Lab Members


Kevin Francis – Assistant Scientist

Dr. Kevin Francis received his bachelor’s in biology from Marshall University, a master’s in anatomy from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in neuropathology from the Medical University of South Caroline in 2009. He completed his postdoctoral training at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the laboratories of Heiner Westphal and Denny Porter (NICHD). There, Dr. Francis developed induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) models of pediatric disorders of cholesterol synthesis and metabolism, including Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome and Niemann-Pick disease, Type C1. In 2015, Dr. Francis joined the faculty of Sanford Research, where he continues to use patient-derived iPSCs as a tool for modeling rare pediatric disease and identification of targets for therapeutic intervention.

Nick Coungeris - Research technician

Nick graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in cell, molecular and developmental biology in 2015. He joined the Francis lab in 2015. Nick is currently using human iPS cell cell models for neural differentiation assays, examining how modulation of cholesterol metabolism affects cellular specification.

Adam Voss - Research technician

Adam graduated from Southwest Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in biology in 2011 and recently completed his Master of Science in biology at Minnesota State University. He joined the Francis Lab in 2016. Adam is using mouse and cellular models to understand how neuronal function and cellular connectivity is regulated by cellular metabolism.

Elle Anderson – MD/PhD student, University of South Dakota

Elle graduated from Augustana University with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry in 2014. After working as a research technician in the laboratory of Dr. Kyle Roux at Sanford Research, she entered the Physician Scientist Training Program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Elle joined the lab in February 2017 and is currently using iPSC models and CRISPR/Cas9 editing to study the signaling mechanisms and cellular phenotypes downstream of disrupted lipid metabolism.

Dallas Soyland – Undergraduate researcher, Augustana University

Dallas graduated from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD in 2014. He is currently an undergraduate at Augustana University majoring in biology. Dallas’ research is using molecular and biochemical methods comparing signaling deficits between control and patient-derived cell lines to better define signaling pathways disrupted within patients.



Lab Alumni

Michael Schroeder – 2016, University of South Dakota Medical Student Research Program

Lindsay Kortan – 2016, Science Educator Research Fellowship Program

Blake Ziegler - 2016, Summer Research Scholar