Eight M&I graduate students completed their PhD during this academic year, and the doctoral hooding ceremony took place at the Dean Smith Center on May 12. Here’s a summary of who they are, where they’ve been, and what’s next in their careers:
Brittany Mortensen completed her dissertation research in Tom Kawula's lab on Francisella tularensis virulence mechanisms in October 2011. Brittany is now a postdoctoral fellow with Eric Skaar at Vanderbilt University where she is studying Staphylococcus aureus pathogenesis.
Sean Gregory completed his work on KSHV and innate immunity in Blossom Damania’s lab in December 2011. Sean is now a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. David Knipe at Harvard Medical School and is researching vaccines against herpesviruses.
Elaine Bohorquez completed her PhD in December 2011. Working in Steve Meshnick’s lab, she studied the transcription and function of the Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance gene (pfmdr1). She is now an Adjunct faculty member at Peace College.
Jon Tabb Sullivan successfully defended his dissertation in March 2012. Tabb's research was conducted in the laboratory of Miriam Braunstein and it focused on understanding the role of the SecA2 protein export pathway in the virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tabb is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Fabienne Paumet at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Alaina Garland completed her doctoral studies in January 2012 characterizing the events involved in autoimmune-mediated destruction of pancreatic islet grafts in type 1 diabetes and the development of immunotherapies to enhance islet graft survival. This work was carried out in Roland Tisch’s laboratory. Alaina plans to pursue a career in teaching.
Paul (Skip) Price completed his work on pneumonic plague in Bill Goldman's lab in August 2011, having moved with Bill to UNC in 2008. Skip is now a postdoctoral fellow with Joel Griffitts at BYU and is studying symbiotic microbe-plant interactions.
Lisa Heimbach completed her dissertation research in May 2012 on the role of mast cell signaling and TNF in bullous pemphigoid, a skin autoimmune blistering disease. Lisa is now a postdoctoral fellow with Zhi Liu at UNC and is studying functional interactions between innate immune cells and keratinocytes in cutaneous autoimmunity and inflammation.
Monika Schneider completed her research on regulatory NLRs in December 2011 as a part of Jenny Ting’s laboratory. Monika will be joining Sumit Chanda’s laboratory at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute to study novel molecules involved in viral pattern recognition receptor pathways.