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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.

Student Alumni


Kristie Aamodt, BS, Brigham Young University

MD PhD Student, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Powers laboratory.


    William Reid Bolus, BS

    Graduate Student, Alyssa Hasty laboratory, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

    I study the role of eosinophils in adipose tissue homeostasis, specifically during periods of weight gain or weight loss. In particular, I seek to understand how eosinophils impact key aspects of adipose tissue physiology such as macrophage inflammatory state, vascularization, extracellular matrix remodeling, and adipocyte insulin sensitivity.

    • : Light Hall


    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.


    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. 


        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.


        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.


            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.


            Merla Hubler, MS

            MD PhD Student, Hasty laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

            I am studying the role of macrophages in maintaining iron homeostasis in adipose tissue. Specifically, we have identified a subset of resident macrophages that compensate for excess iron in the tissue. We are currently interested in depleting this population of macrophages in order to assess their importance in maintaining the health of adipocytes. In future studies we will address the importance of iron handling by macrophages in obesity, and the temporal distribution of iron in adipose tissue and liver tissues.


            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


              Peter Allerton Kropp, BA

              Graduate Student, Gannon laboratory, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

              I am interested in understanding the role of the transcription factor Oc1 (Onecut1) in pancreas development and disease. Oc1 is essential for development of the endocrine pancreas, so I am investigating its interaction its cofactor Pdx1 in that role. I have thus far determined that proper dosage of both Oc1 and Pdx1 is necessary for endocrine cell differentiation and that defects established during development persist into adulthood. I am further interested in identifying the direct targets of Oc1 during pancreas development since so little is known about its direct regulatory role.

              • : 7435 MRB IV


              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.


                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, Michigan State University
                  Currently: Industrial Postdoctoral Fellow


                  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.


                    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