Curtis Dearing, originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Middle Tennessee State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. Throughout his academic journey, Curtis engaged in diverse lab environments, immersing himself in translational chemistry at MTSU, cancer biology at Meharry Medical College, and genetics/genomic research at Vanderbilt University. Driven to lead research in Genetics focused on personalized medicine, Curtis is passionate about CRISPR technology, genetically inherited susceptibility, and identifying physiological markers for disease. Outside the laboratory, he finds joy in the gym, exploring culinary delights as a food critic, and indulging in football and UFC.
Imani Douglas was born in Chicago, IL, and raised in Phoenix, AZ. She graduated summa cum laude from Fisk University’s honors program with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a concentration in Bioinformatics. After graduate school, she hopes to continue pursuing research in computational biology and precision medicine. Specifically, she has gravitated towards studying disease-associated proteins as potential therapeutic targets. Imani is also keenly interested in developing predictive models for early disease diagnosis and using diverse health data to predict disease outcomes to address health disparities in underserved and underrepresented communities. Beyond the lab, Imani serves as a coding tutor for K-12 students, a crisis hotline volunteer, an avid reader, and an aspiring cake decorator.
Sasha Manus was born in Davis, California, and raised in Oakland, California. She attended Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a minor in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies in the fall of 2022. As an undergraduate, Sasha served in numerous leadership roles, advocating for the rights of disabled students, with her work resulting in being awarded the Linda Heller Kamm ’61 Prize for Commitment to Social Justice in 2020. Arriving to research late in her academic career, she discovered a passion for identifying the mechanisms behind human disease manifestations, with a specific focus on idiopathic neurological conditions and atypical presentations of genetic neurodegenerative diseases – with hopes of creating targeted therapeutics. Outside of the lab, Sasha is an active participant in disability rights advocacy – but, in her free time, she can often be found writing plays, devouring books, and exploring new places with her service dog, Keona.
Sydney McCoy was born in Nashville, Tennessee and raised in Powder Springs, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences. During her matriculation, she was heavily involved on her college campus serving as Greek Leader in the Greek Life Office and being a mentor for underrepresented students in STEM. She is a Fall 2021 initiate into the Eta Xi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. During her undergraduate career, she performed malaria and SARS-COV2 research in the Biochemistry department. She studied the hemotoxicity of novel antimalarials and developed an in-vitro diagnostic assay for SARS-CoV-2 using a neutralizing antibody and an engineered mini protein. With a research interest in pharmacology and drug discovery, she is interested in finding new drug targets and new mechanisms of action for novel therapeutics for major diseases. Sydney plans to pursue a Ph.D in pharmacology or Pharmaceutical Sciences to become a pharmacologist. Outside of science, she likes to collect vinyl records, build Lego architecture sets, and explore new restaurants.
Messiyah Stevens was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. He graduated magna cum laude in 2022 from Oakwood University with his Bachelor of Science in Psychology. During his matriculation, he participated and led an undergraduate psychology mentorship program for his department. He interned at the University of Texas at El Paso and studied nicotine withdrawal in females and at the University of Cincinnati he studied TGF-β signaling and its role in microglial repopulation. He spent his senior year practicum at Psychological Counseling Associates in Huntsville while also volunteering at his school’s child development lab. His research interests include sensory perception and its intersection between cochlear implant research and autism. Messiyah intends to be accepted to a clinical psychology Ph.D. program and later become a licensed clinical psychologist. In his free time, he likes to listen to music, spend time with friends, and pretend movie characters are real people.