Students and Alumni
First Year Students
Growing up in Australia exposed me to a wide variety of wildlife. I knew from early on that I wanted to pursue a career in Biology. Moving to the United States at the end of High School, I attended Humboldt State for my Undergraduate Degree, where I studied the role of paternal effect genes in C. elegans development. At the end of my undergraduate career I was fortunate to have the opportunity to come to Stanford as part of the CIRM bridges program, where I worked on developing genome editing in hematopoietic stem cells for the treatment of genetic diseases in the lab of Dr. Matthew Porteus. After two years in the Porteus lab, I joined Stanford’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine PhD program, which I hope will serve as a platform in my attempts to become sole ruler of planet earth.
I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2017 with a degree in biological sciences. My undergraduate research focused on the development of an optical clearing and multi-channel immunostaining technique for imaging thick human pancreatic samples for 3D analysis of endocrine islets and the role they play in diabetes progression. I am now interested in understanding the role of stem cells in the development and maintenance of tissues at different stages of life, from early embryonic development to adulthood. Outside of the lab, I enjoy being outdoors either swimming, hiking, climbing or snowboarding.
I received a B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University in 2017. As an undergraduate, I worked with Dr. Laura Grabel on the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into inhibitory interneurons. I also spent two summers studying Angelman Syndrome and Prader-Willi Syndrome using induced pluripotent stem cell models in the joint groups of Dr. Marc Lalande and Dr. Stormy Chamberlain at UConn Health. At Stanford, I aim to study developmental neurobiology through the lens of stem cell models and to apply this knowledge to novel therapies. When I’m not in lab, you can find me gleefully walking dogs, singing show tunes, or drinking lots of tea!
Laura Cristina Amaya Hernandez
I completed my degree in Biotechnology Engineering in Mexico followed by a Master’s in Biotechnology at the University of San Francisco. I interned at Distributed Bio under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Glanville, and in collaboration with Dr. Sarah Taylor from Clonetech Laboratories, Inc. I worked on characterizing the diversity of BCR and TCR repertoires among Hodgkins and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas. I also worked in the laboratory of Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo and Dr. Rosa Bacchetta at Stanford University investigating T cell development and plasticity through single-cell mass cytometry to better understand immune dysregulations. Outside the lab, I love Latin dance and I am mad about movies!
I received my B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology and Master’s in Biology at California State University. During my undergraduate career at Cal State Northridge, I conducted research in Dr. Jonathan Kelber’s Developmental Oncogene lab studying the mechanisms governing breast and pancreatic cancer. I continued in the Kelber lab for my Master’s thesis examining novel regulators of regeneration in the zebrafish caudal fin. At Stanford, I aim to continue my interest in stem cell biology as a potential therapy for degenerative diseases.
Second Year Students
I graduated in 2014 with a B.S. in biology from George Mason University and subsequently completed a postbaccalaureate fellowship at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH. As an undergrad, I studied the role of microRNA regulation on Drosophila dendrite formation in Dr. Daniel Cox's lab. I then worked on building human iPSC models of orphan lysosomal storage disorders at the NIH in Dr. Wei Zheng's lab. I love good coffee, finding fun places to eat, and singing in the lab when no one is listening!
Francis Aguisando works in the Nusse lab
I received my B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University in 2012. After graduating, I worked in Dr. Richard Sherwood's lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where I researched methods for directed stem cell reprogramming.
I am currently investigating how epigenetic signatures correlate with macrophage phagocytic phenotypes in Dr. Irv Weissman's lab. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, cooking, and playing piano.
Amira Barkal works in the Weissman Lab
Pieter Andries Both
I am a native South African who immigrated to Mississippi as a child, where I studied Biochemistry and Mathematics. My favorite food is lamb, and my favorite enzyme is telomerase. My research interest is the relationship between aging and change in tissue specific stem cells' ability to renew and differentiate.
Pieter Andries Both works in the Rando lab
I completed my degree in Biochemical Engineering at University College London and am interested in the theme of stem cell bioprocessing to overcome challenges in seeing cell therapies translated to the clinic. Since then, I've been back home in sunny Singapore working to develop an in vitro platform for erythropoiesis and through the Onestart Europe Accelerator, had the chance to explore issues such as market accessibility and IP landscaping for emerging biomedical technologies. Since the PhD is starting, my love for a good cook-out will likely morph into food appreciation at haunts around the bay area. I also look forward to exploring the great outdoors in California!
