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2021 Meet our Faculty series

Meet our Faculty – Biochemistry Faculty Profile


  • Please tell us a little about yourself.
    Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?

I grew up outside a small town in New Hampshire called Peterborough. I went to Peterborough High then to the University of Rhode Island for undergrad and Washington University Medical School in St. Louis for grad school.

  • Where did you carry out your postdoctoral research?

I did two postdocs. The first at St. Louis University in virology (adenoviruses) and the second at UC San Francisco in molecular biology, where I had the exciting opportunity to learn the very new (at the time) techniques of cloning and DNA sequencing.

  • As a child, who was your biggest influence?

My mother: She made sure “little sister” (me) got to do everything that my big brother did, from getting the opportunity to make the “big money” mowing lawns rather than just babysitting, and promoting my going to university rather than the nearby teachers’ college. Also my science teachers, Nr. Lofgren and Mr. Yeo, (remarkably) both went on to get PhDs after their stints as high school teachers.

  • Why did you decide to study science?

Because thinking about out how living things worked was fun.

  • Why did you come to Madison? When?

The science is great and very broad here at UW, and to me Madison was the perfect size to live and raise a family – not too big nor too small. I arrived in the fall of 1979 as an Assistant Professor.

  • What do you like most about being a professor?

Watching and helping students, postdocs, and young professors develop their scientific skills, confidence and find their niche. And being able to discover new things.

  • What is the focus of your research?

Our goal is to understand the diverse biological functions of the proteins which we now call “molecular chaperones” because they remodel protein structure through transient interaction — but were originally called heat shock proteins (Hsps) because their expression was robustly induced when exposed to stresses such as an increase in temperature.

  • What do you consider your major accomplishments?

Early on in the Madison Craig lab, we found that these Hsps were remarkably highly conserved and critical for normal cell function. Ensuing students and postdocs uncovered totally unexpected roles in basic cell physiology, from import of proteins into mitochondria to biogenesis of Fe-S cluster proteins – and continue to make progress on how they do such things.

  • What advice would you provide to a new assistant professor who is just starting his/her career?

Follow your own path, don’t be afraid to take on big questions (but keep that practical back-up plan in the back of your mind!)

  • When you are not working, what do you like to do?

Cook (I don’t have to follow protocols!), tend my plants, read, follow Badger basketball, and spend time at our “up north” cabin.

  • What is your favorite place in Madison?

Allen Centennial Gardens

  • Best Advice I Ever Received

“Keep your eye on the ball”

  • My Undergrad Alma Mater

URI – go Rhody

  • My Worst Subject In School

Music appreciation – I’m completely tone deaf and had to drop or get an “F”

  • If I Weren’t A Professor, I Would

Be a gardener

  • In College I Drove

A ‘50s Dodge pickup truck to get my job during the summers

  • Favorite Books

Many: Some that I’ve read in the past year include Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

  • Favorite City

San Francisco (70s retro) and Kyoto, Japan

  • Favorite Coffee

Ancora French Sumatran

  • My Latest Accomplishment

Finally making a pizza from scratch that I thought was really tasty

  • Nobody Knows I…

Worked summers in college as a waitress/cook at an artist “colony”


Greetings from the Craig Lab. We continue our efforts to understand how molecular chaperones (particularly, our favorite, Hsp70) do so many different things. It has been challenging (and fun) to mix “hard core” yeast genetics with NMR, X-ray crystallography, and site-specific crosslinking.

See-Yeun Ting graduated last year and is now a post-doc in Seattle — he reported that it was a loooong drive there with a young son and a cat! His eLIFE paper defining mitochondrial import motor architecture got accepted in the nick of time before his departure. Keeping us in the mitochondrial world, we welcome Zak Baker, a joint postdoc with the Pagliarini Lab. Zak will use mass spectrometry-based screening to identify cellular responses to disruption of mitochondrial proteostasis.

