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Matriculating 2021

  • Emma Austen Holt

    Emma Austen Holt

    Originally from Austin, Texas, Emma Austen Holt graduated from Barnard College in 2018 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior. As an undergraduate researcher, she spent two years studying role of nucleus accumbens projecting ventral tegmental area GABA neurons in reward expectation following acute restraint stress in mice under Dr. Alexander Harris at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Following graduation, she remained at CUMC as a research technician under Dr. Sarah Canetta, where she investigated developmental critical periods of prefrontal parvalbumin interneurons and their role in cognitive flexibility in adulthood.

    Emma is interested in continuing to pursue neural circuity research in the context of neuropsychiatric disease at UMMS. She is fascinated by how experience can shape physiology and how by studying disease mechanisms, we can gain broader insight into basic neurobiology. She completed her first research rotation in Dr. Gilles Martin’s lab, where she explored neural engrams of binge drinking. She is excited to explore her interests further prior to selecting a thesis lab.

  • Melanie K. Barbini

    Melanie K. Barbini

    Melanie Barbini graduated from Northeastern University in December 2019 as a Behavioral Neuroscience major. While at Northeastern, Melanie worked in Dr. Annapurna Poduri’s lab to model epilepsy-associated genes in zebrafish systems at Boston Children’s Hospital. She also studied how hunger changes neuronal signaling and directs behavior towards relevant food cues in Dr. Mark Andermann’s lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. After graduating, Melanie continued to work in Dr. Andermann’s lab as a research technician to study how the brain receives and responds to signals from inside and outside of the body, and how this shift in attention is modulated by the neuromodulator serotonin.

    Melanie’s current research interests include understanding the physiology and genetics implicated in neurological and psychiatric disorders. She completed her first research rotation in Dr. Andrew Tapper’s lab studying the role of the interpeduncular nucleus in novelty seeking and habituation. She is excited to continue exploring her neuroscience interests in future rotations while working with different physicians and researchers.

    In her free time, Melanie enjoys running, baking French pastries, and skydiving.

  • Claire E. Branley

    Claire E. Branley

    Claire graduated from the University of Washington in 2020 with a degree in Public Health and Global Health. She spent three years in Dr. Moussavi-Harami’s cardiovascular disease lab researching gene therapies for inherited cardiomyopathies. After gaining more interest in public health work, she began working with different organizations in the Seattle area such as First Steps, a support program for low income mothers, and the UW Farm and 21 Acres, exploring ways to increase access to fruits and vegetables.

    Claire is currently interested in pursuing research focused on reducing disparities of chronic diseases, particularly diet-related diseases, through preventative care and public health policy. She spent her first rotation with Dr. Stephenie Lemon, learning qualitative research methods by participating in focus groups with Worcester county locals, discussing beliefs surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and other effects of the pandemic.

    In her free time, she loves to walk her dog Coby, spend time outside in a garden or on a farm, and bake (or watch other people bake on the Great British Baking Show!).

  • Allison S. Maebius

    Allison S. Maebius

    Allison Maebius was born and raised in Great Falls, VA where she trained to be a professional dancer. She attended the University of Michigan initially as a dance major, before an injury propelled her into a career in medicine. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a double major in English and Biomolecular Science in 2019 and then again in 2020 with a Master’s in Biochemistry. In her time in Ann Arbor, she was part of the Banerjee Lab where she investigated hydrogen sulfide signaling and in the Seasholtz Lab, looking at the role of the corticotropin-releasing hormone system in fruit flies.

    After graduating, Allison became a research technician at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Raje Lab studying the microenvironment of multiple myeloma. She is most interested now in developing RNA therapeutics for the treatment of endocrine disorders and was thrilled to do her first rotation with the Khvorova Lab at UMass!

    In her free time, Allison loves baking, reading, and working out.

  • Madison R. B. Marasco

    Madison R. B. Marasco

    Madi graduated from Clemson University with a degree in Biology. During her undergraduate summers, Madi worked in Dr. Stephanie Dougan’s lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where she studied how ferroptosis-inducing agents affect immune cell activation. After graduating, Madi worked at the National Institutes of Health as a CRTA post-baccalaureate research fellow. At the NIH, she spent one year in Dr. Natalie Porat-Shliom’s lab where she studied how mitophagy regulates nutrient availability. She spent her second year in Dr. Peter Aplan’s lab where she ran an animal preclinical trial exploring the efficacy of a novel DNA methyltransferase inhibitor in treating myelodysplastic syndrome.

    Madi is passionate about translational disease research, particularly in relation to leukemias and neurodegenerative diseases. In July of 2021, Madi rotated in the lab of Dr. Michelle Kelliher where she studied the role of PRMT1 in T-ALL relapse disease. She is excited to continue exploring in her interest in translational research in her upcoming rotations.

    In her free time, Madi loves to collect plants, hike outside, and take long walks with her dog. She also enjoys running, watching Formula 1 racing, and teaching herself songs on the piano.

