Arifa Ahsan

picture of ArifaArifa graduated from Brandeis University in 2015 with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Her undergraduate thesis at the Hedstrom Lab focused on protein degradation via small molecule hydrophobic tagging, and she designed compounds to target Bcr-Abl protein, the pathophysiological cause of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Following college, she was involved in a project on chromothripsis with David Pellman’s group at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Chromothripsis is a newly discovered mutational phenomenon in certain cancer cells, characterized by extensive genomic rearrangements.) For her graduate work at Georgetown, she has decided to pursue her long-term interests in developmental neurobiology and regenerative processes, and will be co-mentored by Dr. Elena Silva and Dr. Jeffrey Huang.

Outside the lab, she enjoys theatre, books, art and creative writing.


picture of SylviaSylvia Arnold

Sylvia graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2017 where she worked in Dr. Erin Green's lab for two years. During her time there, she worked on characterizing Set5, a yeast histone methyltransferase. After graduating, she joined the Rolfes lab at Georgetown University and is currently working on understanding the yeast transcription factor Grf10 and its role in virulence of Candida albicans. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, baking, and trying new foods! 


picture of ZachZachary Batz

Zach earned a BS in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. As an undergraduate, he worked with Dr. Sam Donovan developing educational resources to facilitate open-ended exploration of phylogeny malarial parasites in great apes. Following his interest in science outreach, Zach then moved to Dr. Michelle Smith's lab at the University of Maine where he earned an MS in Biology Education in 2014. His master's thesis demonstrated a novel method for monitoring student engagement in large undergraduate science courses. In 2014, Zach returned to traditional biology and joined Dr. Peter Armbruster's lab to study the evolution and molecular mechanisms of overwintering mechanisms in the Asian tiger mosquito.

Outside the lab, Zach enjoys cooking, racquetball, and going to concerts. 


Allison BrackleyAllison Brackley 

Allison Brackley is a Ph.D. student working in Dr. Martha Weiss' lab, and she is also co-advised by John Lill at George Washington University. She earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she completed several semesters of research studying the architecture of pollination networks as well as the interaction between an invasive shrub and its detritivores. During the summer of 2014, she participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where she investigated the impact of bio-control weevils on an endangered plant native to the Wisconsin dunes. Her primary research interests are in understanding species interactions and community-level dynamics.


Paige BrooksPaige Brooks

Paige earned her B.A. in Cellular Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from Colgate University in 2016. While there, she worked with Dr. Jason Meyers on a high honors thesis utilizing the zebrafish lateral line to examine the roles of Wnt and FGF signaling in sensory support cell development and regeneration. She was selected to present this research at the 2016 GSA Allied Genetics Conference: Spotlight on Undergraduate Research. Paige is excited to continue her research on the developing nervous system here at Georgetown.

Outside the lab, Paige enjoys reading, ballet, exploring DC and trying new foods.


Sean CareySean Carey

Sean attended The College of the Holy Cross as an undergraduate where he was on the track and field team and earned a B.A. in Biology, graduating in 2015. After graduation, he worked as a research technician under Dr. Maryrose Sullivan at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, West Roxbury Hospital. The lab’s field of study was urology research with a focus on autonomic neurotransmission and smooth muscle physiology. During his time there, the lab investigated the role of caveolae and myosin-Va in mediating neurotransmission in the bladder. Along with this, the group also investigated Parkinson’s disease and it contributes to bladder dysfunction. While at Georgetown Sean hopes to further his understanding of neurobiology and developmental biology.  Sean has joined the lab of Kathy McGuire-Zeiss.  


Taylor CookTaylor Cook

Taylor joined the Biology Ph.D. program at Georgetown in 2016 and is a member of Janet Mann's lab.  Taylor plans to study the development and ecological consequences of personality in wild bottlenose dolphins. Before coming to Georgetown, Taylor earned a B.S. in Biology from UCLA where she worked in the Blumstein lab studying everything from marmot behavior to sea anemone personality to roadkill ecology. She then worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as a scientific aid collecting data on recreational fisheries. Taylor was also a research assistant for the Ocean Conservation Society studying cetaceans in Santa Monica Bay before moving to Georgetown.


