Staff Profiles

Susanne Rafelski, Ph.D.

Director, Assay Development

Susanne Rafelski has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and the Center for Complex Biological Systems at UC Irvine since 2012. Susanne began imaging live cells and visualizing intracellular dynamics in 3D when she was 17 and hasn’t been able to stop herself since. Susanne’s long-term research objective is to understand the spatial and dynamic organization of the cell at all levels of complexity. As a model system for intracellular organization the Rafelski lab studies the size, topology, and function of mitochondrial networks in budding yeast and mammalian cells. Susanne takes an interdisciplinary, quantitative approach to cell biology, combining live-cell image-based assays, molecular genetics, and computational methods.

Susanne obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology with an additional emphasis in Mathematics from the University of Arizona. Susanne then completed her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Stanford University, followed by a postdoc at the Center for Cell Dynamics at the Friday Harbor Labs, University of Washington, where she learned computational modeling approaches. Her research focused on integrating bacterial polarity with host-cell cytoskeletal dynamics to understand Listeria actin-based motility. Susanne then initiated her current research program on mitochondrial structure-function as a postdoc at UCSF, where she developed 3D microscopy and image analysis methods to quantify mitochondrial morphology and applied these to investigate mitochondrial size control regulation.

Susanne is committed to quantitative approaches to cell biology. She has organized the Building the Cell subgroup meeting at the annual ASCB meeting for the past three years and is a board member for the new NSF-sponsored Quantitative Cell Biology Network (QCBnet). She has also enjoyed sharing her fascination of the mysteries of the cell with students through teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level, and with the general community, especially at the high school level, through public lectures, numerous lab tours and an educational materials website.