Technology Center Directors

The overall direction of scientific support and technology development at Stowers is guided by a handful of directors who bring extensive leadership and management experience to this integral part of Stowers research.



Fostering innovation and efficiency in research, the Technology Center Directors at Stowers steer the creative, responsive, and interdisciplinary approaches of the Technology Centers. The directors lead seven Technology Center groupings—Cellular, Tissue, and Molecular Biology; Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biostatistics; Microscopy, Imaging, and Big Data; Microscopy and Imaging; Scientific Data; Model Organism Research; Proteomics; and Sequencing and Discovery Genomics. By aligning people and scientific resources in highly effective ways, the directors and the Technology Centers they oversee enable Stowers scientists to overcome traditional obstacles and accelerate their research in a richly supportive environment.



Laurence Florens, PhD

Director, Proteomics
Faculty, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute
Florens graduated from Nice University in France 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. After a short stint at the University of Washington in Seattle, Florens joined the lab of John R. Yates at The Scripps Research Institute, where she applied proteomics to the malaria parasite. After establishing the Proteomics Center at the Stowers Institute in July 2003 with Mike Washburn, she continued working on apicomplexan parasites’ proteomes via NIH-supported collaborations. Florens is the 2006 co-recipient of the Hudson Prize from the M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation and a member of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities, the American Chemical Society, the Human Proteome Organization, and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Proteome Research.

Hua Li, PhD

Director, Computational Biology, Bioinformatics and Biostatistics
Hua Li received an M.S. in Forestry Genetics from Beijing Forestry University in China and a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from North Carolina State University. During postdoctoral studies at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, she developed software (in C, SAS and R) for mass Affymetrix gene-chip data analysis and designed greenhouse and Affymetrix gene expression experiments. In 2006, she joined the Stowers Institute and completed her postdoctoral training in 2007. During that time, Li applied bi-viariate analysis to improve the power of genome-wide association studies and constructed a Bayesian network using relaxed gene ordering. She became the Computational Biology group leader in 2009 and Head of Computational Biology in 2017. With over 10 years of bioinformatics experience, Li was appointed Director of Computational Biology Bioinformatics and Biostatistics in 2019.

Heather Marshall, PhD

Director, Model Organism Research
Following her undergraduate studies at the University College of Wales, Heather Marshall worked as Research Assistant in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University. Later, after relocating to London, she joined the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), working in the Division of Developmental Neurobiology then headed by Stowers Investigator and Scientific Director Emeritus Robb Krumlauf. It was there that she received her PhD. In 2000, Krumlauf asked Marshall to help establish his lab in Kansas City at the Stowers Institute. Following four successful years in the new lab, she accepted the position of Head of the Stowers Laboratory Animal Services Facility in 2005. And in 2019, she was appointed the Director of Model Organism Research at Stowers, which has oversight of all the model organism facilities that assist Stowers research endeavors. Marshall is a member of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and served for four years as Chair of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at Stowers.

Sean McKinney, PhD

Director, Microscopy
After graduating from the University of Missouri, Rolla with a BS in Physics and Computer Science, Sean McKinney earned his PhD studying DNA conformations at the single molecule level using fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He was a Research Specialist at the Janelia Farm Research Campus before joining the Stowers Microscopy team in 2009 as the group head of Optics Development. He was named manager of Microscopy in 2015, and in 2019 he was appointed head of Microscopy. McKinney and his team automate imaging with robotics and image analysis through deep learning which allows researchers to perform customized large-scale imaging screens.

Tari Parmely, BS

Director, Cellular, Tissue and Molecular Biology
Tari Parmely, who grew up in Kansas, spent a year as an American Field Scholar in Pukehohe, New Zealand, before receiving a bachelor’s degree of science and education from the School of Education at the University of 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 vaccines. 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. Parmely led additional teams starting in 2012, when she was named Head of Tissue Culture, Media Prep, Histology, and Electron Microscopy. Additional scientific support teams were assigned to her management and Parmely was named Director of the newly formed department of Cellular, Tissue, and Molecular Biology in 2019.

Anoja Perera, BS

Director, Sequencing and Discovery Genomics
With a BS degree in biology, Anoja Perera began honing her skills in DNA sequencing, genomics applications, automation, high throughput processing while working with Raju Kucherlapati, PhD on the original Human and Mouse Genome Projects. And after several years’ experience as group leader for sequencing at the Harvard-Partners Center of Genetics and Genomics in Cambridge, MA, she joined the Stowers Molecular Biology group. Perera served as senior lab manager from 2006 until 2019 when she was appointed Director of the Sequencing and Discovery Genomics group. In this role, Perera seeks to advance research by making cutting-edge sequencing technologies available to the scientific staff. For many years, Perera has been an active member of the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities and served on multiple committees including the organization’s Executive Board.

Brian Slaughter, PhD

Senior Director, Research Support
Faculty, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
After receiving a dual BA in chemistry and mathematics from William Jewell College in 1999, Brian Slaughter briefly returned to the area of Northwest Missouri where he had grown up to teach science and math before pursuing his graduate work at the University of Kansas. There he studied the biophysics of a calcium signaling protein with Carey Johnson, PhD, receiving a PhD in chemistry in 2005. He completed his postdoctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Rong Li at the Stowers Institute where he studied the biophysics of living cells In 2010 he moved into a role as a research advisor, collaborating with Stowers investigators on adapting microscopy methods for use in a wide range of model organisms. In 2015, Slaughter transitioned to co-head of the Microscopy Center, a position he held until his appointment as co-director of Microscopy, Imaging, and Big Data in 2019.

Jay Unruh, PhD

Director, Scientific Data
Faculty, The Graduate School of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research
Intrigued by the molecular underpinnings of life, Jay Unruh pursued a BS degree in molecular biology at John Brown University and later a PhD in chemistry from the University of Kansas. He continued his molecular studies in living cells during 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. At Stowers, he extended his exploration of the molecular details influencing the cellular and organismal diversity. In 2010, Unruh took on the role of research advisor, then in 2015 he was appointed co-head of the Microscopy Center. And since 2019, Unruh collaboratively directs the activities of Microscopy, Imaging, and Big Data.
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