Students : Current Students

Ryan Gallo

MS1

Christian Gonzalez

MS1

Farhan Qureshi

MS1

Brandon Rosen

MS1

Michelle Zhang

MS1

Nathan Balukoff

MS2
Undergraduate Institution: U of Iowa
BSc. Genetics & Biotechnology
Hometown Iowa City, IA

Tyler Cunningham

MS2
Undergraduate Institution U of Florida
BSc. Biochemistry
Hometown Saint Cloud, FL

Olivia Gardner

MS2
Undergraduate Institution: U Southern California
BSc. Biochemistry
Hometown Carlsbad, CA

Hema Kondur

MS2
Undergraduate Institution: UNC Chapel Hill
BSc. Public Health
Hometown Columbia, GA

Daniel Rodriguez

MS2
Undergraduate Institution: U of Miami
BSc. Biomedical Engineering
Hometown Miami, FL

Yusheng Zhang

MS2
Undergraduate Institution: Emory U
BSc. Chemistry
Hometown Bellevue, WA

Michelle Caunca

GR1 – EPI
Undergraduate Institution: UC Irvine
BSc., Neurobiology
Hometown: Newport Beach, CA

Rhea Choi

GR1 – PIBS
Undergraduate Institution: Wellesley College
BA., Biochemistry
Hometown: Cutler Bay, FL

Derek Essegian

GR1 – PIBS
Undergraduate Institution: NYU
BA., Biochemistry
Hometown: New York

Jeffrey Lowell

GR1 – PIBS
Undergraduate Institution: U of Miami
BSc., Neuroscience
Hometown: Southborough, MA

Jeffrey Peterson

GR1 – BME
Undergraduate Institution: UC Berkeley
BSc., Bioengineering
Hometown: Villa Park, CA

Zachary Silver

GR1 – PIBS
Undergraduate Institution: Tufts U
BSc., Biology
Hometown: Boca Raton, FL

Yu-Cherng Channing Chang

GR2 – BME
Undergraduate Institution: Johns Hopkins
BSc., Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Elliot City, MD

James Grosso

GR2 – CAB
Undergraduate Institution: U of Central Florida
BSc., Molecular Biology & Anthropology
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL

Sofia Oluwole

GR2 – EPH
Undergraduate Institution: U of Pittsburgh
BSc., Biology
Hometown: Jamaica, NY

Afoma Umeano

GR2 – BMB

Jason Wagner

GR2 – NEU
Undergraduate Institution: U of Florida
BSc., Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Hometown: Jupiter, FL

Ezra Blumenthal

GR3 – CAB
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland
BSc., Biology
Hometown: New Jersey

Michael Durante

GR3 – CAB
Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida
BSc., Biochemistry & Molecular Biology & Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Fort Myers, Florida

Stephanie Lee

GR3 – NEU
Undergraduate Institution: Columbia
BA., Neuroscience
Hometown: Fairfax, VA

Kevin Toomer

GR3 – MIC
Undergraduate Institution: Cornell
BA., Biology
Hometown: Palmetto Bay, FL

Eric Bray

GR4 – NEU
Undergraduate Institution: U of Pittsburgh
BSc., Neuroscience
Hometown: Kane, PA

Matthew Field

GR4 – CAB
Undergraduate Institution: U of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
BA., Sociology
Graduate: Harvard U School of Public Health
MSc., Health Policy & Management
Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Michelle Trojanowsky

GR4 – NEU
Undergraduate Institution: U of South Carolina
BA., Biochemistry
Hometown: Lexington, SC

Matthew Phillips

GR4 – MIC
Undergraduate Institution: U of Miami
BSc., Marine Science & Biology

Holly Stradecki

GR4 – NEU
Undergraduate Institution: U of Vermont
BA. Biology
Hometown: Whitingham VT

Lucy Freer

MS3
Undergraduate Institution: UC Davis, Main Program
BS. Biochemistry
Hometown: Eldorado Hills, California

Ryan McCormack

MS3
Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
BS., Microbiology & Immunology
Hometown: Sarasota, FL

Awards: U of Miami – Magna Cum Laude, 2010; U of Miami – General Honors, 2010; Honors in Biology, 2010; Florida Top Scholar, 2007

Publications:

Ali Y, McCormack RM, Darr A, Zhai RG. NMNAT is a stress response protein regulated by the HSF/HIF – 1α pathway. Submitted.
Kitay BM, McCormack R, Wang Y, Ali Y, Tsoulfas P, and Zhai RG. NMNAT and WldS proteins delay Wallerian degeneration by preserving mitochondrial and cytoskeleton integrity. Manuscript in preparation.

Abstracts:

Ali Y, McCormack RM, Zhai RG. NMNAT to the Rescue: Understanding the Transcriptional Regulation of a Novel Neuroprotective Stress Chaperone. 5th Annual Graduate Student Research Festival, National Institute of Health, November, 2009.

