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IMSD Scholars

  • Kellianne Alexander

    Kellianne Alexander, BS

    Kellianne earned her BS in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2015. As an undergraduate she worked in Dr. Susan Zup’s neuroendocrinology lab, where she studied prenatal developmental pathways in female rats. She was also a McNair Scholar, which provided opportunities to present her research at conferences and expand her networking skills. During the summer of 2014 she interned at UMMS in the Combined Summer Research Program, where she worked under Dr. Amy Wachholtz studying the impact of depression and anxiety on pain in the opioid addicted population.

  • Nathan Bamidele

    Nathan Bamidele, BS

    Nathan Bamidele received his B.S. in molecular, cell & developmental biology from UC Santa Cruz in 2018. Currently, his research is focused on developing chemically modified CRISPR/Cas9 guides for in vivo and ex vivo therapeutic genome editing purposes.

  • Stephanie Becker

    Stephanie Becker, BS

    Stephanie is a second year PhD student in Douglas Golenbock’s lab. Her research interest is at the intersection of neuroscience and immunology. Stephanie completed her undergraduate education in neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University as a McNair and LSAMP Scholar. As an undergraduate, she conducted Alzheimer’s disease research at Cornell, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the University of Bonn, in Bonn, Germany. After obtaining her PhD from UMass Medical School, Stephanie hopes to specialize in the field of neuroinflammation. Her ultimate career goal is to aid in elucidating the relationship between the nervous and immune systems.

  • Maira Castañeda

    Maira Castañeda, BS, MS

    Maira A. Castañeda earned a B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she was accepted into the Introduction for Cancer Research Career (ICRC) program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where she worked in the dermatology branch for 2 years and discovered a special interest in epidemiology and biostatistics. In 2015, Maira earned a MS in epidemiology at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus. Her thesis project related Chlamydia trachomatis serostatus with HPV infection in women living in PR. Most recently, she was awarded a diversity supplement by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research (NIDCR) (5R21DE024850-02), where she worked on a project aimed at evaluating the association between periodontal disease and oral HPV infection. Maira joined the CPHR program through the Pathways to Graduate School Program. Mentored by Mara Epstein, ScD, Maira's research is focused on cancer prevention and the control of infection-related cancers among underserved populations, with a specific focus on Latino/Hispanic health disparities

  • Fransenio Clark

    Fransenio Clark, BS

    During Fran's undergraduate career at the University of South Carolina, she became interested in research after the loss of her brother to HIV/AIDS. Following his death, she decided to participate in the South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participants Research Program and the McNair Scholars Program to complete HIV/AIDS research. In 2012, she joined the Pathway to Graduate Studies Program (PGSP) at University of Massachusetts Medical School and completed two rotations with researchers that study HIV drug resistance and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Celia Schiffer and Christopher Sassetti, respectively. Fran joined her current lab, that of Dr.Liisa Selin, in which my research project focuses on cross-reactive CD8 T responses between influenza (IAV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in young adults and middle-aged individuals as well as determining the mechanisms by which CD8 T cell responses inflate during EBV infection in HLA-A2+ middle-aged donors. 

  • Sarah Cleveland

    Sarah Cleveland, BS

    Sarah earned her BS in Biological Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Connecticut in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Spencer Nyholm’s lab where she studied the symbiotic relationship of the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid and bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri and how that relationship facilitates innate immune system homeostasis. Sarah was also a McNair Scholar, which provided her with opportunities to present her research at poster sessions and conferences allowing her to enhance networking and science communicating skills. Currently, Sarah is a student in the lab of Dr. Eric Huseby, studying the cellular and molecular pathways that define the neonatal window of T cell development. After completion of her PhD, Sarah hopes to remain in academia or move toward science policy at the CDC.

