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Johnson Cancer Research Center

2014-15 Student Awardees

Fall 2014


(Awarded $92,000 for students and research expenses)

College of Agriculture

Plant Pathology
Anna Brokesh—Mentor: Richard Todd—Role in transcription repression of a mediator complex component with a counterpart involved in breast and prostate cancer

College of Arts & Sciences

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Muriel Eaton—Mentor: Jeroen Roelofs—Studies into the mechanisms responsible for cellular disposal of the proteasome, a target for the cancer drug Bortezomib

Macy Garcia—Mentor: John Tomich—Design and development of long circulating targeted nano-capsules for cancer radiotherapy

Caitlin Hall—Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht—Do mutations in Drosophila clueless affect cell architecture and cell adhesion?

Leah Rettig—Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht—Is transglutaminase required to strengthen integrin-mediated cell adhesion?

Steven Stimac—Mentor: John Tomich—Defining the sizes of plasmid DNA that can be effective delivered through complexation with branched amphiphilic peptide capsules

Kayla Wilkinson—Mentor: John Tomich—Studies on the uptake of branched amphiphilic peptide capsules in primary and cancer cell lines

Kristin Bishop—Mentor: Govindsamy Vediyappan—Small molecule inhibition of Candida albicans—oral interactions and their virulence

Amanda Bradley—Mentor: Kathrin Schrick—Characterization of glucosylceramide synthase, an enzyme that is highly expressed in cancer stem cells

Heidi Brown—Mentor: Rollie Clem—Defining the cell death pathway in the beetle Tribolium castaneum

Maia Carlson—Mentor: Michael Veeman—Linking cell shape and asymmetric division in development and disease

Madeline Colter—Mentor: Ruth Welti—Lipid analysis for identification of genes encoding proteins involved in lipid metabolism and signaling

German Cuevas—Mentor: Lorena Passarelli—Characterization of a putative viral homing endonuclease

Jose Espinola—Mentor: Revathi Govind—Characterizing gene regulatory network of cell wall biosynthesis in Clostridium difficile, an important nosocomial pathogen that infects cancer patients

Melissa Feuerborn—Mentor: Stella Lee—Study the links between CLN5 protein and two important cancer relevant pathways, mTOR and autophagy pathways

Samantha Hustak—Mentor: Katsura Asano—Role of elF5-mimic protein (5MP) in fibrosarcoma tumorigenesis: Does 5MP promote ATF4 translation?

William Jones—Mentor: Kathrin Schrick—Steryl glucosides of the seed coat mucilage: Plant-derived lipids with a role in cancer prevention

Ha Quang Le—Mentor: Stella Lee—Study the interaction between CLN8 protein and a tumor suppressor protein PP2A

Wren Michaels—Mentor: Stefan Rothenburg—Generation of enhanced antiviral sensors for increased resistance to viral infections

Jacob Morris—Mentor: Katsura Asano—Role of elF5-mimic protein encoded by a potential oncogene in controlling stringent translation initiation

Noel Fernando Nieto—Mentor: Sherry Fleming—Therapeutic abilities of RD-p9 in mouse melanoma

Jordan Parker—Mentor: Sherry Fleming—The induction of TLR2 on in vivo melanoma cells

Erika Peters—Mentor: Kathrin Schrick—START lipid/sterol-binding domains and co-regulators linking metabolism to cell division control

Baylee Alexis Porter—Mentor: Thomas Mueller—The role of the Shh-Dix-Gsh regulatory pathway in neural stem cell development and carcinogenesis using zebrafish as a model

Adam Schieferecke—Mentor: Stefan Rothenburg—Fighting cancer with viruses—generation of improved oncolytic poxviruses

Katherine Sensenich—Mentor: Stefan Rothenburg—Characterization of natural variants of PKR inhibitors from the oncolytic myxoma virus

Cody Simmons—Mentor: Rollie Clem—Role of caspases and matrix metalloproteases in basal lamina reorganization

Leiming Tang—Mentor: Chingakham Singh—Ribosome profiling to study translation regulation by elF3 altered in some cancers

Laura VanLerberg—Mentor: Zhilong Yang—Understanding the complexity of gene expression in vaccinia virus—a vaccine and gene therapy vector for multiple cancers

Bailey Wright—Mentor: Thomas Mueller—Characterization of the transgenic zebrafish lines tg(gad1b:RFP) and tg (XA244:GFP) for basic research on neural stem cell development and carcinogenesis

Kelsie Cole—Mentor: Stefan Bossmann—Protease detection through nanoparticles for early cancer diagnosis of triple negative cancer

Adam Elkiwan—Mentor: Ryan Rafferty—Personalized drug therapy for colon cancer: synthetic efforts towards the first total synthesis of cytotoxic agent lagunamide C and biological evaluation

