The individuals below are the people that make our laboratory rich.  They bring energy,

ideas, amazing troubleshooting and fun to our science, every day.


Janice Thompson

Janice earned her bachelor of science in biochemistry from Michigan State University and joined the Watts lab in 2002. She is currently a research assistant II, with over 25 years of experience as a scientist in both academia and industry. In addition to lab managerial responsibilities, she regularly performs protein extractions and quantitation, western analyses, and enzyme activity assays related to all of the projects currently being researched in the lab. She has been called both Queen of the Westerns and All Knowing of Where Everything and Anything Is/Has Been Located.


Emma Darios

Emma joined Watts Lab as an undergraduate research assistant in 2009 studying the smooth muscle pharmacology of the rat uterus and cervix. After graduating from MSU in 2013 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, she became a full time research assistant. Emma’s current research is primarily on our Serotonin and Chemerin projects, using techniques such as contractility, immunohistochemistry, and western blotting. She is instrumental in training new lab members. Emma’s titles include Camp Counselor of B-447, Contractility Whiz, and Rat Whisperer.


Robert Burnett



Bridget Seitz



Ramya Kalyana Kumar

Ramya earned her bachelors degree in Bioengineering from SASTRA University- India. She then worked as a research assistant in the Vaidya Lab at Harvard Medical School- Boston for about two years.  Currently, she is a graduate student in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and is a part of the Watts family since November 2016. She is working on the characterizationof adipocyte-immune cell interactions in the perivascular adipose tissues of rats and its effects on vascular contraction in obesity-associated hypertension.


David Ferland



Andres Contreras

Andres received his DVM from Universidad Nacional de Colombia.  After 3 years of large animal clinical practice in central Colombia, he served as an intern in the Dairy Internship Program at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. He continued his education, receiving a master’s degree in mastitis and a PhD in Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology. His research background includes expertise in adipocyte and endothelium biology as well as in adipose tissue sympathetic innervation. His research work has focused on the interactions between adipose tissue function and disease. His doctoral studies, evaluated the effects of lipolysis on endothelial cell inflammatory responses. Findings from his dissertation emphasize the role of adipose tissue malfunction in the development of inflammatory based diseases, especially those with a vascular component such as atherosclerosis and hypertension. His postdoctoral research work focused initially on the lipolysis-induced white adipose tissue remodeling process and developed into elucidating the effects of sympathetic innervation on the appearance of thermogenic adipocytes (brown) within subcutaneous adipose. His current work focuses on the role of lipolysis metabolites in adipose tissue function and their link with the development of metabolic diseases.


Kyan Thelen



Maleeha Ahmad

Maleeha is a senior graduating in May 2018 with a B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics and a minor in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society. She plans on attending medical school after graduating from MSU. Maleeha joined Watts Lab in Fall of 2014 as a Professorial Assistant through the Honors College, and is currently an undergraduate research assistant. She is researching how PVAT adipocytes store norepinephrine with immunofluorescence, functional experiments utilizing a fluorescent false neurotransmitter in freshly isolated PVAT adipocytes and adrenal chromaffin cells, and electron microscopy. She is the resident Tip Refilling Master.


Alexis Orr