Graduate Student Profiles

Leena Abdullah

Leena hails from Pakistan where she received her bachelor's degree in Biology from Lahore University of Management Sciences. There she graduated with high distinction receiving a Gold Medal award. Leena's research focuses on the development of T cells which are a crucial component of the adaptive immune system. She is a third year Microbiology and Immunology student and Burroughs Wellcome fellow in the Huang lab and works on understanding how lymphoid progenitor cells commit to the T cell fate in the thymus (the primary lymphoid organ for T cell maturation).  Leena is a big fan of Horror and Marvel movies and also enjoys listening to music. 

Selected Publications:
Abdullah L, Hills LB, Winter EB, Huang YH. Diverse Roles of Akt in T cells. Immunometabolism. 2021;3(1):e210007. doi:10.20900/immunometab20210007  

Hills LB, Abdullah L, Lust HE, Degefu H, Huang YH. Foxo1 Serine 209 Is a Critical Regulatory Site of CD8T Cell Differentiation and Survival. J Immunol. 2021;206(1):89-100. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.2000216

Meredith S. Brown

Graduating with Honors from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Molecular Biology, Meredith is pursuing a Ph.D. in Molecular and Systems Biology in the Raman lab where she studies the role of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal transition (EMT), a cell developmental process that is frequently hijacked by cancer cells, in tumor progression and metastasis. She is particularly interested in how EMT contributes to tumor heterogeneity in breast cancer, and how that might affect patient prognosis. In her free time, Meredith takes full advantage of what the Hanover area has to offer including skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. And we should mention she's also great at cooking and baking.

Selected Publications:
Ognjenovic NB, Bagheri M, Mohamed GA, Xu K, Chen Y, Saleem MAM, Brown MS, Nagaraj SH, Muller KE, Gerber, SA, Christensen BC, Pattabiraman DR. Limiting Self-Renewal of the Basal Compartment Induces Differentiation and Alters Evolution of Mammary Tumors. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 7;55(5):544-557.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Oct 28.

Paolella BR, Gibson WJ, Urbanski LM, Alberta JA, Zack TI, Bandopadhayay P, Nichols CA, Agarwalla PK, Brown MS, Lamothe R, Yu Y, Choi PS, Obeng EA, Heckl D, Wei G, Wang B, Tsherniak, A, Vazquez F, Weir BA, Root, DE, Crowley GS, Buhrlage, S, Stiles CD, Ebert BL, Hahn WC, Reed R, Beroukhim R. Copy-Number and Gene Dependency Analysis Reveals Partial Copy Loss of Wild-Type SF3B1 as a Novel Cancer Vulnerability. Elife. 2017 Feb 8;6:e23268. doi: 10.7554/eLife.23268.

Stacey Ceron

Stacey obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Drew University where she double majored in Biology and French with a minor in Public Health. She obtained a Master's degree in Microbiology from Wagner College. At Dartmouth her doctoral research in the Leib lab within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms utilized by herpes simplex virus (HSV) to evade the immune response. She characterized a potential therapeutic agent for HSV encephalitis, investigated the neuronal innate immune response during latency and reactivation, and tested clinical isolates of HSV-2 in a neonatal murine model. One of her favorite things to do is hike within the White Mountain National Forest. Along with her dog, they have hiked all 48 of the tallest peaks in NH including Mount Washington (tallest mountain in the Northeast). She also loves rock climbing, skiing, and paddle-boarding on the Connecticut River.

Selected Publications:
Ceron S, Katzenell S, Pesola JM, Canova PN, North BJ, Coen DM, Leib D. Herpes Simplex Virus ICP34.5 Negates IRF -3/7 Mediated Immunity to Stimulate Reactivation in Neurons. Manuscript in preparation.  

Ceron, S, North, BJ, Taylor, SA, Leib, DA. The STING Agonist 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA) Stimulates an Antiviral State and Protects Mice Against Herpes Simplex Virus-Induced Neurological Disease. Virology, 2019 Mar;529:23–28. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.01.006. Epub 2019 Jan 6.

