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Students Supported by the T-32 Training Grant

current t-32 training grant

Kensey Bergdorf

CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University
Defended Dissertation from the Weiss Lab on 3/8/2022
Ph.D. Awarded: March 2022
BS and BMdS, West Virginia University (2018)


    Kennady Bullock

    Graduate Student, Richmond Laboratory
    BS, Vanderbilt University

    I grew up in Colorado and moved to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt University for my undergraduate studies in Molecular/Cellular Biology. I’m currently a graduate student in Dr. Ann Richmond’s lab. My research is focused on the development of novel combination therapies that will make triple negative breast tumors more responsive to immunotherapies. My research also involves the development of patient-derived organoid models that allow for efficient testing of drug combinations, and I’m interested in developing better model systems that will allow pre-clinical findings to have more relevance to clinical applications.

    Laura Geben (formerly Winalski)

    Graduate Student, Ihrie Laboratory
    BS, Georgia Institute of Technology (2017)

    Laura grew up in West Virginia and earned her degree in Biochemistry from Georgia Tech where she completed 4 years of analytical chemistry research. She joined the lab of Rebecca Ihrie
    at Vanderbilt where she studies growth cell signaling in neural stem cells using both animal and cell culture models and a variety of single-cell experimental techniques.
    Her thesis work focuses on understanding mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in neural stem cells in the developing brain. Such cells have been shown to be the
    potential cell of origin for a number of pediatric brain tumors. Specifically, Laura studies the contribution of aberrant mTOR signaling to the development of brain tumors in patients with Tuberous Sclerosis complex, a genetic developmental disease that affects 1 in every 6,000 newborns. Her thesis work will further the field’s knowledge of the mechanisms of
    brain tumor development and offer insights into when and how to therapeutically intervene in the clinic.

    Matthew Jenkins

    Graduate Student, Ferrell Laboratory
    BS, Lee University (2016)

    I grew up in Soddy-Daisy, TN and attended Lee University, where I graduated with a degree in Health Science and conducted clinical research on NCAA Division II athletes. After graduation, I spent a year working for Colleen Niswender in the Vanderbilt (now Warren) Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. I completed my IGP year in 2019 and joined the Ferrell lab, where I am studying the role of the DNA demethylase Tet2 in inflammation and myeloid malignancy.

    Matthew Murphy

    Graduate Student, Murray Laboratory
    PharmD, Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy (2019)
    BS, Lipscomb University (2016)

    The Murray laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac arrythmias. My project seeks to understand the contribution of oxidative stress toward inflammation-mediated atrial fibrillation (AF). As such, I am investigating the ability of a targeted oxidative stress scavenger (2-hydroxybenzylamine) to prevent AF. My studies may identify a novel therapeutic strategy to treat AF in the setting of inflammation.

    Bretton Nabit

    Graduate Student, Winder and Conn Laboratories
    BS, Rider University (2017)

    Amy Stark

    Graduate Student, Penn Laboratory
    BS, Iowa State University (2019)

    I grew up in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois, and I earned my BS in Genetics from Iowa State University in 2019. I began in Vanderbilt’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Fall 2019, subsequently joining the Pharmacology Graduate Program and Dr. John Penn’s laboratory. In my thesis work, I study the contribution of prostanoids to retinal inflammation and the therapeutic potential of prostanoid receptor antagonists in early-stage diabetic retinopathy.

    Laura Teal

    Graduate Student, Jones Laboratory
    BA, BS, Hope College (2017)

    My research with the Jones Laboratory focuses on development of novel treatments for opioid use disorder by understanding the distribution and mechanism of the M5 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. This involves both investigating basic biology of the receptor as well as testing tool compounds in behavioral models.

