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Current Graduate Students

Incoming Graduate Student Class

1st Row:  Shoichi Tachiyama, Zoe Dimond, Rhea Abisado, Sarah Mullinax, Haeyoung Kim, Reshma Bhattacharya

2nd Row:  Kevin Tyner, Rik Dhar, David Ingham, Snehal Mahadik, Priyanka Goyal

3rd Row:  Joan Klages, Erica Keffeler, Sanjana Sundararajan, Latavia Hill

Name:  Rhea G. Abisado
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  rabisado@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology (major in Microbiology) - University of the Phillipines Los Baños (2007), M.S. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology - University of the Philippines Los Baños (2011)
Hometown:  Sorsogon, Philippines
Research Interests:  Microbiology

Name:  Haifa Alhadyian   
Advisor:  Rob Ward
Email:  h595a108@ku.edu
Educational Background:  Bachelor's Degree in Zoology - The University of Dammam, College of Science (2012)
Hometown:  Dammam, Saudi Arabia 
Research Interests:  My research interests focus on understanding the role of occluding junction proteins in collective cell migration during Drosophila melanogaster oogenesis.


hikmat al-hashimi

Name:  Hikmat Al Hashimi 
Advisor:  Matthew Buechner
Email:  hikmat@ku.edu          
Educational Background:  Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering - Jordan University of Science and Technology (2005), Master’s Degree in Biotechnology - Northumbria University (2007)
Hometown:  Baghdad, Iraq and Irbid, Jordan
Research Interests:  Biological tube structures can be found in many organs in our body, such as the nephrons of the kidney and the blood vessels. We are interested in studying the properties of these biological tube structures, specifically, the mechanism by which a tube maintains its diameter and length. In our research, we use the Caenorhabditis elegans excretory canal as a model of the tube structure.  Our research group identified genes that play a role in maintaining the tube structure of the canal, the exc genes. I am studying exc-2 using genetic approaches to understand its function in the cell.    

Name:  Nan Bai
Advisor:  Eric Deeds
Email:  n206b214@ku.edu
Educational Background:  M.S. in Biology - Illinois Institute of Technology (2014)
Hometown:  China
Research Interests:  Microbiology and Cancer Biology

Name:  Anuja Bhatta
Advisor:  Steve Benedict
Email:  a751b166@ku.edu 
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - University of New Orleans (2012)
Hometown:  Kathmandu, Nepal
Research Interests:  T cell Biology

Name:  Reshma Bhattacharya
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Educational Background:  B.Tech. in Biotechnology - West Bengal University of Technology (2015)
Hometown:  West Bengal, India
Research Interests:  Molecular Biology and Immunology

Name:  Molly Birrer
Advisor:  Brian Ackley
Email:  mbirrer@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI (2014)
Hometown:  Indianapolis, Indiana
Research Interests:  Genetics and Cancer Biology

Name:  Bryce Blankenfeld
​Advisor:  Chris Gamblin
Educational Background:  B.A. in Psychology - University of Minnesota Morris (2014)
Hometown:  Bemidji, Minnesota 
Research Interests:  Understanding the role of the microtubule associated tau protein in Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies
Name:  Alex Bowman
Advisor:  Mark Richter
Email:  abowman@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry - University of Kansas (2013)
Hometown:  Medicine Lodge, Kansas
Research Interests: Structure/function of ATP Synthase, structure/function of E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Parkin
Name:  Amritangshu Chakravarty
Advisor:  Roberto De Guzman
Email:  a718c558@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry - University of Calcutta (2009), M.S. in Biochemistry - University of Calcutta (2011)
Hometown:  Kolkata, India
Research Interests:  Structural Biology, Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Name:  Thelma Chiremba
​Advisor:  Kristi Neufeld
Educational BackgroundB.A. in Biological Chemistry with minor in Neuroscience - Grinnell College, Iowa (2014)
HometownChitungwiza, Zimbabwe 
Research InterestsCellular/Molecular/Cancer Biology