  • Michelle A. Narváez Ramos

    Michelle A. Narváez Ramos

    Originally from San Germán, Puerto Rico, Michelle A. Narváez Ramos graduated from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez in 2021 with a degree in Industrial Microbiology. As an undergraduate, Michelle worked in Dr. Miguel Castro’s laboratory studying the effects of calcium sulfide nanostructures in melanoma cell lines. Michelle also obtained vast clinical and research experience during her summers as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Vanderbilt University, and MIT. Specifically at Vanderbilt, where she studied the role of inflammation in the progression of Myelodysplastic Syndrome with physician scientist Dr. Sandra Zinkel, Michelle became passionate for understanding the basics of pathogenesis and disease progression, ultimately deciding to pursue the MD-PhD career.

    Michelle completed a lab rotation in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Benanti, studying the role of CDK1 site-specific regulation of key cell cycle proteins. She is eager to explore the fields of genetics, and cell and cancer biology.

  • Michela E. Oster

    Michela E. Oster

    Originally from Massachusetts, Michela graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a B.A. in English. At UMass, Michela worked in Dr. Daniel Hebert's lab studying the processes involved in the maturation and degradation of proteins in the ER. Michela also spent her summers in Dr. Raphael Bueno's lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where she explored the different biomolecular markers of lung cancer and mesothelioma. After graduation, Michela worked for a year in Dr. Pamela Silver's lab at Harvard Medical School and studied cryptobiosis and intrinsically disordered proteins in tardigrades.

    Michela is fascinated by protein folding, quality control, and aging. She gets really excited about discussing the various intersections of science, literature, ethics, and community health. In August 2021, she completed her first rotation in Dr. Hyun Youk's lab where she studied the quantitative principles of life to death transitions in yeast.

    In her free time, Michela likes to read, try tasty foods, and grow plants on her windowsill. She also loves visiting her dog, Nathan, back home.

  • Rebecca S. Panwala

    Rebecca S. Panwala

    Rebecca Panwala graduated in 2020 from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in Bioengineering with a focus in Biotechnology. At UCSD Rebecca trained in the lab of Dr. Prashant Mali working on the development of toolsets for genome engineering as well as exploring ways to enable gene and cell based human therapeutics. Her work in the lab primarily focused on examining driving mechanisms of cancer with the goal of developing targeted therapies.

    Since matriculating at UMMS, Rebecca has rotated in the lab of Dr. Erik Sontheimer where she worked on developing a system for self-inactivating CRISPR-Cas base editors with applications to gene therapy. She will complete two additional rotations over the summer of 2021 before choosing a thesis advisor.

  • Hye In Sarah Lee

    Hye In Sarah Lee

    Hye In Sarah Lee graduated from Brown University in 2017 with a B.S. in neuroscience. At Brown, Sarah worked in Dr. Kevin Bath’s lab investigating the effects of early life stress on anxiety and depression in mouse models. She also worked with Dr. Brad Brockmann and currently/formerly incarcerated individuals to create and test educational materials on opioid use disorder and medication assisted treatments. After graduating, Sarah conducted clinical research in the Rhode Island Hospital emergency department and worked at Harvard University with Dr. Matthew Nock studying how to predict and prevent suicidal behaviors using smartphone technology.

    Sarah is excited to join the Clinical and Population Health Research Track in the UMassMed MD/PhD program. Her current research interests lie at the intersection of psychology, psychiatry, and social justice to better understand suicide and mental illness. She is interested in using qualitative methods and digital tools, such as ecological momentary assessment and physiological monitoring, to elucidate “real-time” risk markers of suicidal thinking and behavior. She is also interested in studying how structural racism and stigma in psychiatric practices may drive iatrogenic harm in the mental healthcare system particularly for patients with marginalized identities. Sarah hopes to use this information to improve current psychiatric practices and support community-based, peer-support models of care that depart from the use of incarceration and hospitalization.

    Outside of work, Sarah enjoys growing plants and vegetables, watching Wong Kar-wai films, endlessly scrolling on TikTok, and pretending to read the many books that are stacked up in her room (she really should get to them).

  • Noah M. Sciambra

    Noah M. Sciambra

    Noah graduated from the Accelerated Master’s Program at the University of Alabama with a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Biological Sciences in December 2020. At Alabama, Noah worked in Dr. Stanislava Chtarbanova’s lab researching genetic factors impacting age-dependent immunity to viral infection in Drosophila melanogaster. After graduating, Noah continued working as a research technician in the Chtarbanova lab and contributed to two publications investigating the impact of age on response to infection in Drosophila and the age-dependent impairment of disease tolerance in Drosophila following RNA virus infection.

    Since matriculating at UMMS, Noah has rotated in the lab of Dr. Neal Silverman where he studied the role of SLC family receptors in human and mouse tissue histology. Noah’s current research interests include general immunology, cancer immunology, and epigenetic modification.

  • Lauren T. Shumate

    Lauren T. Shumate

    Lauren Shumate graduated from Vassar College in 2017 with a degree in Biology and a minor in Mathematics. During undergrad, she worked at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine with Dr. Albert Wu researching ocular diseases and treatments. After graduating, she worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in Dr. Murat Bastepe’s lab studying bone remodeling mechanisms. She then worked at CRISPR Therapeutics, where she researched gene editing therapies for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.

    Lauren is interested in studying the gut microbiome and the interactions with the host immune system. She just completed a rotation in Dr. Beth McCormick’s lab, in collaboration with Dr. John Haran, where she enjoyed investigating the microbiome of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. She is excited to continue exploring the microbiome in her next rotations.