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Former Students

Where-abouts of recently graduated students from our program (listed here in reverse chronological order, most recently graduated first)

2013 Graduates

Ewa Krzyszczyk Ewa Krzyszczyk

Ewa is from the UK, with well defined Polish roots. She has her BSc in Zoology/Marine Zoology and an MSc in Marine Mammal Science from the University of Wales, Bangor. She has a strong background in cetacean research and has worked in many field sites.

In January of 2006, Ewa started working as a Research Associate and Database Manager for Prof. Janet Mann and the Dolphins of Monkey Mia Research Foundation, where her responsibilities included creating and organizing a new database, incorporating old data into the new database, photo-identification of Shark Bay dolphins, maintaining the organizations website, collection of survey data in Shark Bay and much much more!!

She has recently become a graduate student in Prof. Mann's laboratory. She is primarily interested in techniques for aging animals and the physiology and behavior of cetaceans in their juvenile period, with specific emphasis on endocrinology.

Congratulations to Ewa for the successful defense of her PhD dissertation in August 2013!

Anna Bennett

Anna received her BS in Animal Science from Purdue University in December 2003 and her MS in Genetics from Iowa State University in August 2006. Anna's Master's research involved analysis of differential gene expression in the bone marrow of broiler and layer chickens as a means of investigating bone mineral density differences and osteoporosis in layers. After completing her MS, Anna worked as Research Associate at Texas A&M University for a laboratory which focused on Monodelphis domestica (grey short-tailed opossum) genetics.

Anna joined Dr. Chris Elsik's lab in January 2008 as a PhD candidate with interests in bioinformatics and computational biology. She is investigating alternative splicing and gene prediction.

Away from school, Anna enjoys baking, homebrewing, traveling, gardening, and worksharing at a local organic farm.

Congratulations to Anna for the successful defense of her PhD dissertation in July 2013!


Lillian Power Lillian Power

Lillian graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008 with a B.S. in Zoology and a minor in Art History. She comes to Georgetown after spending the last two years as a field technician for Dr. John Lill at GWU, and a lab technician for Georgetown’s very own Dr. Gina Wimp, where she helped develop a microsatellite library for two insect species in order to investigate the degree to which habitat fragmentation affects genetic variability.

Lillian joined Dr. Martha Weiss’ lab in 2010, and is interested in exploring the crossroads of behavior and genetics in an ecological context. She is particularly interested in the impressive migration of the Monarch butterfly, and plans to examine the patterns and mechanisms driving behavioral plasticity in what is generally accepted as a genetically driven behavior.

Lillian has thoroughly enjoyed her move to the east coast, and tries to take advantage of all the wonderful things D.C. has to offer. When not studying, she loves to explore the many art museums in the area and spend time with friends.

Congratulations to Lillian for the successful defense of her Master's Thesis in May 2013!

Banu Saritas-Yildirim Banu Saritas-Yildirim

Banu is a PhD student working under supervision of Dr. Elena Casey. Her studies involve understanding the roles of protein degradation in nervous system development. She was born and raised in Turkey where she got her Bachelor’s of Science degree in both Biology and Biology Education at Middle East Technical University, Ankara. Banu came to Georgetown University after earning a Master’s of Science degree in plant molecular biology at University of Maryland, College Park.

She enjoys going to new places and taking pictures. The "Copper Man" picture representing her here is taken in Quebec City, Canada.

Congratulations to Banu for the successful defense of her PhD dissertation in January 2013!

Andrew Verardo Andrew Verardo

Originally hailing from Long Island, Andrew moved from Western Massachusetts to join the Department of Biology in 2008 and has since joined the lab of Dr. Elena Casey, where he is currently researching pancreatic development in basal chordates for his qualifying exam.

Andrew is a fan of taiko drumming (see this YouTube video) and soon hopes to start brewing his own beer. Yeast labs, beware!

Andrew successfully defended his Master's Thesis in January 2013 and is now seeking a permanent position in education at the K9-12 level.

2012 Graduates
Eric Patterson Eric Patterson

Eric joined the Department of Biology in the fall of 2007 to study the behavior of wild bottlenose dolphins under the direction of Prof. Janet Mann. Eric received his Bachelors degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder. As a PhD student in Janet Mann's laboratory he will be exploring the social transmission of foraging behaviors.

In addition, he is currently working on the development of a new blow sampling technique to assess wild cetacean diets using fatty acid signature analysis. In his first year at Georgetown, Eric received the Animal Behavior Society Cetacean Behavior and Conservation Award and the American Society of Mammologists Grant in Aid of Research. In 2009, Eric received an Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Fellowship.

