Presidential Scholars Program

Current Presidential Scholars


Entering in 2016

Christina Merritt
Entering Year: 2016
Undergraduate: Virginia Commonwealth University
Program: Pharmacology and Toxicology


Sarah van Tol
Entering Year: 2016
Undergraduate: Iowa State University
Program: Microbiology and Immunology


Kelsey Warmbrod
Entering Year: 2016
Undergraduate: University of Kentucky
Program: Experimental Pathology


Kathleen Winters
Entering Year: 2016
Undergraduate: Baylor University
Program: Neuroscience

Entering in 2015

Stephanie FosterStephanie Foster
Entering Year: 2015
Undergraduate: University of Georgia
Program: Microbiology and Immunology

 

 


Corey FultonCorey Fulton
Entering Year: 2015
Undergraduate: University of Colorado-Boulder
Program: Microbiology and Immunology

 

 


Madison RoganMadison Rogan
Entering Year: 2015
Undergraduate: Texas Christian University
Program: Experimental Pathology

 

 


Cynthia TapiaCynthia Tapia
Entering Year: 2015
Undergraduate: St. Edwards University
Program: Pharmacology and Toxicology

 

Entering in 2014
Ashley NilsonAshley Nilson
Entering Year: 2014
Undergraduate: Washington State University
Program: Neuroscience

 

 


Grace Thaxton

Grace Thaxton
Entering Year: 2014
Undergraduate: Auburn University
Program: Microbiology and Immunology

 


Brandon TrentBrandon Trent
Entering Year: 2014
Undergraduate: Brigham Young University
Program: Experimental Pathology

 

Entering in 2013
Robert Buschmann

Robert Buschmann
Entering Year: 2013
Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Program: Population Health Sciences

Biography:

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences with an emphasis on socio-medical sciences. At the University of Texas Medical Branch's Center to Eliminate Health Disparities (CEHD), I designed, conducted, and analyzed interviews and focus groups for a Health Impact Assessment of replacing public housing in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. At Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, DC, I designed both stand-alone case study research and the qualitative portions of mixed-method studies, the subjects of which included disability policy, high school dropout recovery programs, Head Start programs, and the long-term effects of welfare reform. And as a clinical nurse at Washington Hospital Center in downtown Washington, DC, I worked with patients in end-stage heart failure. This combination of experiences has led me to a strong belief that the future of improving health lies with improving the social determinants of health.

Achievements:

  • 2013 Presidential Scholar, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • 2010 Sigma Theta Tau
  • 2008 Washington Hospital Center Scholar, Georgetown University
  • 2002 Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Government
  • 2000 Departmental Scholar, Duke University
  • 1995 Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1993 Morehead Scholar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Stephanie MoyaStephanie Moya
Entering Year: 2013
Undergraduate: University of Miami
Program: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biography:

In 2012 I graduated with a B.S in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Miami, Florida. There I conducted research examining the effects of various drugs on Leishmaniasis or Malaria infected mice. I later joined UTMB as a PREP (Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program) student and worked in Dr. Pomila Singh's lab investigating the effects of a chemo-preventive dietary agent known as curcumin, on normal vs cancer colon stem cells. I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Committee for Career Development..

Achievements:

  • 2013 Presidential Scholar
  • 2013 Inducted into Sigma Xi, Associate Member
  • 2007-2010 Dean's List, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2009 Inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2008 Awarded Dean's Scholarship, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2008 Awarded Gates Millennium Scholarship, USA
Entering in 2012
Julia Gerson - graduated 2016
Entering in 2011

David BrileyDavid Briley
Entering Year: 2011
Undergraduate: Butler University
Program: Neuroscience

Biography:

I received my B.A. cum laude in Psychology from Butler University in 2010. While at Butler my lab experience included research in animal (elephant) locomotion, and social psychology, including an independent thesis project in social psychology. My family is from Michigan, where I was born, but I have since lived in five other states, and three other countries (Germany, England and India). While living in India in the fall of 2010, I interned at Vignani Technologies, a startup firm developing LED lighting solutions for corporations. My current research interests are Optical imaging techniques (especially developing in vivo techniques), and engineered therapeutic materials. My free time is spent tinkering with computers or in fields that I am not yet well acquainted (e.g., electronics, holography, visual art).

