Lab Members

Minna Roh-Johnson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Minna is originally from Vancouver, Canada. She earned her Bachelors and Masters degree at Simon Fraser University. She then moved to the United States for her PhD work. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she immersed herself into the beauty of the inner workings of a cell (and college basketball), and spent many glorious hours on the microscope (and at the bar). Completely obsessed with figuring out how cells alter their “skeleton” as cells move, she turned her attention to understanding how this process works in cancer and did her postdoctoral work at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. She started at the University of Utah in January 2018 as an Assistant Professor, still trying to figure out how cells move in different environments. These days, Minna no longer spends a ton of time at the bar, and can be seen chasing around her kids, hiking, eating at local restaurants, and trying not to look completely uncoordinated in taekwondo. 

Email:  roh-johnson@biochem.utah.edu

Chelsea Kidwell, Ph.D.

Chelsea Kidwell, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Chelsea grew up in Honolulu and spent some time in San Diego, Seattle, and Zurich before joining the Roh-Johnson Lab in 2018. She is interested in understanding more about cytoplasmic transfer between immune and cancer cells. Using in vitro and in vivo approaches, Chelsea is investigating mechanisms underlying transfer and determining what effects transfer has on the recipient cancer cells. Outside of lab, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and exploring the outdoors with her dog.

Joseph Casalini

Joseph Casalini

Graduate Student

Joey Casalini is human with eyes, arms, hair - you know, the whole works. He went to the Evergreen State College in Washington State where he studied bacteriophage biology with Elizabeth Kutter. After graduation he worked at Presage Biosciences in Seattle, WA. Seattle was great, but it got too fancy for Joey and his wife so they packed up and moved to Salt Lake where it's way less fancy. Salt lake fits them well. Like, one time they went hiking and their dog over-heated. He's ok, don't worry. His name is Banjo. He's a good dog. He has a friend named Zelda. Joey is working on a comic book about their adventures together. It's really good. Like, REALLY good. Joey likes to play music and make beer. He can't do hand stands but he knows how to juggle. When he was a kid, he was on 'Hot Shots', and they would play at NBA half time shows and stuff. He competed one time for his juggling, but he wasn't good enough to even place. That's because he was actually pretty bad at it. Importantly, Joey loves baseball. A lot. A big Seattle Mariners fan. This is a good time to note that Mike Zunino needs to learn how to hit the baseball with the baseball bat when the baseball pitcher throws the baseball. The most important thing to know about Joey is that he is super serious and he takes himself very seriously. So if you ever meet him, keep that in mind. Seriously.

Qian Xue

Qian Xue

Graduate Student

Qian is also a human with nose, mouth, legs--which Joey doesn’t mention--but just assume he has. Qian is originally from Beijing, China. During her undergraduate study, she gained her passion for cancer biology and she worked as an intern student at Johns Hopkins University and University of Texas at El Paso. She earned her Bachelors degree at Beijing Normal University in 2017 with her thesis done in National Institute of Biological Sciences. After graduation, she left her family and friends and went to the United States for PhD study because she knew there would be an awesome PI starting her lab at the beginning of 2018 at U of U. Luckily, she got in that lab! Apart from playing around with zebrafish, she enjoys swimming, yoga, as well as playing the piano. She also likes to explore US national parks with her boyfriend. Qian is not as serious as Joey. So if you would not like to meet a super-serious person, welcome to meet up with Qian in Roh-Johnson lab!

Daniel Greiner

Daniel Greiner

Graduate Student

Like Minna, Daniel is also a native of Vancouver BC and maintains several Canadian idiosyncrasies including the ability to say eh. Since leaving Vancouver, Daniel has lived in Alaska, Seattle, Boise and finally SLC. He could live in all these places not because he lived in a van, but because he ran an online business for several years that gave him the flexibility to move. He returned to school in 2014 with the intention of becoming a lawyer but accidentally enrolled in a biology course, where he found a passion for science. This caused Daniel to change his career trajectory and he earned his Bachelor of Science at Boise State University. At BSU, Daniel studied the role of inflammatory cytokines on breast cancer with Cheryl Joryck. Daniel moved to Salt Lake with his wife and daughter in 2019 and decided to join Minna’s lab where he could continue studying the role the immune system plays in tumor development. When he’s not in the lab, Daniel likes to be outdoors. He can often be found hiking and backpacking with his dog Choe, an overly energetic German shorthaired pointer who Daniel has had to rescue from several near-death experiences thanks to her love of water. He also loves sports including hockey, soccer, football and climbing where he can play or watch others while enjoying a cold beer. If you have any of these interests, come by and say hi. Daniel is generally pretty friendly as long as he’s had his morning cup of coffee.

Trinity Waddell

Trinity Waddell

Graduate Student

Trinity is a Hawaii/Texas hybrid, having been born in Kahuku, raised near Houston, and returned to Laie to study at BYU-Hawaii (with a sprinkling of Alaska in between). While in Hawaii, he developed a love for adventure, surfing, lunch plates, and, most pertinently, research. Trinity had unique opportunities, such as catching and tracking pacific golden plovers in Moorea and studying the microbiology of Tahitian cultural gastronomy and presenting to French Polynesian government officials on that research. He then moved to Provo with his wife Shannon to study TRP channels in the developing chick embryo with Dr. Marc Hansen. It was fabulous, but he'll never look at an omelet the same way! Before he finished his Masters, his son Kodiak (like the bear) was born! Trinity was excited to attend the U of U and hoped to join the Roh-Johnson lab. Since the lab has found his offering acceptable and admitted him to the tribe, he is investigating interactions between macrophages and the education they might receive and/or share. Now that they have moved to Salt Lake City, they enjoy the weather, watching/playing soccer, the restaurants, and day trips like the zoo with Kodiak! So if you're into any of those things, come by and chat (unless we're still socially distancing)!

Julio Fierro Morales

Julio Fierro Morales

Graduate Student

Julio was originally born in Mexico but moved to Salt Lake City at the age of five. After growing up in SLC, he moved to Cambridge, MA to attend Harvard College for his undergrad. While there, a rough go at organic chemistry (the absolute worst subject) paired with a budding interest in genetics steered Julio towards the world of research and he studied mechanisms of RNA interference under Craig Hunter. During his senior year of undergrad, Julio realized he desperately missed being surrounded by mountains and decided to move back to the SLC after graduation to teach for Marcus Pezzolesi in the department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah. After a couple of years of working as a lab tech, he decided to stay with the mountains and join the U’s Biosciences Program, ultimately joining the Roh-Johnson lab at the end of his first year to bring together his interests in evolutionary and cell biology. Outside of the lab, Julio can be found spending time outdoors, listening to music and podcasts, watching and/or playing a variety of sports, and visiting every coffee shop he can find in search of incredible coffee. If you have suggestions for dope coffee spots for Julio to try out, feel free to drop by, say hi, and chat!

Lab Alumni

Elizabeth Hayes

Elizabeth Hayes

Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2019)

Elizabeth is currently training in the Midwestern University Masters in Biomedical Science program.

James Carrington

James Carrington

Undergraduate Researcher (2018-2020)

James is currently training in the MD/PhD program at the University of Utah.