By the time you read this, Kanghyun Lee will have defended his thesis and begun his UCSF postdoctoral position. He, with Om Shrestha, Ruchika Sharma (who left us for a patent fellowship at NIH) and Tom Ziegelhoffer, have made good progress in understanding Zuotin, the J-protein of the complex, ribosome- associated Hsp70 machinery — involved in folding of nascent polypeptide chains AND translational fidelity through its 60S and 40S subunit interactions. Plus, Zuotin interacts with an “atypical Hsp70,” whose function Kanghyun has been unraveling over the past year.

Using a combination of yeast suppressor and NMR analyses, Brenda Schilke and Szymon Ciesielski continue to tackle how two very similar J-proteins (Sis1 and Ydj1) can be so different. Last, but not least, Jarek Marszalek is on his 20th lab visit from the University of Gdansk, Poland — keeping our Fe-S cluster biogenesis and evolution collaborations robust.

We are just beginning a five-year grant, so will be here working in the lab for a few more years — though Betty vows she will “never write another grant!” Keep in touch.


Greetings from the Craig lab. Much has happened since the last dispatch from the lab – many comings and goings.

Some folks have both come and gone: Tommer Ravid from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently left the lab after spending a sabbatical year here. We got immersed in ubiquitin system/ proteolysis and he in molecular chaperones. We both learned a lot, including HOW COMPLICATED both systems are! And Jarek Marszalek has come and gone several times, spending a few months a year here as a visiting professor from his permanent home at the University of Gdansk. It is hard to believe that the recent visit was his 18th – and as productive as ever. Two grad students from Jarek’s lab, Julia Majewska and Michal Rogaczewski, worked in the lab for a year on their Fe-S cluster biogenesis projects, as well.

Lindsey Kauschner (nee Hoover) graduated. After an extended trip to Central America, she moved back to her beloved Austin, TX, with a job at UT Austin working in the office of “Student Success Initiatives.” Her work on ribosome associated chaperones, Jjj1 and Zuo1, was picked up by a postdoc who joined the lab, Ruchika Sharma. Ruchika comes to Madison from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – via Bethesda, Maryland where she had a short, but productive, stint in the Masison lab.

Two other graduate students are close to graduating – almost there! Kanghyun Lee has made progress in figuring out Zuo1 and its interaction with both the ribosome and that pesky atypical Hsp70 Ssz1. See-Yeun Ting has been picking apart Tim44, that amazingly complex scaffold protein of the mitochondrial import motor. Nick Yan, an undergrad in the lab, has been working with him on the Tim44 project. All three have made very productive use of the Bpa site specific crosslinking approach.

Szymon Ciesielski, Brenda Schilke and Tom Ziegelhoffer have been tackling a question that we have been working on for years – and just what is the difference between the J-protein that can maintain yeast prions and the similar one that can’t? Combining yeast genetics and NMR, we may be getting there.

Both Hyun Young Yu and Om Shrestha have moved on to new positions. Hyun Young is happily employed at Catalent Pharma Solutions here in the Madison. Om moved (and got married!) to a position at Cold Spring Harbor Labs – where, not surprisingly, he continues structural biology.

Last, but not least, Betty is no longer chair. She is spending much more time on the 4th floor, thinking about science in ways she had not before (e.g. what exactly is an NOE?).


Greetings from the Craig Lab. Much has happened since the last dispatch from the lab. Many comings and goings, and many babies. We welcomed six Craig Lab newborns over a 16 month period, as well as Betty’s new grand-child! ! A record?? Congrats to the lab’s new parents: Amy, June, Sanjith, Jeanette, Hyun-Young and Ji-Yoon.


The big news is that after working half-time for two years Willy Walter really did retire. For his retirement party many lab alums sent their memories and amusing anecdotes that made us all laugh. Tom Ziegelhoffer joined the lab (again) taking over many of Willy’s roles and jumping into the world of cytosolic J-proteins, along with Hyun Young Yu.

Two PhD students graduated. Jeanette Ducett (nee Waltner) moved on from the world of “what does a ribosome-associated chaperone do when it’s not on the ribosome” to the world of “real prions” (not those yeast ones). Masaya Hayashi whose interest in evolution helped lead the Craig lab in that exciting direction has returned to Japan for his postdoc.

