Fellows

2018 -2022 Program Fellows

Lauren Jepsen
Ph.D., Bioinformatics, University of Michigan

Postdoctoral Fellow, Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: David Sept, Ph.D. 

Research Interest: Lauren is studying how the sequence of actin effects its structure and dynamics through the use of both accelerated and conventional molecular dynamics. She has been exploring how the nucleotide hydrolysis and interaction with actin binding partners (ABP) – as either a monomer (G-actin) or polymer (F-actin), and how the nucleotide state, a key determinant for the affinity of ABP and polymerization, effects monomer dynamics. This is being done through the use of tools such as principal component and network analysis. Similar tools are being used to analyze the effects of polymerization on ADP muscle actin. She is also interested in the consequences of point mutations within actin’s pathogenic helix (residues 1135-125).  

Holly Turula
Ph.D.,  Immunology, University of Michigan

Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbiology & Immunology Mentor:   Joel Swanson, Ph.D.

Research Interest: 

Research Interest: Macropinocytosis is an endocytic process in which extracellular fluids are
internalized into the cell. The large vesicles, termed macropinosomes, then deliver their
contents to the lysosome to aid in cell metabolism and growth. Using wide-field fluorescence
microscopy based techniques, Holly is currently investigating the mechanisms by which Src-
Family Kinases (SFKs) regulate macropinosome formation in both macrophages and
fibroblasts. In collaboration with Dr. Karginov at the University of Illinois she will manipulate
SFKs activation and assess the macropinocytosis signaling cascade to localize SFKs activity in
relation to essential known components.

During the Winter 2019 term Holly is partnered with Dr. Jolie Stepaniak in teaching Cell and
Molecular biology at Henry Ford College.

 

Elizabeth Duran
Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Alabama

Postdoctoral Fellow, Chemistry
Mentor: Nils G. Walter, Ph.D.

Research Interest: 

Research Interest: In all eukaryotes, the introns of newly transcribed precursor messenger RNAs (pre-mRNAs) are removed and the exons ligated to form mature messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in a process known as splicing. Pre-mRNA splicing is orchestrated by the spliceosome, a macromolecular machine consisting of >100 proteins and five small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs). Instead of existing as a pre-assembled complex, the spliceosome is gradually built onto each pre-mRNA substrate and transitions through a number of complex rearrangements to precisely identify and juxtapose splice sites with each round of splicing. The kinetics of each such rearrangement and the proteins that control them govern splicing fidelity and specificity. Despite major advances in our understanding of splicing mechanisms, the molecular level events that govern splice site selection are currently poorly understood. In her postdoctoral research in the Walter lab, Elizabeth is using single molecule fluorescence microscopy techniques to characterize the molecular level events that govern splice site selection.

During the Winter 2019 term, Elizabeth is partnered with Samer Hanna in teaching the Introduction to Chemistry course at the WCCCD Ted Scott campus

elizabcd@umich.edu

2017 -2021 Program Fellows
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Jennifer Judge
Ph.D., Toxicology, University of Rochester

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Mentor: Susan Brooks, Ph.D. 

Research Interest:  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. 

Jennifer is currently working under mentorship of Dr. Lynnda Skidmore at WCCCD where she is working on practicing active learning strategies and course design for Anatomy and Physiology. She is also working on an teaching research project in collaboration with Victor Cazares, to test effectiveness of implementation of newly designed cardiac and muscle physiology labs at WCCCD and HFC.

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

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Malcolm J. Low, M.D., Ph.D. 

Research Interest:  Zoe is 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.

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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. 

Research Interest:  The goals of Neda’s 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.

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

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Yatrik Shah, Ph.D. 

Delawrence is a second-year IRACDA fellow. His work converges at the intersections of gastrointestinal homeostasis, inflammation, and cancer. Our bodies must respond to the metabolic challenges of a low oxygen (hypoxic) condition; however, chronic hypoxia and inflammation are attributed to the development colon cancer.Delawrence’s current project investigates the role of Itaconate (a metabolite of the TCA cycle) in regulating cellular metabolism and its dual role as an anti-inflammatory signaling molecule. A separate project explores the impact of enrichment on anxiety-like behavior in mice and the impact of enrichment on gut microbiota. Understanding how enrichment impacts the brain, behavior, and gut microbiome directs continued interest in connecting the gut-brain-microbiome axis with gastrointestinal homeostasis.
 
During the winter semester of 2019, Delawrence will be teaching at Wayne County Community College District Downtown with Dr. Christian Nwamba.
 
 
2016 -2020 Program Fellows
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Victor A Cazares
Ph.D., Neuroscience, University of Michigan 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular and Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Geoffrey Murphy, Ph.D.

Research Interest:  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.

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

Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Integrative Physiology

Mentor: Santiago Schnell, Ph.D. 

Research Interest:  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.