Our Team

Sherri A. McFarland, Ph.D.


Phone: 336.256.1080
Fax: 336.334.5402
Email: samcfarl@uncg.edu

Sherri McFarland obtained her PhD in Chemistry at the University of California San Diego (2003) where she focused on the control of excited state dynamics for luminescent chemosensing. Building on this work, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Dalhousie University (2005) in ultrafast spectroscopy and inorganic photophysics, using femtosecond laser techniques.

Dr. McFarland continues to expand these core areas of expertise through a multidisciplinary research program aimed at developing new photoactive drugs (in combination with light sources and protocols) as anticancer agents and as antibiotics. Some of the most promising compounds have been licensed to a Toronto company and are undergoing clinical trials to treat non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Sherri also co-founded a company that develops natural product-based photoactives, with particular focus on improving oral health. She has raised over $2M in research and development funding and has co-authored more than 80 scientific works. In 2016 she moved to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Colin G. Cameron, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist and Laboratory Manager

Colin earned his Ph.D. in Electrochemistry from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2000. Following a two year postdoc appointment at Caltech, he moved to Halifax, Canada employed as a military research scientist with the Canadian Department of National Defence, where he worked in wide-ranging fields that included material actuation, electrochemical energy storage, anti-corrosion coatings, fuels and lubricants, and non-metallic failures. In 2012 he co-founded a biotech spinoff with Sherri McFarland, designing and engineering medical light devices for clinical photodynamic antimicrobial therapy. In 2016 he returned to his physical chemistry roots when he moved to UNCG to conduct PDT research as a spectroscopy and electrochemistry specialist, and to manage the McFarland laboratories.

Liubov Lifshits, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Liubov graduated from Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) with a Specialist degree in Chemistry in 2010. She received her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the Center for Photochemical Sciences at Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in 2016. Her Ph.D. work focused on the design and synthesis of metal-organic frameworks for photophysical applications. Then she worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Chemistry Department at the University of Houston, conducting research on design and synthesis of transition metal complexes for applications in artificial photosynthesis. She joined the McFarland group in Fall 2018 to work on the synthesis of new PDT agents.

Patrick Barrett, B.A.

Research Assistant

Patrick graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a BA in Psychology in 2013. He completed the post-baccalaureate program at UNCG and aspires to attend medical school. He joined the McFarland group in Spring 2018 to work in synthesis of PDT agents.

Graduate Students

Houston Cole

Ph.D. Student

Houston received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Campbell University in 2018. He joined the McFarland group in Fall 2018, and his research will be focused on the synthesis of PDT agents.

John A. Roque

Ph.D. Student

John was awarded his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Rhode Island in 2016. He joined the McFarland group in Winter 2017, and his current research interests are focused on panchromatic and hypoxia-active photosensitizers for photodynamic applications.

Undergraduate Students

Rachel Hodges

Rachel is an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. She aspires to attend medical school following graduation.

David von Dohlen

David is an undergraduate student pursuing a Chemistry degree with a focus on research. Having worked for several years as a pharmacy technician, David is working towards a career in pharmaceutical sciences. He joined the McFarland group in Fall 2018 to work in synthesis and in vitro PDT experiments.

Offsite Researchers

Susan Monro

Research Scientist

Susan has been a member of the McFarland group since 2007 and currently manages the Acadia research team. She received her B.Sc. (2008) and M.Sc. (2011) degrees in Chemistry from Acadia University under Prof. McFarland’s direction. Early on she has was heavily involved in extracting, identifying, and testing plant extracts for biological activity in bacteria and cancer cell lines. Susan is also an accomplished synthetic chemist and cell biologist, and is currently making and testing new PDT agents.

Past Group Members

Anderson Fuller

Anderson Fuller is an undergraduate student pursuing a Chemistry degree with a minor in Economics. Anderson joined the McFarland group in the winter of 2015. His work involves testing the photophysical properties of metal complexes synthesized as photodynamic therapy agents and probing their interactions with biomolecules such as DNA.

Evan Bradner

Evan is an undergraduate student pursuing dual degrees in Biochemistry and Economics, and is anticipating attending medical school following graduation. Evan joined the McFarland group in Winter 2017 to support both synthesis and in vitro PDT agent studies.

Katsuya “Lex” Colon

Katsuya is an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry. He has substantial interest in pharmacology and medicinal chemistry. He joined the McFarland group in the Summer of 2017, and is involved in both synthesis and in vitro studies of PDT agents.

Tariq Sainuddin

Research Associate

Tariq completed a B.Sc. Pharmacy degree at Calicut University (India) in 2009, concentrating on the formulation and pharmacological evaluation of herbal gels. He moved to Canada and completed the Biotechnology Technician course at Centennial College (Toronto) in 2011 before joining the McFarland group to work on the development of Ru(II) polypyridyl complexes. Tariq completed his M.Sc. in Chemistry in 2015, and continues to work in the McFarland group as a synthetic chemist.

Marc Hetu

Research Associate

Marc has been working in the McFarland group since 2012, and received his B.Sc. in Biology (2014) from Acadia University. His expertise in natural product testing and in vitro testing is now mostly devoted to work in Dr. McFarland’s spin-off company, PhotoDynamic Inc.

Tommy Sparks

Tommy Sparks is a post-baccalaureate student at UNCG and an aspiring Physician Assistant. Before returning to his studies, Tommy had a career as a paramedic during which he worked in both the 911 and medical airlift pre-hospital settings, which he continues to do on a part-time basis. He joined the McFarland group in the spring of 2018 to work in synthesis and in vitro PDT experiments.