Name:  Dwight Deay
Advisor:  Mark RIchter
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry - University of Kansas (2008)
Hometown:  Des Moines, Iowa
Research Interests:  ATP synthase structure/function, Design and optimization of flavin containing oxidase enzymes for biosensor applications
Awards/Honors:  NIGMS Biotechnology Training Grant

Name:  Zoe Dimond
Advisor:  Scott Hefty
Educational Background:  B.S in Biology, Chemistry minor - Oregon State University (2014)
Hometown:  Portland, Oregon
Research Interests:  Using whole genome sequencing and genetics to explore mechanisms in infectious disease

amanda dunbar

Name:  Amanda Dunbar
Advisor:  Steve Benedict
Email:  a223d891@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.A. in Biology and Biochemistry - University of Minnesota-Morris (2011)
Hometown:  Rochester, Minnesota
Research Interests:  T cell biology and the development of autoimmunity​
Awards/Honors:  Morris Scholar 

Name:  Stacie Eliades-Becker
AdvisorErik Lundquist
Email:  seliades@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.A. in Biochemistry – Smith College, Northampton, MA (2002)
Hometown:  Muncie, Indiana
Research Interests:  Adapting and improving upon current Next Gen Sequencing methodologies to better serve livestock and aquaculture breeding programs.

Name:  Angela Fowler
AdvisorDavid Davido
Email:  angief@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology with minor in Chemistry - Pittsburg State University (2006)
Hometown:  Pittsburg, Kansas
Research Interests:  I am currently interested in how host cellular proteins affect HSV-1, particularly focusing on how they affect the viral protein, ICP0.
Awards/Honors:  EL Wolf & Mildred Pursell Scholarship – 2011; ASV travel award – 2011; Trainee on the Vaccinogenesis training grant - 2011- 2012; Robert H. Ammar Graduate Teaching Award - 2013; Ritter Travel Award - 2013;  International Herpesvirus Workshop Travel Award - 2013;  Robert H. Himes Graduate Teaching Award - 2014​

Name:  Christian Gomez
Advisor:  Kristi Neufeld
Email:  cgomez-2@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Washburn University (2013)
Hometown:  Topeka, Kansas
Research Interests:  The role of APC in cancer biology and differentiation
Name:  Elizabeth Grotemeyer
Advisor:  Eric Deeds
Email:  egrotemeyer1@gmail.com
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry, B.S in Mathematics - California State University, Dominguez Hills (2014)
Hometown:  Orangevale, California

Name:  Mahekta Gujar
Advisor:  Erik Lundquist
Email:  mahekta@gmail.com
Educational Background:  B.S. in Microbiology - University of Pune (2008),  M.S. in Microbiology - University of Pune (2010)
Hometown:  Pune, India
Research Interests:  Early developmental process of neuronal cell migration in Caenorhabditis elegans

Name:  Yuxiao Guo
Advisor:  Liang Xu
Email:  yxguo@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Wuhan University, China (2011)
HometownBeijing, China 
Research InterestsCancer associated long-noncoding RNAs

Name:  Kelly Harrison
Advisor:  Scott Hefty
Email:  kelly.harrison@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.A. in Biology - Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio (2010)
Hometown:  Jacksonville, Florida
Research Interests:  Immunology and Vaccine Development​
Awards/Honors:  2nd place, Graduate Student Poster Competition, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Annual Research Symposium, Oklahoma State University 2014; 2nd place, Graduate Student Poster Competition, Oklahoma State University Annual Research Symposium, 2014; 2nd place, Graduate Student Poster Competition, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Student Association Annual Symposium, Oklahoma State University 2013

Name:  Dianarys Hernandez-Aquino
Advisor:  Stuart Macdonald
Email:  dianarys.hernandez@gmail.com
Educational Background:  B.S. in Microbiology - University of Puerto Rico-Arecibo (2014)
Hometown:  San Sebastian, Puerto Rico
Research Interests:  Cellular and molecular biology, Protein-protein interactions, Biochemistry, Developmental biology and Microbiology

