These are the humans 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

  • He recommends: 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 entrepreneur 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

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
Amanda Schalk, PhD

Amanda Schalk, PhD

Virtual Lab Manager

Amanda has a PhD in molecular biology from the International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Biology in Goettingen, Germany.

After having her fill of German culture, she returned to the US to engineer enzymes for potential use as cancer therapeutics using her expertise in cloning, protein expression and purification, enzyme kinetic assays, and x-ray crystallography.

She is an enthusiastic Science Club mentor for middle school kids at a Boys and Girls Club of Chicago and loves sharing how awesome science is with anyone who will listen.

3 fun facts about Amanda:

  • Has a mild obsession with everything Minions
  • Enjoys season seats at the Lyric opera and likes using ridiculous opera binoculars
  • Plays old school arcade games and jumps around to Kinect games on her Xbox
Justin Beach, PhD

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


Rachel Ruginis
Designer, Data Visualizer

Rachel is a rockstar with PowerPoint and a specialist with InDesign. She designs the HappiLabs spending reports and email newsletters.

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

A couple fun facts about Rach

  • Mother of @CharlieAtom
  • She’ll dress you better than you’ll dress you.
Padma Kandukuru

Padma Kandukuru

Support Virtual Lab Manager

I’m a PhD candidate in Neuroscience. I’m currently working with the HappiLabs as a Product Research/Purchasing Specialist. I help scientists to find their research products at the best price by doing comparative evaluation of different research products to find their equivalent or superior alternatives.

In addition to product research, I work 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 me

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