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Meet the 2011 incoming class!

Sep 2011 | Ilana 1,144 Comments

Kris Blair
Indiana University, Bloomington 1998, Microbiology
From: Southern Indiana
Research Background: I graduated in 1998 and I have been working in academic labs for almost 10 years since then. Most recently, I have been working at Seattle Biomed for the last year. My research background is in the molecular genetics of bacteria. I discovered a novel mechanism of motility inhibition in Bacillus subtilis.
Research Interests: Protein Biochemistry and Technology Development.
Fun Facts: Spent a summer working for a airline loading and unloading cargo aircraft; enjoys hiking, backpacking, cycling, mother nature and beer; just got back from a Hawaiian honeymoon.
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Meara Davies
UC Berkeley 2008, Earth and Planetary Sciences
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Research Background: My research is focused on the genetic basis of metabolic disease.  I developed an assay that allows us to test of disease-associated SNPs in an isogenic yeast context and describe their contributions to the disease phenotype.
Research Interests: I am interested in human genomics, congenital disease, and technology development.  But my mind is open…  If the right lab blows me away, I’m ready to dive into new territory.
Fun Facts: Worked on restoring Che Guevarra’s original burial place in Bolivia during a high school community service trip; lifelong San Francisco Giants fan.

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Qing Feng
Chengdu, China 2010, Bioscience
From: Gansu, China
Research Background: Non-coding RNA interaction with P53, establishing a Rpl22L1 conditional KO mouse, studying the isoformes of Fmr1 transcripts.
Research Interests: Translational regulation research, aging and cancer.
Fun Facts: Always wanted to be a scientist; participated in exchange studies at UW.

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Kate Hooper
University of Washington 2011, Biochemistry and Microbiology
From: the desert side of Washington, east of the mountains
Research Background: A little of everything; some bacteria, some yeast, some HIV, and now some protein crystallography work, too!
Research Interests: Immunology and/or Virology
Fun Facts:  Once taught tap dancing to twenty 4-year-olds; wanted to be an aerospace engineer so I could tell people that what I did was, in fact, rocket science; volunteer at the Paramount and 5th Avenue Theatres.

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Nicole Iranon
University of Portland 2010, Biology and Philosophy
From: Puyallup, WA (about 45 minutes away from Seattle)
Research Background: Temperature effects on photoperiodic flowering; heart failure and endothelial regulation; GM1-gangliosidosis (a lysosomal storage disorder) and the lysosomal multienzyme complex.
Research Interests: Not sure yet!
Fun Facts: Got an early start on grad school with a summer rotation; taught a kung fu class for a semester during undergrad; wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up.

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Jackie Lang
UC Davis 2009, Genetics
From: Los Gatos, CA – a small town in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains
Research Background: As as undergrad I studied the effects of chromosome movement on homologous synapsis. In Susan Strome’s lab at UC Santa Cruz I’ve been investigating a potential role for H4K20me1 in dosage compensation in C. elegans.
Research Interests: I love chromatin! But I’m open to other things.
Fun Facts: Wanted to be an engineer when she grew up; road tripping through Canada before school starts.
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Elena Latorre-Esteves
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez 2011, Biology
From: The west coast of the island of Puerto Rico
Research Background: Worked on a project whose long term goal is to develop a real-time sensor for heart failure. Also worked on a photodynamic therapy treatment regimen for an infectious parasitic disease called cutaneous leishmaniasis and on detecting cancer in ulcerative colitis patients using DNA damage and senescence markers.
Research Interests: I hope to be able to work on a research project that allows me to help address important problems in human disease. Projects related to cancer, aging, and neuroscience are of utmost interest to me.
Fun Facts: Wanted to be an artist when she grew up, enjoys reading, baking, painting, and dancing.

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Rob Lawrence
University of Virginia 2009, Biomedical Engineering/Economics
From: Charlottesville, VA
Research Background: Adaptation of mammalian cellular metabolism to extracellular challenges. Used a systems biology approach via mass spectrometry, microarrays, high-throughput assays, and modeling to assemble a database of putative control mechanisms in cultured fat cells which are actively under investigation with more traditional approaches.
Research Interests: Genome-scale or systems biology approaches to cell signaling networks and their control over major biological processes at the molecular level.
Fun Facts: Has been Whitaker Fellow at the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia, since graduating; worked at a moving and storage company run by college students aka “The Services”; wanted to be a park ranger when he grew up.

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Katie Lombardo
USC 2007, Biology major, Anthropology minor
From: Seattle
Research Background: I have been working on a rare bone marrow failure disease and investigating its progression to leukemia (at the Hutch).
Research Interests: Open to trying out new research in grad school.
Fun Facts: Traveled to the Galapagos last year and is going to SE Asia before school starts; wanted to be a veterinarian or a teacher when she grew up.

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Stacey Meeker
Undergrad: Ohio State 2006, Animal Sciences; Veterinary School: Ohio State 2010
From: Maumee, Ohio
Research Background: Looking at the effects of VEGF on follicular development in ewe lambs.
Research Interests: Cancer biology
Fun Facts: Worked as a lab tech at a sperm bank; wanted to be a small animal veterinarian when she grew up (finally, someone who fulfilled their childhood dreams of being a vet!)