Outside of school, Eric has organized and participated in several intramural sports with the department’s team Tenacious DNA including flag football, softball, and volleyball. He also plays for the University of Colorado’s flag football team in Capitol Alumni Network league. Eric enjoys reading, cooking, photography, running, camping, and hiking with his 4 year old yellow lab, Belle.

Eric successfully defended his PhD dissertation in December of 2012 and is now continuing in Professor Mann's lab at Georgetown University as an Assistant Research Professor.

Christopher Williams Christopher Williams

Chris graduated from Frostburg State University in spring of 2006, and started in the Department of Biology Program at Georgetown in the Fall of 2006. He works in Dr. Heidi Elmendorf's lab and is interested in understanding methods of gene regulation in the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. He received the Healy Fellowship (2006-2011) and also was named an ASM Robert D. Watkins Research Fellow (2008-2011).

When Chris is not working on his research, he participates in intramural sports (football, volleyball, and softball), and he is always preparing for his next triathlon.

Let's go Tenacious DNA!

Chris successfully defended his PhD dissertation in March of 2012 and is now a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.

Meredith Clifford

After graduating from Williams College in 2004, Meredith worked for a few years at the NIMH before starting graduate school at Georgetown in 2006. She is in her fifth year in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and is working on her thesis research in Dr. Maria Donoghue's lab which has its focus on the development of the brain. The goal of her project is to understand the role of intercellular signaling molecules in the process of neuronal maturation in the developing cortex.

Meredith won a 1st place award for her project Eph/ephrin signaling directs dendritic elaboration in the developing neocortex during the Student Research Days competition at the GU Medical School in April, 2011. Outside of the lab Meredith likes to participate in triathlons and road races.

Meredith successfully defended her PhD dissertation in January of 2012 and is now the proud mother of a baby girl!

2011 Graduates
Aaron Howard Aaron Howard

Aaron came to Georgetown in 2006 from Grove City College where he received his B.S. in Biology and Education with a minor in History. He works with Edward Barrows on pollinator mediated floral-display evolution in Milkweed plants, and the pollination biology of several locally endangered plants. Aaron has received grants from the Washington Biologists’ Field Club (WBFC), Sigma Xi Grant in Aid, and Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, VA.

In his free time he enjoys playing tennis, basketball, the guitar, Guitar Hero (or Rock Band), pina coladas and long walks in the rain.

Congratulations to Aaron for the successful defense of his Ph.D. dissertation in December of 2011!

Maggie Stanton Maggie Stanton

Maggie entered the Ph.D. program in 2006 after receiving BS degrees in Biology and Psychology from the University of Maryland. She is generally interested in the complex cognition, behavior, and society exhibited by large-brained animals such as dolphins and primates. As a Ph.D. student of Janet Mann, Maggie is investigating the social development and future fitness consequences of early social patterns of bottlenose dolphin calves (Tursiops sp.). Maggie was named a University Fellow in 2006 and received a Washington Explorer's Club Exploration and Field Research Grant in 2008.

Before coming to Georgetown Maggie was a research assistant in the New York Aquarium's Behavioral and Cognitive Research Laboratory and also interned for a field study of bottlenose dolphins in the Lower Florida Keys. When not doing research, Maggie enjoys rock climbing, horseback riding, and going running with her dog.

Maggie successfully defended her PhD dissertation in December of 2011 and is now a post-doctoral scientist in the Department of Anthropology at the George Washington University.

Shahram Solaymani-Mohammadi Shahram Solaymani-Mohammadi

Originally from Iran, Shahram joined the Department of Biology in January of 2008. Shahram holds a Bachelors degree in Veterinary Medicine, and a Masters in Medical Parasitology from the School of Public Health and Institute of Public Health Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Before joining the Department of Biology, he worked as a Visiting Researcher at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. His work there focused on signal transduction mechanisms in the human pathogen Entamoeba histolytica. He also developed enhanced molecular diagnostic modalities for the rapid diagnosis of human amebiasis. Currently, he works with Dr. Steven Singer on mechanisms of host's immune responses to infections in the murine models of giardiasis.

Shahram successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation in September of 2011 and is now working as a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Mucosal Immunology at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Visit Shahram's Website!