Achievements:

  • 2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated cum laude with a BA in Psychology
  • Presented twice at the Undergraduate Research Conference at Butler University
  • Completed a thesis project in Social Psychology entitled "The Impact of Imagined Reactions on Feelings About Disclosing Stigmatized vs. Non-Stigmatized Beliefs"
  • Completed an internship at a start-up firm in Bangalore, India

Abstracts:

  • David Gersztenkorn, Adam Boretsky, David Briley, & Massoud Motamedi. “Molecular and Morphological Imaging of the Murine Retina Following Photothermal Injury and Hyperthermia Conditioning”

Meghan HermanceMeghan Hermance
Entering Year: 2011
Undergraduate: Texas A&M University
Program: Experimental Pathology 

Biography:

I am part of the Experimental Pathology Program. My research interest is studying the host response to the tick-borne flaviviruses.

In 2011 I graduated summa cum laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science. As an undergraduate I double majored in Biomedical Sciences and Entomology, and during my senior year I received The Gathright Scholar Award. At Texas A&M I worked for two years in the Vector Biology Group laboratory. I began to develop my interests in the area of vector borne infectious disease while in high school by working on a four year mosquito surveillance project with Dr. Jim Olson as my advisor. I have had the opportunity to live overseas in Nigeria and Qatar, but I consider my hometown to be The Woodlands, Texas.

Achievements:

  • 2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated summa cum laude, GPA 4.0/4.0
  • Gathright Scholar - Highest ranked Senior in the Biomedical Science program
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society
  • Seimens Semifinalist

Publications:

  • Ibelli A, Hermance M, Kim T, Gonzalez C, & Mulenga A. Bioinformatics and expression analyses of the Ixodes scapularis tick cystatin family. Exp Appl Acarol. 2013 May; 60(1):41-53. Epub 2012 Oct 10. PubMed PMID: 23053911.
  • Hermance M, Marques dos santos R, Heinze D, Hausser N, Bouyer D, & Thangamani S. Detection of Rickettsia amblyommii in ticks collected from Missouri, USA. Parasit Vectors. [submitted, under review]
  • Thangamani S, Hermance M, Slovak M, Heinze M, Klempa B, & Kazmirova M. Cutaneous immune response to Tick-borne encephalitis-infected tick saliva. [in preparation]

Joseph SaenzJoseph Sáenz
Entering Year: 2011
Undergraduate: Texas A&M University
Program: Population Health Sciences

Biography:

I am from Texas and completed my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Sociology at Texas A&M University graduating cum laude. My studies in behavioral sciences sparked my interest in the role social factors play in shaping the development of and risk factors for disease. My particular focuses include Mexican-Americans, the elderly and spatial epidemiology. In the past year I have conducted field survey research for St. Vincent's Clinic and have published an article in a peer-reviewed journal. The University of Texas Medical Branch provides me with a unique opportunity to study social topics within the context of a medical institution.

Achievements:

  • Emerging Scholar Oral Presentation at International Conference on Aging in the Americas, September 2012, Los Angeles, California.
  • Best Poster in Clinical Epidemiology, The 2012 Sealy Center Forum on Aging. University of Texas Medical Branch, November 2012, Galveston, Texas.2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated cum laude
  • Extensive studies of human behavior
  • Funded by "Health of Older Minorities Training Grant."
  • Grant reviewer: Healthy People 2020

Publications:

  • Siordia C & Saenz J. Objective and Subjective Neighborhood Measurements: On the Relationship between Neighborhood Perception and Percent Co-Ethnic. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. 2013, [forthcoming].
  • Siordia C & Saenz J. What is a "Neighborhood"? Definition in studies about depressive symptoms in older persons. The Journal of Frailty and Aging. 2013, [forthcoming].
  • Siordia C, Saenz J, & Tom SE. An Introduction to Macro-Level Spatial Nonstationarity: A Geographically Weighted Regression Analysis of Diabetes and Poverty. Human Geographies. 2013, 6(2):5-13. doi: 10.5719/hgeo.2012.62.5
  • Siordia C & Saenz J. Neighborhood Perception and Obesity in Aged Mexican Americans. The Journal of Frailty and Aging. 2012, 1(4):152-161.
Entering in 2010

Barbara RollsBarbara Rolls
Entering Year: 2010
Undergraduate: State University of New York at Buffalo
Program: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biography:

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo where I worked for 2 years in the ecology laboratory of Dr. Katharina Dittmar de la Cruz studying bat flies. I am now in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at UTMB and have an interest in translational science. I am currently a member of the lab of Dr. Bill T. Ameredes, engaged in studying the effect of carbon monoxide on human airway smooth muscle cells.

