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Meet Our Team

The REDDI Lab has employed over 120 talented individuals who have contributed to the development of diagnostic tests that allow for rapid and expanded testing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition to advancements in tests, students receive training in clinical lab sciences that traditionally have not been available at Clemson, providing a valuable educational tool.

Award-winning researchers helm the lab, providing leadership and guidance to undergraduate and graduate students. A full team directory is available.

Leadership Profiles
Inside the lab


Dean Profile

Delphine Dean

Dr. Dean is the Director of the Research Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention (REDDI) Lab, which includes Clemson's only CLIA-certified high-complexity diagnostic laboratory.

Friez profile

Michael Friez

Dr. Friez is the Director of the Diagnostic Laboratories located at the Greenwood Genetic Center. His primary duties as Director are to supervise the diverse genetic testing activities within the lab.

Peng profile

Congyue Peng

Dr. Peng is a Research Assistant Professor and Technical Director of the REDDI Development Laboratory in Sirrine Hall. 

Pekarek profile

Lesslie Pekarek

Dr. Pekarek is the Director of Medical Services at Redfern Health Center. She oversees Redfern’s staff of physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as laboratory and radiology services.

Dean profileDr. Delphine Dean is the Ron and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University. Dr. Dean’s Multiscale Bioelectromechanics Lab leads a wide range of studies focused on understanding mechanics and interactions of biological systems across length scales and instrumentation and device design. Dr. Dean currently leads several studies to understand how the nanoscale structures and low-dose ionizing radiation affect cells and tissues. In addition, she works on translational design projects aimed at creating novel medical devices, sensors, and instrumentation for resource-poor settings.

Over the last 10 years, she has led several research and design project teams with collaborators in Tanzania and India to design novel medical devices and diagnostics for low-resource clinical settings. She is committed to helping develop new technologies to help low-income and rural patients monitor their health and better connect them to health providers.

Dr. Dean is the director of the Center for Innovative Medical Devices and Sensors and the new Research Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention (REDDI) Lab, which includes Clemson's only CLIA certified high complexity diagnostic laboratory. The REDDI Lab runs all of Clemson University surveillance COVID testing and provides COVID testing for the surrounding Upstate South Carolina community; the lab typically runs over 20,000 saliva RT-PCR diagnostic tests per week.

Friez profileDr. Michael Friez is board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics. Following his graduate training, he began working at the Greenwood Genetic Center to pursue fellowship training in Medical Genetics. After completing his fellowship training and gaining valuable experience in the field, Dr. Friez assumed the Director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory position. In 2008, Dr. Friez was named Director of the Diagnostic Laboratories. His primary duties as Director are to supervise the diverse genetic testing activities the laboratory has developed since its inception. Diagnostic protocols for testing a variety of conditions related to intellectual disabilities, muscular dystrophies, skeletal dysplasias, and other adult-onset genetic conditions are utilized on a daily basis.

In addition, Dr. Friez is involved in assisting several of the research projects based in the JC Self Research Institute. While keeping his focus on the diagnostic arena Dr. Friez also feels very strongly about maintaining a close link with his research-based colleagues at GGC. Regarding this link, Dr. Friez says, “GGC is a perfect example of why scientific research and diagnostic testing will forever be united; one without the other is not a complete story.”

Peng profileDr. Congyue "Annie" Peng joined the REDDI lab in February 2021 and serves as a research assistant professor and technical director of clinical diagnostics. She holds a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology from Clemson University. She is a member of the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), an ASCP board-certified technologist in molecular biology, a faculty scholar of Clemson University School of Health Research, a graduate faculty mentor of the Clemson University School of Nursing, a certified graduate of Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University, and a member of the Clinical & Laboratory Standards Institute.