Heather Mallory Heather Mallory

Heather joined Dr. Martha Weiss’ lab in the summer of 2005. Her research is cross discipline, utilizing both neurobiological techniques and behavior to better understand the learning ability and foraging behaviors of insects. She examines how an animal’s experiences, practically early in life, shape the brain and behavior of the adult animal, using crickets as a model organism. She also studies the foraging behavior of praying mantids, with a focus on their use of olfaction.

Heather graduated from The University of Arizona in May 2002 with a Bachelors of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. After graduation she spent several years as a research technician at the U of A. She studied, among other projects, host plant choice in pipevine swallowtail butterflies with Dr. Dan Papaj, and developmental neurobiology with Dr. Lynne Oland in Dr. Leslie Tolbert’s lab.

As an Arizona native Heather misses the desert and plans to return to the west eventually, but has come to love the seasons and beauty of the DC area. In her free time she cooks, plays with her boys (two mutts), knits, and tries to enjoy all the great things DC has to offer.

Heather successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in August of 2011. She is now an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University and also works on writing manuscripts and post-doctoral proposals.

Libing (Steve) Shen Libing (Steve) Shen

Libing is from Shanghai, China. He graduated from Fudan University in 2006 and then came to United States to pursue a Ph.D. degree in biology. Now he is in Professor Chris Elsik’s lab. The research of the laboratory mainly focuses on bioinformatics and genomics.

His personal research interests are molecular evolution and evolution of development (evo-devo). Reading is his biggest hobby, especially history and culture.

Congratulations to Libing for completing his Master's degree in July 2011!

Jennifer Urbanski Jennifer Urbanski

Jenn entered Dr. Peter Armbruster’s lab in 2005 after receiving a BS in Biology and a minor in Art History from Canisius College in Buffalo. Her current research focuses on the molecular, physiological, and evolutionary underpinnings of photoperiodic diapause in the mosquito Aedes albopictus. Her awards include the Cosmos Club’s Young Scholars Award and the Entomological Society of America's President's Prize for the best student oral presentation in physiology, biochemistry, toxicology or molecular biology at the 2007 annual meeting.

Jenn’s outside interests include racquetball, rockclimbing, and playing intramural football, softball and volleyball with the biology grad team Tenacious DNA.

Jennifer successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in April of 2011 and is currently working as a staff scientist for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

2010 Graduates
Hilary North

Hilary joined the Department of Biology through the IPN program (Interdisciplinary Program in Neurosciences) and worked in the laboratory of Prof. Maria Donoghue. She is interested in the development of the cortex.

Hilary successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in September of 2010. She is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Northwestern Medical School.

Mary Adedoyin Mary Adedoyin

Mary Adedoyin graduated in 2003 from the University College London in the UK. Her BSc degree is in Pharmacology and Physiology. For her research there, Mary worked on the effects of Gabapentin on neuropathic pain following ablation of lamina 1 neurons using in vivo electrophysiology methods. After graduation she worked as an in vivo neuropharmacology research associate at Dynogen Pharmaceuticals in North Carolina where she conducted research involving cystometry experiments on animal models to investigate the effect of drugs on the bladder in an effort to identify therapies for overactive bladder syndromes. Her main interest is focused on better understanding of the mechanism of chronic pain and its modulation to help develop more efficacious therapeutic drugs with reduced side effects.

She joined Georgetown interdisciplinary program in neuroscience (IPN) program in 2005 because of the parallels of her research interests and those of the scientists in the department. In 2006 for her thesis research she joined Dr Joseph Neale’s lab in 2006 whose lab focuses on understanding the neurobiology of N-acetylaspartate glutamate (NAAG) and NAAG peptidase function in neuronal function. The focus of Mary’s thesis dissertation is to investigate the role of NAAG in the brain following inflammatory pain using in vitro electrophysiology techniques.

Mary’s other interests involves contributing to her local community by helping to raise funds towards a scholarship for minority students, teaching a group of first graders on weekends, volunteering as a pharmacy assistant at free clinic pharmacies. She also enjoys taking long walks as a personal hobby.

Mary successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in June of 2010 and is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow in neurobiology at University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, a top 5 biomedical research center.

Haibei Luo Haibei Luo

Haibei is from Fudan University, in the People's Republic of China. He joined the department of Biology in August 2003. Most of the time, he is in the laboratory of Dr. Heidi Elmendorf investigating the cellular and biochemistry of Giardia lamblia. He is currently focusing on investigations of cytosolic and cytoskeletal proteins necessary for attachment of Giardia lamblia to solid structures such as slides and cells.