Dillon Damuth Dillon Damuth

Dillon joined the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biology in 2013, studying early neural development in Elena Silva's lab group. 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.


Stephanie DavisStephanie Davis

Stephanie Davis is a combined MD/Ph.D. candidate, currently earning a Ph.D. from the Integrated Program in Neuroscience (IPN). Her thesis research is under the co-mentorship of Jeffrey Huang and Anton Wellstein, and it is focused on multiple sclerosis (MS) and the involvement of a novel protein called IL4I1. In line with her clinical interests, Stephanie is the first person in the Huang lab to study MS in human samples. 

Stephanie earned her B.A. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Barnard College, with a minor in French. Growing up between homes in Boston, Mass and Athens, Greece, Stephanie loves traveling and learning new languages. Outside of the lab, she may be found biking, singing at open mics, watching Seinfeld, and is getting increasingly involved in advocacy work focused on medical and social justice issues.


Marc FinkMarc Fink

Marc is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biology, working in the Singer lab. He received a B.S. from Loyola University - Maryland and an M.S. from Towson University.  During his time at Loyola, he investigated both bacterial biofilm architecture and antibody production with Andrew Schoeffield and David Rivers. At Towson, his thesis work with Dr. Michelle Snyder studied innate immunity pattern recognition and associated signaling pathways.  Currently, Marc is interested in immune cell regulation and interactions within the gastrointestinal tract.  

Outside of the lab, Marc enjoys watching movies, following the Boston Red Sox, and dreaming of playing linebacker for the New England Patriots.


Jared GrimmerJared Grimmer

Jared is currently a second-year Ph.D. student in the Biology program. He is a NSF Graduate Research Fellow as well as a Gates Millennium Scholar, having graduated from Kalamazoo College '15 with a B.A. in Biology (Psychology Minor). After graduation, he spent a year in Kenya as a Research Assistant with the Michigan State University Mara Hyena Project under Kay Holekamp studying the behavior and ecology of wild spotted hyenas in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. He is now working in Janet Mann's lab investigating the development and intersection of social and sexual behaviors of wild bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia. In particular, he is exploring these behavioral displays of relatively young individuals during the juvenile period of life.

In his free time, Jared enjoys distance running, overindulging in sweets, doing anything outside, and nurturing a borderline unhealthy Reality TV obsession.


Jingwen HuJingwen Hu

Jingwen Hu is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Jeffery Huang's lab, which is focusing on Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Jingwen has been interested in neuronal degenerative diseases since she was an undergraduate student and focused on studying Alzheimer's disease. For her Masters Thesis, she conducted research on Parkinson's disease. After that, she joined New York Stem Cell Foundation to work on the stem cell research in MS. In the Huang laboratory, she is focusing on the mechanism of spontaneous remyelination happening MS.

In her spare time, Jingwen enjoys traveling, painting, sports, and music.


Caitlin Karniski Caitlin Karniski 

Caitlin received her B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from Georgetown University in 2011. She worked as a field assistant in Shark Bay, Australia with Janet Mann's lab group in the fall of 2011 and 2012, and became the lab's Research Associate in 2013. Prior to this she worked on a manatee radiotelemetry project with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and has contributed to projects with World Wildlife Fund, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, and the research lab of Tim Beach at Georgetown. In 2014 she began her Ph.D. in the Mann lab and plans to study reproductive senescence and the evolutionary mechanisms of menopause in cetaceans.

Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, music, and good food.


Alyssa KingAlyssa King

Alyssa completed her B.S. in biology in 2015 from Bradley University in Peoria, IL. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked with Melinda Faulkner investigating oxidative stress in the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Her interests include microbial pathogenesis, specifically microbe-host interactions, pathogenic virulence, and host response. She began working towards her Ph.D. at Georgetown in 2015, joining the lab group of Shaun Brinsmade.

