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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.

Research Associates


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 laments at how he can't get to the build like his Spartan predecessors.

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.

Zhen Fang photo

Zhen Fang is a research associate of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. After obtained his master’s degree in June 2013 at Element Organic Chemistry Institute, Nankai University, Zhen completed his PhD program in Chemistry department, University of Kentucky, in February 2019, wherein his study focused on degradation of lignin and utilization of lignin as building blocks for epoxy resins. He is currently working on degradation of lignin via electrochemistry. Zhen is a super fan of badminton and basketball.

NishaNisha Jangir joined the TerAvest and Hegg labs as a research associate in February 2021. She received her master’s degree in Biotechnology from University of Rajasthan, India. Nisha completed her Ph.D. in Department of Biochemistry, University of Hyderabad, India, in July 2019, wherein her study was focused on stereoselective synthesis of chiral cyanohydrins using a hydroxynitrile lyase enzyme. Then, Nisha worked as a senior scientific officer in Seminal Applied Science Pvt. Ltd. Jaipur, India from August 2019 to July 2020. She is currently working on a Team-Up project which aims to create a link between an extracellular electrode and cytosolic electron carriers in Gram-negative bacteria. She loves camping, music, watching movies, and traveling to new places.

Graduate Assistants

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.

Grad Student Krystina Hird

Krystina Hird is a graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) program at MSU and joined the Hegg lab in March of 2020. She received her BS in Biochemistry from Miami of Ohio in 2019. Her research project focuses on understanding the mechanism of converting nitrite to ammonium via bacterial cytochrome c nitrite reductase. She enjoys camping, watching movies, and eating good food.


Undergraduate Students

Celeste Dufour

Celeste Dufour is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry/Biotechnology through Lyman Briggs. She started working in the Hegg lab in spring of 2020 and will be assisting Julius Campeciño and Krystina Hird with their projects studying the metalloenzymes, NrfA and NrfH, to elucidate the mechanism of cytochrome c nitrite reductase. In the little free time that Celeste has outside of the Hegg lab and her job at the MSU Herbarium, she enjoys doing crafts and DIYs, drinking good coffee, and running around in nature (weather permitting). 


Celeste Czarnecki is an undergraduate student entering their senior year as a Chemistry major and STEPPs minor. They started working in the Hegg Lab in June 2019 and will be assisting with projects focusing on improving catalyst aided alkaline hydrogen peroxide treatment of woody biomass with Zhaoyang Yuan and the chemical breakdown of plant biomass with Gracielou Klinger. When they're not in the lab, Celeste is a member of the Glee Club and an amateur animator.

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn is fourth-year undergraduate student currently majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He began working in the Hegg Lab in January 2020 and will be assisting Zhen Fang on his lignin degradation project. The project focuses on utilizing electrochemistry and small thiols to break beta-o-4 bonds in lignin. When he has free time, Michael loves to spend his time outdoors or playing the ukulele.