Name:  Latavia Hill
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  lataviahill@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Philander Smith College (2016)
Hometown:  Chicago, Illinois
Research Interests:  Microbiology, Bacteria-host interactions and pathogenesis, Microbial Ecology

Name:  Kara Hinshaw
Advisor:  Josephine Chandler
Email:  k699h433@ku.edu 
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology with minor in Chemistry - Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri (2012)
Hometown:  Ankeny, Iowa
Research Interests:  Our group is interested in a type of cell-cell communication called quorum sensing that plays a vital role for some bacteria during interspecies competition.  My research seeks to identify novel quorum sensing-controlled antibiotics and antibiotic resistance mechanisms and to understand how quorum sensing control of these genes is important for bacterial competition.
Awards/Honors:  Graduated Summa Cum Laude, NIH Training Grant in Dynamic Aspects of Chemical Biology

Name:  Anupama Kante
​Advisor:  Eric Deeds
Email:  anupama.kante@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biotechnology - University of Pune (2008), M.S. in Biotechnology - Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune (2010)
Hometown:  Pune, India
Research Interests:  The proteasome is a protease complex that irreversibly degrades proteins and is crucial to a number of cellular functions.  The proteasome is active only when its sub units are fully assembled.  I am studying the assembly pathways employed by this molecule in order to form an active complex.
Name:  Erica Keffeler
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  ekeffeler@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biotechnology - Missouri Western State University (2016)
Hometown:  Lenexa, Kansas
Research Interests:  Microbiology, Immunology

Name:  Nikola Kenjic
​Advisor:  Audrey Lamb
Email:  nkenjic@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Chemistry - University of Florida (2009), M.S in Biochemistry - University of Arizona (2014)
Hometown:  Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Research Interests:  Enzyme kinetics, Protein purification and biochemical, structural characterization of their function

Name:  Jittasak (Jake) Khowsathit
Advisor:  Eric Deeds    
Email:  jkhow@ku.edu              
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry - Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok (2011)
Hometown:  Bangkok, Thailand
Research Interests:  Computational Protein Design

Name:  Joan Klages
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  jklages@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Austin Peay State University (2016)
Hometown:  Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Research Interests:  Microbiology and Immunology

Name:  Jennifer Klaus
Advisor:  Josephine Chandler
Email:  jennklaus@ku.edu            
Educational Background:  B.S. and M.S. in Biology - Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS (2011 and 2014)
Hometown:  Hays, Kansas
Research Interests: Our group is interested in a type of cell-to-cell signaling in bacteria called quorum sensing, which is important for many bacteria to compete and survive in different environments including the host. My research seeks to understand how quorum sensing promotes survival of the gram-negative opportunistic human lung pathogen Burkholderia pseudomallei.
Awards/Honors:  2014 K-INBRE Award of Excellence for poster presentation; 2013 Outstanding GTA Award, Fort Hays State University Graduate School​, 2015 Chemical Biology 21st Annual Symposium Pre-orals Graduate Researcher Poster Presentation Award

Name:  Meagan Kurland
Advisor:  Brian Ackley
Email:  meagankurland@gmail.com
Hometown:  Etters, Pennsylvania
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA (2015)
Research Interests:  Development and Cellular Biology, Immunology

Name:  Scott LaBrie
Advisor:  Scott Hefty
Email:  scottlabrie@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Environmental Science - Haskell Indian Nations University (2014)
Hometown:  Sacramento, California

vi leitenberger

Name:  Vi Leitenberger          
Advisor:  Brian Ackley
Email:  leitenberger170221@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry - Newman University, Wichita (2009)
Hometown:  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Research Interests:  My thesis project focused on signals that regulate the anterior-posterior axon outgrowth guidance of the C elegans D-type GABAergic motorneurons. Preliminary loss of function analyses have shown that the planar cell polarity protein FMI-1/Flamingo, components of Wnt signaling pathway, and Notch signaling function in three parallel pathway to regulate A/P axon guidance. We also uncover a role for dynactin complex in determining D-type GABAergic motorneurons patterning. I am currently analyzing the genetic interactions, if any, among FMI-1, Notch, Wnt, and dynactin to understand more about these pathways. 