Esmond Lee works in the Roncarolo lab
I received my B.S. from Brown University where I concentrated in Biology. After graduating, I began doing research at Harvard in George Church’s lab and worked on a project editing iPSCs and differentiating them into neurons to study Alzheimer’s disease. Now I am in the Porteus Lab studying genome editing in embryonic stem cells using AAV6-mediated editing. Outside of science, I love to sing and play my electric guitar. I recently got this loop pedal and it is my favorite thing in the world!
Renata Martin works in the Porteus lab
I received my B.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford and studied mechanisms of normal and pathological hematopoiesis in Irv Weissman’s Lab. Now, I study regulators of homeostatic phagocytosis in the periphery and CNS in the context of aging and disease in Tony Wyss-Coray’s lab. I am a native Californian and enjoy tennis, smoked salmon, and Belgian culture.
John Pluvinage works in the Wyss-Coray lab
I received my B.A. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley in 2014. During my time at Berkeley, I worked in Dr. Daniela Kaufer’s lab researching how stress affects neural stem cell development through signaling in the stem cell niche. After graduating, I worked in Dr. Theo Palmer’s lab investigating how genetic risk factors and environmental risk factors can synergize to increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders in a developing fetus. As a student at Stanford, I am interested in further exploring neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration, and tumor formation in hopes of applying my learning to address diseases and disorders in human health. Outside of lab, I enjoy long distance running, hiking, and exploring creative methods of urban gardening.
Jennifer Su works in the Palmer lab
Ericka von Kaeppler
I am an MD/PhD student born and raised in the Bay Area. After earning my B.S. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology from Yale University, I spent a year researching bone healing and regeneration in the lab of Jill Helms. I am interested in the interface of bone biology and the inflammatory response, and will be studying the osteoimmunology of osteoarthritis. As a former athlete, I am an avid sports fan and can often be found at Stanford football and basketball games.
Ericka von Kaeppler works in the Robinson lab
Joy Qiyue He
I'm from St Louis so I love my Cardinals (and my Cardinal!) :) Interested in combination immunotherapies for high grade gliomas, and a better understanding of brain cancer/cancer stem cells/the CSC niche/etc. I love to play tennis and love to run, which fortunately offsets how much I love to make yummy delicious food, and more importantly, eat it! Always down to chat about science, food, and life.
Joy Qiyue He works in the Weissman Lab
Third Year Students
Originally from a small town in eastern Arizona, I attended ASU for undergrad before moving to the Bay Area to try my hand at research. Specifically, I was interested in studying the complexity of human development. Using human pluripotent stem cells, I am currently working on uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which a unique form of intracellular glycosylation, termed O-GlcNAcylation, regulates neural induction. Analogues to phosphorylation, this post-translational modification is implicated in a number of diseases and disorders that range from diabetes to neurodegeneration. Characterizing and developing methods to manipulate the O-GlcNAcylated state of proteins will allow for a new generation of future diagnostics and therapeutics to be produced. When I’m not working in lab you can bet I’m enjoying my family or golfing.
Ian Blong works in the Bertozzi lab
I received a B.S. in Neural Science from New York University in 2015.
My intrepid venture into science began with a stint in Joseph LeDoux’s lab at the Center for Neural Science at NYU, studying the role of the amygdala and how the brain learns and stores information about danger. Desiring to do something more translational, I transitioned over to Dimitris Placantonakis’s lab at NYU’s Medical Center and studied the role of IDH mutations and cancer stem cells in gliomas. My summers were spent at Vanderbilt and University of Michigan doing pharmacology and induced pluripotent stem cell work with Alfred George and Jack Parent. I hope my contributions to science will help us learn about clinical therapies for neuropsychiatric disorders and improve the lives of people living with them.
Outside of the lab, I primarily focus on bulking and cutting seasons, macros, and watching the Indianapolis Colts win football games. I aim to read one book a month, usually. Sometimes I cook, but more often I am enjoying the wide array of food in the bay area, especially tacos.
Themasap Khan works in the Pasca lab
I first studied transcription factor dynamics in AML as a member Jay Hess’s lab at the University of Michigan, where I received a B.S. in Cellular & Molecular Biology and Mathematics. Now, I hope to study transcriptional biology in rare cell populations in the brain and apply this knowledge towards CNS tumor oncogenesis and developmental biology.
