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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Student Awardees

Fall 2015


(Awarded $74,000 for students and research expenses)

College of Arts & Sciences

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Will Smith—Mentor: John Tomich—Designing a second generation of peptide nano-capsules for intra-cellular release of encapsulated cargo

Emily Wedeman—Mentor: John Tomich—Development of an in-gel digestion standard for the protein interactome

Kayla Wilkinson—Mentor: John Tomich—Preparation of peptide nanotubes using Double Stranded Oligo-Nucleotides as Template

Molly Zych—Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht—Dissecting the subcellular localization and function of the evolutionarily conserved Drosophila Importin-7 (Dim7) protein

Jaden Anderson—Mentor: Brad Olson—An epigenetic connection to multicellularity that may shed light on the origin of cancer

Heidi Brown—Mentor: Rollie Clem—Identifying genes that regulate cell death in a model organism

Brenden Drouhard—Mentor: Thomas Mueller—The role of the Shh-Dix-Gsh regulatory pathway in neural stem cell development and carcinogenesis using zebrafish as a model: The functional organization of cognitive and emotive brain centers

Melissa Feuerborn—Mentor: Stella Lee—The role of CLN5 protein in autophagy pathway

Kathlyn Gomendoza—Mentor: Lorena Passarelli—Identifying viral and cellular peptides that form a complex with a viral suflhydyl oxidase that oxidizes SfP53, an insect oncogene suppressor homolog

Ian Harmon—Mentor: Katsura Asano—The role of ribosome stalk protein in cancer growth using yeast as a model system

Seyed Efrin Mir Hejazi—Mentor: Rollie Clem—Interactions between proteins involved in regulating cell death

Luke Kicklighter—Mentor: Sherry Fleming—Melanoma induction of tumor vascularity

Elizabeth Martino—Mentor: Lorena Passarelli—Identifying substrates of a viral sulfhydryl oxidase

Joshua May—Mentor: Zhilong Yang—Modulation of mitochondrial functions of cancer cells oncolytic vaccinia virus infection

Jacob Morris—Mentor: Katsura Asano—Molecular basis TISU-mediated translation as possible therapeutic target for cancer metabolism: The role for interaction between initiation factors elF1 and elF4G

Goutham Neravetla—Mentor: Ruth Welti—Analysis of the substrate specificity of two putatively stress-activated lipases

Erika Peters—Mentor: Kathrin Schrick—Functional analysis of the SMART domain, a lipid-binding domain implicated in cancer cell proliferation

Gabrielle Phillips—Mentor: Ruth Welti—Characterization of the catalytic activities of lechithin-retinol acyltransferace-like proteins

Ella Popova—Mentor: Michael Herman—Characterization of  C. Elegans defense genes expressed in response to the emerging nosocomial pathogen Stentrophomonas maltophillia that can infect immunocompromised cancer patients

Mitchell Rork—Mentor: Chingakham Ranjit Singh—The roll of translation regulator, 5MP in tumor cell proliferation through ATF4 expression

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

Samantha Schluter-Pascua—Mentor: Brad Olson—Cell cycle regulation and evalution of Multicellularity: Identification of candidate multicellularity of genes through evolutionary  transcriptomics

Ana Simental—Mentor: Zhilong Yang—Construction of Reporter Plasmids for Oncolytic poxvirus infection study

Laura VanLerberg—Mentor: Zhilong Yang—Generation of directed gene knockout cell line using CRISPR/Cas9 for oncolytic poxvirus replication study

Vaithish Velazhahan—Mentor: Kathrin Schrick—Role of flavonoids in modulating transcription factor activity involved in cancer progression

Dustin Vestering—Mentor: Stefan Rothenburg—Expression and activity of the protein Kinase R in human cancer cells

Spencer Ward—Mentor: Michael Veeman—Par/aPKC dependent and independent mechanisms of asymmetric cell division

Kristen Wilbeck—Mentor: Ruth Welti—Toward identification of novel lipid metabolic genes

Clay Schemm—Mentor: Ryan Rafferty—Systhesis of Chalcone analogs in the efforts of identifying new potentiating small molecules in the treatment of colon and lung cancers

Melissa Small—Mentor: Ryan Rafferty—Total synthesis of Reniochalistatin E and analogs: Studies into new therapies for the treatment of acute Myeloid Leukemia

Yichao Zhang—Mentor: Ryan Rafferty—Personalized drug therapy for colon cancer: Synthetic efforts towards the first total synthesis of cytotoxic agent Lagunamide C and biological evaluation

College of Engineering

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Valerie Binns—Mentor: Punit Prakash—Evaluation of iron oxide nanoparticles as theranostic agents for cancer thermal therapy

Daniel Clausing—Mentor: Punit Prakash—Optimazation of microwave devices with a directional radiation pattern for thermal ablation of tumors in proximity to critical structures

College of Veterinary Medicine

Anatomy & Physiology
Jennifer Delzeit—Mentor: Masa Tamura—Evaluation of the effect surfactant on the gene expression by penetrating peptide nanoparticle vectors