Wei Chen

Majoring in Biology, Wei received his Bachelor's degree from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. As an MCB student in the He lab he studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of tissue morphogenesis using Drosophila as a model system. Specifically, he is fascinated by how cells regulate intracellular trafficking in response to mechanical forces. Wei examines a process called ventral furrow formation in early Drosophila embryo, during which a group of mesoderm precursor cells undergo apical constriction and invaginate to form a furrow. His work identified a mechanosensitive feedback mechanism involving actomyosin contractility-mediated apical constriction and Rab11-mediated intracellular trafficking. This mechanism ensures an efficient apical constriction. Wei also studies how exocytosis facilitates the cell shape changes especially changes in cell surface area in response to apical constriction during ventral furrow formation. In his free time, Wei appreciates a good game of ping pong.

Adrianna De La Torre

Adrianna received a bachelor's in science in Psychobiology from UCLA. She is a recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) and has an Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31) for 2019-2021. She also received the Helmsley Charitable Trust Scholarship in 2019 from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and became an Alzheimer's Disease-Related Dementias (ADRD) Summit 2019 Trainee Travel Scholarship Fellow. Presently she is an EE Just Graduate Student Fellow (2015-present). Adrianna's work in the Chang lab is focused on developing nanoparticles to target cholesterol storage enzymes as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease [AD]. Thus far, she has optimized the nanoparticle composition and completed pharmacokinetic studies. Current work is focused on determining the therapeutic efficacy of these nanoparticles in an AD mouse model. In her free time, Adrianna likes hiking, cycling, crocheting and reading. 

Selected Publications:

Gilli, F, De La Torre, A, Royce, D,Pachner, A. "Interaction of Pegylated interferon-beta with antibodies to recombinant interferon-beta." International Immunopharmacology 62, 1-6 (2018). doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2018.06.030. Epub 2018 Jun 27. 

Izquierdo, A, Pozos, H, De La Torre, A, DeShields S, Cevallos J, Rodriguez J, Stolyarova, A. "Sex differences, learning flexibility, and striatal dopamine D1 and D2 following adolescent drug exposure in rats." Behavioural Brain Research 308, 104-114 (2016). doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.04.028. Epub 2016 Apr 26. 

John Hinds

John is a graduate of Northeastern University and has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He is an Albert J. Ryan fellow in the Cole lab in our Cancer Biology PhD program. John studies the proto-oncogene and transcription factor MYC, one of the most commonly dysregulated genes in cancer.  As a result of dysregulation, MYC activity is often upregulated in cancer.  While many mechanisms of MYC activation have been described, such as translocation and gene amplification, how genetic mutations in the MYC coding sequence affect Myc activity in cancer is not as well understood. To that end, he investigates the functional impact of a recurrent substitution in MYC, S146L, and how that may influence MYC's oncogenic activity. John's hobbies include mountain biking, hiking, camping, skiing – generally anything outdoors.

Selected Publications:
Feris EJ, Hinds JW, Cole MD. (2019) Formation of a structurally-stable conformation by the intrinsically disordered MYC:TRRAP complex. PLoS ONE, 14(12): e0225784

Shee K, Yang W, Hinds JW, […], Miller TW. (2018) Therapeutically targeting tumor microenvironment–mediated drug resistance in estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 215(3): 895-910.

Kenneth Mark

Graduating from the University of Washington, Kenneth received a B.S. in Biochemistry and minored in both Microbiology and Chemistry. Within the Supattapone laboratory in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology department, Kenneth's research revolves around using CRISPR-Cas9 genome-wide screens to identify novel regulators of organelle biogenesis and degradation. Not much is known about the cell biology of how organelles are made and degraded in a regulated fashion. Kenneth is also interested in answering other fundamental questions in cell biology including how mammalian cell size is regulated. Kenneth is currently President of the Dartmouth Graduate Consulting Group. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, listening to a lot of podcasts and trying to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist.