Several postdocs are off to new places and new jobs. Takashi Higurashi joined the Biotech company EVEC in Sapporo, Japan, a move which had the added benefit of being in the same city that his wife had a job! June Paismoved to Boston. As a postdoc at New England Biolabs she is in enzymology heaven (no, we don’t get a discount on enzymes). Justin Hines is now an assistant professor of chemistry at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, keeping up his interest in yeast prions. Chandan Sahi, who claims to greatly miss the Wisconsin winters, joined the faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhopal.

Ji-Yoon Song has returned to Seoul; both she and her husband snagged coveted jobs at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. Her Fe-S cluster/proteolysis project (how is it and why is it that Isu’s half-life can vary from 15 min to two hours) has been picked up by Szymon Ciesielski, who recently joined the lab as a postdoc from Gdansk, Poland. Our University of Gdansk connections remain strong. Not only does Jarek Marszalek come to the lab for several months each year as a visiting professor, two visiting students (Julia Majewska and Michal Rogaczewski) will arrive in March for a year to continue their work on our joint Fe-S cluster biogenesis projects.

Brenda Schilke (master geneticist and molecular biologist) continues to bridge all the mitochondria projects, from Fe-S cluster biogenesis to mitochondrial import. IPiB grad student See-Yeun Ting has joined the import project. Brenda and See-Yeun make a good team working to understand the amazing complexities of the mitochondrial import motor.

Amy Prunuske moved north, leaving the ribosome-associated chaperones and pleiotropic drug resistance behind, and has settled into her new job as assistant prof in the University of Minnesota-Duluth Medical School. Lindsey Hoover and Peter Kuhn and a new (as of Jan 2012) IPiB graduate student Kanghyun Lee now form the core of the ribosome-associated chaperone group (aka “B” group). Sanjith Yeruva has also left the lab, returning to India. But Om Shrestha who joined the lab (and “B” group) in 2012 continues the same enthusiasm for structure that Sanjith and Jeanette brought to the lab – so the Craig lab’s baby steps in that direction will hopefully continue!


Greetings from the Craig Lab. Much has happened in the past two years plus since the last dispatch from the lab. Time does fly – the only people in the lab who remember the move to Biochemistry are Betty, Willy and Brenda (and the “Lame Duck”). It does seem like Betty has spent most of her time the past year writing grants. But it was worth all the effort – funding for the lab is secure for the next several years.

Two students have graduated and moved on to their post-PhD lives, leaving the world of chaperones: Amy Andrew and Alison Meyer. Amy has moved to the lab of Klaus Strebel at NIH and is now immersed in the world of virology. Fortunately, Amy’s project on Fe-S cluster biogenesis and the regulation of the stability of the scaffold Isu, is in the able hands of Ji-Yoon Song. Ji-Yoon joined the lab after receiving her PhD from Seoul National University where she worked on mitochondrial thioredoxins in “the other yeast”, S. pombe.

Alison is off to her postdoc at Duke in the Blobe lab to study signal transduction, leaving ribosome biogenesis and ribosome-associated J-proteins behind. Peizhen Yang, another member of the ribosome-associated chaperone group, has also left us – sooner than we thought she would. She and Scott Saracco were married in the summer of ’08 and moved to St. Louis where Scott was offered a job with Monsanto and Peizhen found a second postdoc, returning to the plant field. The last we heard things are going well for both.

But, the ribosome-associated chaperone project is being ably carried on by Lindsey Hoover, the “new” CMB graduate student in the lab. Lindsey passed her prelim this summer, so she is engaged full-time dealing with the mysteries of Zuo1 function. Willy Walter is working on the project as well. Willy has “retired”, but actually still works half-time. Betty is grateful for half-time, as the lab alumni all know it wouldn’t be the same without Willy around. Sanjith Reddy, who has joined a lab as a research specialist, has also been helping on the project. His “golden hands” in protein puri- fication have been a godsend in this (any many other!) projects.

