our team

In addition to our authors, reviewers, and editors, our support team makes sure Drug Hunter runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis. They also work behind the scenes on great new site features and content for the drug discovery community. We appreciate their contributions and a few members who have been with us for some time are featured below. You may encounter some of them while giving feedback on the site or while participating in events.

We’re always looking for help with everything from graphic design to literature research – if you like the idea of helping drug discovery scientists and professionals and are interested in a paid position, reach out here!

Melissa Lynch  Client Services Leader

Melissa is the Client Services Leader for Drug Hunter, coordinating and managing work across client-centered departments including account management, customer success, and sales. She graduated from Northwestern University and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication as a Theatre Major, with a minor in Business Institutions and a Leadership Certificate.  While pursuing an acting career, she was introduced to Production Management, Stage Management, and House Management opportunities that propelled her into the world of business operations. After leaving the theatre, Melissa worked in Project Management, Household Management, and Direct Sales.  Melissa lives in New York City and enjoys running full and half marathons, reading, baking, and spending time with loved ones–especially the children in her life.

Lauren Smith – Editorial Manager

Lauren is our Senior Scientist, Pharmacology, and Editorial Manager here at Drug Hunter,  where she helps with scientific research and editorial tasks. She earned her Ph. D. from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, where she was awarded a graduated fellowship from the NIH and carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Texas in Austin. Through her research in organic chemistry and behavioral pharmacology of drugs of abuse, Lauren has published 19 peer-reviewed publications. Lauren then went on to pursue scientific and medical writing before entering her role at Drug Hunter.

Candy Hwang – Sr. Scientist, Drug Discovery Chemistry

Candy is our Senior Scientist in Chemistry, responsible for scientific research and content. Prior to Drug Hunter she was a tenured Associate Professor of Chemistry at Southern Connecticut State University. Candy has published 22 peer-reviewed articles, was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, received an NSF Fellowship during her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Southern California, and received her B.A. in Chemistry and B.S. in Biology from Pepperdine University.

Erika Crane – Principal Scientist and Associate Editor

Erika is a Principal Scientist and Associate Editor in Drug Discovery for Drug Hunter, helping with scientific research and editorial tasks. Prior to joining Drug Hunter, she spent 5 years working in the pharmaceutical industry at AbbVie as both a process and drug discovery chemist, gaining technical expertise spanning metric ton-scale API manufacturing to ng-scale on-DNA chemistry (for DELs). A drug discovery devotee, cross-functional collaboration enthusiast and passionate ED&I champion, she was trained as a synthetic chemist and dabbled in molecular biology. Prior to the start of her professional career, Erika was a Marie Curie IFF & NIBR Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Basel (2013-2016), she earned her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2012, and her B.S. in Biochemistry from Ohio Northern University in 2007. She currently lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband (also a chemist!) and three crazy boys. When not keeping up with them, she enjoys doing anything outdoors and baking.

Vinicius Teixeira – Research Associate

Vinicius is a Research Associate for Drug Hunter, helping with scientific research. He started his academic journey with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, focused on organic synthesis, at UFPEL-Brazil, changing to to Computational Chemistry when he moved to Porto Alegre, joining the UFRGS-Brazil. Vinicius compromised on his love of sports to finish his Ph.D. degree in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry in 2020. Vinicius has experience as a university teacher and scientific researcher, and works with biotech companies on scientific projects related to medicine and medicinal chemistry. Vinicius ended up in Chemistry by his mistake – he asked his father to pay for an admission test in Biochemistry, and was signed up for Chemistry instead! Fortunately for us, he passed and loves Chemistry.

Jason Hu – Sr. Web Developer and Engineering Manager

Jason is a full-time web developer for Drug Hunter. He helps to manage web development at Drug Hunter and contributes to new features and improvements for the website. Jason previously was a Senior Web Developer at Walmart.com and managed a team, built applications and created customer experiences live on the Walmart homepage. He graduated with a B.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan. Jason currently lives in Michigan. When he is not digging deep into technical challenges, he loves the gym, sports, and playing fetch with a ball of terrier energy named Winston.

Jasper Frumau – Web Developer

Jasper is the technical project manager and lead web developer for Drug Hunter. He manages the web development team and contributes to new features and improvements for the website. Above all he makes sure the website keep running smoothly. Jasper worked on multiple WordPress projects, large SaaS and maintained various e-commerce sites. He graduated with a Masters of Arts in European Studies from the University of Amsterdam, did an Erasmus Exchange in Paris and internship at the UNHQ in New York. Jasper currently lives in Bangkok with his family and loves running, reading a good sci-fi or fantasy novel or having a great Belgian beer.

Jennie Hu – Sr. Marketing and Communications Manager

Jennie is the Marketing and Communications Manager for Drug Hunter – developing and executing marketing campaigns and managing corporate communications. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Biological Sciences. She previously worked with the Global Marketing Solutions team at Facebook and most recently worked at IDEAYA Biosciences in roles of increasing responsibility culminating in a position as Associate of Investor Relations.

Jennie enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with her kids.