Alyssa’s out-of-lab passions include hanging out with dogs (all dogs, seriously any dog), exploring new places, reading good books, and drinking delicious coffee and wine (though not necessarily at the same time).


Shican (Claire) LiShican (Claire) Li

Shican (Claire) received her BS degree from University of New Haven and an MS from Brandeis University. She is now working on her Ph.D. degree in the Elmendorf lab studying the attachment mechanism of the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. She is particularly interested in investigating how Giardia responds to environmental cues to find its attaching site during infection, and especially, how Giardia interacts with intestinal mucus. She plans to explore these questions using biological and physical approaches.

Besides science, Claire enjoys singing Beijing Opera, writing poetry, and playing Chinese zither occasionally. 


picture of JewelJewel Lipps

Jewel began her Ph.D. studies at Georgetown in fall 2017, after working for two years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in DC. Originally from Texas, she went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX for her undergraduate degree. She has field ecology and environmental chemistry experience in several distinct ecosystems, including Appalachian streams, peat bogs, and bottomland hardwood forests. As a student in Gina Wimp's lab, she investigates how plant-herbivore interactions affect the ecosystem services of Atlantic coast salt marshes. She is passionate about discovering science-based solutions to society's environmental challenges.

picture of MollyMolly McEntee

Molly received a bachelor's degree in Biology from Williams College in 2014. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer at the Duke Marine Lab studying the ecology of deep-sea cold-seep ecosystems, and completed an honors thesis on the pollination network of bunchberry dogwood. After graduation, she moved to Kenya as a research assistant for the Mara Hyena Project, where she studied the behavioral ecology of spotted hyenas under Kay Holekamp. Molly then spent a field season in Maine studying the conservation ecology of endangered right whales, before returning to Kenya to study the behavioral ecology of anubis baboons with the Comparative Analysis of Baboon Sociality project under Joan Silk.  Molly joined Janet Mann's lab as a Ph.D. student in 2017. She is interested in female reproductive behavior in wild bottlenose dolphins.


Madison MiketaMadison Miketa

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 Dov Sax.

Her previous research experiences include studying navigation in sea turtles (with Kenneth Lohmann and Catherine Lohmann), ontogenetic changes in sharks (with Jamie Seymour), movement patterns in sharks (with Jonathan Werry), development in Zebra fish (with Ruth Colwill), learning and problem solving in sea lions (with Colleen Reichmuth), behavioral responses to seismic surveys in humpback whales (with Mike Noad and Rebecca Dunlop), numerical cognition in primates (with Elizabeth Brannon), and social behavior in lemurs (with Christine Drea).  Madison joined Janet Mann's lab as a Ph.D. student in the Fall of 2013. She is excited to study social behavior and cognition in the dolphins of Shark Bay.

Outside the lab, Madison enjoys playing field hockey, scuba diving, and spoiling her four dogs.


Vivianne Morrison Vivianne Morrison

Vivianne earned her B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in neuroscience at Bard College in 2009, exploring the biological basis of Phantom Limb Syndrome for her Senior Thesis. Upon receipt of her degree, she attended medical school at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, while remaining active in research in the laboratory of Isabelle Décosterd at the University of Lausanne (studying the effect of peripheral nerve damage on the central nervous system), which drove her to leave medical school and pursue her passion for neuroscience. She is a doctoral student in Georgetown's Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience and a 2014 Awardee of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. She plans to study neuron-oligodendrocyte communication and activity-dependent myelination in the laboratory of Jeffrey Huang.


Victoria MorrissetteVictoria Morrissette

Victoria earned a B.S. in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry from Virginia Tech in 2015. As an undergraduate, she worked with Joe Merola synthesizing and evaluating the effect of organometallic amino acid complexes on antibiotic resistance in both TB and MRSA. Victoria also worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Katharine Knowlton investigating the effect of antibiotics on antibiotic resistance in (dairy) calves. She is very excited to have joined Ronda Rolfes' lab to work on metabolism of inositol pyrophosphates. 