Selected publications:
Burke CM, Mark KMK, Walsh DJ, Noble GP, Steele AD, Diack AB, Manson JC, Watts JC, Supattapone S. Identification of a homology-independent linchpin domain controlling mouse and bank vole prion protein conversion. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Sep 8;16(9):e1008875. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008875. eCollection 2020 Sep.  

Chidawanyika T, Mark KMK, Supattapone S. A Genome-Wide CRISPR/Cas9 Screen Reveals that Riboflavin Regulates Hydrogen Peroxide Entry into HAP1 Cells. mBio. 2020 Aug 11;11(4):e01704-20. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01704-20.  

Mark KMK, Varn FS*, Ung MH, Qian F, Cheng C. The E2F4 prognostic signature predicts pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. BMC Cancer. 2017

Juan Mercado Del Valle

A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Juan earned a bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Currently he is a Graduate Diversity Fellow of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies, a RISE scholar and a Ryan Fellow studying in the Department of Molecular and Systems Biology. In the Gerber lab, Juan uses the auxin-inducible degron (AID) technology as a means to rapidly and specifically degrade endogenously degron-tagged Plk2, in conjunction with quantitative phosphoproteomics to identify potential substrates of Plk2 and decipher its signaling in basic biology and disease. Outside the lab, Juan follows economic news and can be found playing board games.

Selected Publications:
Quesada O, Gonzalez-Freire, C, Ferrer M, Colon-Saez J, Fernandez-Garcia E, Mercado J, Davila A, Morales R, Lasalde-Dominicci  JA. Uncovering the Lipidic Basis for the Preparation of Functional Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Detergent Complexes for Structural Studies. Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 19;6:32766. doi: 10.1038/srep32766

Gadisti Aisha Mohamed

A graduate of National University of Singapore, Aisha received a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Life Sciences, specializing in Molecular and Cell Biology. She then attended Queen Mary University of London and was awarded a Master of Science, with distinction, in Molecular Pathology and Genomics. Here at Dartmouth, Aisha is in the Molecular & Systems Biology PhD program in the Pattabiraman lab studying intra-tumoral heterogeneity, which is the presence of multiple different subpopulation of cells within the same tumor. She is determining how cellular heterogeneity affects tumor growth, tumor metastasis, and response to treatment. Aisha is particularly interested in determining which kinds of cells within a normal mammary gland give rise to heterogeneity in breast cancer. Aisha loves to read scifi/fantasy/alternate history books, solving puzzles and cooking.
Selected publications:
Ognjenovic NB, Bagheri M, Mohamed GA, Xu K, Chen Y, Mohamed Saleem MA, Brown MS, Nagaraj SH, Muller KE, Gerber SA, Christensen BC, Pattabiraman DR. Limiting Self-Renewal of the Basal Compartment by PKA Activation Induces Differentiation and Alters the Evolution of Mammary Tumors. Dev Cell. 2020 Dec 7;55(5):544-557.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Oct 28.  
Shabaneh TB, Molodtsov AK, Steinberg SM, Zhang P, Torres GM, Mohamed GA, Boni A, Curiel TJ, Angeles CV, Turk MJ. Oncogenic BRAFV600E Governs Regulatory T-cell Recruitment during Melanoma Tumorigenesis. Cancer Res. 2018 Sep 1;78(17):5038-5049. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-18-0365. Epub 2018 Jul 19. 

Hieu Nguyen

Hieu received his bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at University of New Hampshire. He is a recipient of the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship and received an MCB Mentorship Award. Hieu's thesis research in the Kettenbach lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology utilizes mass spectrometry to characterize substrate binding and dephosphorylation mechanisms for the major phosphatases PP1 and PP2A. Here in New Hampshire, Hieu enjoys everything it has to offer. In the summer, he likes to go hiking, camping, kayaking, hammocking, and swimming in the rivers and lakes that are abundant to area. In the winter, he is an avid cross-country skier. And year round he works out and sings.  In his downtime he enjoys video games, visiting new places and hanging out with friends.