Dani Alfonso – Sr. Visual Designer

Dani is the Senior Visual Designer for Drug Hunter, helping with graphic design and art direction. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Literature and Art History and from Valencia College with an A.S. in Graphic Technology & Interactive Design. 

She is an uber-creative graphic & web designer with over 7 years of experience spanning the entire visual spectrum, delivering human-centered print and digital experiences that convey the brand’s story to connect with audiences in new meaningful ways. Throughout her career she’s worked with all types of visual design, partnering with companies in multiple industries like Disney, AdventHealth, and Fusion. In 2017, she co-founded an independent creative agency with the goal of building a lean, mean creativity machine. As lead designer, she gained valuable insight and experience into the full product life-cycle including project planning, brainstorming and conception, team management, and customer relations. 

Dani resides in Orlando, Florida and loves reading, thrifting, traveling and discovering new cultures, going to art museums, and hiking.

Shiela Soriano – Client Services Manager

Shiela joins Drug Hunter as our  Client Services Manager. With almost 20 years of experience as a corporate professional, Shiela has successfully acquired and honed a comprehensive and varied skill set throughout her career. This has been obtained through securing multi-disciplinary roles with expertise in project management, administrative support, sales & marketing, e-commerce, and customer service. Shiela thrives in multi-cultural positions, always demonstrates expertise within organization, planning, attention to detail, leaving no stone unturned. She is extremely dedicated with demonstrable results in transforming environments, maximizing performance, and eradicating issues. Shiela studied Engineering in her university days. She has demonstrated the ability to achieve corporate goals and solve complex business problems.

In her free time, you can find her taking care of her toddler, gardening, or watching movies. She loves going on trips with her family and watching sunsets. Shiela is currently proficient with dolls and stuffed toys, but she particularly excels in all things Baby Shark and Cocomelon-related.

Jessa Aqueza – Administrative Assistant 

Jessa is our team’s amazing administrative assistant, helping coordinate site operations, maintaining the website, and reaching out to community members. Jes graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is helping with Drug Hunter while working on her Master’s thesis. Jessa is also a recruitment specialist in an engineering company. We don’t know how she juggles everything, but she’s never let us down!

Bonnie Sterngold – Bookkeeper

Bonnie started providing bookkeeping services to Drug Hunter in July of 2022. She has operated a bookkeeping service – Bookkeep – for many years with clients including: non-profit organizations, attorneys, physicians, venture capitalists, insurance firms, professional athletes and startups (Symantec, Devices for Vascular Intervention, Sam & Libby Shoes). 

She lives in Rocklin, CA, with her husband of 42 years and loves spending time with her family, including her three grandchildren. Bonnie volunteers as a member of the Finance Committees for Adolescent Counseling Services and Puente Costa de la Sur. Every Sunday you will find her volunteering at Hamilton Raptor Center which rescues, rehabilitates and releases all types of raptors – owls, eagles, hawks and falcons. 

When time permits, Bonnie trains for, and races in, triathlons, including two Ironman Wisconsin finishes.

Jennifer Huen – Research Scientist and Technical Illustrator

Jennifer is a Research Scientist and Technical Illustrator for Drug Hunter, with a focus on large molecule drug discovery. Jennifer obtained her PhD in biochemistry at the University of Toronto in Canada, looking at the structure-function relationship of proteins involved in DNA processing. She continued her journey in structural biology as a post-doc at the Institute of Molecular Biology in Academia Sinica in Taipei, then became enamored by protein engineering as a scientist at AbCelex Technologies. She is currently freelancing as a scientific writer & illustrator, consulting in structural biology, and busying herself as a co-founder of the biotech research company, Beagle Scientific Inc.

Maria Koyioni – Research Associate and Technical Illustrator

Maria is a Research Associate and Technical Illustrator for Drug Hunter, helping with research and technical illustration. Maria obtained her PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Cyprus (UCY). After her PhD she joined University of Oxford, UK as postdoctoral researcher and later the Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies of Polish Academy of Sciences in Łódź, Poland. She then return to Cyprus to pursue her own funded research project. Her research interests lie on the development of new synthetic methods for S,N-heterocycles, the synthesis of novel S,N-heterocycles and study of their biological activities. In her free time she enjoys working out, hiking and cooking. Favorite cooking activity: making pancakes!

Dennis Hu – CEO and Editor-in-Chief

Dennis is the CEO of Drug Hunter parent company Drug Hunter Inc., and Editor-in-Chief of Drug Hunter. Dennis started Drug Hunter because he felt science-focused drug discovery professionals were underserved by existing media outlets. He started his career as a drug discovery scientist at a now publicly-listed biotech startup (RAPT), where he contributed to the discovery of a phase II drug candidate for cancer immunotherapy. He later joined Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world by revenue. He has been a chemistry and project team leader for several projects leading to patented and published chemical matter. He earned his PhD in Chemistry from Stanford University, MPhil by Research from the University of Cambridge on a Churchill Scholarship, and a dual BA/MS from Northwestern University as a Goldwater Scholar.

We thank all other contributors to Drug Hunter over time and thank Kim Fong, Cliff Kuehn, Dergositz & Noah LLP, Fenwick & West LLP, and Weber Law LLC for additional legal counsel.

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