Student Alumni

This page is sparsely maintained and only students who have graduated since mid-2014 are listed. If you are a student alum and would like to be listed, please fill in this form.

  • Kristie Aamodt, BS, Brigham Young University

    MD PhD Student, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

    Powers laboratory.

  • Kayla Boortz, BS

    Graduate Student, O'Brien lab, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    I work in Richard O’Brien’s laboratory and I study glucocorticoid regulation of G6pc2 expression in islet β cells.

    8415 MRB IV
    (615) 936-1629 (lab)

  • Adrian Gabriel Cadar, BS

    Graduate Student, Hong laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    Titin, the largest known protein, is indispensable for the structural integrity and function of the cardiac sarcomere. Yet, how such a massive ~3 mDa structural protein is maintained within the highly ordered sarcomere complex, while under continuously alternating tension, is unknown. My thesis focuses on elucidating the mechanisms mediating sarcomere homeostasis in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, I generated a novel model in which I can directly visualize sarcomeric titin in order to address fundamental questions regarding titin turnover, which is critical for sarcomere homeostasis.

  • Megan Elise Capozzi, BA

    Graduate Student, John Penn Laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    I am currently studying inflammation in diabetic retinopathy in Dr. John S. Penn's Laboratory.

  • Bethany Carboneau, BA

    Graduate Student, Maureen Gannon laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    Prostaglandins are important modulators of an array of physiologic functions including insulin secretion and systemic inflammation. In the Gannon lab, I focus on the specific roles of the prostaglandin E2 receptors EP3 and EP4 and how they regulate processes involved in β-cell mass expansion. I am using pharmacological tools to examine the effects of EP3 and EP4 signaling in β-cell proliferation and β-cell survival in isolated mouse and human islets. I am also studying the effects of an EP3 antagonist and an EP4 agonist on β-cell proliferation and β-cell survival in the db/db mouse model of type 2 diabetes. 

    7425C MRB IV
    (615) 936-2676

  • Liz Conrad, BS, BA, University of Michigan

    Graduate Student, Roland Stein Laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Courtney Copeland, BS

    Graduate Student, Kenworthy Lab, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    In the Kenworthy lab, my project focuses on understanding the role of Cav-1 mutants in the pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension.

    718 Light Hall
    (615) 322-6615

  • Ken James Drake, BS, Cal State

    Graduate Student, Wikswo laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    I am a graduate student in the Wikswo lab studying the role of amino acids in cardiac ischemia and hypoxia.  

  • Amicia Elliott, PhD

    Graduate Student, David Piston's laboratory 2014, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Benjamin White & Hari Shroff at the NIMH and NIBIB
  • Jordan Taylor Feigerle, BS

    Graduate Student, Peter Weil laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

  • Liz Anne Ferrick, BS

    Graduate Student, Ron Emeson Laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    In Ron Emeson's lab, I am characterizing the physiological impact of Kv1.1 RNA editing in mice.

    8148 MRB III

    Nashville 37232
    (615) 936-1687

  • Andrea Alyssa Hill, BS, Clark Atlanta University

    Graduate Student, Alyssa Hasty laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    I work in Alyssa Hasty's laboratory where we study inflammation and obesity.

  • Nora Kayton, BS, University of Virginia

    Graduate Student, Powers laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    My thesis in the Powers laboratory addresses basic questions of diabetes pathology, specifically (1) the functional consequences of chronic hyperglycemia on human pancreatic islets in vivo, and (2) the effects of ErbB growth factors on islet growth and function

  • Michael Joshua Litt, BA

    MD PhD Student, Cone laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    In the Cone lab, I study the pathophysiology associated with deletion of the MC4R, the most common monogenetic obesity syndrome in man (1/5000 allele frequency). Using the mouse as a model organism, I am characterizing the cardiovascular, metabolic and energetic consequences that result from MC4R deletion. Observations from my research have furthered the need to identify and monitor patients with this distinct obesity syndrome.