In her spare time, Victoria enjoys spending time with her puppy Hugo, hiking, going on adventures, reading, and drinking wine. 


Kevin MlynekKevin Mlynek

Kevin received his BS in environmental and marine biology from Millersville University, PA, where he developed a fondness for research.  Using nothing more than a few PVC pipes, zip ties, petri dishes and maybe some duct-tape he studied population dynamics of zooplankton in a small pond focusing mainly on the freshwater cnidarian Hydra.  Spending a lot of time using a microscope, Kevin decided to switch the focus of his studies to microbiology and began studying pathogenic bacteria. He earned a MS in biology from American University, DC, while researching the effects of low-dose antibiotics on MRSA biofilms under Jeffrey Kaplan’s mentorship.  Kevin’s current research interests focus on the regulation of virulence in microbes and how that relates to biofilm formation and antibiotic resistance, focused on Staphylococcus in Shaun Brinsmade's lab.

In his free time, Kevin enjoys being outside taking in some fresh air. 


picture of ZacZachory Park

Zac graduated from Elmira College in 2017 with a BS in Biology and Biochemistry. At Elmira, he worked in the lab of Daniel Kjar where he studied competitive interactions between ant species. He has always been fascinated by the concept of regulation and the genetic and biochemical regulation of complex biological processes in particular. He joined Mark Rose's lab group at Georgetown, working on the regulation of meiosis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Outside the lab Zac enjoys reading, trying out local breweries, and exploring D.C.


picture of JoanJoan Reger

Joan is a Ph.D. student in Shweta Bansal’s lab where she works on mathematical modeling of infectious diseases. She earned her B.S. in Biology at Emory University in 2017. While at Emory, she worked in the Wilkinson lab studying yeast prions and also worked with K-12 students in the Atlanta community through the educational outreach program Graduation Generation. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she completed a summer research project on TDP-43 in the Eisenberg lab at UCLA and a public health science internship at the USDA in Washington, D.C. 

Outside of the lab, Joan enjoys traveling, yoga, DIY projects, and watching The Office. 


picture of TylerTyler Rippel

In 2011, Tyler earned his BS in Plant Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Illinois State University. While there, he did a senior thesis research project on how soil nutrients can influence female frequency in the gynodioecious prairie plant Lobelia spicata. During undergraduate and the first year of graduate school at Villanova University, he was a part of the Men's Track and Field Team as a 800m runner. At Villanova, Tyler moved towards ecosystem ecology and studied the influence of an invasive grass on microbial communities and nitrogen cycling in temperate forests. He came to Georgetown University to work in Gina Wimp's lab to investigate how plant-invertebrate interactions can cascade through fungal and microbial communities to influence biogeochemical cycling in coastal salt marshes.

Outside of school he enjoys being in nature, galavanting through D.C., and slapping some bass. 


Pablo Silva RodríguezPablo Silva Rodríguez

He came from Guatemala where he obtained a BS in Biology in 2010 and a Licentiate degree in Biology in 2013 at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. He completed his undergraduate research work with gram-positive pathogens of tomato, specifically Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis. In 2012, and obtained an MS in Molecular Medicine at the University of Sheffield, UK. His master's research project, Transcriptional Regulation of the Neuronal Function in the Developing Zebrafish Central Nervous System, was supervised by Vincent Cunliffe at the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics. In 2013, he did a short internship at University of Chile, under the supervision of Miguel Concha that aimed to study cilio-genesis and cilio-pathies using zebrafish as an animal model.  He was awarded a Fulbright-LASPAU scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Biology at Georgetown beginning in 2015. His research interests include developmental biology, neurobiology, molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease and adaptation, transcriptional regulation and evolutionary biology.  He has joined Elena Silva's lab group.  

In addition to research, he also loves traveling, loves playing and listening to music and definitively loves coffee (especially with a good conversation). He also enjoys watching NFL games, discovering new tasty beers (big fan of dark beer) and meeting new people and learning about different cultures. 