Surya Nagaraja works in the Monje lab
I received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame in 2015. During my time at Notre Dame I worked in Dr. David Hyde's lab, which studies retinal regeneration in zebrafish. My project examined the increase in rod precursor cells (the cells that give rise to rod photoreceptors) following dark adaptation. At Stanford, I am interested in investigating cell fate determination and differentiation during skin development. Understanding of these processes will aid in the creation of cells safe for patient use in new regenerative medicine therapies.
Samantha Piekos works in the Oro lab
I am a veterinarian seeking to advance our understanding of cardiovascular disorders. I received my BS at Texas A&M in 2008, followed by a DVM at the University of Illinois in 2012. Several years of practice as an emergency and critical care clinician at a large specialty practice showed me there is a huge demand for ever-increasing quality of care and effective therapies for companion animals. Stem cells offer a unique way to address this demand through better through disease modeling, regenerative therapies, and the development of individualized treatment plans. My goal is to utilize stem cells as a way to understand how the cardiovascular system responds to events such as chemotherapy in order to better understand how to manage and avoid the cardiovascular complications which frequently arise during treatment. While I have a veterinary background, I hope that my research will translate to augmentation and increased safety of cancer therapy in both humans and animals.
I received my B.S in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology and a minor in Biomedical Research from UCLA in 2015. As an undergraduate I conducted research on X chromosome reactivation in the context of somatic cell reprogramming in the laboratory of Dr. Kathrin Plath in the Department of Biological Chemistry. I have lived in California my whole life and I love enjoying the nice weather by relaxing outside, dancing traditional hula, and trying new cuisines.
Fourth Year Students
Bahareh Haddad Derafshi
I am very excited to join the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, PhD program. In my research, I intend to study epigenetic regulation in neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. I also want to study the regulation of chromatin in neurons. In particular, I want to investigate the effect of deregulation in chromatin remodeling complexes, a process that occurs in many neurodevelopmental disorders. I want to study chromatin architecture and follow epigenetic deregulation at all stages along the path to synapse dysfunction. Stem cells will allow me to create a platform to study this. They will also help me to understand the early stages of disease and ultimately to identify therapeutic targets.
Bahareh Haddad Derafshi works in the Wernig lab
I am an MD/PhD student in the Stanford’s Medical Scientist Training Program. I started doing research as an undergraduate student at the University of Washington in the lab of Matt Kaeberlein studying the metabolic regulation of aging in C. elegans. I later worked in Professor Suzie Pun's lab investigating drug delivery vehicles for chemotherapeutics. Since coming to Stanford two years ago, I have become interested in neural stem cells, particularly how they are regulated and how their function is degraded or changed with age. As a member of Anne Brunet's lab, I use FACS sorting techniques to isolate neural stem cells and study their function using novel genomic approaches. During my free time, I like to spend time outdoors, rock climbing, skiing, biking, or running.
Ben Dulken works in the Brunet lab
I have always loved science because it makes use of my worst and most abundant qualities. Where else is an annoying smart aleck that questions everything going to find meaningful employment, for long? In science, the experiment is always right. So no matter what I do, so long as I am logical and respect the tenants of empiricism, I must be taken seriously. Where else can you find a similar deal? In what other institution can a neophyte speak truth to power, and succeed?
Following my love of science I attended a string of public institutions where I studied immunology, genetics, virology, cancer biology, and stem cell biology. I was awarded a B.S. from UCLA and an M.S. from SFSU for my work. I am eager to begin my studies as the research being conducted at Stanford is absolutely tantalizing.
Carl Johnson works in the Jackson lab
I first became interested in stem cell biology at Harvard, where I majored in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology. I worked in Stephen Haggarty’s lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I used human cell-derived neurons to investigate the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. At Stanford, I hope to take advantage of the ability of induced pluripotent stem cells to model diseases in a genetically-relevant context to uncover disease mechanisms that can ultimately lead to new therapies. When I’m not in lab, I like to explore local shops and restaurants, as well as stay active by running and playing sports.
Nina Kosaric works in the Gurtner lab
I received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. As an undergraduate, I conducted research on zebrafish retinal regeneration in Dr. David Hyde’s laboratory. My project focused specifically on the nuclear migration of Muller glial cells as part of the regenerative response. I also spent a summer at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where I worked in Dr. Christopher Hammell’s lab conducting an RNAi screen on C. elegans developmental timing mutants. Outside of the lab, I like to paint, run, and enjoy the California weather.