  • Pamela Cote-Hammarlof

    Pamela Cote-Hammarlof, BA, MS

    Before embarking on her academic journey Pam worked full-time as a teaching assistant in an inner-city middle school in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. The diverse interactions she had with her students was extremely rewarding and helped her to cultivate her inner desire for knowledge, scientific inquisition and teaching. Therefore, Pam decided to pursue her educational aspiration full-time, trading the role of “teacher” for that of “student” and becoming the first generation Nicaraguan American female in her family to achieve a college degree from Smith College and seek an advanced degree in Biochemistry.  Pam is currently a student in the lab of Dr. Dan Bolon. The focus of her research is on the heat shock protein, Hsp90 and its function in promoting adaptive evolutionary change in yeast.

  • Xavier Gonzalez

    Xavier Gonzalez, BS

  • Daniel Gutierrez

    Daniel Gutierrez, BS

    Daniel received his B.S. in molecular biology in 2012 from San Jose State University where he also spent three years conducting research on snake venom-derived disintegrin inhibition of melanoma progression in the lab of Dr. Julio Soto. Daniel is a 3rd year Neuroscience PhD candidate. He is currently researching metabolic-coupling in the brain in the lab of Dr. Bill Kobertz. In the future, Daniel would like to become the CSO of a small pharmaceutical company. 

  • Daniel Hidalgo

    Daniel Hidalgo, BA, MS

    Daniel graduated from Clark University in 2008 with a B.A. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a minor in Mathematics. He received High Honors in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 2009, he obtained M.A. from Clark University in Biology (concentration Molecular Biology) under the mentorship of Dr. Justin Thackeray, thesis entitled 'Characterization of a new PLC-gamma mutation in Drosophila melanogaster.'

  • Kristopher Holloway

    Kristopher Holloway, BA

    Kristopher graduated with his BA degree in Biology from Case Western Reserve University in 2016.  Kristopher had a variety of research experiences as an undergraduate in areas including HIV Medicine, Pharmacology, Pulmonary Diseases (Cystic Fibrosis), and Neurobiology.  His current research areas of interest are Neuroscience and Chemistry.  He aspires to ultimately conduct research that tackles impactful health questions from neurobiological and chemical perspectives, with particular interest in the areas of neurodegeneration, emotion, memory, and addiction.

  • Anne Jecrois

    Anne Jecrois, BS

    Anne earned a BS degree in Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2010. Following graduation, Anne worked for 3 years as a research technician and lab manager at Yale University where she studied regeneration in axolotl. As an undergraduate she identified new receptors for the Ebola virus during a summer research experience at the University of Iowa. Her current research is focused on understanding the structural basis of macromolecular complex assembly on promoter regions. 

  • Olivia Kugler-Umana

    Olivia Kugler-Umana, BS

    Olivia's journey in science began at Umass Boston when she received her B.S. in Biology.  During her time at Umass Boston, she participated in the IMSD program, which introduced her to scientific research. Not only did the IMSD program provide opportunities to conduct research as undergraduate, but it also helped her become a PREP scholar for 2 years at the Tufts’ Sackler School where she developed an interest in immunology. Olivia is currently a 3rd year Ph.D candidate investigating the role of age associated B cells in influenza infection. 

  • NienChen Li

    NienChen Li, BS, MPH, MA

    Nien-Chen Li (Anny) received her BS in Medical Science and Technology from Taipei Medical University, Taiwan. Subsequently she obtained MPH in Epidemiology and MA in Biostatistics from Boston University School of Public Health, and MA in Statistics from Boston University Department of Mathematics and Statistics. During her stay at Boston University, she served as a teaching assistant in several major courses, and research assistant in medical research involving pharmacoepidemiological studies related to hepatitis C, Alzheimer disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease; diabetes; patterns of recovery for children with burn injuries; and US Veterans health care outcomes and health related quality of life, etc. After graduation, she worked for Fresenius Medical Care, the world’s largest dialysis company, as a biostatistician participated in clinical epidemiology research for end-stage renal disease; patients’ clinical outcomes and quality of life; intervention analysis; large oracle data extraction and management; statistical analysis using SAS including GENMOD, survival analysis, case-control matching, and propensity analysis. She is mentored by Professor Arlene Ash as a PhD student in the Population and Quantitative Health Sciences Department.