Kathryn SanchezKathryn Sanchez

Kathryn Sanchez obtained a B.S in Biology from New Mexico State University in 2015. As an NIH BP-ENDURE BRAiN Scholar, she undertook a histological study with Elba Serrano which examined the development of the myelin sheath surrounding the acoustic-vestibular nerve of Xenopus laevis. During a summer internship at the University of Pennsylvania, Kathryn examined mouse hippocampal metabolism in the laboratory of John Wolfe. The Wolfe lab explores the lysosomal storage disease Mucopolysaccharidosis Type VII and was interested in researching ATP synthase in MPS mice. Kathryn established a protocol that assessed the electron transport chain of mouse hippocampal tissue using high-resolution respirometry. She presented this work as a poster entitled Development of High-resolution Respirometry Protocol for Brain Tissue as a Form of Metabolic Analysis for MPS VII Mouse Models at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in 2013. After this, Kathryn explored the pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease at New York University in the lab of Jorge Ghiso. This project involved the investigation of a novel antibody probe specific to an amino terminus truncated amyloid peptide. She presented this work as a poster entitled Amyloid beta Truncated Fragments: Relevance for Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis at the Society for Neuroscience conference, and received the Leadership Alliance Experimental Biology Fellowship for this work. She has joined Kathy Mcguire-Zeiss' lab group.  


Kaela S. SingletonKaela S. Singleton

In 2014 Kaela earned her B.S. in neuroscience and classical history and culture from Agnes Scott College (ASC), an all women's liberal arts college. During her undergraduate career, she was awarded numerous fellowships including the Behavioral Research and Innovation in Neuroscience fellowship, the NIH funded Blue-Print Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity Through Undergraduate Research, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience Fellowship, the Generating Excellence in STEMs Fellowship, and the Summer Science Academy Fellowship. 

Through these fellowships, she conducted research in laboratories at Emory University, ASC, Georgia State, Zoo Atlanta, and Vanderbilt University where she explored the molecular mechanisms underlying affective disorders in adolescence, neurobiology of Rett Syndrome and schizophrenia,  invertebrate models of drug abuse, zoo welfare in orangutangs, and glial response to insulin resistance in the central nervous system. 

Kaela is currently (2017) a third-year doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience working on a combined project in Maria Donoghue and Elena Silva's labs in the Department of Biology. Her current research focuses on investigating transcription factor function and regulation in Xenopus laevis (frog) and Mus musculus (mouse) during neurodevelopment. 


picture of NicoleNicole Wagner

Nicole is currently working in Sarah Johnson’s lab where she is studying life in extreme environments that can be used as Mars analogs, in the hopes of advancing the search for extraterrestrial life. Nicole’s foray into the world of extremophiles began in Anna-Louise Reysenbach’s lab at Portland State University where she spent her days sifting through the genome of hyperthermophilic archaea.

In her free time, Nicole re-watches episodes of Star Trek, obsesses over all things SpaceX, spelunking, and dotes on her toy poodle.


Zhirong WangZhirong Wang

Zhirong started his scientific expedition in Yi Rao’s lab at Peking University/NIBS in 2012 by studying how the broken-hearted male Drosophila influences naïve males on how they "chase girls". In 2014, he earned a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from The Rockefeller University, and worked in Leslie Vosshall’s lab, aiming to establish a behavioral paradigm to study how insects could sense repellents merely by touching. In 2015, he earned his B.A. in biology with honors from the University of Utah mentored by David Gard. Research-wise, he was also trained in Megan Williams’s lab by investigating how Kirrel3, an adhesion molecule, contributes to the form and function of hippocampal mossy fiber synapses. At Georgetown Biology, he is carving his broad interest in developmental neurobiology with the great resources and expertise of the community.  He has joined Tom Coate's lab to investigate cochlear development.  


