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Recent Graduate Profile Archive

Dr. Rafael DemarcoName: Rafael Demarco
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
PhD Mentor:  Erik Lundquist
PhD year: 2011
Dissertation title: An Axon’s Journey To Find It’s Path: in vivo Characterization of the Modulators and Effectors of the Rac GTPase Signaling Pathway Involved in Axon Guidance
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Leanne Jones , Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California Los Angeles
Current project:  I am studying the relationship between mitochondrial metabolism and stem cell behavior/aging.  Aside from their well characterized role as ‘powerhouses’ of the cell, mitochondria are key players in many cellular processes (such as apoptosis, calcium homeostasis and many other signaling events) related to stem cell homeostasis.  Using different adult stem cell populations in Drosophila melanogaster, I am characterizing the role that mitochondrial dynamics play in stem cell niches in vivo.

Dr. Casey McNeilName: Casey McNeil​
Hometown: Wellington, KS​
PhD Mentor: Stuart Macdonald​
PhD year: 2012
Dissertation title: Quantitative Genetic Mapping of Life History Traits in Drosophila melanogaster
Current position:  Assistant Professor of Biology, Newman University, Wichita, KS ​ 
Current project: Genetic mapping of over-the-counter drug toxicity in Drosophila melanogaster

Dr. Fernando EstradaName: D. Fernando Estrada
Hometown: Dodge City, Kansas
PhD Mentor: Roberto De Guzman
PhD year: 2011
Dissertation title: "NMR studies of the Hantavirus & Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Glycoprotein Cytoplasmic Tails"
Current position:  NIH Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dr. Emily Scott, Medicinal Chemistry at KU. 
Current project: My current project is very exciting. I've recently accepted a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to adapt solution NMR for the study of the human cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP17A1. This P450 catalyzes two reactions critical to the production of androgens, thereby making it an attractive drug target for the treatment of androgen-responsive diseases like prostate and breast cancer. Our goal is to identify structural features that are unique to the binding of different substrates and inhibitors, then translating this data to inform the design of novel CYP17A1 inhibitors.

Dr. Erick SpearsName: Erick Spears
Hometown: Denver, CO
PhD Mentor: Kristi Neufeld
PhD year: 2011
Dissertation title: Tumor Suppressor APC and Musashi1: Double-Negative Feedback, Wnt Signaling and Colon Cancer
Current position:  Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the lab of Stephen R. Hann, the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
Current project: The most well described function of the oncoprotein c-Myc is as a transcription factor involved in upregulation of genes involved in stimulating mitosis.  The promoter regions of canonical c-Myc target genes contain an E-box motif, CACGTG, to which c-Myc binds directly.  Recently, data from this lab has indicated that c-Myc can stimulate the expression of genes that do not contain this standard E-box element, non-canonical target genes.  Also, a subset of genes has been shown to be repressed, instead of activated, by c-Myc.  My interests lie in these non-canonical and repressed c-Myc targets.  Using molecular and cell biology techniques I aim to elucidate the mechanisms of non-canonical activation and repression by c-Myc and to assess the effects of these targets on c-Myc-specific cellular phenotypes, specifically those involved in the development and progression of cancers.

Dr. Qianyi Luo

Name: Qianyi Luo
Hometown: Yizhou, GuangXi (China)
PhD Mentor: Audrey Lamb
PhD year: 2009
Dissertation title: Mechanistic and structural studies of salicylate biosynthesis in Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Current position:  Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Ishwar Radhakrishnan at Northwestern University
Current project: I am interested in how eukaryotic transcriptional coactivators function as molecular adaptors in promoting transcription at specific genomic loci. Currently, I am investigating the structural aspects of DNA-dependent interactions between CREB and the CRTC family of CREB coactivators using diverse approaches including biochemical and biophysical approaches, NMR spectroscopy, and x-ray crystallography.

Dr. Anna WangName: Yang (Anna) Wang
Hometown: Harbin, China
PhD Mentor:  Kristi Neufeld
PhD year: 2009
Dissertation title:Nuclear functions of Adenomatous Polyposis Coli: regulation of the G2-M cell cycle transition & intermediate filament interaction
Current position:  Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Robert Coffey at Vanderbilt University
Current project: I am studying the negative regulators of ErbB receptor family, Lrig1, Lrig3 and Mig6, with regard to their functions in intestinal stem cell homeostasis and tumorigenesis, using mouse models.

Dr. Yu WangName: Yu Wang
Hometown: Xiangyang, Hubei (China)
PhD Mentor:  Roberto De Guzman
PhD year: 2009
Dissertation title: NMR studies of bacterial type III secretion apparatus needle and tip proteins and the NMR structure of the hantavirus nucleocapsid coiled-coil domain
Current position:  Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Nico Tjandra at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health
Current project: I am currently working on parameterizing the novel NMR restraints on protein structure calculation, like water accessibility etc. I am also working on the structural and functional characterization of membrane associated bcl-2 family proteins that are involved in mitochondria mediated apoptosis.

Name: Adam Norris
Hometown: Brea, California (Orange County)
PhD Mentor: Erik Lundquist
PhD year: 2011
Dissertation title: Watching neurons grow: guidance receptors, signal transduction machinery and cytoskeletal regulators affect growth cone morphology and dynamics in C. elegans
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow in the lab of John Calarco at Harvard University
Current project: I am interested in how the specialized functions of diverse neuronal cells are specified by customized gene regulatory programs. Specifically, I am investigating how cell-subtype specific alternative splicing is regulated in the nervous system. I am using a combination of biochemistry, cell biology, classical genetics and genome wide analyses to identify novel splicing regulators and investigate the role of alternative splicing on nervous system development and function, initially in the nematode C. elegans, and further down the road in mammalian systems as well.

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