Trainees


Gabriel Amador

Doctoral Student, Bergman Lab

Undergraduate:  Harvard.

Graduate thesis research:  Gabriel is exploring conservation of sequence and function in polarized proteins of the eudicot stomatal lineage, such as BASL and the BRX family proteins. Although these proteins play critical roles in patterning the epidermis of Arabidopsis, their role in other species is less well understood and suggests ancestral functions that are independent of polarized localization. Gabriel is currently tracking the evolution of the various domains of these proteins, with a particular interest in the function and evolution of intrinsically disordered regions.


Veronica Behrens

Doctoral Student, Kingsley Lab

Undergraduate:  Harvard.

Graduate thesis research:  Investigating the role of 3D chromatin rearrangement in human evolution.  They know that disrupting a topologically associated domain boundary can cause human disease (a phenomenon known as TADopathy).  She is investigating whether disrupting or creating a TAD boundary can also be beneficial to humans (a phenomenon she call TADaptation).


Sierra Bowden

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate: University of Michigan.

Graduate research:  Bhatt lab.  Sierra's research background is in antibiotic biochemistry and epigenetic regulation. She joined Ami Bhatt’s lab to study the impact that metabolites and proteins produced by the gut microbiome have on host cells.


Ellen Bouchard

Doctoral Student, Talbot Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Virginia.

Graduate thesis research:  Ellen works in the Talbot lab which combines genetics with cellular and molecular biology to study the development and function of glial cells in the zebrafish embryo.  Her research focuses on the process by which oligodendrocytes myelinate the vertebrate brain, specifically by using genetics to investigate the connection between CNS myelination and environmental cues.


Trisha Chong

Doctoral Student, Shapiro Lab

Undergraduate:  Claremont McKenna.

Graduate thesis research:   Asymmetric cell division is necessary for the formation of all complex life forms.  The bacteria Caulobacter crescentus gives rise to a swarmer cell and a stalk cell with each cell division, making it one of the simplest asymmetrically dividing organisms.  Tricia's research investigates the coordinated mechanisms by which a key signaling enzyme is differentially localized in space and time during the Caulobacter cell cycle. 


Alex Colville

Doctoral Student, Rando Lab

Undergraduate:  Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University.

Graduate thesis research:  Rando Lab. Cellular senescence is a hallmark of aging and several age-related diseases. Alex is creating new methods of high-throughput screening to identify targets for therapies to selectively clear senescent cells and modify diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.


Rebecca Culver

Doctoral Student, Huang Lab

Undergraduate:  Duke University.

Graduate thesis research:  Bifidobacteria are dominant colonizers of the infant gut, though the genetics of this genera remain largely unknown. Rebecca  conducts transposon mutagenesis to create random, barcodes libraries of species in this genera.  She use these libraries to study the mechanism of secretion of health-relevant compounds, including folate.


Giovanni Haciel Diaz

Doctoral Student, Heller Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Santa Cruz.

Graduate thesis research:  Giovanni’s research is focused on the mechanisms related to noise-induced hearing loss, specifically, noise damage that induces Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). Understanding how the inner ear naturally protects/repairs itself during TTS-inducing noise damage can provide insights into permanent hearing loss and preventing sensory hair cell death. To investigate the mechanism underlying TTS, Giovanni utilizes bioinformatic tools to analyze single-cell RNA sequencing data from auditory hair cells derived from transgenic mice that have been exposed to noise trauma.

 


Laura Donohue

Doctoral Student, Khavari Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Graduate thesis research:  Epithelial tissues line the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels, the inner surface cavities of many internal organs, and make up all glands. Cis-regulatory elements called enhancers, known noncoding genomic sites of genetic variation, play a central role in modulating the expression of critical epithelial genes required for epithelial function. Lauren aims to identify functional epithelial enhancers across an array of primary human epithelial cell types and to assess how disease-associated single base pair changes within these essential enhancers impacts target gene expression.



Kelsey Fryer

Doctoral Student, Straight Lab

Undergraduate:  Cornell University.

Graduate thesis research:  Kelsey is studying how a the specialized region of chromosomes, known as the centromere, ensures proper segregation of DNA during cell division. She primarily studies centromere function and maintenance in the model system Xenopus laevis. Using a combination of biochemical assays and new sequencing technologies she hopes to further our understanding of the epigenetic and genetic factors that influence centromere formation and function. 