Tanaporn Wangsanut Tanaporn Wangsanut

Tanaporn (Gift) joined the Department of Biology Ph.D. program in the Fall of 2013 with interests in neurobiology, molecular biology, and microbiology. 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 George Bloom's lab, working on mechanisms that might trigger Alzheimer's Disease. She enjoys exploring the molecular and cellular aspects of the cell and has joined the Rolfes laboratory for her dissertation project. After completing her Ph.D. 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.


Casey ZipfelCasey Zipfel

Casey Zipfel is a Ph.D. student in the Biology program with an interest in infectious disease dynamics. Casey graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 2016 with a BS in Biology and a minor in Health Policy and Administration. At Penn State, Casey worked on SIR modeling of infectious disease dynamics within an ant colony based upon social role. Casey is working in Shweta Bansal's lab.


picture of LiziElisabeth Zachary

Elisabeth is a Ph.D. student in Steven Singer’s lab with an interest in how Giardia interacts with the enteric nervous system. As an undergrad, she worked at the Wayne Potts lab at the University of Utah, where she was involved in viral evolution research. She graduated from Utah in 2016 with a BS in biology and headed straight to grad school.

Outside the lab, she enjoys reading fiction and looking for secret passageways in old buildings.

 

2017 Graduates

Amy BattoclettiAmy Battocletti

Amy is a Ph.D. 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. She received an NSF graduate research fellowship. 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.

Congratulations to Amy for the successful defense of her MS thesis! 


Kelly ChamberlainKelly Chamberlain

Kelly earned her B.S. in Biology from James Madison University in 2010 where she investigated the development and organization of the inferior colliculus in mice under Dr. Mark Gabriele. She then moved to Janelia Farm Research Campus to the lab of Dr. Tim Harris, where she worked to apply a high-resolution imaging technique known as array tomography to investigate synaptic circuitry in Drosophila.

Kelly was a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience working in Dr. Jeffrey Huang’s lab in the Department of Biology. Her research focuses on investigating oligodendrocyte-neuronal interactions in the central nervous system, focusing on animal models of multiple sclerosis.

Congratulations to Kelly for the successful defense of her dissertation! 


Ricardo Gutierrez-OzunaRicardo 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.

Congratulations to Ricardo for the successful defense of his dissertation on Dec. 19th, 2017! 


Elizabeth LeeElizabeth Lee

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Elizabeth moved to the East Coast to acquire 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 supported federal agencies in policy research and data analysis. Elizabeth came to the Global Infectious Diseases program at Georgetown in 2012 to join Dr. Shweta Bansal's lab. Her research explores the spatial and age dynamics of flu through data analysis and epidemic simulations. She hopes to combine her research and policy interests to improve the use of mathematical and statistical models for public health preparedness and response.

Outside of the lab, Elizabeth enjoys biking, training for races, visiting restaurants, cooking, and eating dumplings.

Congratulations to Elizabeth for the successful defense of her dissertation on Dec. 8th, 2017! 


Carrie LeonardCarrie Leonard

Carrie received her B.S. in Health Sciences and Biology from James Madison University in 2009. She then worked at 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! 

Congratulations to Carrie for the successful defense of her dissertation in August of 2017! 


Trey PicouTheodore J. Picou III

Theodore (Trey) earned his B.S. from Georgetown University in 2011 and is now a Ph.D. 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.

Congratulations to Trey for the successful defense of his dissertation on April 24, 2017! 


Pratha SahPratha Sah

Pratha comes to Georgetown University from India. She received her Bachelor 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 the lab, Pratha enjoys cooking, reading and traveling.

Congratulations to Pratha for the successful defense of her dissertation on Oct. 16th, 2017! 


2016 Graduates

Megan WallenMegan Wallen

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.

Congratulations to Megan for the successful defense of her dissertation on Dec. 2nd, 2016! 


Shu YangShu Yang

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.

Congratulations to Shu for the successful defense of his dissertation on Oct. 17, 2016! 


Xin HuangXin Huang

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.

Congratulations to Xin for the successful defense of his dissertation on Aug. 24, 2016! 


