These are the people working hard to improve the quality
and happiness of your lab.


Tom Ruginis
Founder, CEO

Tom is a former molecular biologist, PhD dropout, and a lifelong student of psychology and neuroscience. His experience and passion for solving problems helped launch HappiLabs in 2012.

If he’s not analyzing data or shopping for lab supplies you can find him networking and socializing in the Chicago and San Francisco entrepreneur and science communities.

Observations about Tom

  • A favorite book: Guns, Germs, Steel by Jared Diamond
  • If you come to Chicago, Tom will tell you to eat at: Piece Pizza Chicago
  • He appreciates: Nikola Tesla, the greatest scientist and inventor ever
Raudel Sandoval, PhD
Virtual Lab Manager

Raudel has a PhD in Pharmacology from UIC with 12+ years experience in PCR and cell culture–related experiments.

Raudel specializes in data about quality. When you have a question about the quality of supplies or reagents, he’s doing the research for you.

A few fun facts about Dr. Sandoval

  • Favorite food: Thai
  • He loves soccer
  • Fave science TV show: Breaking Bad
Liz Sacho, PhD
Virtual Lab Manager

Liz has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and many years experience in biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology. Her research career focused on DNA repair and utilized a variety of bulk and single molecule assays.

She is a strong advocate for science outreach and education, and enjoys serving as a local science fair judge.

Fun Facts about Liz

  • Lover of carbonated water
  • Avid knitter
  • Roller derby skater & coach

Elizabeth Varhegyi, PhD
Virtual Lab Manager

Elizabeth has a PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from University of Illinois–Chicago. Her research focused on Ebola and influenza viral entry and involved several high through-put screens using a robotic liquid handling system as well as cell culture, viral pseudotyping, and western blotting.

She defended her thesis in December 2015 and started as a Virtual Lab Manager in January 2016.

3 fun facts about Elizabeth:

  • She competes in races – 5ks, a 10k, a half marathon, triathlons, and duathlon.
  • Loves to cook and bake – especially gluten free food.
  • She enjoys doing cross-stitch
Justin Beach, PhD
Virtual Lab Manager

Justin has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from East Tennessee State University. His research focused on examining the inhibitory effects of antibiotics on bacterial ribosome biosynthesis.

Justin recently moved to Chicago and started as a Virtual Lab Manager in October 2016.

Fun facts about Justin:

  • Is a lifelong fan of professional cycling
  • Loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen with food and drink
  • Enjoys urban gardening and studying botany in his spare time
Ian Street, PhD
Virtual Lab Manager

Ian has a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. His research focused on plant developmental biology and how light and hormones shape plant cells.

He is also an advocate for communicating science, improving early career researcher’s experiences in STEM, and a science writer/editor.

Fun facts about Ian:

  • Addicted to podcasts
  • Is a runner competing in 5 and 10k distance races mostly for fun
  • Wants to form a trophy winning pub trivia team
Padma Kandukuru
Support Virtual Lab Manager

Padma is currently working with HappiLabs as a Product Research/Purchasing Specialist. She helps scientists to find their research products by doing comparative evaluation of different brands to find their equivalent or superior alternatives.

In addition to product research, she works with the Virtual Lab Managers to purchase lab consumables, equipment and reagents within a set budget, negotiate with suppliers/sales reps, and communicate with scientists to ensure day-to-day operations of laboratory are efficient.

A couple fun facts about Padma:

  • If I’m not researching you will find me in my kitchen experimenting with food
  • I love to mix art with science to create healthy & tasty recipes.


Rachel Ruginis
Vice President of Operations

Rachel is in charge of our operations — from legal and finances to creative and data analytics, she takes care of it.

Tom will call her a co-founder, but she doesn’t like that title.

Fun facts about Rach:

  • Lover of pizza, music and style
  • Mother to @CharlieAtom and twitter-less #OliverGyven
  • She’ll dress you better than you’ll dress you
Natalie Strasser
Office Manager

Natalie has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Roosevelt University, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta Honors Society. She’s interested in cultures around the world and how humans interact.

The Office is one of her favorite shows, but she never wants to be Toby.

3 fun facts about Natalie:

  • Lover of tacos, and spicy foods
  • Avid reader (anything by Coates, Kerouac, or Kozol)
  • Frequent Trivia Night go-er