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


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!

Dhanushka Weerasekara


Manjula photoManjula Wijesinghe



Undergraduate Students

Anton Barybin


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 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 Coordinator



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