Jessica Douthit is in her 4th year of the MD/PhD program at the NYU School of Medicine and is working on a PhD in Developmental Genetics. Plexin A, a transmembrane protein known to affect motor axon guidance and targeting of R1-R6 photoreceptors in Drosophila, was shown to also affect targeting of R7 photoreceptors. The goal of Jessica's project is to characterize Plexin A’s role in guidance of R7s with the use of genetic tools and manipulations available in the Drosophila model system. Along with her PI, Jessica Treisman, Jessica Douthit is currently working to generate a mutant for PlexA and characterize the mutant phenotype. She would like to determine what cells require PlexA expression for targeting of R7s and then attempt to rescue the mutant phenotype. She is also trying to determine the binding parter of PlexA in this context and whether PlexA is acting as a ligand or a receptor.
Josephine Garban is currently a PhD Candidate in a Molecular Medicine Program at Pennsylvania State University, Department of Carcinogenesis and Molecular Toxicology. Her lab work consists of working on understanding the role of microRNA's in the regulation of of reverse cholesterol transport. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and her projected graduation date is during the 2015-2016 year.
Samantha Garcia is currently starting her third year as a PhD student in the Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis PhD program at Thomas Jefferson University. Prior to this, she earned a bachelor's degree in Biology at Temple University in 2011 and attended Archbishop Ryan high school. At Thomas Jefferson University, Samantha works in the lab of Dr. DC Hooper. The lab uses the rabies virus as a model for understanding diseases of the central nervous system. Her project, in particular, involves long term protection in the Central Nervous system using this model.
From 2009-2011, Eric Bryant Gibbs performed research in the lab of Dr. Daniel R. Strongin at Temple University. Here, he investigated the effects of a novel polymeric coating on mining waste to develop a new remediation strategy for acid mine drainage, a pressing environmental concern in the area. He also had the opportunity to learn many new techniques and present his findings at a national conference.
Now, he is currently working toward a PhD in chemistry at Pennsylvania State University. He works in the lab of Dr. Scott Showalter, where they apply biophysical chemistry techniques to the study of disordered proteins and protein-RNA interactions. The study of disordered proteins is important as 15% of human proteins are intrinsically disordered and nearly 50% of all human proteins contain a disordered segment, yet we know little about the dynamics and functional roles of these complex macromolecules. He is currently investigating the carboxy-terminal of RNA polymerase II (CTD) using 3-D nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (3D-NMR). The CTD is of importance as it mediates all phases of eukaryotic transcription. Eric won honorable mention in the NSF GRF award competition this past year.
Ashley Schloss is currently a 4th year PhD candidate at Yale University in the department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. She is currently working on several different protein engineering and design projects and was also awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.