MEET THE HAPPILABS FAMILY

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

VIRTUAL LAB MANAGERS

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.

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.

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
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.

Zuri McClelland
Support Virtual Lab Manager

Zuri has a master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and conducted tissue engineering research on cell adhesion and proliferation.

Besides helping to keep scientists happy, she enjoys learning graphic design and reading business and sociology books.

A couple fun facts about Zuri:

  • Top countries to visit: Thailand, Greece and Bora Bora
  • Stays stress-free by drawing @artbyzuri
  • Favorite podcast: Last Name Basis

OPERATIONS

Rachel Ruginis
Creative Director

Rachel is a rockstar with PowerPoint and a specialist with InDesign. She designs the HappiLabs spending reports, all things marketing, and data visualizations.

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.

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