Current Graduate Students
Sweta is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Global Infectious Diseases Program working in Dr. Heidi Elmendorf’s Lab in the Department of Biology. Her current research focuses on giardia pathogenesis using rational drug design methods including High Throughput Screening (HTS) to identify small molecule inhibitors of giardia attachment.
Prior to matriculating at Georgetown University in 2010, Sweta worked as an analyst researching issues at the nexus of global health security and international health policy. Originally from Phoenix, Sweta moved to Baltimore in 2005 and earned a joint Master of Health Science (MHS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees in Infectious Disease Epidemiology and International Health Policy from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Outside of the laboratory, Sweta enjoys going to live music shows and playing tennis.
Amy is a first year PhD student in the Biology program with an interest in population and ecological genetics. In 2013, she received her BS in Wildlife and Conservation Biology and BS in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island. Amy will be conducting her research in a salt marsh ecosystem and is being co-advised by Drs. Matthew Hamilton and Gina Wimp.
Outside of the lab, Amy enjoys traveling, hiking, scuba diving, and spending time outdoors. She is also having fun visiting the many sites around DC.
Chao received her Bachelor's degree from Wuhan University in China. She is now working on the project of SoxC genes' role in cerebral cortex development in the lab of Dr. Maria Donoghue. The Sox gene family encodes a large group of transcription factors, classified by sequence homology into groups A through E. All Sox proteins contain a high mobility group (HMG) box, a region responsible for protein-protein interactions as monomers form dimers in order to bind DNA. SoxC group genes have been implicated in several processes during neural development, but the specific roles played by SoxC genes in the mammalian cerebral cortex remain unclear. Chao's research focuses on the roles of two SoxC genes, Sox4 and Sox11, in cerebral cortical development.
Beginning in the Spring of 2012, Chao will also be taking on the role of Vice President of BOGS for Georgetown University.
Dillon is in his first year of the PhD program in the Department of Biology, studying early neural development in Dr. Elena Casey's lab. He received his BA in Biology in 2013 from Elmira College (NY), where his research involved quantification and identification of controlled substances in solution via GC-MS, with the eventual goal of studying thermal degradation rates of these substances in synthetic urine. (Unfortunately, this goal was not reached.)
Outside of time spent in the lab or doing coursework, Dillon cares for his several geckos and enjoys spending time outside and traveling.
Catherine received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University. Following graduation, she worked for a year at NIH on the cry circuit in common marmosets. Her next research experience took place in Argentina where she spent eight months studying owl monkeys. Catherine then obtained an MA in Ecology and Evolution from Stony Brook University. Her thesis focused on the diet, activity pattern, and vocalizations of woolly lemurs, which are endemic to Madagascar. Catherine is currently in Janet Mann’s lab where she will be studying the social behavior of bottlenose dolphins in Australia.
In her spare time Catherine likes to spend time with friends, watch movies, dance, read and take forest walks.
Ricardo Gutierrez Ozuna
Originally from the Mexican state of Chiapas, whose entire area is part of the Mesoamerica hotspot, Ricardo joined Prof. Matthew Hamilton's Lab in 2011, after earning a Masters degree in Biological Sciences from the Institute of Ecology at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). For his Master's degree, he studied the clonal structure of invasive buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) in north-western Mexico, under the advising of Dr. Francisco Molina-Freaner. Plants are his passion, and he is broadly interested in population genetics of these organisms. Particularly, he is interested in studying how some of today's concerning factors such as habitat fragmentation or climate change are affecting the genetic structure of populations.
Xin comes from the southern coastal province of Fujian in China. After earning his B.S. at China Agriculture University, he went to Xiamen University for research work on gene expression levels of mouse brain exposed to tributyltin, a commonly used antifouling paint. He joined Dr. Peter Armbruster’s lab in 2011, attempting to address the evolutionary response of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, to the wide latitudinal range in North America, and the underlying molecular mechanism.
Besides lab work, he enjoys biking, photography, movies, and exploring the new environment of the Greater DC area.
Jing comes to Georgetown from Jiangsu, China. After receiving her BS from the University of Science and Technology of China, Jing came to the US to pursue a Ph.D. degree. She is now working in Dr. Elena Casey’s lab focusing on the neural development in Xenopus laevis.
