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The Munson Lab welcomes new rotation student Kelly Ward!

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Hi everyone! I'm Kelly, and I'm a first year PhD student. I graduated from Northeastern University in May 2023 where I majored in Biochemistry and minored in Data Science. My previous research focused on immuno-oncology, specifically looking at NK cells at the New England Inflammation and Protection Institute (NEITPI) at Northeastern, and in in-vitro/ex-vivo immuno-oncology and protein purification and platform innovation at Dragonfly Therapeutics. I am excited to dive deeper into yeast exocyst biochemistry, specifically Exo84 mutants, during my rotation!

Welcome Rinalda Proko to the Munson Lab!

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We are excited to welcome Rinalda Proko to the Munson lab as a postdoctoral fellow! Rinalda completed her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas, and has a background working in molecular biology at the Institute of Public Health in the Infectious Disease Control Department in Tirana. Her current research interests center on understanding the molecular mechanisms of exocytic vesicle docking and fusion to the plasma membrane.

Summer undergraduate research students highlight collaboration, diversity

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Congratulations Adrián Márquez Hernández for the successful completion of his 10 week term as part of the 2023 UMass Chan Medical School Summer Undergraduate Research Program. This program is designed to diversify the pool of biomedical researchers by providing structured, hands-on laboratory research experiences to undergraduate students, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in the field, or who are economically or educationally disadvantaged.

Márquez Hernández is a senior biology major at the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey. He’s hoping to pursue a PhD and is interested in gene therapy, aging and biochemistry. This summer is Márquez Hernández’s second summer participating in the undergraduate research program and his first summer working in the Munson lab.

“I already knew I wanted to pursue research, but being here for the last two summers made me realize what I want and what I don’t want in the future,” Márquez Hernández said. “This is a very collaborative place and a healthy environment for work. And that’s what I want to be part of in the future.”

Read the UMass Med Article Here!

Mary Munson receives award for Outstanding Mentoring to Women


Congratualations to Mary Munson for receiving the 2023 Outstanding Mentoring to Women award for her outstanding contributions to the UMass Chan Medical School community! This award was one of seven presented as part of the 23rd annual Women’s Faculty Committee Awards honoring women in science and health care for achievements in early career development, clinical service, mentoring, education, health equity and community service.

“Taken together, the award recipients embody the breadth, depth and excellence of our faculty who are the heart and soul of the institution and who contribute so much to the vitality and dynamism of our humanity and medical school,” Chancellor Collins said.

Read the UMass Chan Article Here!

Mary Munson elected 2025 ASCB President


Congratulations to Dr. Mary Munson on her election by The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) members to serve as President of the Society in 2025! She will serve as President-Elect on the ASCB Executive Committee beginning in 2024.

Read the ASCB Article Here!

At 2023 MLK tribute, Mary Munson recognized for commitment to diversity and inclusion in science field

Chancellor Michael F. Collins named Mary Munson, PhD, the recipient of the 2022 Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion at the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. tribute at UMass Chan Medical School on Jan. 24, 2023. 

Dr. Munson has worked nationally to promote the work of researchers from diverse backgrounds through her leadership in the Women in Cell Biology Committee at the American Society of Cell Biology and as co-investigator of the organization’s MOSAIC programShe has also co-founded a local chapter of the Association for Women in Science and the interdepartmental Faculty Fostering Inclusive Excellence Community, serves as advisor for the student- led SACNAS chapter and has taken on the lead faculty role for the UMass Chan Voices in Science seminar series.

Read more!

Congratulations and Best Wishes to Peter!!!

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I am happy to announce that I have decided to attend Duke University to complete my PhD in Pharmacology this August!! I am extremely appreciative of the time I spent here at UMass, and would not have reached this achievement without the experiences and friendships I gained through the Munson Lab and our department. Although I will be unfortunately leaving the lab, I will always remember and cherish the people I have met and the temporary roots they helped me grow here in Massachusetts.

Congratulations to Leonora for starting her new position as Senior Program Manager for Outreach, in the BMB Dept!

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We are so excited to see Leonora in this new role that combines her strong talents for science, illustration, and communication!

Check our Leonora's illustrations!

Congratulations to Dr. Mike Feyder!!

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Cheers to Mike for successfully defending his PhD thesis on January 9th, 2023!

Mary Munson Elected Fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology

Proud to join this group of outstanding scientists, educators, mentors and DEI leaders as a Fellow of the American Society for Cell Biology!

See all the ASCB Fellows!

Mary Munson receives the 2022 Chancellor's Award

At the MLK tribute, Mary received the 2022 Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion.

Read the UMassMedNews article

Mary Munson presented with Faculty Award

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On Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at the UMass Chan Educational Recognition Awards, Dr. Mary Ellen Lane, dean of the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, presented a Faculty Award to Mary Munson, PhD - for outstanding contributions in the lecture and classroom setting. Congratulations!

Read the UMassMedNews article

Welcome Baby Avery!

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The Munson lab welcomes our newest addition, who was born on March 26th, 2021. Avery and her mom, Jen Forcina, are doing well (as is her dad Chris)! We look forward to meeting you, Avery!