  • Socheata Ly

    Socheata Ly, BA

    Socheata Ly is a PhD candidate in Anastasia Khvorova’s lab in the RNA Therapeutics Institute. In 2012, he entered the Pathway to Graduate Study Program (PGSP) at UMMS and entered the PhD program in 2013. Previously, Soki received his B.A. in Biology from Clark University in 2009. His primary research interests are elucidating the intracellular trafficking mechanisms of therapeutic siRNA in order to develop siRNAs as a drug for the treatment of disease. Furthermore, he also serves on the MassTERi eClub Steering Committee and the Industry Exploration Program (IndEx) Board. After completing his PhD, he hopes to continue his work as an industry scientist to further develop siRNA-based therapeutics.

  • Michelle Mosqueda

    Michelle Mosqueda, BS

  • Catherine Nagawa

    Catherine Nagawa, BS, MS

    Catherine earned her BS in Statistics and Mathematics from Makerere University in Uganda, and her MS in Epidemiology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her thesis focused on predictors of anemia among HIV patients in Uganda. After obtaining her MS, she worked as a research coordinator at the University of Massachusetts Medical School within the Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science. Catherine’s research interests include application of behavior change theory and use of mHealth technology to improve health. With an underlying passion for math, Catherine is a lifelong learner in the field of predictive data analytics. She is mentored by Dr. Rajani Sadasivam, PhD and Dr. Thomas Houston, MD, MPH.

  • Humberto Ochoa

    Humberto Ochoa, BA

  • Alex Park

    Alex Park, BS

  • Christa So-Hyun Park

    Christa So-Hyun Park, BS, MS

  • Naideline Raymond

    Naideline Raymond, BA

    Naideline Raymond achieved her BA in biology at Bryn Mawr College in 2019. She is a graduate student in the translational science program studying the mechanisms involved in initiating and promoting liver inflammation and fibrosis in Dr. Pranoti Mandrekar's lab. Naideline hopes that her contribution to understanding the mechanisms that trigger immune reactions during liver injury could help develop novel therapeutic avenues. She looks forward to leaving a footprint in the scientific world.

  • Eric Romo

    Eric Romo, BA

    Eric earned a BA in Neurobiology from Harvard College in 2014, with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. As an undergraduate, his research focused on elucidating the role of the protein BACE in long-term memory formation, using a Drosophila melanogaster animal model. He also worked a stint at the Center for Neurologic Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital investigating the potential role of amyloid beta in cerebral spinal fluid as a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease. With an increasing interest in social justice and health disparities, Eric turned to public health research, designing a project that studied the cultural perceptions of substance abuse among Native Americans and the role of such perceptions in interventions among tribes in the Southwest U.S. Also passionate about global health, he was thrilled to spend a winter working alongside community health workers in Kenya through the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Initiative to End Childhood Malnutrition. Eric spent a year in the Pathway to Graduate Study Program gaining additional research experience under the guidance of Dr. Allison Rosen. He is currently a first year MD/PhD student at UMMS. 

  • Javier Solivan-Rivera

    Javier Solivan-Rivera, BS

  • Leslie Torres Ulloa

    Leslie Torres Ulloa, BS

  • Jacqueto Zephyr

    Jacqueto Zephyr, BS

    Jacqueto obtained his bachelor’s in chemistry at Stony Brook University, following that he received a Postbaccalaureate fellowship at the University of Chicago. His undergraduate thesis, under the guidance of Prof. Francis Jonson, focused on the synthesis of chemically modified curcumin compounds as matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors for treating periodontal disease. Jacqueto's work at the University of Chicago, in Prof. Jared Lewis’s lab, focused on engineering artificial enzymes for a tandem one-pot halogenation and Suzuki coupling reaction. His prior research experiences strengthened his interest in chemical biology. Currently, he is a graduate student in Dr. Celia Schiffer’s lab where his focus is on the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of viral protease inhibitors through X-ray crystallography, inhibition assays, and molecular dynamics simulations. 

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