Alex received his undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College. Before Georgetown, he spent two years at the NIA/NIH in Baltimore as a Post-Bacc IRTA. While there he received a reward for a poster session that he did. Alex has joined the Dr. Steven Singer laboratory and is studying the host response to Giardia infection.
His outside interests include playing the guitar and long walks on the beach.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Elizabeth moved to the East Coast to gain her B.A. in Biological Sciences and French at Cornell University. After graduating in 2010, she moved to DC and worked at the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute where she participated in program evaluations of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award and supported federal agencies in policy research related to STEM education and immigration. Elizabeth came to Georgetown in 2012 as a PhD student in the Global Infectious Diseases program to join Dr. Shweta Bansal's lab, where she intends to research disease dynamics of influenza. Outside of the lab, Elizabeth enjoys biking, playing soccer, visiting restaurants, cooking, and eating dumplings. She hopes to complete her first sprint triathlon this spring.
Carrie received her B.S. in Health Sciences and Biology from James Madison University in 2009. She then worked in the University of Virginia Pathology Department for two years, studying the effects of dietary compounds on pro-inflammatory pathways.
Carrie is currently a 2nd year in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and will be conducting her thesis research in Maria Donoghue's lab, investigating the effects of intercellular signaling molecules on cerebral cortical development.
In her spare time, Carrie enjoys softball, crafting, and karaoke!
Jenny received both her B.S. in 2007 and her M.S. in 2009 in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University. Her Masters work focused on studies on Trypanasoma cruzi in Tennessee. In the summer of 2008, Jenny interned with the Tennessee Department of Health Vector-Borne Diseases Lab. She is interested in studying host-parasite relationships, and is working in the lab of Dr. Steven Singer studying the host immune response to Giardia infection.
In her spare time, she enjoys going to concerts and hiking.
Madison graduated from Brown University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with a focus on Animal Behavior. Her Honors thesis examined the biogeographical patterns exhibited by all shark species worldwide under the guidance of Dr. Dov Sax.
Her previous research experiences include studying navigation in sea turtles (with Dr. Kenneth Lohmann and Dr. Catherine Lohmann), ontogenetic changes in sharks (with Dr. Jamie Seymour), movement patterns in sharks (with Dr. Jonathan Werry), development in Zebra fish (with Dr. Ruth Colwill), learning and problem solving in sea lions (with Dr. Colleen Reichmuth), behavioral responses to seismic surveys in humpback whales (with Dr. Mike Noad and Dr. Rebecca Dunlop), numerical cognition in primates (with Dr. Elizabeth Brannon), and social behavior in lemurs (with Dr. Christine Drea).
Madison joined Dr. Janet Mann's lab as a PhD student in the Fall of 2013. She is excited to study social behavior and cognition in the dolphins of Shark Bay.
Outside of the lab, Madison enjoys playing field hockey, scuba diving, and spoiling her four dogs.
Theodore J. Picou III
Theodore (Trey) earned his B.S. from Georgetown University in 2011 and is now a PhD student in Dr. Heidi Elmendorf’s lab. His undergraduate research involved studying the attachment dynamics of the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia and he intends to pursue this area during the coming years. Specifically, he researches the parasite’s interaction with fluid and how the resulting fluid mechanics facilitate attachment. In general, he is interested in the intersection of biology and physics and searches for the physical principles responsible for biological phenomena. Outside of the laboratory he enjoys computer science and ardently follows the New Orleans Saints. The latter comes as no surprise considering he was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Pratha comes to Georgetown University from India. She received her Bachelors degree from Pune University, India and Masters degree from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University, New Delhi, India. After earning her Masters degree, she worked as a Project Fellow in the Population Biology Lab at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune India for a year. At IISER, Pratha worked on in-silico investigations of controlling complex dynamics of an ecological system by introducing small perturbation schemes. She also used laboratory populations of Drosophila melanogaster for empirical verification of her theoretical models.
Pratha joined Dr. Shweta Bansal's lab in Fall 2012 and is interested in studying the patterns of disease dynamics in network models in response to disease invasion. She is also looking at the effects of network modularity on disease dynamics.
Outside of the lab, Pratha enjoys cooking, reading and travelling.
Elizabeth received a BS in biology from Randolph Macon College and an MS in biology from James Madison Univerity in 2010. She has joined the laboratory of Dr. Ronda Rolfes to investigate molecular mechanisms of signaling in yeast.