Achievements:

  • 2014 Robert C. Brasier Award for Outstanding Performance as a Bench Tutorials: Scientific Research and Design Mentor
  • 2014 Dr. Barbara H. Bowman Student Travel Award
  • 2013 Bromberg Scholar
  • 2013 Dr. Mary Faggard Kanz Travel Award for Environmental Toxicology
  • 2013 Barbara Bowman Scholarship
  • 2013 Biological Chemistry Student Organization Award
  • 2012-2010 NIEHS Pre-doctoral Fellow
  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2010 Toxicology Scholar

Publications:

  • Rolls BA, Ruiz J, Panettieri RA, Halayko AJ, & Ameredes BT. Granulocyte Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) Release By Primary And Immortalized Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells In Culture. A62. Lung Tissue Remodeling: Airways and Parenchyma, American Thoracic Society, 2013, A1998-A1998.

Krista VersteegKrista Versteeg
Entering Year: 2010
Undergraduate: University of Dayton
Program: Microbiology and Immunology

Biography:

I am currently in the Microbiology and Immunology Program and work in Dr. Thomas Geisbert's lab. My research interests include virus pathology and immune responses. I am originally from Cincinnati, OH and received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Dayton. During my free time, I like to run, travel, read good books and hang out with friends.

Achievements:

  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2010 John W. Berry Scholars Award, University of Dayton
  • 2010 Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry with Honors, Summa Cum Laude
  • 2006-2010 Dean's List
  • 2006-2010 Katchman/Michaelis Chemistry Scholarship
  • 2009 The Brother John Lucier S.M. Award for Excellence in Chemistry, University of Dayton Department of Chemistry
  • 2007 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student Award from the American Chemical Society
  • 2006 Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition Regional Finalist

Publications:

  • Versteeg KM, Versteeg KM, Zwilling D, Wang H, & Church K. Synthesis, structure, and sugar dynamics of a 20 –spiroisoxazolidine thymidine analog. Tetrahedron. 2010.
  • Versteeg KM, Knopf JM, Posluszny S, Vockell AB, & Britto MT. Teenagers Wanting Medical Advice: Is MySpace the Answer? Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2009, 163(1):91-92.

Program Alumni


Brian Mann
Degree Year: 2014
Program: Experimental Pathology
Dissertation: "Genotypic and Molecular Determinants in the Continued Evolution of West Nile virus in the United States"

Erica Fletcher
Degree Year: 2015
Program: Medical Humanities
Dissertation: "Mad Together in Technogenic Times: A Multi-sited Ethnography of the Icarus Project"

Sarah Swinford-Jackson
Degree Year: 2016
Program: Neuroscience
Dissertation: "Role of the Serotonin (5-HT) 5-HT2C Receptor (5-HT2CR) in Cocaine Cue Reactivity"

Julia Gerson
Degree Year: 2016
Program: Neuroscience
Dissertation: "Characterization of Tau Oligomeric Strains: Implications for Disease Phenotypes"

 

 

 

 



Ashley Nilson

Entering Year: 2014

Department: Neuroscience



Brandon Trent

Entering Year: 2014

Department: Experimental Pathology



Grace Thaxton

Entering Year: 2014

Department: Microbiology and Immunology



Ariel Ludwig

Entering Year: 2014

Department: Medical Humanities


Robert Buschmann

Robert Buschmann

Entering Year: 2013
Department: Preventive Medicine and Community Health

Biography

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Population Health Sciences with an emphasis on socio-medical sciences. At the University of Texas Medical Branch's Center to Eliminate Health Disparities (CEHD), I designed, conducted, and analyzed interviews and focus groups for a Health Impact Assessment of replacing public housing in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. At Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, DC, I designed both stand-alone case study research and the qualitative portions of mixed-method studies, the subjects of which included disability policy, high school dropout recovery programs, Head Start programs, and the long-term effects of welfare reform. And as a clinical nurse at Washington Hospital Center in downtown Washington, DC, I worked with patients in end-stage heart failure. This combination of experiences has led me to a strong belief that the future of improving health lies with improving the social determinants of health.

