Hegg Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Eric Hegg

Eric Hegg obtained his B.A. from Kalamazoo College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin under the direction of Professor Judith Burstyn. It was during his time at Wisconsin that he became interested in metalloenzymology, studying the role of metal ions in enzymes that hydrolyze DNA, RNA, and proteins. After receiving his Ph.D., Eric joined Larry Que's group at the University of Minnesota as an NIH postdoctoral fellow where he studied non-heme iron dioxygenases and established his long-standing interest in understanding how nature synthesizes and activates small molecules such as H2 and O2. Following his postdoctoral work, Eric and his family moved to Salt Lake City where he joined the faculty of the University of Utah and began his independent research career. When the opportunity arose, Eric and his wife eagerly returned to the northern Midwest to join the faculty at MSU. In addition to studying heme biosynthesis and O2 utilization, he is involved in developing renewable bioenergy, converting biomass into ethanol and other transportation fuels as wells as using microbes to generate H2. When Eric am not busy in the lab, he enjoys running, hiking, and most outdoor activities.
E-mail: EricHegg@msu.edu

Research Associates

Julius CampeciƱo

Julius Campeciño joined the lab as a research associate in October 2017. He earned his PhD in Chemistry in 2015 at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst under the guidance of Prof. Michael J. Maroney. Prior to joining the group, he taught undergraduate chemistry in the Philippines. His interest revolves around understanding how enzymes modulate the properties of metal ions to perform specific catalysis. He is currently involved in unraveling the mechanism of cytochrome c nitrite reductase. Outside of the lab, he enjoys working out specially that he is now a Spartan, but he really never had the build unlike his Spartan predecessors.
Email: campecin@msu.edu

Ruchi Gaur

Ruchi Gaur joined the Hegg Lab in August 2018 as a senior research associate. After completing her PhD from IIT Delhi (India) on enzyme production and characterization from extremophilic bacteria, she joined SUNY at Buffalo as a postdoc researcher to decipher iron uptake and channeling mechanisms in microbes. Her research encompassed multicopperoxidase purification and characterization from bacteria and yeast. With a short stint at the University of Konstanz, Germany, Ruchi was exposed to proteomics and mass spectrometry before joining the National Brain Research Centre in India to work on Angelman Syndrome mouse model for identification and functional characterization of marker proteins in neurodevelopmental disorder. Later, her interest on addressing environmental concerns and biofuel production drove her to the Bioenergy Research Centre at IOCL (India). There she focused on developing efficient pretreatment strategies for harness fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass and mass-spectrometry based screening of fungal cellulases endowed with LMPO activity. In the Hegg Lab, Ruchi will continue to focus on her interest on environmental issues with a focus on microbial nitrous oxide production and mitigation strategies.
Email: gaurruch@msu.edu

Jenie Gil

Jenie Gil is a research associate in the Department of Integrative Biology and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. Before coming to Michigan State in June 2018, she received her PhD (Biogeochemistry) from the University of Easter Finland, Kuopio, Finland. Her main research interest lies on the study of stable isotopes and isotopomers as a tool to characterize sources of greenhouse gases from soil and microbial pathways. She is collaborating with Hegg Lab on the evaluation of the isotopic composition of N2O generated from specific nitrogen cycling enzymes commonly used by soil microorganisms. She loves nature, photography and hot chocolate!
Email: gillugoj@msu.edu

Saravanakumar Thiyagarajan

Saravanakumar Thiyagarajan joined the Hegg Lab in May 2018 as a research associate. He received his PhD in Biotechnology from Chonbuk National University, South Korea. After receiving his PhD, Saravana completed a postdoctoral fellowship working on a university-industry project. His current research theme is about the efficient depolymerization of cellulose using metallozymes and to find its synergistic effect with other cellulases. In his free time, Saravana enjoys going on long bike rides.
Email: thiyaga4@msu.edu

Zhaoyang Yuan

Zhaoyang Yuan is a research associate in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department. Zhaoyang received his B.Eng and MASc in Pulp and Paper Engineering at Tianjin University of Science Technology. He completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 2017. Then, Zhaoyang worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UBC for one year. In January 2018, he joined Hegg Lab and will specially focus on improving catalyst aided alkaline hydrogen peroxide treatment of woody biomass to improve monomeric sugars recovery as well as developing a cost-effective biomass-to-bioethanol bioconversion process. Other interests include history, swimming, and soccer.
Email: yuanzha2@msu.edu

Graduate Assistants

Gracielou Klinger

Gracielou Klinger is a graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemistry department. She joined the Hegg lab in November 2014. Before coming to Michigan State she obtained her undergraduate degrees from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. Her interests lie in the chemical breakdown of plant biomass and its conversion to value added products. She loves nature and her black thumb does not stop her from trying to grow lots of plants.
E-mail: klingerg@msu.edu

Elise Rivett Elise Rivett is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate student; she joined the Hegg lab in April 2014. Before coming to MSU, she earned a B.S. in chemistry from Olivet Nazarene University. Her current research goals focus on characterizing the mechanism and structure of heme a synthase, an enzyme that produces an essential cofactor for cytochrome c oxidase. Elise also enjoys long rambling walks, Costa Rican coffee, and funky socks.
E-mail: rivettel@msu.edu

Undergraduate Students

Andrew Kozel

Andrew Kozel is an undergraduate research assistant working with Gracielou Klinger on the degradation and upgrading of lignin. He is majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Energy and joined the Hegg Lab in September of 2016. After graduation he plans on working as a process engineer for a large scale manufacturing company. Outside of lab, he enjoys hiking, fishing, and anything outdoors as well as all sports related activities.
Email: kozeland@msu.edu

Evan Kurtz

Evan Kurtz is a senior undergraduate researcher working with Julius Campecino in the Hegg Lab. He joined the Hegg Lab in September 2018 and his project is to help understand the heme maturation process for cytochrome c nitrate reductase in Geobacter lovleyi. He is majoring in Biochemistry and have plans to get into graduate school in the near future. Evan enjoys staying active and is a part of the Michigan State Water Ski Team where he competes in 3-event collegiate water skiing.
Email: kurtzeva@msu.edu

Danielle (Dani) Matz

Danielle (Dani) Matz is an undergraduate student entering her sophomore year as a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. She started working in the Hegg Lab in September 2018 and will be assisting with projects focusing on the depolymerization of cellulose with Saravanakumar Thiyagarajan. In her free time, she enjoys running and growing as many plants she can fit in her apartment!
Email: matzdani@msu.edu

Jack Skyta

Jack Skyta joined the Hegg Lab as an undergraduate research assistant in September 2018. Jack is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major in the Lyman Briggs college with a pre-med track. Jack plans on attending medical school to become a trauma surgeon for the military. Jack is a former gymnast and eagle scout who enjoys the outdoors and staying as active as possible.
Email: skytajon@msu.edu