Lingfei Liang

Name:  Lingfei Liang
Advisor:  Liang Tang
Email:  luphy0320@hotmail.com
Educational Background:  B.S. in Bioengineering - Beijing Institute of Technology (2013)
Hometown:  Shandong, China
Research Interests:  Study the structure and assembly of macromolecules from viruses so as to understand the DNA-packaging or other process in these viruses

Name:  Nicole Massa
Advisor:   Lynn Hancock 
Email:  nmassa2015@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Molecular Biology and Math - Florida Institute of Technology (2014)
Name:  Jeff McFarlane
Advisor:  Audrey Lamb
Email:  jeffmcfarlane@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Sterling College, Kansas (1997), M.S. in Education - Park University, Parkville, MO (2003)
Research Interests:  Protein structure and function
Name:  Megan McKinney
Advisor:  Scott Hefty
Email:  mem2015@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - University of West Georgia (2015)
Research Interests:  Anything in microbiology really interests me.  I also find viral immunology, understanding the body's response to infection, fascinating and enjoyable.
Name:  Reid McLean
Advisor:  Jennifer Gleason
Email:  r343m544@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri (2014)
Name:  Sarah Mullinax
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Educational Background:  B.A. in Biology, B.A. in Spanish - Wartburg College, Waverly, IA (2016)
Hometown:  Overland Park, Kansas
Research Interests:  Microbiology and Immunology


yamini mutreja

Name:  Yamini Mutreja
Advisor:  Chris Gamblin
Email:  yamini@ku.edu
Educational Background:  Bachelor of Pharmacy - Kurukshetra University (2009), M.S. in Medicinal Chemistry - Virginia Commonwealth University (2011)
Hometown:  Karnal, India
Research Interests:  I am interested in understanding the role of protein tau involved in Alzheimer’s disease and various other tauopathies using in vitro biochemistry and cell culture model system.
Awards/Honors:  Mabel A. Woodyard Fellowship in Neurodegenerative Disorders (2013-2015)

vaishnavi nagarajan

Name:  Vaishnavi Nagarajan
Advisor:  Lisa Timmons
Email:  v612n423@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.Tech. in Biotechnology - Vellore Institute Technology, India (2010)
Hometown:  Chennai, India
Research Interests:  Biomolecules & mechanisms in molecular biology.

Name:  Matthew Ochs
Advisor:  Erik Lundquist
Email:  matthew.ochs@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Hope College, Holland, MI (2015)
Hometown:  Township, Michigan
Research Interests:  Virology and Developmental Biology
Name:  Nootan Pandey
​Advisor:  Yoshiaki Azuma
Email:  n070p188@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in  Biotechnology and Chemistry - VBS Purvanchal University, India (2006), M.S. in Microbiology - MITS University, India (2009)
Hometown:  Varanasi, UP, India
Research Interests:  Cancer Biology and Virology​

vitoria paolilla

Name:  Vitoria Paolillo
Advisor:  Berl Oakley
Email:  v136p507@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Northwest Missouri State University (2012)
Hometown:  St. Joseph, Missouri
Research Interests:  Molecular Biology and Genetics

Name:  Taybor Parker
Advisor:  Kristi Neufeld
Email:  parkertw@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - University of Missouri (2013)
Hometown:  Joplin, Missouri
Research Interests:  Translational medicine, epigenetics, colorectal cancer, and the gut microbiome
  Name:  Srivatsan Parthasarathy
Advisor:  Lynn Hancock
Email:  s679p149@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.Tech. in Biotechnology - Vellore Institute of Technology, India (2010)
Hometown:  Chennai, India
Research Interests:  Signal transduction pathways, cell cycle and genetic recombination
Name:  Aaron Rudeen
Advisor:  Kristi Neufeld
Email:  aaron.rudeen@gmail.com
Educational Background:  B.A. in Biology and B.A. in Chemistry - Bethel College, Kansas (2013)
Hometown: Osage City, Kansas
Research Interests:  Cancer Biology, Protein Purification
Awards/Honors:  NIH Biotechnology Training Grant (2015-2017), H.P. Cady Award (2015)