Ali Y, McCormack RM, Darr A, Zhai RG. HEAT SHOCK FACTOR ACTIVATES THE TRANSCRIPTION OF NEUROPROTECTIVE CHAPERONE NMNAT UPON STRESS. Neurobiology of Drosophila Meeting, Cold, Spring Harbor: October, 2009.

Ali Y, McCormack RM, Zhai RG. Transcriptional Regulation of a Protective Factor NMNAT upon Stress. 50th Annual Drosophila Research Conference: March, 2009

Enmanuel Perez Martinez

MS3
Undergraduate Institution: U of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras
BS., Natural Sciences
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Samuel Beckerman

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: Emory University
BS., Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology
Hometown: San Francisco, California
About Me: I love to work hard and play hard. Right now, I am living the dream.
Research Interests: Developing neuroprotective and regenerative strategies for traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Using gene therapy and viral vectors to treat human disease.
Comment on the MD/PhD Program: There are tremendous, cutting edge research opportunities at the University of Miami. The emphasis on interdisciplinary and collaborative research efforts is inspiring. The MD/PhD Program leadership and faculty mentors are very supportive.

Abstracts and in prep:

Beckerman SR, Atkison J, Dididze M, Winslow J, Thomas CK, “Long-term motoneuron firing variability from spontaneously active motor units in thenar muscles paralyzed by spinal cord injury” 36th Annual Eastern-Atlantic Student Research Forum, Miami, FL., February, 2010. Oral Presentation.

Beckerman SR, Atkison J, Dididze M, Winslow J, Thomas CK, “Analysis of long-term motoneuron firing variability from spontaneously active motor units in thenar muscles paralyzed by spinal cord injury: A case study” Neuroscience Research Day, University of Miami, Fall 2009. Poster Presentation.

Beckerman, SR & Bullock, R. “The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)”. Review Manuscript in Preparation

Alexandra Besser

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
BA., Biology
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
About Me: Raised in Southern California, I try to participate in any outdoor activity available to me. My primary extracurricular interest involves training for triathlons, and when I’m not in class or studying, I’m probably out running, biking, or swimming.
Research Interests: Immune modulation of cancer, vaccine therapy, and stem cell therapy.

Srinivasan Narayanan

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: Virginia Commonwealth University
BS., Biomedical Engineering
Hometown: Fairfax Station, VA
About Me: Enjoy playing sports, lifting, running, playing pool and playing the drums.
Research Interests: Neuroscience, Vascular Biology
Comment about the MD/PhD Program: The vast opportunities to pursue novel research under nationally and internationally recognized scientists, while being associated with one of the best teaching hospitals in the nation, is a unique opportunity that has been provided to me by the MD/PhD Program at the University of Miami.

Veronica Peschansky

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: Brandeis
BS in Biology, Spanish Language & Literature
Hometown: Cupertino, CA
About Me: Tennis fanatic, Dance Sport competitor, studying new languages, photography, travel.
Research Interests: Neurodegeneration
Comment about the MD/PhD Program: It’s the perfect respite from the marathon that is medical school! At MD/PhD meetings, I am free to sit back and delve into interesting ideas and rediscover my love of science.

Nima Sharifai

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
BS., Neurobiology & Philosophy
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
About Me: My passion lies in scientific inquiry, in the excitement that comes from delving into a question whose answer provides insight and a foundation for innovations that can improve on the status quo. My compassion lies with those afflicted by health conditions that precludes them from appreciating the joys life has to offer. Training to become a physician-scientist has been an intensive process, but I find myself lucky to be able to devote my time and effort to something I find so enjoyable and rewarding. My PhD thesis investigated when and where Cdc42, Rac1, and a group of shared downstream effectors interact within the live developing nervous system of fruit fly embryos. By charting the spatiotemporal interaction pattern between this group of cytoskeletal regulators during dendrite morphogenesis, I was able to show how molecular coordination is needed to give rise to a complex cellular process. My plan is to continue doing basic science research in order to better understand the cellular states that underlie both normal health and disease, with the ultimate aim of of developing targeted interventions to rectify aberrations within the molecular network. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, as well as participating in intramural team sports.
Awards: Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral MD/PhD Fellowship (F30), 2014 Lois Pope Life Foundation Research Award, 2011 Lois Pope Life Foundation Development Award, Phi Beta Kappa, Gerritt and Edith Schipper Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Philosophy
Research Interest: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Interactomics, Live-imaging modalities
Comment about the MD/PhD Program: The MD/PhD program here at the University of Miami is one that fosters cooperation, guidance, and individuality. I am proud to be working with a group of people who are always eager to help positively steer others, while still stressing the importance of personal development and creativity.

Ethan Yang

MS4
Undergraduate Institution: Stanford U
BS., Biological Sciences & MS, Biomedical Eng.
Hometown: Santa Clara, CA