Selected Publications:
Kruse, T, Gnosa, SP, Nasa, I, Garvanska, DH, Hein, JB, Nguyen, H, Samsøe-Petersen, J, Lopez-Mendez, B, Hertz, EPT, Schwarz, J, Pena, HS, Nikodemus, D, Kveiborg, M, Kettenbach, AN, Nilsson, J. Mechanisms of Site-Specific Dephosphorylation and Kinase Opposition Imposed by PP2A Regulatory Subunits. EMBO J. 2020 Jul 1;39(13):e103695. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019103695. Epub 2020 May 13.
Williams, TL, Senft, SL, Yeo, J, Martin-Martinez, FJ, Kuzirian, AM, Martin, CA, DiBona, CW, Chen, CT, Dinneen, SR, Nguyen, HT, Gomes, CM, Rosenthal, JC, MacManes, MD, Chu, F, Buehler, MJ, Hanlon, RT, Deravi, L. Dynamic Pigmentary and Structural Coloration within Cephalopod Chromatophore Organs. Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 1;10(1):1004. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08891-x.

Lauren Panzera

Lauren studied Molecular Biology at California State University Channel Islands. Here at Dartmouth, she is in the Hoppa lab in the Department of Biological Sciences.  In her research, Lauren uses optogenetics to study how ion channels and their auxiliary subunits regulate neurotransmission. She is currently focused on a volage-gated potassium channel that acts as a tether and scaffolds the endoplasmic reticulum to the plasma membrane in neurons. Lauren spends her summers running or biking and her winters knitting and painting.
Selected Publications:
Cho IH, Panzera LC, Chin M, Alpizar SA, Olveda, GE, Hill, RA, & Hoppa, MB. (2020). The potassium channel subunit Kvβ1 serves as a major control point for synaptic facilitation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.2020 Nov 24;117(47):29937-29947. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000790117. Epub 2020 Nov 9.  117(47), 29937-29947.
Cho IH, Panzera LC, Chin M, and Hoppa MB. Sodium Channel β2 Subunits Prevent Action Potential Propagation Failures at Axonal Branch Points. Journal of Neuroscience. 2017 Sep 27;37(39), 9519-9533. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0891-17.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 4. 

Amelia Ralowicz

Amelia received her bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in Cell and Molecular Biology. In 2019, she was an Ernest Everett Just Liftoff fellow and Dartmouth College PEMM fellow.  In 2020, she was recognized in the Guarini School of Advanced and Graduate Studies Student Research Spotlight. Amelia studies spontaneous neurotransmission in the Hoppa Lab. Spontaneous neurotransmission is a poorly understood form of neurotransmitter release, occurring in the central nervous system without an obvious trigger. However, this form of neurotransmitter release regulates synapse development, maturation, plasticity and is involved in numerous models of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Amelia's research aims to better understand how this process is initiated, the molecular machinery involved, and the type of information being conveyed through this mode of neuronal communication. She uses custom built microscopes, high powered cameras and lasers to image spontaneous neurotransmission in neurons that are optogenetically engineered to fluoresce when releasing neurotransmitter. Her goal is to elucidate details about spontaneous neurotransmission that can aid in the development of therapies to treat neurological disorders. Amelia was an NCAA scholar-athlete at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where she played tennis.  She also enjoys skiing, reading and playing the piano.

Selected Publications:
Chang, Catherine, Ralowicz, Amelia, Kegawa, Yuto. Petersen, Jennifer. Pekkurnaz, Gulcin. Blank, Paul. Zimmerberg, Joshua. (2020). Characterization of Small Objects in Homogenates of the Squid Optic Lobe. Biophysical Journal. 

