Past PREP Scholars
2021 PREP Scholars
Sasha Celada graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in Microbiology in May 2021. She was working with Larisa Nonn in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine on a study of the role of vitamin D deficiency in blocking the differentiation of prostate cells to promote prostate cancer and its links to prostate cancer disparities in African American patients. She continued her research over the summer before starting in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Alberto (Beto) Araiza graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Biology (minor in Psychology) in May 2020. He was working with Mitch Roitman in the Department of Psychology (Cognitive Neurosciences) in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and was studying how thirst and hunger neural circuits selectively and differentially drive motivated behaviors, and specifically the role of the lateral hypothalamic area in relaying signals from the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus to dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area that is known for its role in guiding goal-directed behavior. He is a Senior PREP Scholar in 2022 in Liz Glover's Lab, Department of Psychiatry, at UIC.
Skylar Grimsley graduated from Norfolk State University with a B.S. degree in Biology (minor in Chemistry) in May 2021. She was working with Rich Minshall in the Department of Anesthesiology in the College of Medicine, and testing the hypothesis that the elevated levels of circulating glycosphingolipids (GLS) in obese patients with breast cancer prime their lung endothelial cells for cancer metastases. If this is the case, then it could explain why obese women are at greater risk for breast cancer metastasis than non-0bese women, as GLS are known to stimulate aberrant signaling that promotes cell metastatic behavior. She is currently a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tim Dorsey graduated with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Illinois State University in May 2021. He was working with Joanna Burdette in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy, and was studying the mechanisms underlying high grade serous ovarian cancer. Fallopian tube epithelial cells that lack Phosphatase and Tensin homolog (PTEN, a model of the disease) upregulate Lysyl Oxidase homolog 2 (LOXL2), and his study was evaluating whether LOXL2 itself promotes cell tumorigenic behaviors like migration, invasion, and spheroid formation. He continued to work on his project in Dr. Burdette's lab over the summer, and is now in the joint UIC PharmD/PhD program in the College of Pharmacy.
Isabel (Izzy) Izquierido graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. degree in Biology and Society with a focus in Infectious Disease Biology in June 2021. She was working with Nancy Freitag in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine, and studying a pheromone-responsive operon in Listeria monocytogenes consisting of two Rgg pheromone-responsive transcription factors and a coding sequence for a putative hydrolase that potentially assists the bacteria to grow in infected host cells. She evaluated the roles of the proteins encoded by this operon to determine whether they play a role in the escape of L. monocytogenes from the host cell vacuole. She started up in the University of Chicago Biosciences Program this Fall.
Jessica (Jessie) Petrey graduated from Vanderbilt University with a dual B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and Medicine, Health, and Society in May 2021. She was working with Lauren Palmer in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Medicine, and studying Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacterial pathogen that is the major cause of community and hospital infections of the lung and blood. A. baumannii exhibits multidrug resistance in part because of its ability to make genomic rearrangements that frequently occur via genetic transposition. She was evaluating conditions that induced the expression of transposable genes to understand this bacterial transposition process and potentially identify ways to better treat A. baumannii infections. She has joined the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, this Fall.
2020 PREP Scholars
Earon Grinage graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. degree in Molecular Cellular Biology in May 2020. He was working with Deepak Shukla in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science in the College of Medicine, and studying the mechanisms of herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infection of the eye by comparing clinical strains of HSV-1 to identify viral and host factors essential for the viral life cycle, and explore new antiviral treatment options that target different stages of infection. He is now in the UIC MSTP seeking a joint MD/PhD.
Heddy Menendez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in June 2020. She was working with Donald Vander Griend in the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine. Heddy was investigating the role of the transcription factor SOX2 in prostate cancer, and more specifically, what role this factors plays in mitochondrial function and stability in murine and human prostatic cancer cell lines. The ultimate goal is to create new strategies to prevent and treat prostate benign prostatic hyperplasia and cancer. Heddy is a Graduate student in the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) program at the University of California, Davis.
Nigina Khamidova graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a B.S. degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology in June 2020. She was working with Stephanie Cologna in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Her project was focused on the effects of cyclodextrin drugs on mice with Niemann-Pick Type C1 (NPC1) disease using MALDI-Mass Spectrometry Imaging. NPC1 is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by the lack of transport of cholesterol and other lipids and their storage in the lysosome. Previous studies have shown that cyclodextrin drugs impact cholesterol homeostasis, lysosome-ER association, and the autophagy-lysosomal pathway in NPC1 cells and may promote cholesterol and lipid transport. She is currently a Graduate student in the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Alejandro Cabrera-Cortez also graduated with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in June 2020. He was working with Mike Federle in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy. He was studying how short hydrophobic peptides--shps--are used to regulate gene expression in the human respiratory pathogen S. pneumoniae D39 through quorum sensing. He is currently a Graduate student in Geobiology at Caltech and has joined Jared Leadbetter's lab.