August Fitch—Mentor: Ping Li—Synthesis of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) analogs to study N-terminal RCC1 methyltransferases (NRMTs) as a new therapeutic target for cancer treatment

Andrew Konecny—Mentor: Stefan Bossmann—Nanoparticle synthesis for hyperthermia treatment of pancreatic cancer

Brendan Mitchell—Mentor: Ping Li—Engineering N-terminal RCC1 methyltransferases (NRMTs) as a new therapeutic target for cancer treatment

Raquel Ortega—Mentor: Stefan Bossmann—Protease detecting through nanoparticles for early cancer diagnosis of ovarian cancer

College of Engineering

Biological & Agricultural Engineering
Zheng Zhao—Mentor: Mei He—Microfluidic diagnostic platform for rapid isolation of ovarian cancer plasma derived exosomes

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Valerie Binns—Mentor: Punit Prakash—Electromagnetic and thermal characterization of nanoparticle-enhanced microwave tumor ablation

Dillion Fairchild—Mentor: Punit Prakash—Development and characterization of a benchtop test-bed for microwave ablation of lung tumors

College of Human Ecology

Human Nutrition
Nicole Fiorentino—Mentor: Brian Lindshield—Characterization of dutasteride and finasteride molecular changes in prostate cancer

College of Veterinary Medicine

Anatomy & Physiology
Hayley Holt—Mentor: Masa Tamura—The effect of parachlorella water extract (PCE) on colon cancer cell growth

Sarah McConnell—Mentor: Antje Anji—Expression of integrins in esophageal cancer—potential for new treatment options

Megan Murray—Mentor: Deryl Troyer—Development of an immune competent mouse model of human cancer

Arashi Nakashima—Mentor: Masa Tamura—Characterization of Parachlorella Kessleri water extract

Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
Jacob Hodge—Mentor: Masa Tamura—The effect of parachlorella water extract on the growth of osteosarcoma

Noah Trapp—Mentor: Annelise Nguyen—The effect of antineoplastic drug on a 3D breast tumor


(Awarded: $1,200 - Requested: $1,194)   

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Binny Bhandary – Mentor: Rollie Clem ($600)
Meeting: American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, New Orleans
Presentation: “Characterization of Two Aedes Aegypti Caspases”

Human Nutrition
Alexander Opoku-Acheampong – Mentor: Brian Lindshield ($600)
Meeting: American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington D.C.
Presentation: “Anti-androgenic Effect of Fatty Acid and Phytosterol in Saw Palmetto Extract on Syrian Hamster Androgen-sensitive Flank Organ”


(Awarded: $3,806 - Requested: $3,806)   

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Zhiguang Jia – Mentor: Jianhan Chen ($1,500)
Meeting: Biophysical Society 59th Annual Meeting, Baltimore
Presentation: “Necessity of High Physical Resolution in the Development of Flexible Coarse-grained Protein Models”

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Sergio Curto – Mentor: Punit Prakash ($2,306)
Meeting: SPIE BiOS 2015: Energy-based Treatment of Tissue and Assessment VIII, San Francisco
Presentation: “Design and Analysis of a Conformal Patch Antenna for a Wearable Breast Hyperthermia Treatment System”

Spring 2015


Awarded: $101,101 - Requested: $115,181

Chelsea Hanks – mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Bo Hao – mentor: Duy Hua
Manomi Perera – mentor: Christer Aakeroy
Ruben Shrestha – mentor: Ping Li
Jay Sibbitts – mentor: Christopher Culbertson
Foram Madiyar – mentor: Jun Li
Asanka Yapa– mentor: Stefan Bossmann

Michael Benfer – mentor: Stella Lee
Pragyesh Dhungel – mentor: Zhilong Yang
Corin White – mentor: Michael Herman
Kenrick Waite – mentor: Jeroen Roelofs
Brintha Parasumanna Girinathan – mentor: Revathi Govind
Aashima Khosla – mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Sherry Haller – mentor: Stefan Rothenburg

Yue Qi – mentor: Anna Zolkiewska
Nicole Marie Green – mentor: Erika Giesbrecht
Susan Whitaker – mentor: John Tomich
Randi Wise – mentor: Michal Zolkiewski
Xiaorong Liu – mentor: Jianhan Chen
Tam Tran – mentor: Timothy Durrett
Qasim Al Souhail – mentor: Michael Kanost


(Awarded: $2,274 - Requested: $2,274)  

Leonie Dohmen – mentor: Sherry Fleming ($1,000)
Sherry Haller – mentor: Stefan Rothenburg ($750)

Human Nutrition
Yu Miao, Mardyati Nur & Su Xiaoyu – mentor: George Wang ($524)

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