The other aspect of Zuo1 (and Ssz1) function – why can it and how does it activate the transcription factor Pdr1 and pleiotropic drug resistance – is being attacked by Jeannette Waltner and Amy Prunuske. Amy joined the lab after receiving her PhD from the University of Utah, working on the role of the nuclear pore complex in the disassembly of the nuclear enve- lope during mitosis.

Takashi Higurashi has been joined in the Sis1/prion project by Justin Hines. Justin comes from Iowa State where he received his PhD in Biochemistry. He has, at least temporarily left the world of crystallography behind, and is now immersed in yeast genetics and the myster- ies of prion propagation. Takashi’s work hours these days often resemble those of a former lab member, Kerman Aloria. Since Takashi’s wife, Asuka Nanbo, has taken a position in Japan, it is not uncommon for Betty to come in at 7 in the morning to find Takashi just finishing his work day. He says it sometimes is easier just to stay on Japanese time after he visits!

Chandan Sahi continues his work on the, as Betty calls it, “now just why do cells have all those J-proteins”, project. (Note: Since the last report from the lab, Chandan and Rashmi have had a baby girl, Shristi, who is now a very cute one and a half year old). Chandan has been joined in the J-protein project by Hyun-Young Yu this summer. Hyun-Young (Betty may yet learn how to pronounce Hyun-Young correctly) came from Virginia Tech where he earned his PhD this spring, working on protein:protein interactions.

Mitochondrial import work continues. Brenda Schilke and Masaya Hayashi have been joined by June Pais. June comes via the University of Michigan where she received her PhD in Biological Chemistry, focusing on enzyme kinetics. Learning yeast genetics has certainly been a change! June (and Justin and Amy) have been awarded NIH postdoctoral fellowships, which made them (and Betty) very happy. But two members of the “mito import group” have moved on. Dirk Schiller has a position at the University of Frankfurt and Thomas Lee at the University of Colorado. Tao Wang, a member of the mitochondrial Fe-S group, has moved to a position at the Univer- sity of Pittsburg, Department of Pharmacol- ogy where he is studying mitochondrial DNA damage. Jarek Marszalek still joins Ji-Yoon and Brenda as a member of the Fe-S group every year for a few month stint as a visiting profes- sor. Our collaboration with his lab at the Uni- versity of Gdansk, Poland continues to be very productive. Jarek’s visit is almost upon us – so the Craig lab must upgrade our coffee making skills, which I’m afraid have fallen a bit in short since his last visit.


Greetings from the Craig Lab.

Since the last Craig Lab installment of the Newsletter, much has happened. The lab has successfully survived the past year with Betty as Chair of the Department, making steady progress uncovering the mysteries of molecular chaperone action.

Here is the NEWS!
Peggy Huang has left her “ribosome-associated chaperone” life and moved on to her postdoctoral position in the lab of Arlen Johnson at the University of Texas – Austin, where she is studying ribosome biogenesis. As luck would have it, Peggy’s move dovetailed with the work of Alison Meyer, one of Peggy’s successors on the “ribosome/chaperone” project. Alison made the unexpected finding that the “other” ribosome-associated J-protein, Jjj1, works in ribosome subunit biogenesis. A productive collaboration between the Craig and Johnson labs is now underway.

During the past year Peizhen Yang joined Alison and Samantha Herbst on the ribosomecentric project. Peizhen moved across Henry Mall from Genetics, where she did her PhD in Rick Vierstra’s lab working on the proteasome. In addition, Jeanette Waltner a CMB grad student, has joined the lab and is following up the work of Helene Eisenman, trying to figure out how Zuo and Ssz, the “weird” Hsp70, are involved in turning on pleiotropic drug resistance.

Pascual Lopez has come and gone for his sabbatical year. This was Pascual’s third (fourth?) visit to the lab, first as a young bachelor postdoc, now on sabbatical from his position as Associate Professor at the University of Zaragoza and father of four. Antonio Pascual Lopez Peña, born on November 7th, is arguably the most visible product of his recent visit to Madison (although we are still working on that paper on stimulation of Hsp70 ATPase activity!).

Qinglian Liu, a Craig Lab grad from 2002, gave birth last summer to a daughter that she and her husband named Monona Jiayi. Pascual in jest protested – saying he owned that name, as he and Maria had named one of their daughter’s Monona several years ago. It is nice to see that lab alumni have such fond memories of Madison!

