Ben Lovely


Principle Investigator

Assistant Professor (2018-Present), University of Louisville School of Medicine

Post doc (2010-2017), University of Texas at Austin, mentor: Johann Eberhart

PhD. Biology (2010), University of Louisville, mentor: Mike Perlin

B.S. Biology (2002), University of Louisville

B.A. Chemistry (2002), University of Louisville

My interests lie at the intersection of genetic and environmental factors and how these interactions impact the wide range of events necessary for craniofacial development. Focusing on alcohol as the environmental factor, our lab examines the genetics of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) using zebrafish as a model system. Our lab is currently exploring multiple avenues of research relating to FASD: 1. What is the mechanistic basis of the gene-ethanol interactions we have identified; 2. Facial development requires interaction between multiple tissues in the forming head, how does ethanol disrupt these interactions; 3. How do gene-ethanol interactions impact the transcriptomic landscape in our ethanol-sensitive mutants; 4. Based on analysis of our gene-ethanol interactions, what therapeutic avenues can we identify. In my down time outside the lab, you can find me cooking, hiking with my dogs, or playing music (guitar and drums).

Favorite Quote: There are no answers, only better questions - Mick (That Pedal Show).

Gina Nobles


Post doctoral Fellow

Post Doctoral Fellow (2018-Present), University of Louisville School of Medicine, mentor: Ben Lovely

Post doc (2010-2014), University of Texas at Houston, mentor: Steve Massey

PhD. Visual Neuroscience (2010), University of Louisville, mentor: Maureen McCall

B.A./M.A. Psychology (1999, 2005), University of Louisville

My PhD work focused on the neural circuitry of the retina and how physical energy from the environment, or photons, is converted into neural signals that the brain interprets as vision. While my previous studies observed the structure and function of the adult retina, it is well known that the retina, and eye in general, is established very early in development. I became more interested in how the architecture of the eye is established during early development and what factors may disrupt this process. While multiple factors can impinge on eye development, recent work has shown that it is the intersection of these factors in particular, genetics and the environment, that lead to developmental eye disorders. Therefore, I joined Dr. Lovely’s lab which uses zebrafish to study gene-environment, and in particular gene-ethanol, interactions and their impact on development. Using a variety of methods such as cellular biology, molecular biology and genetics, my focus is on gene-ethanol interactions in the developing eye. My goal is to understand how these gene-ethanol interactions impact the developmental processes required to establish proper structure of the eye.  Outside of the lab, I like to do cardio boxing, garden and listen/read personal and professional development podcasts and books.


Favorite Quote: Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right - Henry Ford.

Kevin Kump


Fish Facility Technician (Fish Master)


B.S. Biology (2003), University of Kentucky


My main responsibility is maintaining the flow-through system housing all of the zebrafish in the lab. I’m also currently working on screening for ethanol induced mutations in zebrafish larvae. My previous work experience includes working for the University of Kentucky Biology Dept. where I learned techniques in genetics and molecular biology while doing research with axolotl and tiger salamanders. I enjoy doing meaningful academic research and my interest in biology carries over to my hobbies as well – I’ve been keeping aquariums since I was a child, and I enjoy doing just about anything that involves being in nature.


Favorite Quote: There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. - Steven Wright.

John Klem


Research Technician


B.S. Biology (2018), Indiana University Southeast

I am a research technician in the Lovely lab. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a BS in biology and have a passion for learning new things. At IU I worked in the labs of Beth Rueschhoff and Gretchen Kirchner studying vitamin B6 synthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana and extra cellular proteases, respectively. I also worked for KSCIRC using two-photon microscopy to study how spinal cord injuries change over time. My favorite aspects of doing research are the opportunities to see rare things and to think about new ideas. In addition to hanging out in the lab, I enjoy lap swimming, day hiking, and reading books about things going horribly wrong.

​Favorite Quote: The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. - Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Sam Robinson


Undergraduate Research

University of Louisville, Class of 2022

I am a sophomore at UofL, majoring in biology and chemistry. I am especially interested in molecular genetics, and when finished with undergrad, would like to pursue either medical school or a PhD in biochemistry or molecular biology. Outside of school, I enjoy playing soccer, fishing, and working as an ED scribe. 


Favorite quote: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak aloud and remove all doubt. - Abraham Lincoln

Sofia Brown


Undergraduate Research

University of Louisville, Class of 2021


Lab Mascots

Paco (Bubbas)

Ginnie (Princess)

J Roddy (Monkey)

Austin (Wiggles)

We are the lab mascots (and rescue pups). Three of us are native Texans (Paco - Lockhart, Ginnie - Gonzales and J Roddy - Seguin). The last of us, Austin, is from Kentucky (Ohio County). We have a very important job in the lab. We make sure everyone is performing to the highest standards when it comes to giving us pets and attention. It is a thankless job, but we persevere. Really we just make it fun for everyone to be in the lab. When not in the lab, you can find us at the local dog park or at our Mama's new business, PG&J's Dog Bar (


Favorite Quote: WHERE ARE THE TREATS!!!! - us.

Former Lab Memebers

Ashley Kayabasi - High School Student, North Oldham

Carley Kayabasi - High School Student, North Oldham

Allison Villari - Undergrad, U of L

Rachel Eckert - Undergrad, U of L

Elizabeth Lepovsky - Undergrad, U of L

Belinda Petri - Rotating Grad Student

Danielle Little - Rotating Grad Student