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2014 Class

MARC Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research

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Trent Gray Jr.

Trent Gray Jr. works in the Molecular Biology Lab located in the Bio-Life Science building at Temple University, under his P.I, Allen Nicholson, and mentor, Rhonda Nicholson. His current project is as follows: Ribonucleases participate in cellular and viral RNA maturation and degradation pathways, and play essential roles in gene expression and regulation. Determining how ribonucleases regulate gene expression is necessary for understanding cellular function in normal and disease states. They are cloning the Escherichia coli RNase II gene by a ligation-independent approach, affinity purifying the protein, and examining its interaction with purified E. coli RNase III by gel filtration and surface plasmon resonance.

Trent Gray Jr. is from the inner city of Harrisburg, PA, where in High School he was dually-enrolled at Sci-Tech High School and Harrisburg University. Trent was a three sport athlete (Football, Basketball, Baseball) in high school, where he was selected All-City two years in a row for baseball. He then came to Temple University and was given the opportunity of playing football for two seasons. As of now, in his spare time, Trent enjoys working in the lab, playing recreational sports, seeing live theatre, and writing poetry. Trent is a member of the NSCS (National Society of Collegiate Scholars), BSU (Black Student Union), and Three Star Mentoring Program for at risk high school young men.

Jaileen Hernandez-Escalante

('12- '14), Biochemistry major, ABRCMS 2012 Poster Award Biochemistry Division

Lynn Hieu

Lynn is a senior at Temple University, majoring in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. Growing up in the Philadelphia public school system, the sciences was not taught in a manner of importance; very little interest and lack of funding went towards the sciences. She attended Edward Bok Technical High School where students would take up a concentration or “trade” following Freshman year. For her senior project, Lynn presented research on “insanity defense,” which sparked her interest in Neuroscience. Due to some reservations, Lynn began her Neuroscience studies in the College of Liberal Arts at Temple University, rather than the College of Science and Technology. However, in her Sophomore year she received the MARC Scholarship and decided to make the transition into CST.

Since Lynn has attended Temple University, she has participated in several organizations that are committed in helping students achieve academic excellence. In addition to being awarded the MARC scholarship, she was a McNair Scholar which encouraged students to attend PhD programs. Also, through the Russell Conwell Center Lynn was granted the W.W. Smith Scholarship as well as the Lorraine Kligman Endowment Fund through CST, both of which recognize students that presented academic merit.

Currently, Lynn is interning at the Weinberg Unit for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) at Jefferson University under the mentorship of Brian Doyle (Master’s student) and Dr. Piera Pasinelli, PhD. Her current project aims to provide evidence that suggest whether or not there is indeed a correlation between hyper-oxidized SOD1 protein and corticobulbar onset in sALS. Previously, she interned at the Biology Department at Temple University under the mentorship of Naoto Tanaka (PhD student) and Dr. Jacqueline Tanaka, PhD. Her project in that lab was to observe internal localization of an aggregate protein in HEK cells that were transfected with a mutant gene in which caused day-blindness in canines.

After she graduates, Lynn plans on going into a PhD program, expressing interest in Jefferson University, Rutgers University, UMASS, and Johns Hopkins. She prefers to conduct research on neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, this summer (2013) Lynn interned for ten weeks at the Weinberg Unit for ALS research at Thomas Jefferson University and just recently presented a poster on her findings.

"It is indeed a blessing to have been and be a part of these wonderful opportunities which is why I always give back to my community. As a product and representative of my community, I try my best to invest time in attending and volunteering in community service events such as volunteering at the Annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Jam event at the Russell Conwell Center, street clean-ups in my community in South Philadelphia, participating in this year’s Philly’s AIDS Walk, and more. One day, I would like to open up my own scholarship foundation to students who struggle financially and provide help and support through their college careers because I know it is not an easy task; especially growing up in a single parent household, attending a public school system, and the array of negative consequences of all that."

Jernelle Miller

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Jernelle Miller grew up in Syracuse, New York and attended Liverpool High School where she was a part of the Dynasty Step Squad. After graduating in 2009, she began her tenure at Temple University as a biochemistry major and her lab was in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Drexel University, College of Medicine. There, she and her PI Brian Wigahl, worked on a project using ChIP analysis to observe the protein DNA bond in HIV-LTR. During her time as an undergraduate, Jernelle presented her research at a number of conferences including the GFR Symposium (Sept. '13), the Symposium for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (Apr. '13), and the ABCRMS (Nov. '12).