Name:  Sudeep Shakya
​Advisor:  Mizuki Azuma
Email:  s404s173@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biotechnology - Kathmandu University (2008), Professional Science Master's in Biotechnology - University of Northern Iowa (2010)
Name:  Katelyn Soules
Advisor:  Scott Hefty
Email:  ksoules@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.A. in Human Biology - University of Kansas (2014)
Hometown:  Lawrence, Kansas
Research Interests:  Immunology and Microbiology
Name:  Sanjana Sundararajan
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  sanjana.sundar95@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.Tech. in Biotechnology - Anna University, Chennai, India (2016)
Hometown:  Chennai, India
Research Interests: Genetics and Cancer Biology

denny swartzlander

Name:  Denny Swartzlander
Advisor:  Jennifer Gleason
Email:  dswartzlander@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.A. in Anthropology - University of Missouri-Columbia (2003), B.S. in Biology - University of Missouri-Kansas City (2009)

Hometown:  Kansas City, Missouri
Research Interests:  I study the genetics of pheromones and reproductive behavior of Drosophila flies. I'm interested in learning how genotypes affect phenotypes, and how behavior can be explained at the molecular level.


Name:  Shoichi Tachiyama
Advisor:  Rotation Student
Email:  s818t598@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences - Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan (2012), License to Practice Pharmacy (granted in Japan, 2012)
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Research Interests:  The mechanism of the infection to develop antibiotics in terms of biochemistry and pharmaceuticals

Name:  Victoria Vande Griend
Advisor:  Yoshiaki Azuma
Email:  vav365@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - University of Missouri (2015)
Hometown:  Marshfield, Missouri
Research Interests:  Genetics, Neurobiology and Cancer Biology

andy wolfe

Name:  Andy Wolfe
Advisor:  Kristi Neufeld
Email:  andyrwolfe@hotmail.com
Educational Background:  B.S. in Biology - Sterling College, Kansas (2005), M.S. in Biology with concentration in Microbial/Cellular Biology - Emporia State University (2008)
Hometown:  Augusta, Kansas
Research Interests:  Cancer Biology, Cell Signaling Pathways


NameSanjay Yadava
AdvisorRoberto De Guzman
Educational BackgroundB.S. in Biology - Newman University, Wichita (2010)

Name:  Zhe Yang
Advisor:  Matthew Buechner
Email:  z594y005@ku.edu
Educational Background:  B.S. in Bioengineering - China University of Mining & Technology, Beijing; Institution of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Science​ (2012)
Hometown:  Jinan, China
Research Interests:  Excretory canal of C. elegans ​

2015 Graduate Student Class

1st Row:  Victoria Vande Griend, Molly Birrer, Stacie Eliades-Becker, Megan McKinney
2nd Row:  Elizabeth Grotemeyer, Meagan Kurland, Katelyn Soules
3rd Row:  Taybor Parker, Jeff McFarlane, Nicole Massa, Scott LaBrie
4th Row:  Dianarys Hernandez-Aquino, Amritangshu Chakravarty, Srivatsan Parthasarathy, Matthew Ochs, Alex Bowman, Reid McLean

2014 Graduate Student Class

1st Row:  Jennifer Klaus,Nan Bai,Haifa Alhadyian, Anupama Kante, Sikta Patnaik
2nd Row:  Thelma Chiremba, Jin Niu
3rd Row:  Robert Wilkerson, Bryce Blankenfeld, Kelly Harrison, Nootan Pandey
4th Row:  Nikola Kenjic, Aaron Bart, Sudeep Shakya, Olivia Arizmendi

2013 Graduate Student Class

1st Row:  Erin Suderman, Kara Hinshaw
2nd Row:  Yuxiao Guo, Anuja Bhatta, Lingfei Liang, Sanjay Yadava
3rd Row:  Christian Gomez, Luke Wenger, Zhe Yang, Dwight Deay


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