Patrick D’Silva has returned home to take a position as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore. He will continue his work on mitochondrial import, focusing on the mammalian import motor. Good luck Patrick (and Savita and Serena) in your new position! We are awaiting Patrick’s first report of life as a professor. During the past year Thomas Lee has joined Brenda Schilke, Willy Walter, Dirk Schiller, and Masaya Hayashi in the “mito import” group. Thomas came from the University of Colorado, where he studied the regulation of MAP kinase using Hydrogen and mass spectrometry in Natalie Ahn’s lab. He has taken on the challenge of understanding the dynamics of the Tim44:Ssc1 interaction and becoming immersed in yeast genetics.

Our focus on the complexity of the cytosol continues. But by the time you read this, Rebecca Aron will have defended her thesis and moved to San Francisco to join Paul Muchowski’s lab. After concentrating on how Sis1 works to maintain the yeast prion [RNQ+], she will delve into the world of protein aggregation and neurological disease model systems in mammalian cells. The chaperone:prion project will continue in the able hands of Takashi Higurashi, while Chandan Sahi has taken on the challenge of understanding the complexities of the multiple J-proteins that populate the cytosol.

As has become the norm Jarek Marsalek joined us as a visiting professor from the University of Gdansk for three months this fall, providing an infusion of energy into our Fe-S cluster and Yfh1 activities, working with Brenda, Amy Andrew and Tao Wang. Amy’s work has been going well and she will shortly receive the “Lame Duck” from Rebecca. For the alumni of the Lab, it will be reassuring for you to know that the “Lame Duck”, the oldest member of the lab (with the exception of Betty) who becomes the responsibility of the eldest grad student, is doing well, although that Ace bandage around his leg is becoming a little tattered.


Greetings from the Craig lab. It is hard to believe that it has been almost three years since the lab moved to the Biochemistry Department, and almost two years since we wrote a lab update (sorry!). So here is the news:

So-Young Kim returned home to South Korea and now has a position in the research development division of CJ Corporation. She reports that she is working very, very, very hard. Bob Seiser is now an assistant Professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago – enjoying the teaching, but reports that it takes A LOT of time. The lame duck (a member of the lab since ~1985, who becomes the responsibility of the “eldest” graduate student, is doing well – and doesn’t appear to have aged a bit) has been passed down through the caring hands of three graduate students since the last update: Helene Eisenman, Peggy Huang and Heather Hundley. Helene, who graduated in the summer of 2003 and is now a postdoc at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, is deep into the world of pathogenic fungi. She visited the lab last summer – clearly being back in New York agrees with her. Heather, the most recent graduate of the lab, is off to Utah to enter the world of RNA and worms.

So-Young, Helene and Heather were all immersed in the complexities of ribosome associated chaperones. The project is still in good hands. Although Peggy graduated last summer she is staying on for a year before she goes off for her postdoc. Three new students, Alison Meyer, Liz Alexander and Samantha Herbst, have taken on the project. Willy Walter has spent more and more time in the ribosome world, helping Peggy and Heather with their papers and getting the new students on track.

Kerman Aloria returned to the University of the Basque Country last summer to set up a protein facility in the Biotechnology Center there. The initial tales we heard of a lab with no electricity, to say nothing of no equipment, have, fortunately, not been so dismal lately. Those working at 3 in the morning find the Craig lab a more lonely place, and all of us miss the treats his mother used to send him. Tao Wang joined us from Penn State and has taken over the frataxin work from Kerman. Amy Andrew and Brenda Schilke continue work at the interface between iron and chaperones, having a burst of energy (and caffeine) for 3 months each year when Jarek Marszalek visits from the U. Gadansk. They are all looking forward to the Steenbock Symposium that Betty is organizing this year – “Fe-S Proteins: Biogenesis, Structure and Function”, steenbock/symposium31.