Currently, Jernelle is working at John Hopkins in a translational immunology lab focusing on GI cancer. She recently starting taking classes for her Masters in Biotechnology with a concentration in Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery and plans to pursue a PhD in Pharmocology in the near future. In her spare time, Jernelle enjoys listening to music, playing sudoku, and traveling.

Quynh Nguyen

Quynh is currently working at the Argonne National Lab where she does theoretical modeling in the Energy Systems division. She works with a group of experimentalists to develop models that minimize the wear and friction behaviors between two contacting mechanical surfaces. She will be attending graduate school this fall for chemical physics but hasn't yet made a decision as to where.

Garvin Peters

Garvin Peters is a senior at Temple University majoring in chemistry. He is currently working in Dr. Michael Zdilla’s lab on the synthesis of macrocycles (as well as some inorganic synthesis on the side). These macrocycles are being designed to be complexed with cobalt, with the end goal being the catalytic conversion of carbon oxides into value-added organic molecules. The synthesis is subdivided into two categories; organic synthesis of the macrocycle and its components, and complexation with the metal of choice. He is currently working on obtaining insight into the structure of the compounds synthesized thus far.

Originally from Guyana, South America, Garvin's family immigrated to Philadelphia when he was three years old, and has been living here ever since. He went to Central High School (go Lancers!!), where he started to build his foundation in chemistry, which he would carry into college. Currently, he is studying courses in several fields of chemistry, with a primary focus in organic. He is usually working in the lab or studying, but during his free time, Garvin likes to go on long runs, which is his main form of stress relief. He also really enjoys horror movies (good or terrible ones).

Alexis Rylander

Alexis Rylander is a native of Philadelphia PA and junior at Temple University. Some of her goals in life are to contribute to our knowledge about cancer and cell biology and also to be an advocate for higher education with an emphasis on STEM. She has over 100 community service hours and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., a national service organization. She is also a member of Chi Alpha Epsilon Honors Society and serves as a Resident Assistant for first year students for University Housing and Residential life at Temple University. Alexis loves to make a positive impact on students’ lives and hopes that her impact will have a lasting effect for generations.

Vaughn Spurrier

Vaughn Spurrier is currently involved in Dr. Weidong Yang's laboratory, in the Biolife building at Temple University. The group is interested in the properties and regulatory passages of nuclear pores in the nuclear membrane. Elevated levels of transcription are a hallmark of cancer cells. The group hopes to determine the causes of the elevated levels and to make modifications that will lower the rate of molecules entering and exiting the nucleus.

Vaughn attended St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio. There, he played on the soccer team. During his junior season his team won the state championship. During his senior year he was the Ohio High School Player of the Year and also garnered All-American honors.

Spurrier is currently a member of the Temple Men's Soccer Team and also a leader in the Temple Innervarsity Christian Athletes group. He is the soccer representative to the Temple Student Athlete Advisory Committee in addition to being a physics tutor in the Resnick Student-Athlete Academic Support Center.

Vincent Tu

Vincent Tu is an undergraduate in Dr. Rob J. Kulathinal’s lab in the BioLife building at Temple University. His current project involves characterizing human variation on the amino acid level using a bioinformatics approach. In addition, he is also applying clinical data to analyze the distribution of pathogenic point mutations across 14 human populations from the 1000 Genomes Project.

Last year (2012) at ABRCMS, Vincent presented a poster on the localization of anti-integrin activities in the venom of the snake Trimeresurus Flavoviridis. Along with his previous mentor, Dr. Cezary Marcinkiewicz, Vincent investigated the anti-angiogenic properties of the CRISP protein found in the venomous snake, Echis Sochureki.

Vincent was raised in Philadelphia and graduated from West Philadelphia Catholic High School. He is the first generation in his family to complete high school and attend a university. Vincent is a co-founder and Scholastics chairman of Phi Kappa Sigma. When he has free time, he enjoys playing table tennis and pool.

Jofiel Veras

Jofiel Veras is in Dr. Ann Valentine's lab, located in Beury Hall at Temple Univeristy. He is currently working on the characterization of titanium and vitamin C complexes. Over this past summer, Jofiel worked in Dr. Albert Bowers' lab at the university of North Carolina. There, his project was to optimize the synthesis of a class of molecules known as pyrrothines. In October of 2012, he participated in a poster presentation at ABRCMS.

Back in 2009, Jofiel Veras graduated from Souderton Area High School, located in Souderton, Pennsylvania. In his spare time he likes to run, go to the gym, and play video games.