Achievements
  • 2013 Presidential Scholar, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • 2010 Sigma Theta Tau
  • 2008 Washington Hospital Center Scholar, Georgetown University
  • 2002 Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Government
  • 2000 Departmental Scholar, Duke University
  • 1995 Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1993 Morehead Scholar, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Stephanie Moya

Stephanie Moya

Entering Year: 2013
Department: Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Biography

In 2012 I graduated with a B.S in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Miami, Florida. There I conducted research examining the effects of various drugs on Leishmaniasis or Malaria infected mice. I later joined UTMB as a PREP (Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program) student and worked in Dr. Pomila Singh's lab investigating the effects of a chemo-preventive dietary agent known as curcumin, on normal vs cancer colon stem cells. I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Committee for Career Development and in the fall 2013 I will begin my doctoral studies at UTMB as a Presidential Scholar.

Achievements
  • 2013 Presidential Scholar
  • 2013 Inducted into Sigma Xi, Associate Member
  • 2007-2010 Dean's List, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2009 Inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2008 Awarded Dean's Scholarship, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
  • 2008 Awarded Gates Millennium Scholarship, USA

Julia Gerson

Julia Gerson

Entering Year: 2012
Department: Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Biography

I grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio and completed my undergraduate studies in the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University with a double major in Biology and Psychology. During my time there, I worked in the Bimonte-Nelson lab, studying connections between hormones, aging, and cognition in a rodent model and led study groups for chemistry students with the aim of raising the retention rate in the most frequently failed classes. I also worked as an undergraduate fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in the Berman lab, studying molecular models of Parkinson's disease.

Though my focus academically is in Neuroscience, I am also pursuing an interest in public health and recently traveled to Tanzania with HEAL International to teach basic health, such as hygiene, sanitation, and nutrition, as well as malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Currently, I am conducting my doctoral studies in Neuroscience at UTMB with a focus in Alzheimer's disease.

Achievements
  • 2012 Presidential Scholar
  • 2012 BS in Biology and Psychology, Summa Cum Laude
  • 2011 SOLUR (School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research) Fellow
  • 2011 CNUP (Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh) Undergraduate Fellow
  • 2010 SOLUR (School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research) Researcher
  • 2009-2012 Dean's List
  • 2009-2010 SOLUR (School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research) Apprentice
  • 2008 National Merit Scholarship
  • 2008 GE Star Scholarship
Publications
  • Gerson JE & Kayed R. Formation and propagation of tau oligomeric seeds. Frontiers in Neurology. (in press).
  • Castillo-Carranza DL, Sengupta U, Guerrero-Muñoz MJ, Lasagna-Reeves CA, Gerson JE, Singh G, Estes DM, Barrett ADT, Dineley KT, Jackson GR, & Kayed R. Passive immunization with tau oligomer monoclonal antibody reverses tauopathy phenotypes without affecting hyperphosphorylated neurofibrillary tangles. (submitted).
  • Mennenga SE, Gerson JE, Bimonte-Nelson HA, & Dunckley T. Does Harmine enhance memory? Complexities of interpretation when a drug treatment impacts non‐mnemonic factors. (submitted).
  • Camp BW, Gerson JE, Tsang CW, Villa SR, Acosta JI, Blair Braden B, Hoffman AN, Conrad CD, & Bimonte-Nelson HA. Higher serum androstenedione levels correlate with impaired memory in the surgically menopausal rat: a replication and new findings. European Journal of Neuroscience. 2012, 36(8):3086-95.

David Briley

David Briley

Entering Year: 2011
Department: Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Biography

I received my B.A. cum laude in Psychology from Butler University in 2010. While at Butler my lab experience included research in animal (elephant) locomotion, and social psychology, including an independent thesis project in social psychology. My family is from Michigan, where I was born, but I have since lived in five other states, and three other countries (Germany, England and India). While living in India in the fall of 2010, I interned at Vignani Technologies, a startup firm developing LED lighting solutions for corporations. My current research interests are Optical imaging techniques (especially developing in vivo techniques), and engineered therapeutic materials. My free time is spent tinkering with computers or in fields that I am not yet well acquainted (e.g., electronics, holography, visual art).