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Shannon Newman
Lawrence University 2011, Biochemistry Major, German Minor
From: St. Charles, Illinois
Research Background: I have done research on the immune response of snail hemocytes, protein crystallography, and the regulatory genes of colony formation for the bacteria Vibrio fischeri.
Research Interests: I’m not entirely sure yet. I think working with stem cells could be really neat but I’m keeping an open mind.
Fun Facts: Worked in a veterinary clinic for two years in high school; wanted to be a marine biologist when she grew up; plays the viola.

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Kwaku Opoku
Concordia College/University of Minnesota (Dual Degree Program) 2009, Applied Science/Biomedical Engineering
From: Ghana, came to the US for college
Research Background: Studied the effect of substrate stiffness on glioblastoma morphology, proliferation and migration.
Research Interests: Cancer or Cardiovascular research
Fun Facts: Has been a telemarketer (and says people really do hate telemarketers!); likes playing soccer and wants to visit the UK to watch a live English Premier League game.

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Sergey Ovchinnikov
Portland State University 2010 Micro/Molecular Biology, Chemistry
From: Ukraine, grew up in Portland, OR
Research Background: My research has primary focused on phylogenetic methods and molecular evolution. My recent work includes resolving the relationship among the chelicerates (spiders and their kin) and trying to understand the evolution of their mitochondrial genomes. These genomes are highly unusual, including transfer and ribosomal RNA genes that are missing regions, rearrangement of genes, wide range of interchangeability between amino acids, to extremely high levels of base composition bias in the genomes. It is amazing how this amount of variation can exist in the genomes and genes of one of the most essential components of a cell.
Research Interests: I’m interested in seeing how genes and biological systems have changed over time, and if this can be used to help us understand if not the absolute function then at least the constraints under which the meta-programmer (aka nature) functions. I want to be able to simulate the very essence of life and watch life build and maintain itself.
Fun Facts: Wanted to be an animator, bring life to monsters on screen and produce the daily comic strip.

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Biswajit (Bish) Paul
University of Washington, 2007, MCB
From: Hyderabad, India
Research Background: Found that putting down “cloning” and “genetic manipulation using viral vectors”under ‘Research done in the Past’ results in some very interesting interviews with Immigration and the Department of Homeland Security.
Research Interests: Neurotransmitters and behavioral neuroscience.
Fun Facts: Has been a tech at UW and the Hutch; wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up and is planning on traveling to Seattle via spaceship.

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Carissa Pilling
University of Colorado Boulder 2009, Biochemistry & Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
From: Longmont, CO
Research Background: Biophysical studies of the membrane targeting Pleckstrin Homology (PH) domain. More specifically the molecular mechanisms PH domains, that only bind the lipid second messenger PIP3, use to find this rare lipid second messenger.
Research Interests: Not sure! I want to try three very different rotations.
Fun Facts:  Has been through the entire Grand Canyon on the Colorado River; taught a social skills class to teens with autism and aspergers.

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Joseph Sanchez
University of New Mexico 2011, Biology
From: Farmington, New Mexico
Research Background: Chromatin Remodeling during double strand break repair.
Research Interests: Not sure, just excited to get started on something!
Fun Facts: Has been a secret shopper at restaurants; wanted to be a jet fighter pilot when he grew up.

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Monica Sanchez
University of New Mexico 2011, Biology
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Research Background: Next generation sequencing, Genomics
Research Interests: Not sure yet
Fun Facts: Was Geoffry the Giraffe for Toys R Us; wanted to be a veterinarian when she grew up; is taking a road trip up the coast to Seattle.

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Becky Scholz
Caltech 2011, Biology
From: Chicago, grew up in Bend, OR
Research Background: Dorsal-Twist-Snail network in Drosophila and microRNA-155′s role in the immune system and EAE in particular.
Research Interests: Leaning towards microbiology (biofilm physiology) or neurobiology.
Fun Facts: Was a volunteer dog-walker for the Humane Society; wanted to be a professional soccer player or a veterinarian when she grew up.

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Zoi Villasana
FIU Miami 2008, Biology
From: Born in Memphis, TN and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela.
Research Background: I have worked in several projects but the most recent one is called Pathogen Discovery. In this project, we found a novel African Swine Fever Virus in humans using Next Generation Sequencing technologies. This Virus was known to infect only ticks and pigs but now is also found in humans, which is considered an emergent infectious disease.
Research Interests: I am interested in host pathogen interaction related to cell signaling and proteomics.
Fun Facts: Wanted to be an archeologist like Indiana Jones but ended up being a different kind of investigator; worked with strange unknown viruses at BSL3 to BSL4 levels of containment. It was like the movie “Airborne” wearing suits and gas mask in a secret underground lab.

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Jenn Whiddon
University of Texas at Austin 2008, B.S. of Psychology and B.A. in Plan II Honors
From: Born in Midland, TX, grew up in The Woodlands, TX
Research Background: In college I did stroke rehabilitation strategy research with Dr. Theresa Jones.
Research Interests: Not sure yet.
Fun Facts: Worked for two years as a 7th grade science teacher at the KIPP charter school in Austin, TX, preparing low-income minority students for college; camping her way from Texas to Seattle.

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