Current Members

Sue Lunte photoSue Lunte
Director of the Adams Institute
Ralph N. Adams Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry



Graduate Students

Galina Bulgakova
2015 Specialist Degree in Analytical Chemistry, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Hometown: Obninsk, Russia

Research interests: - Galina’s work is the continuation of the existing project in the group focusing on the development of a portable online microchip electrophoresis system for monitoring neuroactive amines in brain microdialysate of traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. Presence of glutamate and aspartate in the extracellular space of the brain has been linked to patient outcome, and along with other amino acid neurotransmitters these compounds have been proposed as biomarkers of patient condition. The methods currently used in clinical practice cannot provide data with the necessary high time resolution as they require high sample volumes; therefore, developing an integrated microfluidic method capable of sampling, derivatizing, separating, and quantifying multiple target analytes is key to introducing successful treatment strategies for patients with severe TBI.

Interests outside lab: Volunteer work with Lawrence Humane Society, piano and a bit of ukulele, non-science reading.


Shamal photoShamal M. Gunawardhana
2012 M.S. in Analytical Chemistry, New Mexico State University, NM
2008 B.S. in Chemistry, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Hometown: Kurunegala, Sri Lanka

Research interests: Shamal’s research focuses on the development of microchip electrophoresis based separation methodologies to monitor biomarkers of cerebral ischemia and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Adenosine and ATP are two important markers of energy homeostasis in the brain during ischemia and TBI and are present endogenously in low nanomolar range. To monitor these and other nucleotides present in the brain, Shamal is developing a method using microchip electrophoresis with electrochemical detection. Additionally Shamal is working towards lowering the limit of detection and enhancing the sensitivity and selectivity of the method. This method will be used to monitor markers of energy homeostasis during ischemia and TBI in the brain.

Interests outside lab: Shamal is a big fan of cricket and he enjoys playing cricket in his leisure times.


Emily Kurfman
Current Trainee, NIH Graduate Training Program in the Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology
2017 B.S. in Chemistry, Furman University, SC

Hometown: Greenville, SC

Research interests: Emily's research currently focuses on developing methods for analysis of dynorphin peptides. Dynorphin A (Dyn A) is an opioid peptide that binds the kappa opioid receptor and has been shown to be involved in both peripheral pain and drug addiction. The peptide is metabolized to smaller peptide fragments that have lesser-known and different activities. Therefore, better methods for determining Dyn A and its metabolites in vivo will help in our understanding of the neurochemistry of drug addiction and withdrawal, which are major societal problems. Emily is currently focusing on developing a capillary electrophoresis-electrospray ionization mass spectrometry method to separate and detect these peptides. She will then develop a microchip electrophoresis-miniaturized mass spectrometry system combined with on-line microdialysis sampling to monitor dynorphin transport and metabolism in rat models. This will provide a better understanding of the role of dynorphin peptides and dynorphin analogs in drug addiction and pain.

Interests outside lab: Emily enjoys reading books, listening to and playing music, and exploring in her free time.


Kelci Schilly
2017-2018 Trainee, NIH Graduate Training Program in the Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology
2015 B.S. in Chemistry and Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Research interests: The goal of Kelci's research is to develop microfluidic methods to monitor nitrosative stress and protein nitration in biological samples as they may pertain to the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Through this project, she began by detecting small molecule reactive nitrogen species in cell lysate using microchip electrophoresis with electrochemical detection. Now, she is working towards the development of a device that would enable the quantification and identification of nitrated peptides in the blood of Alzheimer's disease patients. These methods will enable us to gain a better understanding of the role that proinflammatory species play in neurodegeneration.

Interests outside lab: Running, knitting, reading Latin, and watching Carolina basketball!


Indika Warnakula
2018 M.S. in Chemistry, Sam Houston State University, TX
2016 M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
2013 B.Sc. in Physical Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Hometown: Gampaha, Western Province, Sri Lanka

Research interests: Indika's research activities include bipolar electrode-based chemiluminescence detection for microchip and electrogenerated chemiluminescence in analytical chemistry.

Interests outside lab: Indika really loves to travel, watch movies and read books. He has a higher personal interest about learning about history, so he reads/watches a lot of materials about history.


Dhanushka Weerasekara
M.Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
B.Sc. in Biological Sciences, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Hometown: Marawila, Sri Lanka

Research interests: Oxidative and nitrosative stress caused by the overproduction of reactive nitrogen and oxygen species have been linked to several neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite are three of the major reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RNOS), which are generated by microglial cells in the brain that could react with nearby neurons to cause neuronal damage or death. Dhanushka's project focuses on the development of a microchip electrophoresis with laser induced fluorescence detection based method to monitor cellular nitrosative and oxidative stress by detecting and quantifying nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite in brain-like cellular environments.

Interests outside lab: Drawing/painting, photography and playing cricket


Manjula photoManjula Wijesinghe
2012 M.S. in Analytical Chemistry, New Mexico State University, NM
2005 B.Sc. Special in Chemistry, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Hometown: Kandy, Sri Lanka

Research interests: Manjula is researching bipolar electrochemistry in order to develop a novel detector with enhanced detection limits to couple with microchip electrophoresis. His research interests include the separation and detection methodologies for microchip electrophoresis as well as understanding the influence of separation voltage on electrochemical detection through modeling with Comsol Multiphysics.

Interests outside lab: Reading weather forecasts and exploring various ancient astrological methods


Undergraduate Students

Anton Barybin
Chemistry (B.S.) major
Member of KU Chemistry's ChemScholars Program

Hometown: Lawrence, KS

Research interests: Developing microchip electrophoresis based separation sensors to monitor neurochemicals in animal brains

Interests outside lab: Practicing Taekwondo (and other martial arts), playing saxophone, cycling, reading


Garet Melton
Chemistry major with Biological emphasis
Summer 2018 Undergraduate Research Award recipient

Hometown: North Little Rock, AR

Research interests: Developing a Boronate Affinity Monolith Microchip

Interests outside lab: Fitness, sports, yoga, and cooking (it's basically more chemistry)


Alexis Paige
Chemistry (B.S.) major

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Research interests: Separating and detecting nitrated and non-nitrated species using dual electrode microchip electrophoresis for electrochemical detection

Interests outside lab: Watching reality TV, shopping, and spinning!



Sara Thomas

Associate Researcher



Cady Bush

Program Manager



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