 


Alex Han

Doctoral Student, Parham Lab


Kathryn Hanson

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate:  Carnegie Mellon.

Graduate thesis research:  Kathryn just joined the Attardi lab and is studying the role of tumor suppressor protein p53 in pancreatic cancer. Through using mouse models of pancreatic cancer, she aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of p53 most important for tumor suppression in pancreatic cancer.


Devon Harris

Doctoral Student, Fuller Lab

Undergraduate:  Davidson College.

Graduate thesis research:  Devon is investigating the role of RNA binding proteins at the transition between mitotic divisions and meiosis in Drosophila male germ cell differentiation. 


Grace Jean

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate: Biology, University of Miami.

Graduate research: Boyd Lab (Pathology). The highly diverse human B cell repertoire is responsible for antibody production, a key component of the adaptive immune response. The Boyd lab works to characterize changes that occur in the B cell repertoire in response to different immune conditions. Grace is interested in using this capacity to understand the role of the B cell antibody repertoire in the development of ‘sensitized’ and ‘desensitized’ states in response to particular antigens, especially in the context of allergies.



Kayla Kobak (Kemp)

Doctoral Student, Baker Lab

Undergraduate:  Hanover College.

Graduate thesis research:   Trophoblast Giant Cells (TGCs), the invasive cells of the placenta, are unique in that they develop by undergoing many rounds of endoreplication and becoming extremely polypoid (up to 1000N) and massive in size. These cells are of critical importance to fetal survival as they establish the means of oxygen and nutrient exchange and release hormones that allow the mother’s body to appropriately respond to pregnancy. The function of their immense ploidy remains largely unexplored, although it has recently been linked to their invasive ability. Kayla aims to explore how chromosomal dynamics such as ploidy and chromosome architecture function within this exceptional cell type.



Yannik Lee-Yow

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate:  University of Colorado.

Yannik will be rotating labs his first year to determine his future focus.

 

 


Vy Nguyen

Doctoral Student, Kim Lab

Undergraduate:  Bowdoin College.

Graduate thesis research:  Vy investigates the mechanisms by which a decretin hormone, Neuromedin U, suppresses insulin secretion as well  as directs CAR-Tregs to pancreatic islets.



Makena  Pule

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate: Stanford University.

Graduate research:  Makena is part of the Kirkegarrd Lab, studying lncRNA regulation of the immune system. In particular, she is interested in the lncRNA IFNG-AS1 (NEST), the differential expression of which is associated with a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. 



Subheksha KC

Doctoral Student    

Undergraduate: Molecular and Cell Biology - Immunology; University of California, Berkeley. 

Graduate research: Bassik lab. Subheksha is leveraging high-throughput functional genomics to study the role of macrophage activation in cancer. 



Greg "Adam" Reeves

Doctoral Student, Brunet Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Kansas.

Graduate thesis research:  Adam has focused on leveraging the unique developmental stages of the African turquoise killifish to uncover new molecular mechanisms that support stress resistance and tissue homeostasis. This highly-stable "suspended-animation" developmental state, termed diapause, is juxtaposed to the killifish's incredibly truncated lifespan, meaning the fish is an excellent model for both extremophile phenotypes of morbidity resistance and sensitivity. Adam specifically is interrogating how changes in gene regulation and genome structure contribute to both phenotypes of the killifish and the interplay between said phenotypes.


Hannah Rosenblatt, Barna Lab

Undergraduate: University of San Diego.

Graduate thesis research:  Hannah is studying early cellular and biochemical responses to wounding in the regenerative axolotl limb. She is interested in how cells in regenerative species initially sense and respond to acute injury. Her work uses a combination of live imaging and biochemical techniques to determine the post-transcriptional mechanisms involved in initiating regenerative processes.


Sarah Stern

Doctoral Student, Fuller Lab

Undergraduate:   Biology, MIT.