Irueosa (Osadayi) Ohanmu graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a B.S. degree in Biology in May 2020. The project, in the laboratory of Shura Mankin and Nora Laslop-Vazquez, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Center for Biomolecular Sciences in the College of Pharmacy, focussed on the mechanisms of antibiotics that target the ribosome, or more specifically, the mechanism of action of a proline-rich antimicrobial peptide--Drosocin--from the immune system of fruit flies, and how it interacts with the ribosome to inhibit protein synthesis. Osadayi was a Graduate student in Biomedical Sciences at Rutgers University but opted to explore fashion design and is currently studying at the Parsons, The New School of Design.
Destiny Ogbu and Omar Niagne continued in 2020 as Senior PREP Scholars. Destiny is now a Graduate student in the GEMS program at UIC. Omar is now a Graduate student in the Cell and Molecular Biology program at Stanford University, and joined Mary Beth Mudgett's lab.
2019 PREP Scholars
Omar Niagne graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, with a B.S. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology in May 2019. His past research experiences include creating a genetic tool to diagnose Bitter Crab Disease in Tanner Crabs and in situ hybridization probes to help track certain activities in anoxia-induced turtles. He was working in Nancy Freitag's laboratory (Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine) on "Uncovering the Composition of a Bacterial Peptide Pheromone in Listeria monocytogenes that Facilitates its Escape from the Host’s Vacuole." He is a graduate student at Stanford University in the laboratory of Mary Beth Mudgett.
Destiny Ogbu graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. degree in Psychology in May 2019. Her past research project was a cross-sectional analysis using statistics to compare distinct brain regions between pre-diagnosed men and women with Huntington's Disease. She was working with Jun Sun (Gastroenterology and Hepatology, College of Medicine). She is a graduate student in the UIC GEMS program and working in the Steven Roth lab.
Reggie Woods graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in Microbiology in May 2019. His past research project was on the detection of Parechovirus and Enterovirus among infants evaluated for late-onset Sepsis in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is currently working with Mike Federle (Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Center for Biomedical Sciences, College of Pharmacy), and the title of his research project was "Using Genetic Screens to Identify Specialized Metabolites and Quorum Sensing Modulators in Pathogenic Streptococci." He is a MD/PhD student at UIC.
Garrett Williams graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Neuroscience in June 2019. His past research experiences include a study of depersonalization and sensorimotor processing at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College, London. He is currently working with Pauline Maki (Psychiatry, Psychology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine), and the title of his research project was "The Role of Mitochrondrial Dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease Pathology." Garrett is a Research Associate at Neurobehavioral Systems, Inc., in San Francisco.
2018 PREP Scholars
Briana Banks graduated with her BS Integrative Biology and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign in May 2018. She was working in the laboratory of Alan Diamond (Department of Pathology, College of Medicine) on health disparities in prostate cancer and the role of selenium and SELENOF, a selenium-containing protein, in enhanced prostate cancer susceptibility in African American males: Determining the Morphologies of SELENOF and SELENOF-Deficient Cells. She is a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the Cancer Biology Program with Matthew Brady.
KiAundra Kilpatrick graduated with her BS in Biology from Florida A&M University in May 2018. She was working for Joanna Burdette in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy in the College of Pharmacy. Her research is focused on norepinephrine signaling in the metastasis of ovarian cancer: The Role of Norepinpherine in Fallopian Tube Epithelial Cell Recruitment and Primary Metastasis of Ovarian Cancer. She is a medical student at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.
Paula Bazzino graduated with her BS Psychology (cognitive and behavioral neuroscience track) from the University of Florida in May 2018. She was working in the laboratory of Mitch Roitman (Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) on the neural basis of normal motivated behavior in feeding and drinking: Induction of Thirst Through Multiple Mechanisms Recruits the Mesolimbic Signaling to Water Cues. She is currently continuing her graduate studies in the laboratory of Mitchell Roitman.
Tyler Brown graduated with his BS in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in December 2017. He was working in the laboratory of Alexander Mankin (Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, College of Pharmacy) on the antibiotic mechanism of proline rich antimicrobial peptides: Optimizing the Antimicrobial Peptide Apidaecin By in vivo Selection. He is currently a graduate student in MCGD Track (Genetics) at Yale University in Susan Baserga's Lab.