Bianca Romo

Bianca is a graduate of St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX. She is an Ernest Everett Just Liftoff Fellow in the Miller lab within the Cancer Biology Ph.D. Program. Breast cancer is treated with anti-endocrine therapies, but a consequence of such therapies is the development of resistance. Her research goal is to identify the interactome of estrogen receptor alpha (ER) when this resistance occurs so as to identify potential therapeutic targets. Bianca enjoys photographing nature, Middle Eastern Dance, Reading, and Digital Art.

Selected Publications:
Schwartz G, Shee K, Romo B, Marotti J, Kisselev A, Lewis L, Miller T. 2021 Phase 1B Study of the Oral Proteasome Inhibitor Ixazomib (MLN9708) and Fulvestrant in Advanced ER+ Breast Cancer Progressing on Fulvestrant.  Oncologist. 2021 Feb 28. doi:10.1002/onco.13733. Online ahead of print.

Kamran Tariq

Kamran started in MCB graduate program at Dartmouth in 2017 and joined the Luikart Lab in the Summer of 2018. Born and raised in Pakistan, Kamran received his BS in Biotechnology from FC College and MS in Biology from LUMS in Lahore, Pakistan. Kamran's current project involves identifying proteins that rescue PTEN-dependent changes in neurons in a mouse model of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kamran utilizes in vivo molecular manipulations with viral vectors, transgenic mouse models and advanced microscopy techniques to find new targets for autism therapy. In 2019, Kamran was awarded a two-year pre-doctoral fellowship by Autism Speaks Foundation and is also a recipient of a 2020 Albert J. Ryan fellowship in recognition of his performance in courses, research talent, and participation in scientific community.
In his spare time, Kamran loves to hike in the majestic White Mountains, and cook desi food whilst listening to music from his homeland.

Nicole Traphagen

Nicole received her B.S. in Biomolecular Science with Honors and Great Distinction from Clarkson University in 2014. Currently she is in Todd Miller's lab working towards a Cancer Biology Ph.D. She was awarded an NIH F31 predoctoral fellowship. Her research focuses on the mechanisms through which breast cancer cells acquire resistance to anti-estrogen therapy. Using this insight, her lab hopes to develop novel treatment strategies for anti-estrogen resistant disease. Nicole is specifically interested in the use of estrogens to treat anti-estrogen resistant breast cancer. When not in the lab Nicole enjoys hiking with her dog, reading and snowboarding.

Selected Publications:
Traphagen NA, Hosford SR, Jiang A, Marotti JD, Brauer BL, Demidenko E, Miller TW. High Estrogen Receptor Alpha Activation Confers Resistance to Estrogen Deprivation and is Required for Therapeutic Response to Estrogen in Breast Cancer. [Under review]

Traphagen N, Tian Z, Allen-Gipson D. Chronic Ethanol Exposure: Pathogenesis of Pulmonary Disease and Dysfunction. Biomolecules. 2015 Oct 20;5(4):2840-53. doi: 10.3390/biom5042840.

Benjamin Wucher

Ben actually claims espresso as one of his hobbies, so you know he is bringing an intensity to all that he does. He graduated from the University of Rochester with a B.S. in Microbiology and Immunology with Honors in Research. He is a recipient of the GANN Fellowship, a Gilman Fellowship from the Department of Biological Sciences, and the Albert J. Ryan Fellowship. In the Nadell lab, he studies the ecological interactions between bacterial biofilms and their natural predators. Specifically, he is interested in how biofilm architecture and spatial structure protect biofilms from the bacterial predator Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus. Ben also spends time mountain biking, backcountry skiing and rock climbing.

Selected Publications:
Wucher, BR, Bartlett, TM, Hoyos, M, Papenfort K, Persat, A, Nadell, CD. Vibrio Cholerae Filamentation Promotes Chitin Surface Attachment at the Expense of Competition in Biofilms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2019 Jul 9;116(28):14216-14221. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1819016116. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Wucher, BR, Elsayed, M, Adelman, JS, Kadouri, DE, Nadell, CD. Predation by Bdellovibrio Bacteriovorus Transforms the Landscape and Community Assembly of Bacterial Biofilms.| bioRxiv.