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Meet the 2021 MSTP Summer Scholars!

Posted by on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Student Spotlight .

This summer the Vanderbilt MSTP is hosting 7 undergraduate MSTP Summer Scholars. This summer program is designed to expose students from diverse backgrounds to the career of a physician-scientist and help prepare them to apply to MD/PhD programs. These students are on campus for 9 weeks completing a research project and gaining clinical shadowing experience. In addition, they have many opportunities to connect with and learn from current MSTP students, the MSTP Leadership Team, and Vanderbilt physician-scientists. Get to know a bit more about these students below and say “hi” when you see them around campus!







Mariah Antopia
Undergraduate Institution: The University of Texas at San Antonio
Year: Rising Junior
Major: Biology
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
What are you working on this summer? This summer I am conducting bioinformatic research in Dr. Eric Gamazon’s lab. I will be applying network methodologies to single cell RNA sequencing datasets of hematopoietic stem cells to identify disease-related gene clusters/subnetworks that are associated to hematopoietic diseases, specifically Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS).
Fun fact: I started dancing at 3 years old and danced for a total of 11 years.


Briah Barksdale
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Year: Rising senior
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Glen Burnie, Maryland
What are you working on this summer? I am working in Dr. Maria Hadjifrangiskou’s lab, she is a faculty member in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology. We investigating the contributions of different acid mechanisms and their effect on UroPathogenic Escherichia coli survival under acidic conditions.
Fun fact: Thrusters are my favorite CrossFit movement.





Jacob Brooks
Undergrad Institution: Howard University
Year: Rising Senior
Major: Biology major, math and chemistry double minor
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
What are you working on this summer: I am working in the lab of Dr. Julie Rhoades. My project centers around looking to see if we can identify a predictive marker of acquired drug resistance or tumor recurrence in soft tissue sarcoma patient tumors.
Fun fact: I ride a motorcycle.


Malik McRae
Undergraduate Institution: Morehouse College
Year: Rising Junior
Major: Biology
Hometown: Prince George’s County, Maryland
What are you working on this summer?: This summer I am working in Dr. Edward Sherwood’s lab to determine if innate immune training, using MPLA, affects the bactericidal activity of macrophages. These findings can help to better understand and construct novel therapies in the prevention of sepsis in immunocompromised patients.
Fun fact: I play three instruments, the trumpet, piano, and drums. 




Emily Miller
Undergraduate Institution: Furman University
Year: Senior
Major: Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Culture Minor
Hometown: Corbin, KY
What are you working on this summer?: I am working in Dr. Bill Nobis’ lab whose research focuses on sudden, unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). For my project, we are using a rodent model of Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy related to SUDEP, to examine if the odor blocking of stress with rose scent will mitigate seizure activity and comorbid aspects of Dravet Syndrome, including respiratory dysfunction and sudden death.
Fun fact: I am a bartender. 


Adrian Othon
Undergraduate Institution: Florida State University
Year: Spring 21’ Graduate
Major: Exercise Physiology
Hometown: Miami, Fl
What are you working on this summer? This summer I am working in the lab of Dr. Chris Williams. My project is defining SelenoP expression patterns and isoforms in the small intestine and colon via Mass Spectrometry.
Fun fact: I buy vegetables I do not enjoy and force myself to eat them until I do to expand my pallet. 


Jailyn Smith
Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina Central University
Year: Rising Senior
Major: Biomedical Sciences
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
What are you working on this summer? This summer I am working in Dr. Rachelle Johnson’s lab with MSTP student Courtney Edwards. We are looking at breast cancer metastasis and dormancy in the bone, specifically looking at the role of PTHrP.
Fun fact: I am currently learning ASL.