Dr. Peng has led and coordinated interdisciplinary efforts on infectious disease mitigation and surveillance. She has created a nurturing environment for a robust clinical and translational research program that involves community and industrial partnerships with an emphasis on health and diseases. She is the site leader for Clemson University’s first participation in a national clinical trial. She has implemented a vibrant training program involving postgraduate students, students, and staff. Dr. Peng is committed to visionary leadership and scientific excellence with a focus on people and the community.

Pekarek profileDr. Lesslie Pekarek is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. After graduating from Clemson with an undergraduate degree in microbiology, she earned her M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2007. Pekarek joined the Clemson University Student Health Services team in 2016 after spending nearly six years as a family physician at Baptist Easley Hospital. In November 2019 she had earned a full-time appointment as director of medical services at Redfern Health Center. In addition to caring for students, Pekarek oversees Redfern’s staff of physicians, nurse practitioners, as well as laboratory and radiology services.

After more than a year serving in an interim capacity — which entailed newly assumed administrative responsibilities in addition to seeing a full patient load as a staff physician — she was looking forward to expanding her reach to other areas of the Clemson University campus. She has served as a clinical consultant for the Research and Education in Disease Diagnosis and Intervention (REDDI) lab, key to Clemson’s aggressive approach to COVID-19 testing. She has worked intensely with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on isolation and quarantine requirements for COVID-positive patients and close contacts.

Staff Directory

Morris profile

Robert "Simon" Morris

Administrative and Compliance Coordinator
B.S. Criminal Justice, 2022, Clemson University

Smothers profile

Austin Smothers

Director of Operations
Ph.D. Bioengineering, 2023, Clemson University

Cascio profile

Lauren Cascio

Clinical Lab Supervisor
M.S. Biology, 2012, Georgia State University

Srikanth profile

Sujata Srikanth

Clinical Lab Manager/Assay Development Scientist
M. Phil. Neurobiology, 1985, Central University of Hyderabad

Sinha profile

Gaura Sinha

Data and Technology Coordinator
M.S. Computer Science, 2023, Clemson University

Holmes profile

Elon Holmes

Assistant Compliance Coordinator
B.S. Microbiology, 2023, Clemson University

Bean profile

Madison Bean

Outreach and Communications Coordinator
B.S. Microbiology

Messenger profile

Allie Messenger

Assistant Administrative Coordinator
B.S. Chemical Engineering

Jones profile

Bryan "Kelly" Jones

Clinical Specialist
M.S. Biochemistry, 2005, Clemson University

Boulos profile

Jessica Boulos

Graduate Student Technical Staff
B.S. Bioengineering, 2020, Clemson University

Dover profile

Tristan Dover

Lab Technologist
B.S. Biochemistry, 2021, Clemson University

Sexton profile

Madison Sexton

Graduate Research Assistant
B.S. Genetics, 2023, Clemson University

Bowman profile

Justin Bowman

Outreach Team
B.S. Computer Engineering

Morkos profile

Angela Morkos

Outreach Team
B.S. Human Nutrition

Ruvalcaba profile

Luis Ruvalcaba

Outreach Team
B.S. Human Nutrition

Melissa McCullough in lab

Dr. Melissa McCullough

In Memoriam

Shortly after enrolling in college, Melissa McCullough enlisted in the Navy as an electronics technician, one of the more complex training offered. After her time in the military and later as an engineering contractor, McCullough came to Clemson University as a lab manager and a Ph.D. student. In 2019, She was among 60 U.S. service members, veterans, and military spouses named to the 11th class of Tillman Scholars. Melissa always worked to help people. Her doctoral work focused on making healthcare more accessible for broad populations here in the U.S. and abroad. She was constantly working to train and educate up-and-coming engineers. Melissa helped set up and optimize the REDDI lab facilities to grow and handle the large testing loads. Melissa passed away from metastatic breast cancer on October 18, 2021. In December of 2021, Melissa McCullough was posthumously awarded her Ph.D.. She will be remembered for her enthusiasm and energy that she brought to all her projects and for her legacy of teaching and training.