Achievements
  • 2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated cum laude with a BA in Psychology
  • Presented twice at the Undergraduate Research Conference at Butler University
  • Completed a thesis project in Social Psychology entitled "The Impact of Imagined Reactions on Feelings About Disclosing Stigmatized vs. Non-Stigmatized Beliefs"
  • Completed an internship at a start-up firm in Bangalore, India
Abstracts
  • David Gersztenkorn, Adam Boretsky, David Briley, & Massoud Motamedi. “Molecular and Morphological Imaging of the Murine Retina Following Photothermal Injury and Hyperthermia Conditioning”

Erica Fletcher

Erica Fletcher

Entering Year: 2011
Department: The Institute for the Medical Humanities

Biography

Born and raised in Texas, I majored in anthropology, sociology and psychology at the University of Houston. During my time there, I also took up projects in international and local community development, nonprofit management and ethnographic filmmaking. My first film, Marianismo, dealt with cultural factors surrounding the disproportionate spread of HIV/AIDS among Latina women living in Houston. As a part of an undergraduate thesis, my second film Pack and Deliver explored the roles and collaborative practices of local social service agencies aiding survivors of human trafficking. As a student at UTMB's Institute for Medical Humanities, I am currently pursuing research interests in visual/media studies, global health, gender and sexuality, and public anthropology.

Achievements
  • 2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women of 2010
  • Featured in Latina Magazine, MSNBC, KUHF Radio, KPRC- Houston's Channel 2 "Student of the Week," Fox 26 Hola Houston, PBS Channel 8's UH Moment, Houston Chronicle, CultureMap.com
  • Rhodes Scholarship Finalist
  • Marshall Scholarship Finalist
  • Phi Kappa Phi Marjorie Schoch Fellow
  • Speaker at the Young Presidents' Organization Rise Above Conference, Denver 2011
  • University of Houston's Honors College Arete Recipient
  • University of Houston's Homecoming Court 2010
  • "Pack and Deliver" film, 2011

Meghan Hermance

Meghan Hermance

Entering Year: 2011
Department: Pathology

Biography

I am part of the Experimental Pathology Program. My research interest is studying the host response to the tick-borne flaviviruses.

In 2011 I graduated summa cum laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science. As an undergraduate I double majored in Biomedical Sciences and Entomology, and during my senior year I received The Gathright Scholar Award. At Texas A&M I worked for two years in the Vector Biology Group laboratory. I began to develop my interests in the area of vector borne infectious disease while in high school by working on a four year mosquito surveillance project with Dr. Jim Olson as my advisor. I have had the opportunity to live overseas in Nigeria and Qatar, but I consider my hometown to be The Woodlands, Texas.

Achievements
  • 2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated summa cum laude, GPA 4.0/4.0
  • Gathright Scholar - Highest ranked Senior in the Biomedical Science program
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society
  • Seimens Semifinalist
Publications
  • Ibelli A, Hermance M, Kim T, Gonzalez C, & Mulenga A. Bioinformatics and expression analyses of the Ixodes scapularis tick cystatin family. Exp Appl Acarol. 2013 May; 60(1):41-53. Epub 2012 Oct 10. PubMed PMID: 23053911.
  • Hermance M, Marques dos santos R, Heinze D, Hausser N, Bouyer D, & Thangamani S. Detection of Rickettsia amblyommii in ticks collected from Missouri, USA. Parasit Vectors. [submitted, under review]
  • Thangamani S, Hermance M, Slovak M, Heinze M, Klempa B, & Kazmirova M. Cutaneous immune response to Tick-borne encephalitis-infected tick saliva. [in preparation]

Joseph Sáenz

Joseph Sáenz

Entering Year: 2011
Department: Preventive Medicine and Community Health

Biography

I am from Texas and completed my undergraduate studies in Psychology and Sociology at Texas A&M University graduating cum laude. My studies in behavioral sciences sparked my interest in the role social factors play in shaping the development of and risk factors for disease. My particular focuses include Mexican-Americans, the elderly and spatial epidemiology. In the past year I have conducted field survey research for St. Vincent's Clinic and have published an article in a peer-reviewed journal. The University of Texas Medical Branch provides me with a unique opportunity to study social topics within the context of a medical institution.