Hayley Holt—Mentor: Masa Tamura—The effect of Parachlorella water extract on TLR expressions in colon carcinoma cells

Kelsey Monson—Mentor: Masa Tamura—Determination of the effect of C1B5 treatment Neutrofil recruitment and T Cell activation in Tumor Stroma

Melissa Riley—Mentor: Bruce Schultz—Interactions of TGF-8 with postaglandins to affect the function and character of male reproductive duct epithelial cells as a prostate cancer model


(Awarded: $4,190 - Requested: $5,420)   

Biological & Agricultural Engineering
Kimberly Plevniak – Mentor: Mei He ($910)
Meeting: NIH-IEEE 2015 Strategic Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies for Precision Medicine
Presentation: Smartphone-Based 3D Chip Diagnostic Strategy for Disease Self-Management and Point-of-Care

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Randi Wise – Mentor: Anna Zolkiewska ($740)
Meeting: Amer Assoc for Cancer Research Special Conference on Tumor Metastasis
Poster Presentation: Protein disulfide isomerases in the endoplasmic reticulum promote anchorage-independent growth of breast cancer cells

Yue Qi – Mentor: Anna Zolkiewska ($740)
Meeting: Amer Assoc for Cancer Research Special Conference on Tumor Metastasis
Poster Presentation: ADAM12 is a novel regulator of stem-like cells in triple-negative breast cancer

Tuyen Nguyen – Mentor: Santosh Aryal ($1,800)
Meeting: Material Research Society
Presentation: Multifunctional Theranostics Nanomedicine for Targeted Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer to Bone

Spring 2016


(Awarded $72,217 - Requested $89,094)

Anil Pant – mentor: Zhilong Yang
Trisha Rettig – mentor: Keith Chapes
Michael Benfer – mentor: Stella Lee

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Randi Wise – mentor: Anna Zolkiewska
Nicole Green – mentor: Erika Geisbrecht
Susan Whitaker – mentor: John Tomich

Yang Song – mentor: Jun Li
Tuyen Nguyen – mentor: Santosh Aryal
Obdulia Covarrubias-Zombrano – mentor: Stefan Bossmann
Wasu Hulangamuwa – mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Kaimin Jia – mentor: Ping Li
Shu Jia – mentor: Christopher Culbertson
Medha Gunaratna – mentor: Duy Hua
Mohammad Yazdanparast – mentor: Emily McLaurin

Elizabeth Gittemeier – mentor: Brad Behnke


(Awarded $3,950 – Requested $6,585)

Trisha Rettig – Mentor: Keith Chapes ($800)
Meeting: American Association of Immunologists
Poster Presentation: Characterization of the Normal Mouse Antibody Repertoire

Claire Ward – Mentor Keith Chapes ($700)
Meeting: American Association of Immunologists-Advanced Immunology Training Course

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Nicoleta Ploscariu  - Mentor: John Tomich ($700)
Meeting: Experimental Biology 2016 Meeting

Mamomi Perera – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy ($625)
Meeting: Gordon Research Conference: Crystal Engineering
Presentation: Enhancing Solubility and bioavailability of mimics of erlotinib

Bhupinder Sandhu – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy ($625)
Meeting: Gordon Research Conference: Crystal Engineering
Presentation: Establishing supramolecular control over solid state architectures via hydrogen bonding leading to pharmaceutical applications 

Food, Nutrition, Dietetics & Health
Xi Chen – Mentor: Weiqun Wang ($233)
Meeting: Experimental Biology 2016
Presentation: Modulation of omega-3 fatty acid profile in the duck liver by various dietary fats

Xiaoyu Su– Mentor: Weiqun Wang ($233)
Meeting: Experimental Biology 2016
Presentation: Characterization of Anthocyanins in Sweet Potato Shoots

Yanting Shen – Mentor: Weiqun Wang ($233)
Meeting: Experimental Biology 2016
Presentation: Identification and Quantification of Carotenoids in Various Phenotypic Sorghum Accessions


(Awarded $2,982 - Requested $6,076)

Arunkumar Pitchaimani – mentor: Santosh Aryal ($1,000)
Meeting: 2016 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) National Biotechnology Conference
Presentation: Gadollinium Infused Theranostic Liposomes for Anticancer Therapy

Tara Marriage – mentor: Bradley Olson ($982)
Meeting: Evolution 2016
Presentation: Evolution of multicellularity through co-option and transcriptional reprogramming

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Sergio Curto – mentor Punit Prakash ($500)
Meeting: International Congress of Hyperthermic Oncology (ICHO)
Presentation: An intergrated system for delivering hyperthermia to small-animal targets under 14T ultra-high field MRI guidance

Jan Sebek – mentor Punit Prakash ($500)
Meeting: International Congress of Hyperthermic Oncology (ICHO)
Presentation: Sensitivity of microwave ablation models to tissue biophysical properties: application to model-based treatment planning

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