Rebecca Marton works in the Pasca lab
I received a B.A. in biochemistry and mathematics from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 2014. My undergraduate research involved characterizing phenotypic and genotypic changes in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans due to host-pathogen interaction. I am interested in the translational aspect of stem cell biology including therapeutics and tissue engineering. Outside of research, I enjoy cooking, social dancing, and reading novels.
Wai Sarifa works in the Porteus lab
I am a California native and grew up in the central valley. I attended UC Santa Cruz where I earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During my time at UC Santa Cruz, I conducted research in the Kamakaka lab where I studied the interactions between proteins involved in double stand break repair and proteins involved in silencing.
At Stanford I am interested in studying the regulation of chromatin for maintaining pluripotency as well as the changes that occur during differentiation.
Chris Still works in the Qi lab
I witnessed the need for regenerative medicine while serving 11 years in the military as a Combat Medic. Studying between tours, I received a BS in Molecular Biology at the University of WI Madison. The next couple years were spent at the Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics characterizing membrane proteins associated with a variety of diseases. Currently, I am a PhD student in the Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine program where I hope to discover new transcription factors and small molecules involved in cellular programming and characterize their impacts on cell fate.
Fabian Suchy works in the Nakauchi lab
Fifth Year Students
I began my research in stem cell biology as an undergraduate in the lab of Dr. Kevin Eggan at Harvard where I studied alternative methods for reprogramming somatic cells to pluripotency and directly to other adult states. These included using small molecules to make iPSCs as well as using transcription factors to produce induced motor neurons for studying ALS. I also investigated the role that the pluripotency-related transcription factor Nanog plays in inducing the pluripotent state during reprogramming. I am interested in continuing to study cell state conversions and their role in disease in order to create cells that are safe for patient use in regenerative medicine. I hope to do this by studying major stem cell signaling networks as well as epigenetic dynamics.
Ava Carter works in the Chang lab.
I received my BS from the University of Denver in 2010 where I majored in Molecular Biology and minored in Business, Chemistry and Psychology. During my undergraduate studies I worked in a neuroscience research laboratory studying calcium signaling dynamics in Purkinje cells (a neuronal cell type found in the cerebellum).
After graduating I began working full time in a lab at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The primary focus of my research was to investigate pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) caused by the parasite Schistosoma Mansoni. We worked with a mouse model of this disease and our goal was to identify and characterize signaling pathways relevant to the development of pathogenic inflammation and pulmonary vascular remodeling in Schistosomiasis associated PAH. We utilized multiple different knock-out mouse lines as well as small molecule inhibitors and pharmacological interventions in order to investigate the pathways underlying the development of this disease.
I am very excited to be joining the Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine PhD program at Stanford. I think this field has the potential to see extraordinary growth in the coming 10-20 years, and the possible impact that stem cell-based technologies and treatments hold for the future of medicine is very exciting. I am interested in cancer stem cells and bioinformatics, and I hope to build upon my prior research experience by exploring new fields and techniques in order to pursue a career as a translational scientist.
I am also interested in business and entrepreneurship, and outside of the lab I enjoy doing almost anything in the outdoors. Skiing, fly fishing, and playing hockey are some of my favorite hobbies and I also enjoy travelling whenever I can.
I received my B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Stony Brook University, where I studied how radiation exposure damages stem cells within the bone marrow. I am interested in analyzing how stem cells respond to injury and promote regeneration. Ultimately, I hope to apply this knowledge by developing stem cell therapies to repair neurological damage.
James Lennon works in the Monje lab.
As an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I became interested in both the biology of aging and computational biology. I soon began research modeling the effects of oxidation on amyloid beta aggregation, as well as investigating the association of SNPs in miRNAs with longevity. After graduating in 2012, I moved to the Buck Institute to study the interplay between cellular senescence and cancer. I have since developed an interest in stem cell aging, as well as repairing age related damage with stem cells.
Nick Schaum works in the Wyss-Coray lab.