Achievements
  • Emerging Scholar Oral Presentation at International Conference on Aging in the Americas, September 2012, Los Angeles, California.
  • Best Poster in Clinical Epidemiology, The 2012 Sealy Center Forum on Aging. University of Texas Medical Branch, November 2012, Galveston, Texas.2011 Presidential Scholar
  • Graduated cum laude
  • Extensive studies of human behavior
  • Funded by "Health of Older Minorities Training Grant."
  • Grant reviewer: Healthy People 2020
Publications
  • Siordia C & Saenz J. Objective and Subjective Neighborhood Measurements: On the Relationship between Neighborhood Perception and Percent Co-Ethnic. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy. 2013, [forthcoming].
  • Siordia C & Saenz J. What is a "Neighborhood"? Definition in studies about depressive symptoms in older persons. The Journal of Frailty and Aging. 2013, [forthcoming].
  • Siordia C, Saenz J, & Tom SE. An Introduction to Macro-Level Spatial Nonstationarity: A Geographically Weighted Regression Analysis of Diabetes and Poverty. Human Geographies. 2013, 6(2):5-13. doi: 10.5719/hgeo.2012.62.5
  • Siordia C & Saenz J. Neighborhood Perception and Obesity in Aged Mexican Americans. The Journal of Frailty and Aging. 2012, 1(4):152-161.

Brian Mann

Brian Mann

Entering Year: 2010
Department: Pathology

Biography

I grew up in a small rural town in Northwest Ohio. An early interest in the virulence of viruses and their transmission prompted me to pursue a career in the microbiological sciences. I received a B.S. degree in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 2010. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in UTMB's Experimental Pathology program which complements my continuing interests in the interface between viral pathogenesis and clinical disease. My area of research focus is in the evolution of West Nile virus in North America and the role of the nonstructural proteins in modulation of the host innate immune response in the pathogenesis of West Nile virus infection.

Achievements
  • 2013 Team Science Award (GISD: End-of-the-Year Symposium, UTMB)
  • 2013 James W. McLaughlin Travel Award (McLaughlin Colloquium, UTMB)
  • 2012 T32AI007526 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases "Molecular determinants of attenuation in the WNV NS4B protein C-terminal domain" (PI: Alan D.T. Barrett from 09/01/2012 to 08/31/2014)
  • 2012 UTMB Bromberg Scholar (GISD: High School mentorship program)
  • 2012 ASV Student Travel Award
  • 2012 Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges
  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2010 Experimental Pathology Scholar
Publications
  • Mann BR, McMullen AR, Swetnam DM, Salvato V, Reyna M, Guzman H, Bueno Jr. R, Dennett JA, Tesh RB, & Barrett AD. Evidence for continued evolution of West Nile virus in the United States based on studies in Houston, Texas from 2002-2012. Emerg Infect Dis. 2013, 19(9). [Accepted]
  • Mann BR, McMullen AR, Guzman H, Tesh RB, & Barrett AD. Dynamic transmission of West Nile virus across the United States-Mexican border. Virology. 2013, 436(1): 75-80.

Barbara Rolls

Barbara Rolls

Entering Year: 2010
Department: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biography

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the State University of New York at Buffalo where I worked for 2 years in the ecology laboratory of Dr. Katharina Dittmar de la Cruz studying bat flies. I am now in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology department at UTMB and have an interest in translational science. I am currently a member of the lab of Dr. Bill T. Ameredes, engaged in studying the effect of carbon monoxide on human airway smooth muscle cells.

Achievements
  • 2014 Robert C. Brasier Award for Outstanding Performance as a Bench Tutorials: Scientific Research and Design Mentor
  • 2014 Dr. Barbara H. Bowman Student Travel Award
  • 2013 Bromberg Scholar
  • 2013 Dr. Mary Faggard Kanz Travel Award for Environmental Toxicology
  • 2013 Barbara Bowman Scholarship
  • 2013 Biological Chemistry Student Organization Award
  • 2012-2010 NIEHS Pre-doctoral Fellow
  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2010 Toxicology Scholar
Publications
  • Rolls BA, Ruiz J, Panettieri RA, Halayko AJ, & Ameredes BT. Granulocyte Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) Release By Primary And Immortalized Human Airway Smooth Muscle Cells In Culture. A62. Lung Tissue Remodeling: Airways and Parenchyma, American Thoracic Society, 2013, A1998-A1998.