Mary Munson co-directs project to enhance diversity in biomedical sciences workforce


Mary Munson is co-directing a first-of-its-kind national program to enhance diversity in the academic biomedical workforce, funded by a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to create skills development workshops, mentor training opportunities and institutional culture-change initiatives at universities.

Read the story in UMassMedNews

Welcome Brenda Thomas to the Munson Lab!

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July 2020: We are excited to have Brenda Thomas join the Munson-Newburger teams to investigate VPS45 mutants and their role in severe congenital neutropenia!

Mary Munson guest edits May 19, 2020 Issue of Protein Science, entitled “Cellular Dynamics”.

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New joint NIH R21 grant in collaboration with Vanderbilt's Macara Lab

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May 2020: The Munson lab received a new joint NIH R21 grant from NINDS in collaboration with Dr. Ian Macara’s lab at Vanderbilt, entitled “New Mouse Models to Investigate Neurological Defects Caused by Exocyst Mutations”.

Welcome Brittany Jette to the Munson Lab

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May 2020: The Munson lab extends a virtual welcome to our newest WPI undergraduate Brittany Jette, and congratulates her on receiving an NIH summer undergraduate supplement for her work!

Brittany is investigating a variety of reported disease-associated mutations in the exocyst complex, and plans to test the function (or dysfunction) of several of these in yeast, once she is able to join the lab in person!

Munson lab awarded joint R01 with the Newburger lab

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April 2020: The Munson and Newburger labs have been awarded a joint R01 from the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for their study of the molecular mechanisms of a rare severe congenital neutropenia caused by mutations in the endosomal regulatory protein VPS45. These studies are a powerful combination of in vitro biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and in vivo mouse models of the disease.

Munson Lab hosts Dr. Tae-Young Yoon

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April 2020: The Munson lab is pleased to host Dr. Tae-Young Yoon, an Associate Professor at Seoul National University in South Korea, during his sabbatical year. Dr. Yoon and his lab have been collaborating with us on the biochemistry, biophysics and cell biology on single-molecule characterization of the exocyst and membrane fusion. These studies are being complemented by cell biology and genetic data in yeast and cells from other model organisms, and are fundamental to understanding how cells grow, divide and communicate with each other, and how defects may potentially lead to cancers, neurological dysfunction and/or developmental problems.

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Feb 2020:  So much fun to have Sarah Cleveland rotate in the lab! Great talk and celebration of our new grant with the lab and other colleagues!

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November 2019:  Awesome rotation talk presented by Shawn Egri!
(maybe next time we will figure out the right construct for him to use…)

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November 2019:  The Munson lab is pleased to host Alfredo Figueroa Meléndez as a visiting graduate student from the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada (CICESE) in Baja California, Mexico. Alfredo was awarded a Promoting Research Opportunities for Latin American Biochemists program, or PROLAB, fellowship through the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), the Pan-American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the International Union for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (12 young scientists win PROLAB awards). He plans to advance the research of Dr. Riquelme's Lab regarding the biochemistry and structure of the exocyst complex from the fungus Neurospora crassa during his time here ( . Congratulations Alfredo and welcome to the lab!  

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August 2019:  Congratulations and best wishes dinner for Alex and Stephen


August 2019:  Congrats to Camille and Alex on their summer research presentations!

Intern Presentations

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July 2019:  Fabulous to have Ayo, Camille and Jacky in lab this summer!

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June 2019:  Dante (and his beard) presents the latest exocyst research at the joint UMass Chan-UMass Amherst Biochemistry Retreat. Congrats to all for a terrific day of science and networking.


May 2019: Congratulations to Jacqueline Forson who was recently granted an NIH Diversity Supplement from NIGMS based on a Munson Lab currently funded R01 project!

Kristyn NorrisMay 2019: Congratulations to Kristyn Norris who has been selected to receive a student community service award to be presented at the 2019 Student Awards Ceremony!

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April 2019:  Congratulations to Alex Czuchra and Stephen Foley on their excellent MQPs and posters of their research!

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March 2019:  Woo Hoo to Mike Feyder for passing his qualifying exam! Congrats! Looking forward to some cool exocyst data soon!

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Dec 2018: Welcome to our new postdoc, Jen Forcina, and happy holidays!

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Sept 2018: Excited to have Crystal Shan rotating with us now!


Sept 2018: An enthusiastic welcome to Mike Feyder, who officially joined the lab as a graduate student!

August 2018—Congrats to Kristyn, who has just been appointed a pre-doctoral fellow position on the NIH Innate Immunity T32 training grant!


Sept 2018:  Very pleased to announce that we received official notice of award for our exocyst NIH R01 grant renewal!! Four more years! Keep rockin' on, Munson lab!


August 3, 2018: Congratulations to Alex, for a terrific presentation of his summer research!

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Mary co-organized the "Molecular Mechanisms of Membrane Trafficking" conference in Seoul, South Korea, on May 17-19. Mary and Dante had a fabulous trip and learned a lot! 

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May 7, 2018: Congratulations to our newest PhD candidate, Kristyn Norris, on passing her qualifying exam! Looking forward to many exciting successes to come!

Mary presented the 2018 Division of Biosciences Patricia Clarke Lecture at University College London in January 2018.

Mary had the honor of serving as a Visiting Scholar at Duquesne University in September, and it was a lot of fun and good science!