2016 -2020 Program Fellows

Victor A Cazares
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Michigan 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Geoffrey Murphy, Ph.D.

Victor is interested in how genetic variation leads to differences in processing and learning of environmental stimuli. His current work explores how differences in genetic strain among mice can result in different capacities for learning. By studying the relationship between genetic strain and behavior we hope to uncover specific molecules that confer different learning phenotypes and to determine how they are affecting network level function in brain regions like the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. More broadly, he is also passionate about increasing the diversity pool of students and professionals in science.

In the Winter term of 2017, Victor will be teaching at Wayne County Community College District.


Wylie Stroberg
Ph.D., Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Northwestern University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Santiago Schnell, Ph.D. 

Using the tools of theoretical and computational biology, Wylie seeks to develop a mechanistic understanding of homeostasis and stress response in the endoplasmic reticulum. Of particular interest is determining the precise series of steps by which transmembrane proteins sense the concentration of unfolded protein within the ER lumen. The mathematical models allow for formulation of specific, experimentally-verifiable predictions, and facilitate perturbations the stress-sensing machinery that may not be feasible in a wet lab. 

In the Winter term of 2017, Wylie will be teaching at Henry Ford Community College.

2017 -2021 Program Fellows

Jennifer Judge
Ph.D., Toxicology, University of Rochester

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Susan Brooks, Ph.D. 

Jennifer is a first year IRACDA fellow who joins us after obtaining her Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Rochester. Under mentorship from Susan Brooks, Jennifer is interested in studying how aging and oxidant imbalances impact muscle responses to injury and subsequent regeneration.  By using transgenic mouse models that accelerate the aging process through increased ROS production, we are able to interrogate the cellular and molecular mechanisms leading to aging-related declines in muscle function and performance.  Understanding the molecular underpinnings of how ROS can impact muscle degeneration will potentially lead to novel interventions to combat aging-associated muscle deficits. 

She is teaching Anatomy and Physiology I at Henry Ford College under mentorship of Dr. Greg Karapetian for the 2017 Fall semester.


Zoe Thompson
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of California, Riverside

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Malcolm J. Low, M.D., Ph.D. 

Zoe is a first-year IRACDA fellow, studying neurons in the hypothalamus that express the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) gene. These neurons are important in the control of food intake, energy expenditure and body weight. She plans to use genetic techniques to trace the inputs to these neurons in order to understand more about the neural circuits involved in energy balance. These circuits are likely changed in obesity, Type II diabetes, and other disorders where feeding behavior is altered.

In the Winter term of 2018, Zoe is working with Dr. Desiree Meyers at the Downriver campus of Wayne County Community College District.


Neda Nourabadi
Ph.D., Biology with Minor in Applied Statistics, New Mexico State University

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentors: Dan Beard Ph.D. and Lonnie Shea Ph.D. 

Neda is a first year IRACDA postdoctoral scholar. The goals of her research project are to determine computational models for gene transcription regulation in cancer cells during development of resistance to chemotherapy, and using developed models to design strategies to delay or reverse drug resistance. This is an exciting collaborative research work involving experiments conducted in Dr. Shea lab and computational modeling of conducted experiments in Dr. Beard lab.

In the Winter term of 2018, Neda will be teaching at Henry Ford College with Dr. Charles Jacobs.


Delawrence J. Sykes
Ph.D., Ecology Evolution and Behavior, Indiana University Bloomington

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Jacek Debiec, M.D., Ph.D. 

Delawrence is a first-year IRACDA fellow studying the neurobiological mechanisms of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) using a rat model. The goal of his research is to understand the impact of ECT on memory reconsolidation of fear conditioning; and identify the underlying neural, nonspecific, factors associated with the process of reconsolidation. Although ECT has been used since 1937 to treat depression, schizophrenia, and catatonia our understanding of how (mechanistically) a weak shock administered under anesthesia impacts memory in humans is still extremely limited.

In the fall semester of 2017, Delawrence is working with Dr. Christian Nwamba at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College District.