    Jennifer Zachry

    Graduate Student, Calipari Laboratory
    BS, Washington and Lee University (2017)

    I am a graduate student in the Calipari lab, where I utilize in vivo optogenetics, fiber photometry calcium imaging, and single photon single-cell calcium imaging, to determine the precise information that is encoded within genetically defined neuronal populations in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in adaptive states. A main goal of my studies is to understand how our brain integrates information about environmental stimuli to guide future decision-making and to provide foundational evidence for the specific changes that occur under conditions that lead to maladaptive and disease states.

    previous t-32 training grant

    Jenny Aguilar

    CURRENT POSITION: Consultant, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
    Defended Dissertation from the Konradi Laboratory on 3/23/20
    BA, Princeton University (2011)

      Joseph Balsamo

      Defended Dissertation from the Bachmann Laboratory on 5/20/22
      BS, James Madison University (2015)

      Brian Bender

      CURRENT POSITION: Senior Scientist, Sosei Heptares
      Defended Dissertation from the Meiler Laboratory on 11/01/2018
      Ph.D. Awarded: November 2018
      BA, Colgate University (2011)

        Benjamin Coleman

        CURRENT POSITION: Analyst, Proactive Worldwide
        Defended Dissertation from the Grueter Laboratory on 12/17/2021
        Ph.D. Awarded: January 2022
        BS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (2015)

          Mark Crowder

          Graduate Student, Collins Laboratory
          BA, Fisk University (2015)

          The most well-known function of adipose tissue (or fat) is store energy in the form of lipids for use during periods of nutrient deprivation. However, excess storage of lipids in the adipose tissue is well-known to cause diseases such as diabetes and obesity. All fat, however, isn’t bad.  A specialized type of adipose tissue, brown adipose tissue (BAT), metabolizes its stored lipids to produce heat in a process known as thermogenesis. The amount and metabolic activity of BAT is positively associated with reduced percent body fat and improved insulin sensitivity, key indicators of metabolic health in humans. It is well known that sympathetic innervation to BAT (i.e., norepinephrine agonizing b-adrenergic receptors [b-ARs] on the brown adipocyte cell surface) can both maintain and enhance the thermogenic function of BAT. My thesis work is to characterize the role of a non-canonical effector of b-AR signaling, a kinase, in BAT thermogenesis. Using genetically modified mice as a primary model, I hypothesize that loss of this kinase in BAT will enhance thermogenesis in response to b-AR activation. Given the established link between BAT thermogenesis and metabolic health, the data generated from this work will provide a foundation for future studies aimed at reducing the burden of obesity, diabetes and their associated co-morbidities on our society.

          Claire DelBove

          CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Researcher, Vanderbilt University
          Defended Dissertation from the Zhang Laboratory on 06/29/2018
          Ph.D. Awarded: July 2018
          BS, Rhodes College (2011)

            Blake Dieckmann

            M.S., (2016)

              Andrew Feigley

              CURRENT POSITION: Chemist, U.S. Department of Labor
              MS, Vanderbilt University, Hudson Laboratory (2019)
              BS, York College of Pennsylvania (2015)

                Eric Figueroa

                CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, San Francisco
                Defended Dissertation from the Denton Laboratory on 10/12/2020
                BS, University of Arizona (2014)

                  Nicole Fisher

                  Defended Dissertation from the Niswender Laboratory on 10/15/2020
                  Ph.D. Awarded: October 2020
                  BS, Miami University (2014)

                    Andrea Flores

                    Graduate Student, Arinze laboratory (Meharry Medical College Student)
                    BS, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas (2006)

                      Oakleigh Folkes

                      CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Yale University
                      BA, Vanderbilt University (2013)
                      Defended Dissertation from the Patel Laboratory on 1/07/2020

                        Elizabeth Gibson

                        CURRENT POSITION: Senior Research Investigator, Bristol Myers Squibb
                        Ph.D. Awarded: February 2019
                        Defended Dissertation from the Osheroff Laboratory on 1/25/2019
                        Pharm.D., Lipscomb University (2014)
                        BA, Reinhardt College (2010)