Work continues on the yeast “prions” and chaperones. Rebecca Aron has been joined by two postdocs, Takashi Higurashi and Chandan Sahi. Takashi joined us via Tottori and Osaka Universities in Japan, while Chandan came from the University of Dehli. We are waiting for the time when he will let us call him Dr. Sahi – some of the students in the lab are amazed to learn that in India it can take a year for a submitted thesis to be accepted. We miss Jenn Novak (now Nau, after marrying John Nau from the Ansari Lab), who has moved back to her beloved Iowa. She and John are both working at Pioneer Seed.

The combination of Patrick D’Silva’s biochemistry and Brenda’s genetics continue to be a winning combination for the lab’s mitochondrial import studies. They have been joined by Masaya Hayashi, a new graduate student, and Dirk Schiller, a postdoc from the University of Köln, Germany. Dirk has picked up the work of Maverick Cheng on Tim44. Maverick and Sara Cheng have moved south to Illinois, joining the growing number of UW alums at Abbott Labs.

Betty’s primary obsession (besides the projects in the lab) over the past couple of years has been keeping the 4th floor kitchen stocked with dishes. She keeps asking and asking: How is it possible for 4 dozen spoons and forks to disappear within 3 months? Why do the missing dishes reappear on top of the soda machine??? However, this preoccupation may soon be overtaken by other concerns when she becomes Chair (remember, Chair, not Chairman) of Biochemistry in July.

2005 Faculty Profile

Elizabeth Craig’s Faculty Profile from the 2005 Biochemistry Newsletter PDF


Greetings from the Craig Lab. We are now happily ensconced in our new labs on the 4th floor of the Biochemistry Addition. It’s a credit to everyone in the lab and the staff in Biochemistry that the move went so smoothly and the “downtime” for lab work was remarkably short. Many thanks to Willy Walter who orchestrated the move.

Two lab members managed to time their departure to barely escape the work of moving the lab. Nelson Lopez finished his Ph.D in Bacteriology and departed for a year of postdoc at Yale. He is now headed for his new job at Amgen in Peurto Rico, happy to be back home with family (to say nothing about the warm weather!). Jill Johnson joined the faculty of the University of Idaho as an Assistant Professor. She reports that her lab is up and running, ready to take on the question of Hsp90 function, but the night life in Moscow, Idaho is a little slow.

Bob Seiser joined the lab as a postdoc, having just received his degree from Duke in Chris Nicchitta’s lab. Bob’s timing was a little questionable, arriving only a few weeks before the move, but he pitched in good naturedly. Also, So-Young Kim joined the lab as a postdoc. So-Young received her degree in Biotechnology from Yonsei University in Korea. She plans to put her experience with yeast to good use studying the physiological function of ribo- some-associated chaperones. In addition, a new graduate student from the Biochemistry program, Anne Provinzino, joined the group. We welcome the three to the lab.

Qinglian Liu graduated in the fall. Qinglian set the record for shortest downtime during the move – less than 24 hours between the last experiment in the old lab to her first in the new lab. She is now doing her postdoc with Wayne Hendrickson at Columbia. We are waiting with baited breath for her first structure! Patrick D’Silva, with Willy’s help, is continuing the mitochondrial import project. They and Maverick Cheng are making great progress in understanding Tim44.

At her graduation celebration Qinglian passed on the “lame duck” to Helene Eisenman who is on track to graduate in the summer. The “lame duck,”the lab member who has been in the Craig lab the longest (with the exception of Betty, of course), who becomes the responsibility of the “eldest” graduate student is alive and doing well. Along with Helene, Rebecca Aron, Heather Hundley and Peggy Huang make up the remainder of the “B group”, those who work on the mysteries of cytosolic Hsp70s, and constitute the “outpost” down the hall. Peggy put together the lab’s new web site (check it out:

Brenda Schilke, Sara Cheng, Kerman Aloria and Amy Andrew continue the lab’s venture into the world of iron. They obviously are doing something right – Betty has been invited to speak at a couple of “iron meetings” this year. They were joined for a few months this year, as usual, by Jarek Marsza- lek, a visiting Professor from the University of Gdansk, who has finally accepted that Betty is capable of making a decent cup of coffee.