Sarah Swinford

Sarah Swinford

Entering Year: 2010
Department: Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Biography

I graduated from Arizona State University in 2010 with a B.S. in Psychology. My honors thesis, entitled "Preclinical Evidence That Blocking Serotonin 2A Receptors in the Prefrontal Cortex Inhibits Cocaine Craving in Rats," was completed under the guidance of Dr. Janet Neisewander. This project spurred my interests in drug addiction, which brought me to the Department of Neuroscience at UTMB to work with Dr. Kathryn Cunningham in the Center for Addiction Research.

My primary research interest is in the role of serotonin in stimulant addiction, and I have developed a novel dissertation project investigating the role of serotonin 2C receptor signaling in the ventral tegmental area of the brain in the response to drug-paired cues. I was recently awarded a National Student Research Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to complete this project. Outside the lab, I am active in promoting community awareness of neuroscience research through the Society for Neuroscience Galveston Chapter, for which I served as Vice President for two years.

Achievements
  • NRSA from NIDA F31 DA035620, Role of Serotonin 5-HT2C Receptor Signaling in Cocaine Cue Reactivity
  • George Sealy Research Award in Neurology
  • Michael Tacheeni Scott Endowed Scholarship Award
  • 2012-2013 NIDA T32 Predoctoral Trainee, Pharmacological and Neural Mechanisms of Action of Drugs of Abuse
  • 2012-2013 Bromberg Scholar
  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2012 Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges
  • Travel Award to "Behavior, Biology, and Chemistry: Translational Research in Addiction"
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Travel Award To 25th Anniversary Meeting of the Serotonin Club, Montpellier, France
  • Frances Adoue Lynch Addiction Research Fund Award
  • Leroy Olsen, Ph.D., Endowed Scholarship Award
  • Vice President, Society for Neuroscience Galveston Chapter
  • SfN Chapter Grant
Publications
  • Cunningham KA, Anastasio NC, Fox RG, Stutz SJ, Bubar MJ, Swinford SE, Watson CS, Gilberston SR, Rice KC, Rosenzweig-Lipson S, & Moeller FG. Synergism Between a Serotonin 5-HT2A Receptor (5-HT2AR) Antagonist and 5-HT2CR Agonist Suggests New Pharmacotherapeutics for Cocaine Addiction. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2013, 4(1):110-121.
  • Anastasio NC, Gilbertson SR, Bubar MJ, Agarkov A, Stutz S, Jeng Y-J, Bremer N, Smith TD, Fox RG, Swinford SE, Seitz PK, Charendoff M, Craft Jr. J, Laezza F, Watson CS, Briggs J, & Cunningham KA. Peptide inhibitors disrupt the serotonin 5-HT2C receptor interaction with phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) to allosterically modulate cellular signaling and behavior. J. Neurosci. 2013, 13:1615-1630.
  • Pockros LA, Pentkowski NS, Swinford SE, & Neisewander JL. Blockade of serotonin 2A (5-HT2A) receptors in the medial prefrontal cortex attenuates reinstatement of cue-elicited cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. Psychopharmacology. 2011, 213(2):307-320.

Krista Versteeg

Krista Versteeg

Entering Year: 2010
Department: Microbiology and Immunology
Mentor: Thomas W. Geisbert

Biography

I am currently in the Microbiology and Immunology Program and work in Dr. Thomas Geisbert's lab. My research interests include virus pathology and immune responses. I am originally from Cincinnati, OH and received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Dayton. During my free time, I like to run, travel, read good books and hang out with friends.

Achievements
  • 2010 Presidential Scholar
  • 2010 John W. Berry Scholars Award, University of Dayton
  • 2010 Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry with Honors, Summa Cum Laude
  • 2006-2010 Dean's List
  • 2006-2010 Katchman/Michaelis Chemistry Scholarship
  • 2009 The Brother John Lucier S.M. Award for Excellence in Chemistry, University of Dayton Department of Chemistry
  • 2007 Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student Award from the American Chemical Society
  • 2006 Young Epidemiology Scholars Competition Regional Finalist
Publications
  • Versteeg KM, Versteeg KM, Zwilling D, Wang H, & Church K. Synthesis, structure, and sugar dynamics of a 20 –spiroisoxazolidine thymidine analog. Tetrahedron. 2010.
  • Versteeg KM, Knopf JM, Posluszny S, Vockell AB, & Britto MT. Teenagers Wanting Medical Advice: Is MySpace the Answer? Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2009, 163(1):91-92.

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