Outside of the laboratory work, Haibei enjoys reading.

Congratulations to Haibei for the successful defense of his dissertation in April of 2010!

Divya Uma Divya Uma

Divya joined the department during the summer of 2004 after receiving a Masters Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Mysore, India. She is interested in examining how both predators and prey use a range of sensory cues to detect each other; and, by identifying these cues to understand how evolution shapes predator-prey interactions. Divya is pursuing her research with Prof. Martha Weiss. Her work has been supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant from NSF, grants from Animal Behavioral Society, American Museum of Natural History, American Arachnological Society, Washington Biologists Field Club and Sigma Xi. In August 2009, Divya was awarded the Murray F. Buell award for the outstanding oral paper presented at the 2009 Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

When not thinking about a new experiment in the lab, Divya enjoys hiking, painting, and playing the veena, an Indian string instrument.

Divya successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in April of 2010 and is now a post-doctoral fellow in the Psychology department at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is working in the lab of Dr. Jens Herberholtz, using neural imaging of crayfish to answer questions about behavioral decision-making.

Colleen Walls Colleen Walls

Colleen entered the PhD program after spending a year as a technician in Dr. Heidi Elmendorf's laboratory. Colleen received her AB from Smith College where she studied the molecular biology of parasitic worms. She studied the mechanisms of transcription in Giardia lamblia with Prof. Heidi Elmendorf.

Colleen was named as a University Fellow (2003-2008). She completed her thesis and has begun a post-doctoral fellowship at the UHSUS.

Congratulations to Colleen for the successful defense of her dissertation in March of 2010!

2009 Graduates
Deborah Ladner ODonnell Deborah Ladner O'Donnell

Deborah Ladner O’Donnell became a student at Georgetown University in 2005. She graduated summa cum laude from Emory University with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Studies and earned a Masters of Science in Entomology from the University of Maryland. Ever since she received her first bug bottle as a preschooler, Debbie has been fascinated by insect ecology. Her current research focuses on factors that affect the ability of mosquito populations to transmit pathogens.

She was awarded a Cosmos Grant in 2007 and a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant in 2008 in support of her research. When she’s not rearing mosquitoes, Debbie loves to travel to new places, brush up on her painting skills or get lost in a captivating novel.

Debbie successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in December of 2009 and is now the proud mother of a baby boy!

Tenley Archer Tenley Archer

Tenley returned to us from Marlboro College. She has been working with Prof. Elena Casey as a Ph.D. student since 2003. Her interests are in developmental biology.

Tenley successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in March of 2009 and is currently working in the laboratory of Scott Pomeroy at Children's Hospital, Boston, MA studying the mechanisms of medulloblastoma formation.

Crystal Rogers Crystal Rogers

Crystal graduated from UCLA in 2001 where she learned to love all of Biology. She has a strong background in evolution and ecology but has also worked in a neuroscience research group at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

Crystal has joined the laboratory of Prof. Elena Casey for her research work on neural development in the frog Xenopus laevis. She received the Outstanding Graduate Student in Biology award in October of 2007.

Crystal successfully defended her Ph.D dissertation in January of 2009. She is currently working in Dr. Marianne Bronner's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, studying neural crest development.

Audrey Thevenon Audrey Thevenon

Audrey entered the PhD program in 2003 and has joined the laboratory of Prof. Diane Taylor. Audrey is from France and enjoys playing soccer.

Audrey defended her MS in 2006 and her Ph.D. dissertation in 2009. She most recently worked as a Research Assistant and a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology at the University of Hawaii.

2008 Graduates
Zhuo (June) Meng

June has joined the laboratory of Prof. Elena Casey in 2005 to study the molecular mechanisms of neural development in the frog Xenopus laevis.

June completed her Masters thesis on June 23, 2008 and is working at Systems biosciences in Mountain View, CA.

Ernest Tako-Ayuk Ernest Tako-Ayuk

Ernest entered the Ph.D. program in Jan. 2003 after obtaining a MD from the University of Yaounde in Cameroon. His interests are in immunology and parasitology. He has joined the laboratory of Prof. Steven Singer where his research project focuses on the changes in gene expression in mice that are infected with the parasite Giardia lamblia. He is also investigating the role of innate immune mechanisms in the elimination of this protozoan.

Congratulations to Ernest for the successful completion of his dissertation in April of 2008! 

Department of BiologyBox 571229Reiss Science Building, Room 406Washington D.C. 20057-1229Phone: (202) 687.6247Fax: (202)

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