Sweta BatniSweta Batni

Sweta is a Ph.D. candidate in the Global Infectious Diseases Program working in Dr. Heidi Elmendorf’s Lab in the Department of Biology. Her current research focuses on examining the relationship between Giardia lamblia infection and malnutrition.

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 2003 and earned joint Master of Health Science (MHS '05) and Master of Arts (MA '09) 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 the laboratory, Sweta enjoys going to live music shows and cooking.

Congratulations to Sweta for the successful defense of her dissertation on April 4, 2016! 


Elizabeth Steidle Elizabeth Steidle

Elizabeth received a BS in biology from Randolph Macon College in 2008 and an MS in biology from James Madison University 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.

Congratulations to Elizabeth for the successful defense of her dissertation on February 26, 2016! 


Jing JinJing Jin

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 worked in Dr. Elena Casey’s lab with the focus on the neural development in Xenopus laevis.

Congratulations to Jing for the successful defense of her dissertation on January 12, 2016! 


2015 Graduates

Chao ChenChao Chen

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.

Congratulations to Jing for the successful defense of her dissertation on May 8, 2015! 


Jenny MaloneyJenny Maloney

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.  

Congratulations to Jenny for the successful defense of her dissertation on April 10, 2015! She is currently a post-doc for Dr. Singer.


2014 Graduates

Aleksander KeselmanAleksander Keselman

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.

Congratulations to Aleks for the successful defense of his dissertation on April 14, 2014!


Shu TaoShu Tao

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 Ph.D. 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 bodybuilding.

Congratulations to Shu for the successful defense of his dissertation thesis on July 29, 2014!


Jean TsaiJean Tsai

Jean joined the Ph.D. 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 the lab, Jean enjoys eating, practicing martial arts, oil painting, reading, photography, and traveling.

Congratulations to Jean for the successful defense of her dissertation on April 9, 2014!


Niteace WhittingtonNiteace Whittington

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. 

Congratulations to Niteace for the successful defense of her dissertation on April 9, 2014!
 


2013 Graduates

Ewa KrzyszczykEwa 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 work sharing at a local organic farm.

Congratulations to Anna for the successful defense of her Ph.D. dissertation in July 2013!


Lillian PowerLillian Power

Lillian graduated from the 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-YildirimBanu Saritas-Yildirim

Banu is a Ph.D. student working under the 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 Ph.D. dissertation in January 2013!


Andrew VerardoAndrew 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 PattersonEric 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 Bachelor's 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 Ph.D. dissertation in December 2012 and is now continuing in Professor Mann's lab at Georgetown University as an Assistant Research Professor.

Christopher WilliamsChristopher 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 Ph.D. dissertation in March 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 Ph.D. dissertation in January 2012 and is now the proud mother of a baby girl!


2011 Graduates

Aaron HowardAaron 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 StantonMaggie 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 Ph.D. dissertation in December 2011 and is now a post-doctoral scientist in the Department of Anthropology at the George Washington University.

Shahram Solaymani-MohammadiShahram Mohammadi

Originally from Iran, Shahram joined the Department of Biology in January 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 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 MalloryHeather 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) ShenLibing (Steve) Shen

Libing is from Shanghai, China. He graduated from Fudan University in 2006 and then came to the 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 UrbanskiJennifer 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, rock climbing, and playing intramural football, softball, and volleyball with the biology grad team Tenacious DNA.

Jennifer successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in April 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 AdedoyinMary 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 involve 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 LuoHaibei 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 UmaDivya 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 WallsColleen Walls

Colleen entered the Ph.D. 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 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 ArcherTenley 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 RogersCrystal 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 2009. She is currently working in Dr. Marianne Bronner's laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, studying neural crest development.

Audrey ThevenonAudrey Thevenon

Audrey entered the Ph.D. 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 Master's thesis on June 23, 2008, and is working at Systems biosciences in Mountain View, CA.

Ernest Tako-AyukErnest Tako-Ayuk

Ernest entered the Ph.D. program in Jan. 2003 after obtaining an 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!