I received a B.S. in Biological Engineering from MIT in 2013. During my undergraduate studies, I worked in Tyler Jacks' lab investigating nanoparticle delivery of a tumor suppressor microRNA, miR-34a, and a short interference RNA, siKras, to suppress lung cancer development in mice. I also spent a summer in David Schaffer's lab at UC Berkeley working with mice to explore the effect of upregulation of the mTOR pathway on uncontrolled proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells. In addition to research, I enjoy playing soccer, baking, and traveling. As a native from Palo Alto, I'm excited to be back in the Bay Area!
Sabina Sood works in the Crabtree lab.
I received a BS degree in Molecular Life Science (2011) and a MS degree in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (2013) from Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands. During my undergraduate studies I worked with Ben Berkhout, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam, on mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the components of mother’s milk that inhibit transmission.
I started my MS with researching Aquaporin 2 trafficking in the collecting duct of the kidney in Peter Deen’s laboratory at Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences. For my MS thesis work, I joined the laboratory of Konrad Hochedlinger at Massachusetts General Hospital to study the role of epigenetic modulators, both proteins and long non-coding (lnc)RNAs, in transcription factor-mediated reprogramming to pluripotency.
My research interests are embryonic and adult stem cells, and the epigenetic mechanisms of cell identity determination during development. I am particularly intrigued by directed cell fate conversions using (trans-)differentiation and reprogramming, and I would like to apply genome-wide profiling and bioinformatics methods to develop novel protocols for targeted differentiation. Ultimately, I hope to aid the development of autologous cell therapies for the treatment of hematologic disorders.
Daniel Wesche works in the Weissman lab.
Fields of interest include: 1) Site-specific differentiation and reprogramming of stem cells into progenitor cells for human tissue regeneration without eliciting an immune or tumor response; this includes the use of intracellular factors such as the upregulation of certain genes or extracellular factors such as growth factors. 2) Discovery of antibodies or other therapeutic molecules that can target cancer stem cells.
Elizabeth Chen works in the Clarke lab.
My first research project, in Dr. Bunza's lab in the Radiation Oncology Department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, dealt with the infamous p53 gene and its interactions with ATR and ATM. The results suggested that ATR inhibition might selectively kill p53-deficient tumor cells after DNA damaging therapy, thus warranting efforts to identify specific chemical inhibitors of ATR to improve therapy.
After completing this project, I became interested in Neuroscience and worked in Dr. Demasâ€™s lab in the Neuroscience Department at St. Olaf College. In order to study the pupillary light reflex, we constructed a contraption to stimulate the eye of a mouse with varying light intensities and simulated noise while recording the area of the pupil with a high-speed camera. Following graduation, I was given the opportunity to study leprosy in India for nine months where I focused on a project that examined the possibility of leprosy transmission from soil or water to humans. Furthermore, I was able to study some of the psychological effects of the stigma and discuss possible initiatives to reduce experienced and perceived discrimination.
I am now looking forward to focusing all my attention on the stem cell and regenerative medicine field. Not only is it a longstanding interest of mine, but I believe it has the potential to revolutionize the medical field by developing a completely new set of therapies. Although I am most fascinated by tissue-level processes and applications, I have also always been interested in neural stem cells and their integration into the brain.
Bogi Conrad works in the Yang lab.
I grew up in a small town in the California's Central Valley. I majored in Bioengineering at UCSD and worked summers in a national park. My research interests are in stem cell interactions with the immune system and my research so far has predominantly focused on Dengue virus immunology.
Tyler Prestwood works in the Engleman lab.
Laughing Bear Torres
I am interested in examining the development of differentiated cell types as dictated by epigenetic modification of the genome. By modeling and studying these changes in human pluripotent stem cell derived lineages I hope to understand how these modifications influence the development of diseased phenotypes.
Laughing Bear Torres works in the Weissman lab.
I am excited to uncover the molecular mechanisms of cell fate control with the goal of applying these insights to therapy. Recent work has demonstrated the potential of reprogramming, but I believe we must understand the molecular mechanisms and dynamics of cell fate transitions if we will ever apply this approach to creating safe, functional cells in medicine. I would like to apply synthetic biology tools to ask questions that integrate multiple layers of regulation, including noncoding RNA, epigenetics, and transcription factor networks.
Adam Rubin works in the Khavari lab.
I am interested in the mechanism of germ cell determination; the natural process for passing on pluripotency. I focused on the key RNA binding protein, DAZL, and analyzed its downstream targets.
Yungxiao Zhang works in the Beachy lab.