Song JM, Nam K, Sun Y, Kang MH, Kim CG, Kwon ST, Lee J, Lee YH. Molecular and biochemical characterization of a novel arthropod endo-β-1,3-glucanase from the Antarctic springtail, Cryptopygus antarcticus, horizontally acquired from bacteria. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part B. 2010;155:403-12. @PubMed

8. Choi JJ, Song JG, Nam KH, Lee JI, Bae H, Kim GA, Sun Y, Kwon ST. Unique substrate spectrum and PCR application of Nanoarchaeum equitans Family B DNA polymerase. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2008 Nov;72(24):6563-69. @PubMed

Email Calvin

C. Chase Bolt, Ph.D.

C. Chase Bolt, Ph.D.

C. Chase Bolt, Ph.D.

Current Position:

Post-doctoral researcher. Laboratory of Denis Duboule.
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

Lausanne, Switzerland.

Current Contact Information


Doctorate of Philosophy, Cell and Developmental Biology
– University of Illinois 2008-2014
Bachelor of Science, Molecular and Cell Biology
– Bradley University 2005-2008


Tbx18 Regulates the Differentiation of Periductal Smooth Muscle Stroma and the Maintenance of Epithelial Integrity in the Prostate. C. Chase Bolt, Soumya Negi, Guimarães-Camboa N, Zhang H, Troy JM, Lu X, et al PLoS ONE. 2016;11: e0154413–20. PMID 27120339

A distant downstream enhancer directs essential expression of Tbx18 in urogenital tissues.
C. Chase Bolt, Colleen M Elso, Xiaochen Lu, Fuming Pan, Andreas Kispert, and Lisa Stubbs.
Developmental Biology, 2014 pp. 1-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.05.010

Email Chase