Members of our laboratory bring unique skills and experiences that strengthen our research and community:
Team photos: 2023 Jurgita Satkūnaitė
DR. STEPHEN JONES
Dr. Jones was born and trained in the United States. He earned his doctorate in Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University with Dr. Richard Bennett. He produced his postdoctoral research in CRISPR biochemistry and cellular aging with Dr. Ilya Finkelstein at the University of Texas. In 2021, he established his research group at the EMBL Partnership Institute in Vilnius University's Life Sciences Center, where he leads the group in their search to discover and characterize CRISPR and other programmable nucleases with next-generation biochemistry.
Stephen lives in Vilnius, Lithuania with his wife Eva and their greyhound, Audrey Sparkles. Beyond science, Stephen is also a musician, mechanic, adventurer and lover of life.
DR. ROKAS GRIGAITIS
Rokas was born and raised in Vilnius, where he obtained his BSc and MSc degrees in Biochemistry at Vilnius University. Rokas earned his doctorate in natural sciences with Prof. Joao Matos at ETH Zurich. Throughout his career, he has studied bacterial anti-phage defense systems, eukaryotic homologous recombination and DNA repair. In Dr. Jones group, Rokas will focus his skills on developing high-throughput approaches to discover and characterize novel CRISPR nucleases.His work is funded by an EMBO postdoctoral fellowship.
Besides his scientific interests, Rokas enjoys doing sports, reading books and going on long hikes into the wilderness.
Uzair joins our lab from Chiniot, Pakistan where he was born and raised. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at Government College University Faisalabad and joined the lab of Dr. M. Shareef Masoud where he worked on stem cell therapeutics. He started his master's degree from the same lab but got selected for an exchange program at University of Health Sciences, Lahore where he engaged in finding the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of miRNAs in human diseases. In Dr. Jones Group, Uzair will investigate if and how gRNA-DNA sequence parity alters the repair outcomes of editing with CRISPR nucleases.
Besides academic interests, Uzair enjoys fiddling with tech and software, playing video games, and watching anime.
Ieva began her life and education in Kaunas, Lithuania. She then spent three years abroad at the University of Manchester, where she completed her bachelor studies in biomedical sciences. During her time in the United Kingdom, Ieva realized that her passion in biology is at the molecular level, which helped her decide to continue her master studies in molecular biotechnology at Vilnius University. Ieva is beyond excited to join Dr. Jones’ laboratory, where she will be part of a team that pushes our understanding of science even further.
Outside of academia, Ieva loves cycling, traveling (as much as the time allows) and playing the piano for pleasure.
Lina is a Vilnius native and one of our experts on the area. While attending a local gymnasium, Lina became curious about many different topics and saw herself as a future artist. But as she watched her brother begin his studies in physics, her own interest in the life sciences began to flourish. This influenced her to pursue the goal of becoming a scientist and study at Vilnius University. Now she is working on a Master’s degree in Genetics and continuing to grow her love and passion for life’s mysteries.
Beyond the laboratory, Lina enjoys sharing scientific news and ideas with her family and friends, reading books, learning vintage photography, writing poetry, and taking her dog Gilė on long evening walks.
Daniel joins our lab from Ibadan, Nigeria. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Plant Science and Biotechnology at Adekunle Ajasin University. There, he developed a keen passion for biotechnology, fascinated by how it can solve emerging challenges faced by humans. In Autumn 2021, Daniel joined us at the EMBL Partnership Institute in Vilnius University's Life Sciences Center for masters study in Molecular Biotechnology. While working toward his Masters degree and currently as a researsher in the lab, he is helping us understand how CRISPR nucleases coordinate with guide RNAs to enable targeted gene editing.
Urtė, originally from Vilnius, Lithuania, holds a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry from Vilnius University and is currently pursuing her Master's in the same field. In her undergraduate years, she discovered her passion for chemistry and biology, leading her to the dynamic world of biochemistry. Now in her Master's program, Urtė is actively engaged in Dr. Jones' laboratory, specializing in the development of high-throughput characterization strategies for phylogenetically diverse CRISPR-Cas nucleases. This hands-on experience allows her to further cultivate her love for science.
Beyond academia, Urtė, a former member of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union, expresses her creativity through sewing and finds joy in outdoor bike riding.
Fausta grew up surrounded by forests and lakes in Moletai and currently is living in Vilnius. She is now entering her second year at Vilnius University majoring in Molecular biology. Fausta was inspired to dive into the scientific world via the VU iGEM team and their past projects. She is passionate about science, new opportunities, and future development. That’s why she is an organizer for the International Life Sciences conference - The COINS. Currently, at Dr. Jones’ lab she is learning methods used in the molecular biology laboratory and helping others with their research projects. Fausta is looking forward to deepening and expanding her knowledge and practical skills in the science field.
Agata hails from Vilnius, Lithuania. In childhood, she discovered her strong passion for life. As years passed, she became more and more fascinated by nature. This passion led her to study microbiology at Vilnius University. Agata has always dreamed of working in a top-notch laboratory, where she could challenge herself academically and become a remarkable scientist. She's beginning to realize her dream in the Jones laboratory, where designs DNA libraries for studying CRISPR nucleases. Beyond her earning bachelor's degree, Agata will gain knowledge, spend time with enthusiastic scientists, and contribute to the laboratory's successes.
Outside of academia, Agata is fond of spending time with her family and playing with her dog, Nugget. She's always down for an adventure!
Born in Delaware and currently living in Massachusetts, Ieva is now entering her second year in University of California, San Diego, majoring in Biology with Specialisation in Bioinformatics. She became particularly interested in life sciences when she led the BioBuilders Club in high school. There, she was able to gain an understanding for the research process when publishing an original design in a high school peer-reviewed journal. As a remote researcher, she contributes to the team's bioinformatics research goals.
Justas, a Vilnius native, finished high school in 2020. Without knowing if he enjoyed physics or biology more, the question of which to pursue loomed over him for a long time. As a neurobiophysics student, he is able to experience the two disciplines merged together. In the Jones!Lab, Justas endeavors to process and analyze data that helps us understand how the Cas9 gene editing tool operates.
In his free time, Justas enjoys creative writing (especially of short stories) and seeing his friends’ and relatives’ faces when they hear the details of his studies and research.
Uršulė was born and raised in Vilnius, Lithuania. She attended a local Gymnasium in Denmark, where she earned an International Baccalaureate Diploma. Fascinated by the broad application possibilities of the Natural Sciences, she decided to study in Vilnius University Life Sciences Center, where she is completing the Microbiology Bachelors program. Alongside her studies, Uršulė is a member of the Vilnius University Students’ Representation (VU SA), where she organizes events and practices advocacy of her fellow students. She is thrilled to start uncovering the depths of CRISPR technologies along with Dr. Jones’ Team members and hopes to broaden her understanding of scientific research by assisting in practical lab work and developing her own lines of scientific inquiry.
Vytautas was born and raised in Vilnius, Lithuania. He became interested in life sciences at a local gymnasium and wanted to explore the molecular world and all the exciting mechanisms and processes involved in it. He's now a third-year Molecular biology Bachelor student at Vilnius University. His interest in CRISPR-CAS systems led him to the Jones Lab, which he joined in 2023. He now pursues new ways to increase the throughput of CRISPR nuclease cloning and characterization.
Besides academic interests, Vytautas enjoys mountain biking and hiking with friends.
As our experienced Research Adviser, Audrey urges us to trust our senses and our data. She also reminds us that just because you can, doesn't mean you should! Most importantly, she recommends caring for your neighbor.