Her outside interests include going to the beach, drinking wine and reading novels (preferably all at the same time). She enjoys listening to good music and playing soccer when she has the chance.
Shu comes from the Chongqing Municipality of the People’s Republic of China. After graduating from Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, he entered the PhD program in Department of Biology of Georgetown University in fall 2008. Now he is working in Dr. Chris Elsik’s lab and taking great interest in investigating microRNA targets prediction and how the microRNA targets evolve in insects.
During his spare time, he enjoys swimming, basketball, soccer and body building.
Jean joined the PhD program in 2007 with a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a BA in Studio Art from the University of Arizona. She is generally interested in spatial patterns, mating systems, animal behavior, herpetology, and conservation ecology. Her previous research experiences include studying factors affecting springsnail distribution (with Dr. A. Elizabeth Arnold and Cheryl Craddock), heat shock effects on aphids (with Dr. Nancy Moran), habitat alteration impacts on brown anoles (with Dr. Erin Marnocha), eastern fox snake population demographics and distribution (with Kristin Stanford), and Costa Rican herps (DANTA, Dr. Thomas LaDuke). Currently, she is working with Prof. Martha Weiss.
Her awards include the Clare Luce Boothe Fellowship (2007-2009), Georgetown University Center for the Environment Grant (2008), Explorers Club Exploration Fund Grant (2008), and the American Society of Mammalogists Grant-in-Aid (2008).
Outside of the lab, Jean enjoys eating, practicing martial arts, oil painting, reading, photography, and traveling.
Megan earned her B.S. in 2010 at the University of Michigan where she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She spent the next year working as a field research assistant in Kenya studying the behavior and ecology of the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) for a project through Michigan State University. In the fall of 2011 she joined Dr. Janet Mann’s lab as a Ph.D. student and plans to study the behavior of wild bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia. Specifically, she is interested in female social and sexual behavior, maternal strategies, and reproductive success.
After living in a tented camp in the bush for a year, Megan is enjoying being able to explore all the perks of D.C. and city life. When not studying, she likes to hike, read, travel, and follow Michigan football.
Tanaporn (Gift) joined the Department of Biology PhD program in the Fall of 2013 with an interest in neurobiology. She completed her undergraduate studies in three years, earning a BS in Biology from the University of Virginia. At UVA, Gift was a member of Dr. George Bloom's lab, working on mechanisms that might trigger Alzheimer's Disease. She enjoys exploring the molecular and cellular aspects of the brain, and her ultimate goal on research is to find new drug targets or develop therapeutic interventions to treat neurologic patients. After completing her PhD degree, Gift hopes to return to her native Thailand and become a college professor.
In her spare time, Gift loves to cook, especially Thai food! She also loves to explore the new restaurants and various types of food.
Niteace joined the Department of Biology in the Fall of 2008 after receiving her BS degree from Temple University in her hometown of Philadelphia, PA. She has joined the laboratory of Dr. Elena Casey.
Although she loves lab work, Niteace also likes to draw and crochet in her spare time.
Shu Yang comes from Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province in China. After earning his B.S. degree in Biotechnology from Nanjing Agricultural University in 2010, he came to Georgetown University Medical Center to complete a Master’s study in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. After working as a research assistant in Dr. Anne Rosenwald’s lab for half a year, he formally joined her lab and started his Ph.D.’s study in the Spring of 2012. His research is focused on the regulation of a small G protein, Arl1, and how the regulation can contribute to the control of intracellular vesicle trafficking in baker’s yeast.
Besides doing research, he is also very interested in cooking, coffee DIY, reading and electronic gadgets.
Amanda Zirzow earned her BS in Biology in 2009 and her MS in Molecular Biology in 2011 from George Mason University. Her Master’s work focused on the development of a DNA/protein based delivery system for the therapeutic use of small interfering RNA. She comes to Georgetown after spending one year as an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. At the NIH, she worked with fruit flies and mammalian cell culture to investigate the role of the O-GlcNAc post-translational modifications on the regulation of circadian rhythm to gain an understanding of a potential mechanistic link between circadian clocks and energy metabolism.
When not in the lab, Amanda hits the nature trails. She enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, running, photography, painting/drawing, traveling, gardening, making beer/wine, and going to reptile expos.