                          Taneisha Gillyard

                          Graduate Student, Cone laboratory (Meharry Medical College Student)
                          BS, LSU (2013)

                            Sudan Loganathan

                            Graduate Student, Wang laboratory (Meharry Medical College Student)
                            BS, Murray State Univ. (2013)

                            Stephanie Moore

                            CURRENT POSITION: Assistant Professor
                            Defended Dissertation from the Schoenecker Lab on 11/9/2018
                            Ph.D. Awarded: December 2018
                            BS, Ohio Northern University (2003)

                              Shan Parikh

                              MD/PhD Candidate, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
                              MS, University of Connecticut (2011)
                              BS, University of Connecticut (2010)

                                Rafael Perez

                                Defended Dissertation from the Winder laboratory on 3/24/2020
                                Ph.D. Awarded: March 2020
                                BS, York College of Pennsylvania (2013)

                                  Nicole Perry-Hauser

                                  CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
                                  Defended Dissertation from the Iverson laboratory on 3/4/2019
                                  Ph.D. Awarded: March 2019
                                  BS and BA, Wittenburg University (2014)

                                    Kristin Peterson

                                    Defended Dissertation from the Hasty laboratory on 2/28/2019
                                    Ph.D. Awarded: March 2019
                                    BS, University of Richmond (2013)

                                      Mabel Seto

                                      Defended Dissertation from the Hohman Laboratory on 3/14/22
                                      BSLAS, University of Illinois @ Urbana (2015)

                                      Megan Shuey

                                      CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Vanderbilt University
                                      Defended Dissertation from the N. Brown laboratory on 2/26/2018
                                      Ph.D. Awarded: March 2018
                                      MS, Northern Arizona University (2012)
                                      BS, University of Arizona (2009)

                                        Brittany Spitznagel

                                        CURRENT POSITION: Research Instructor of Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University
                                        Defending Dissertation from the Weaver laboratory on 10/30/2020
                                        Ph.D. Awarded: November 2020
                                        Pharm.D., Lipscomb University(2016)

                                          Bradley Steiner

                                          Graduate Student, Hadjfrangiskou laboratory
                                          BS, Florida State University (2014)

                                          My research is driven by an interest in antibiotics, infectious diseases, and cellular signaling. My thesis work focuses on understanding the signaling networks that Uropathogenic E. coli use throughout pathogenesis to acquire vital nutrients, respond to hazards, and to regulate virulence factors, with an overarching goal to develop new antimicrobial therapies targeting these systems.

                                          David Taylor

                                          Graduate Student, Wang laboratory
                                          BS, Texas Southern University (2012)

                                          The primary goal of the Wang lab is to identify mechanisms of therapeutic resistance and to translate this knowledge into transformative and effective treatments for a variety of cancers. My cancer of interest, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is the most malignant form of primary brain cancer with a patient life expectancy of only 12-15 months. Knowing this, my long term goal is to identify novel combination therapies that suppress or inhibit the ability of GBM tumors to self-renew, proliferate rapidly, and resistant chemo-radiation.

                                            Treniqka Walters

                                            Graduate Student, Arinze laboratory (Meharry Medical College Student)
                                            BS, Howard University (2002)

                                              Nathan Winters

                                              Graduate Student, Patel Laboratory
                                              BS, University of Evansville (2016)

                                              I grew up in Evansville, IN, where I received my BS in Neuroscience from the University of Evansville in 2016. I came to Vanderbilt in the fall of 2016, where I am currently a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Sachin Patel. I am broadly interested in the synaptic physiology of neuromodulatory signaling systems, and my current works centers around characterizing how the endocannabinoid signaling system regulates synaptic transmission in brain areas relevant to stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and exploring the music scene.

                                                Yun Young (Susan) Yim

                                                CURRENT POSITION: Postdoctoral Fellow, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
                                                Defended Dissertation from the Hamm Laboratory 11/08/20107
                                                BS, University of California, San Diego (2010)