    More broadly, my research interests include: energy metabolism, mitochondrial physiology, cardiovascular pathophysiology, pharmicogenomics, and gene environment interactions.

  • Tammy Michelle Lundblad, BS, Centre College

    Graduate Student, McGuinness laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    In the McGuinness lab, my long-term research objective involves elucidating the mechanisms whereby neuroendocrine function can be regulated by alterations in the inflammatory environment.

  • Brian Douglas McKenna, BS, James Madison University

    Graduate Student, Stein laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    In the Stein lab, I work on identifying co-regulators of Pdx-1 and their regulation of critical β-cell genes.

    723 Light Hall

  • Amanda Meyer, BA

    Graduate Student, Weil Laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    RNA Polymerase II transcriptional activation contributes importantly to the regulation of gene expression by controlling mRNA biosynthesis. A central driving force of the activation process is provided by the concerted action of a DNA-binding transfactor and at least one coactivator. I am interested in defining the transfactor-coactivator interactions required for activation. The specific goal of my current work in the Weil lab is to determine the specific domains the Rap1 transcriptional activator uses to interact with the general transcription factor TFIID to drive activation of the budding yeast S. cerevisiae ribosomal protein genes.  I combine genetic, biochemical, and biophysical approaches to accomplish this goal.

    742 RRB
    (615) 322-7008

  • Allison Elizabeth Norlander, BS

    Graduate Student, Madhur laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    My thesis project in Dr. Harrison's laboratory is centered on the role of T cells in hypertension.

  • Brian T. Palmisano, BS, BA

    MD PhD Student, Stafford lab, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    7445 MRB IV

  • Marquicia R. Pierce, PhD

    Graduate student and Postdoctoral Fellow with James May 2008-2014
    Currently: Industrial Postdoctoral Fellow, Michigan State University
  • Christopher Alan Reissaus, BS

    Graduate Student, Piston laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Clare Lindsey Spielman, BA

    Graduate Student, Neurt laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

  • Kristen Syring, BS

    Graduate Student, O'Brien laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    The prevalence type 2 diabetes (T2D) continues to increase worldwide. Multiple SNPs associated with altered risk of T2D have been identified through genome wide association studies including rs13266634 in the SLC30A8 locus, which encodes zinc transporter 8 (ZnT8). In addition, rare mutations resulting in SLC30A8 haploinsufficiency are protective against T2D. Using several mouse models, we are investigating the role that ZnT8 plays in beta cell function and the potential of ZnT8 as a therapeutic target for T2D.

    8415 MRB IV

  • Alessandro Ustione, PhD

    Research Fellow / Piston Lab, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

    Research Interest:  I am currently investigating the function of dopamine in the pancreatic islets with the goal of understanding how observed dopaminergic feedback regulates glucose stimulated insulin secretion.

    747 Light Hall
    2215 Garland Avenue
    Nashville 37232

  • Nicholas Catin Vierra, BS

    Graduate Student, Jacobson laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    The deterioration of pancreatic islet function is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In the Jacobson lab, I study the physiological functions of an islet potassium channel, TALK-1. TALK-1 is the most transcriptionally abundant potassium channel in insulin-secreting β-cells, and polymorphisms in TALK-1 are associated with an increased susceptibility for T2DM. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying TALK-1’s contributions to T2DM pathogenesis remain unclear. Using a variety of experimental approaches, including electrophysiology, calcium imaging, hormone secretion, and mouse models, we have recently found that TALK-1 channels regulate islet calcium homeostasis and insulin secretion. These findings suggest that TALK-1 could serve as a therapeutic target in T2DM.

  • Danielle Marie Walheim, BS, University of Pittsburgh

    Graduate Student, Venters laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    746 RRB

  • Ashley Silberman Williams, BS, Appalachian State University

    Graduate Student, Wasserman laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

    823 Light Hall

  • Lukasz Szczepan Wylezinski, BA

    Graduate Student, Hawiger laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics