Hyejung Won, PhD

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the Department of Genetics and the Neuroscience Center. I completed my Ph.D. in Dr. Eunjoon Kim's lab at KAIST, where I investigated the underlying mechanism of neurodevelopmental disorders using genetically modified mouse models. I then did my postdoctoral studies at UCLA in Dr. Dan Geschwind's lab, where I performed genome-wide analyses of chromosome conformation in human brain. 

Postdoctoral Researcher


Won Ma, PhD

I got my Ph.D. in the lab of Dr. Eunjoon Kim at KAIST. During my PhD, I studied molecular mechanisms underlying neurodevelopmental disorders, ADHD and ASD, by generating and characterizing genetically modified animal models. After I completed my PhD, I became an Assistant Professor at the Dentistry Department of Kyungpook National University. There, I studied synaptic structures in the trigeminal nerve using an electron microscope based technique.

I joined the Won lab as I wanted to expand my horizon by tackling important questions in Neurogenetics. 


Nana Matoba, PhD

I earned my B.S. from Kyushu Institute of Technology (Dept. Biochemical Science and Engineering). After five years of experience as a system administrator/software engineer at Mitsubishi Space Software Co., Ltd, I earned M.S. in Medical Science from Saitama Medical University. I completed PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Tokyo under Dr. Tadafumi Kato, where I studied genetics of bipolar disorder through whole exome sequencing of trio families. Then, I studied GWASs of lifestyle related phenotypes in BioBank Japan Project at the Lab for Statistical Analysis, RIKEN under Dr. Yoichiro Kamatani. I will be jointly advised by Dr. Jason Stein at UNC. I am interested in studying the genetic components of human behaviors. 


Yanqiong Zhang, PhD

I got my M.S. in Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. Then I came to US to continue my Ph.D. studies at East Carolina University, NC. During my PhD, I explored the toxicological effects of environmental chemicals on reproductive systems of C. elegans. After I completed my PhD in 2016, I joined Dr. Pengda Liu's lab at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC as a postdoc to study the molecular mechanisms underlying aberrant cell signaling events that contribute to cancer. I joined the Won lab to become an interdisciplinary expert and serve our scientific community better. I love reading, traveling and making friends in my spare time. 


Jiseok Lee, PhD

I got my Ph.D. in Dr. Eunjoon Kim’s lab in KAIST, where I studied the molecular and physiological mechanisms altered in autism mouse models. I then joined Dr. Alison Barth’s lab in Carnegie Mellon University, where I studied how neocortical circuits change during sensory learning in mice. Over the course, I developed an interest in functional genomics and bioinformatics, and I joined the Won lab to expand my expertise. In the Won lab, I will be studying how genetic perturbation of disease-risk genes affects gene expression networks. Outside work, I like to go birdwatching, swimming, and ice skating. 

Graduate Student

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Nancy Sey

I am a graduate student in the Neuroscience Curriculum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I obtained my B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond Va. My undergraduate research focused on understanding the effects of racial discrimination on health of African Americans. With an interest in furthering my scientific training, I joined UNC’s Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and studied the effects of adolescent alcohol use on behavior flexibility. I plan to further my interest in substance use studies in the Won Lab by investigating the comorbidity between neuropsychiatric disorders and substance use. I enjoy participating in science outreach programs outside of the lab.


Marielle Bond

I am a graduate student in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Curriculum at UNC Chapel Hill, jointly advised by Dr. Doug Phanstiel. I also attended UNC Chapel Hill as an undergraduate student, graduating in 2018 with a B.S. in Biology. My undergraduate research was with Dr. Adrienne Cox in the Pharmacology Department, investigating the role of oncogenic RAS in melanoma. I went on to work as the Phanstiel Lab manager and technician for 2 years before applying to graduate school, where I studied the timing of regulatory events such as chromatin looping, gene expression, and chromatin accessibility during megakaryocyte development. In the Won lab I will work towards identifying genes contributing to Alzheimer’s Disease risk.


Sool Lee

I am a graduate student in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Curriculum at UNC Chapel Hill. I have obtained my B.S. in Molecular Biology - Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and obtained my M.S. in Bioinformatics at the Northeastern University. Prior to attending UNC, I have worked with Drs. Pete Castaldi and Craig Hersh on COPDGene Study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital using GWAS and RNA-sequencing data to investigate the underlying genetic factors of  COPD. This experience made me appreciate the complexity of our biological systems and realize how difficult it is to pinpoint causal alleles, particularly for non-coding variants. In the Won lab, I will use Massively Parallel Reporter Assay (MPRA) to identify variants directly modulating the gene expression and to improve our understanding of the regulatory relationships between the non-coding genome and psychiatric illnesses. 


Brandon Pratt

I am a graduate student in the Pharmacology Curriculum at UNC Chapel Hill. Prior to UNC, I earned B.S degrees in Exercise Science and Biochemistry from SUNY Brockport. Upon graduating, I worked as a Research Assistant in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Engle at Boston Children’s Hospital. There, our work focused on investigating the genetic etiology of congenital cranial dysinnervation disorders- a class of rare Mendelian disorders affecting development of the motor neurons that innervate the muscles controlling movement of the eyes and face. My project focused on generating epigenomic and transcriptomic atlases for the developing cranial motor neurons (in mouse) to prioritize mutations found within whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing data. I joined the Won lab in 2021 to apply Hi-C and other genomic techniques to better understand the contribution of non-coding variation in brain-related disorders.

Lab Manager


Jessica McAfee

I joined in late 2018 as the Lab Manager and Research Technician for the Stein lab and Won lab. I earned my B.S. in Biology at UNC Chapel hill. My undergraduate research focused on using CRISPR/Cas9 on Arabidopsis thaliana. I went on to work at a lab at NC State, and then lived in Japan for a year. I hope to help find the genetic basis of mental illnesses through various molecular biology techniques.

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Jessica Bell

I joined the Won Lab in 2021 as a Research Technician. In 2018, I graduated from Dickinson College with a B.S. in Neuroscience and Biology. My undergraduate research focused on the development and activation of central respiratory chemoreceptors and the onset of respiratory related behaviors in embryonic mice. After graduation, I worked for two years as a Research Assistant for Dr. Mary Whitman and Dr. Elizabeth Engle at Boston Children’s Hospital studying genetic and environmental factors driving axon guidance in the developing oculomotor system. I joined the Won Lab to contribute to research focused on understanding the genetic basis of various neurological disorders.

Undergraduate Researcher


David Peery

I am a rising junior at UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in Computer Science and Statistics with a minor in Biology.  My research focuses on using quantitative genetic tools to better understand the genetic basis for a variety of neurological disorders.  After graduation, I hope to pursue a PhD in computational biology.


Postdoctoral Researcher
Benxia Hu: Postdoc at UNC-CH
Postbaccalaureate Researcher
Zipporiah Bush: Graduate student at Albert Einstein
Undergraduate Researcher
Huaigu Sun: Graduate student at Rutgers
Alice Yu: Graduate student at UNC-CH