Core Leaders


Juliana Conkright-Fincham, Ph.D.
Head, Screening

Julie Conkright supports Stowers investigators through the development of high-throughput assays to screen genomic (cDNA and RNAi) and compound libraries. Utilizing state-of-the-art robotic instrumentation, she performs high throughput automation of primary, secondary and counter screen assays in small microtiter formats and provides data analysis support to identify lead targets or compounds.  In addition, she designs and builds de novo screening libraries for new applications in mammalian and non-mammalian systems using both cultured cells and whole organisms.

Conkright received her dual bachelor degrees in biology and microbiology from Kansas State University and served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute predoctoral intern during her senior year. At Cincinnati’s Children’s Medical Center, she studied surfactant biology and neonatal respiratory distress as part of her doctoral thesis and received her Ph.D. in molecular and developmental biology from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Bill Balch’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, where she worked on the molecular mechanism of alpha-1-antitrypsin (a1AT) secretion, Conkright moved to Florida to manage the Cell-based Screening Facility at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL. She aided investigators in genomic and compound screening as well as participated in small molecule probe development as a part of a center-based initiative in the NIH Molecular Libraries Program. In 2010, Conkright was recruited to the Stowers Institute to establish an advanced screening core that can handle a wide array of high content imaging and biochemical technologies in mammalian and non-mammalian systems.


Laurence Florens, Ph.D.
Head, Proteomics

Proteomics scientist Laurence Florens specializes in large-scale applications of liquid-chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry and is particularly interested in developing cutting-edge label free quantitative proteomics tools that can be readily applied to biological problems.

A native of France, Florens graduated from Nice University with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She received her masters and her doctorate in structural biology and microbiology from Aix-Marseilles I University before completing a postdoctoral fellowship in bioenergetics at Michigan State University in East Lansing. After a short stint at the University of Washington in Seattle, Florens joined the lab of Dr. J.R. Yates, III, at The Scripps Research Institute. At TSRI, she applied Multidimensional Protein Identification Technology (MudPIT) to malaria proteomics and successfully distinguished more than 3,000 proteins at different stages of the parasite’s life cycle; identified novel parasite antigens on the surface of red blood cells and in the sporozoite stage; and established the proteome of the midgut peritrophic matrix in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae. In 2003, Florens joined the Stowers Institute, where she collaborates closely with Stowers investigators on a wide array of projects to analyze the dynamics of protein complexes and their post-translational modifications.


Jeffrey S. Haug, B.S.
Head, Cytometry

Benefitting from Jeffrey S. Haug’s extensive experience in specialized cytometry applications, he and his team not only offer a full range of routine services, including sample processing, cell staining and data analysis, but also assist with strategic planning for novel assays and the development of custom cell sorting applications.

After graduating from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, with a B.S. in biology Haug held several research and clinical positions, in which he relied on cytometric tools to gain new insights into cancer biology. In 1994, he joined the Washington University School of Medicine in the Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation, St. Louis, where he actively participated in both clinical and basic stem cell research. He designed custom flow cytometry applications for the bone marrow transplant division that were the most sensitive, accurate and rapid cytometric assays for blood stem cells available at the time. In 2000, Haug was recruited to the Stowers Institute to establish a Cytometry Core Facility, which he manages based on the collaborative style of core resource management that he developed at Washington University.

Paul Kulesa, Ph.D.
Director, Imaging/Kulesa Lab

Paul Kulesa specializes in the visualization of complex cell dynamics in the embryo.  One of the major challenges in our better understanding of embryogenesis is our inability to accurately identify and follow single cell behaviors and correlate these behaviors with changes in a cell’s molecular profile.  Work in his lab ranges from strategies of multicolor cell labeling and multispectral imaging to analyzing gene expression patterns from cells captured by laser microdissection. The goal of this work is to provide a set of imaging-based tools that allow for more accurate in vivo interrogation of cells in the living embryo.

Kulesa received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of Washington, working with Prof. J.D. Murray FRS, a world-renowned expert in modeling biological pattern formation. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Burroughs Wellcome Fund postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. Scott E. Fraser at the California Institute of Technology, where he was able to draw on Fraser’s wonderful expertise in selective cell labeling and live embryo imaging. He joined the Stowers Institute in 2002 and applies his interdisciplinary background in mathematics, imaging, and biology.


Tari Parmely, B.S.
Director, Tissue Culture Core Laboratory, Media Prep and Histology

As head of the Tissue Culture Core Laboratory at the Stowers Institute, Tari Parmely draws on more than 20 years of experience working with highly specialized cell lines and managing tissue culture facilities in academic and industry settings.

Parmely, who grew up in Kansas, spent a year as an American Field Scholar at Pukehohe College in Pukehohe, New Zealand, before receiving a bachelor’s degree of science and education from the School of Education in Lawrence, Kansas. After a two-year stint as a junior immunologist at the Marion Merrell Dow Research Institute in Kansas City, Parmely took a position as research associate at the Wilkinson Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Later, she oversaw the development and production of diagnostic tests as a lead research scientist for Osborne Laboratories before joining the Biomune Company as a research microbiologist in charge of the propagation and evaluation of live-virus vaccine. She joined the Stowers Institute as a research specialist in the Conaway laboratory in 2002 and took over the management of the Stowers Tissue Culture Core Laboratory in 2008. Working closely with Stowers investigators, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students, Parmely assists with the development of new projects and ensures that all their tissue culture needs, including maintenance and large-scale expansion of cell lines, are met.


Brian Slaughter, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Microscopy

Microscopist Brian Slaughter collaborates with Stowers investigators on the application of molecular imaging technologies to model organisms including budding yeast and Drosophila. Areas of expertise include fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), and single molecule methods. He has successfully applied these methods to examine protein interactions, protein dynamics, and stoichiometry of large protein complexes in living cells. He has extensive experience, as well, in in vivo gene tagging and in vitro fluorophore conjugation. In addition, Slaughter collaboratively leads the activities of the Microscopy Center where he and other scientific staff assist with experimental design and microscope and software training as a means to enable Stowers researchers to obtain state-of-the-art microscopic images.

Slaughter received a dual B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from William Jewell College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kansas. He completed postdoctoral studies at the Stowers Institute and has served the Institute as a research advisor since 2010.


Jay Unruh, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Microscopy

Microscopist Jay Unruh specializes in the use of advanced microscopy to study protein interactions and dynamics. This information is crucial to the understanding of complex cellular processes governing the establishment of polarity in developing embryos and cell cycle progression. He utilizes advanced microscopy techniques such as fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) along with computational modeling. He applies his extensive expertise in advanced microscopy techniques to a wide variety of model organisms studied at the Institute. Additionally, Unruh collaboratively leads the activities of the Microscopy Center where he and other scientific staff assist with experimental design and microscope and software training as a means to enable Stowers researchers to obtain state-of-the-art microscopic images.

Unruh received a B.S. in biochemistry from John Brown University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kansas. He completed his postdoctoral studies in the Laboratory of Fluorescence Dynamics at the University of California, Irvine before joining the Stowers Institute as a research specialist in 2008. In 2010, Unruh took on the role of research advisor.