Graduate thesis research:   Fuller Lab.  Adult stem cells divide asymmetrically, producing progeny that go on to differentiate and perform specialized functions. The Fuller lab seeks to understand how this differentiation process is regulated in the Drosophila male germ line. Sarah is interested in exploring both the origins and the signaling that occurs upstream of the spermatocyte-specific transcriptional program employed during spermatogenesis in flies.


Liesl Strand

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate:  Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology: University of Washington.

Graduate research:  Villeneuve Lab. Meiosis is a crucial developmental process essential for reproduction in eukaryotes, an important generator of genetic diversity, and thought to be a key innovation in the evolution of sexual reproduction. This direct role in reproduction, development, and fitness has resulted in a conserved eukaryotic process that nevertheless shows a remarkable variability across species at the genetic and cellular level. In this context, Liesl is leveraging the lab’s C. elegans expertise in a non-model nematode species to explore mechanisms driving variations on the canonical meiotic program. 


Miriam Sun

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate:  California Institute of Technology.

Graduate research:  O’Brien lab.  Miriam is studying dynamic cell behaviors in the adult Drosophila midgut, to better understand how organs respond to changing environmental inputs. 

 


Kelly Tomins

Doctoral Student, Oro Lab

Undergraduate:  Duke University.

Graduate thesis research:  Kelly  is interested in identifying epigenetics links between maternal nutrition and birth defects. In particular, she is investigating the epigenetic state of the developing human genome most sensitive to folic acid levels. She is interested in how inappropriate DNA methylation at certain genomic sites leads to abnormal gene expression resulting in cleft lip disorders and neural tube defects.


Kristen Wells

Doctoral Student, Steinmetz Lab

Undergraduate:  Colorado College.

Graduate thesis research:  Kristen has focused on using single cell sequencing to study medullary thymic epithelial cells, a population of cells in the thymus that are instrumental for deleting auto-reactive T cells. She combines experiential and computational techniques to characterize the developmental trajectory of these cells


Wendy Wenderski

Doctoral Student, Crabtree Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Santa Barbara.

Graduate thesis research:  Wendy is conducting her thesis research on chromatin mechanisms of gene regulation in the developing nervous system, and how these go awry in autism spectrum disorder.   Wendy has shown that the loss of a neuronal-specific subunit of the BAF chromatin remodeling complex is sufficient to cause recessive autism in humans as well as social deficits and repetitive behaviors in mice. She is currently working to identify the molecular and cellular functions of BAF that are directly responsible for autistic behaviors.


Ali Wilkening

Doctoral Student.

Undergraduate:   Washington University.

Ali is broadly interested in uncovering the mechanisms of developmental and adaptive gene regulation. She is currently characterizing the role nucleosome conformational change plays in these processes.


Yiu-Cheung (Eric) Wong

Doctoral Student, Fuller Lab
 

Undergraduate:  University of California San Diego.

Graduate research:  Loh Lab.  Sherry  is using stem cell and mouse models to study embryonic pattern formation. Specifically, how vascular-derived signals influence the developmental patterning of various organs.


 

 

Julia Wucherpfennig

Doctoral Student, Kingsley Lab

Undergraduate:  Wellesley College.

Graduate thesis research:  Julia studies the evolutionary genetics of gained traits in various fish species.  Specifically, she works the evolution of dorsal spine number in stickleback fish and is investigating the role that a Hox cluster plays in spine number variation within and between species.  She is also interested in the development and genetics of the leg like appendages that sea robins have developed from pectoral fin rays.


John Vaughen

Doctoral Student, Clandinin Lab

Undergraduate:  University of Chicago.

Graduate thesis research:  John studies a conserved lysosomal hydrolase, glucocerebrosidase (GBA), which plays a key role in maintaining neuron health. In humans, GBA homozygotes and heterozygotes are strongly, but not universally, predisposed to Parkinson’s disease, while homozygotes invariably develop Gaucher, a lysosomal storage disorder. This dominant but incomplete penetrance suggests that GBA acts within a complex genetic network which John is currently exploring via an unbiased genetic screen in Drosophila for GBA-modifying genes and pathways.


Sherry Zheng

Doctoral Student

Undergraduate:   University of California San Diego.

Graduate research:  Loh Lab.  Sherry  is using stem cell and mouse models to study embryonic pattern formation. Specifically, how vascular-derived signals influence the developmental patterning of various organs.