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Johnson Cancer Research Center

2016-17 Student Awardees

Fall 2016


(Awarded $94,000 for students and research expenses)

College of Arts & Sciences

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Mariah Brown – Mentor: John Tomich – Modification and Characterization of Branched Amphiphilic Peptide Capsules to Enhance Therapeutic Delivery Capabilities

Patrick DeMoe – Mentor: John Tomich – Treating cancer-induced cachexia with grain storage protein hydrolysates

Alejandro Garcia – Mentor: Michael Kanost – Characterization of proteases that digest an extracellular matrix

Zachary Lock – Mentor: John Tomich – Using dsRNA/peptide nanoparticle constructs to knock down gene transcripts of oncogenes

Emily Turnquist – Mentor: Gregory Finnigan – Study of the conserved cell cycle G2/M “checkpoint” in budding yeast; cellular information exchange critical to treating cancer and reducing cancer risk

Justin Walker – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht – Extracellular matrix proteins are intimately linked to Toll signaling to regulate cell attachment

Eric Aube – Mentor: Katsura Asano – Structural basis for the mechanism of non-AUG initiation caused by translation factor elF5, whose high expression correlates with better prognosis of cancer patients

Cora Farley – Mentor: Ruth Welti – Elucidation of novel, potentially anti-cancer, lipid components of grains

Sarah Gillaspie – Mentor: Katsura Asano – Control of start codon selection by translation initiation multifactor complex in human cancer cells

Kathlyn Gomendoza – Mentor: Lorena Passarelli – Identifying peptides that form a complex with a viral sulfhydryl oxidase that oxidases SfP53, an insect oncogene suppressor homolog

Daniel Hurtado – Mentor: Michael Herman – Characterization of naturally occurring interactions of C. elegans with Stenotrophomonas bacteria that are an emerging nosocomial pathogen that can infect immunocompromised cancer patients

Faith (Mi Ge) Kim: – Mentor: Jeroen Roelofs – Studies into the assembly mechanism of proteasome Core Particle, a target for the cancer drug bortezomib

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

Tristan McCallister – Mentor: Nicholas Wallace – Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Large T Antigen and DNA repair: Implications for targeted treatment of a deadly skin cancer

Chelsea Moore – Mentor: Katsura Asano – Role of elF5-mimic protein in controlling oncogenic translation

Sarah Pendell – Mentor: Rollie Clem – Role of the gut microbiome in determining susceptibility to virus infection

Gabrielle Phillips – Mentor: Ruth Welti – Analysis of a homolog of the potentially pro-cancer gene product, taffazin

Mackenzie Riscoe – Mentor: Michael Herman – Characterization of C. elegans interactions with Stenotrophomonas bacteria, an emerging nosocomial pathogen that can infect immunocompromised cancer patients, isolated from natural substrates

Alexander Roeder – Mentor: Zhilong Yang – Host cell response to oncolytic vaccinia virus infection

Adam Schieferecke – Mentor: Lorena Passarelli – Defining a viral oxidoreductase pathway, a pathway important in cancer pathophysiology

Samantha Schluter-Pascua – Mentor: Revathi Govind – Clostridium difficile – The foe to cancer patients: Characterizing a C. Difficile mutant that is defective in spore production

Kayla Shore – Mentor: Kristin Michel – Mosquito blood feeding as a leukemia model: The integration of nutrition and inflammation through MAPK signaling

Haley Smalley – Mentor: Sherry Fleming – Passages Changes B-Cell Lymphoma CH12.LX

Jazmine Snow – Mentor: Nicholas Wallace – Observing the Effect of Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Large T Antigen on UV Sensitivity

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

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

Kyler Weingartner – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick – Rhamnose synthase and its role in glycosylating flavonoids that are anticancer compounds

Kristen Wilbeck – Mentor: Ruth Welti – Analysis of a lipid-metabolizing enzyme associated with altered growth and development

Alexa Wilden – Mentor: Stella Lee – Morphological changes of lysosomes upon induction of autophagy

Thomas Williams – Mentor: Revathi Govind – Understanding Vancomycin in tolerance in Clostridium difficile, a bacterial pathogen that frequently affects cancer patients

Raquel Ortega – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann – Detection of Cytokines/Chemokines Signatures of Pancreatic Tumors Before and After Hyperthermia Treatment

Jose Covarrubias – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann – Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles for Cell-Based Drug Delivery to Tumors and metastases

Kelsey Ferguson – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty – Endolide A & B-Investigations into Total Synthesis and Molecular Penetration Mechanics

Johnathan Dallman – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty – Unlocking Substituted Chalcone’s Anticancer Properties: Investigation into Synthesis, Biological Studies, and Evaluations as Sole/Potentiation Therapies against Colon and Lung Cancers

Yubisela Toledo – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann – Synthesizing Dendrimers for the delivery of Prodrugs to Solid Tumors and Metastases

Mitchell Zarse – Mentor: Ping Li – Engineering NRMT 1 to identify its biological substrates in colon cancer cell lines

College of Engineering

Electrical & Computer Engineering
Daniel Clausing – Mentor: Punit Prakash – Investigation of microwave ablation for minimally-invasive image-guided treatment of adrenal metastases

Whitney Cox – Mentor: Punit Prakash – In vivo evaluation of directional microwave antennas for precise thermal tumor ablation

Biological & Agricultural Engineering
Megan Richards – Mentor: Mei He – Self-Management of Ovarian Cancer using Smartphone-based, 3D Chip Diagnostic Strategy

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering
Elshaddai Teshome Abamegal – Mentor: Amir Bahadori – Application of NASA Quality Factors to Estimate Secondary Cancer Risk to Patients Treated with Charged Particle Radiotherapy 

College of Veterinary Medicine

Anatomy & Physiology
Jennifer Delzeit – Mentor: Masa Tamura – Study of Euglena water extract-dependent functional differentiation of T lymphocytes

Tran Le – Mentor: Masa Tamura – The effect of Euglena gracilis water extract on neutrophil activation

Damilola Ogun – Mentor: Masa Tamura – Characterization of T cell stimulator in Euglena gracilis water extract

Di Wu – Mentor: Jianzhong Yu – Characterizing the phosphorylation sites of a novel growth regulator Headcase (Hdc)

Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology
Martha Nguyen – Mentor: Annelise Nguyen – Effect of Medicinal Plant, Rhinacathus Nasutus, in Human Breast Tumor Cell lines

College of Agriculture

Plant Pathology
Anna Brokesh – Mentor: Richard Todd – Expression and functional regions of a transcription Mediator complex component with a counterpart involved in breast and prostate cancer


(Awarded: $2,325 - Requested: $2,325)   

Biological & Agricultural Engineering
Ethan Grother – Mentor: Mei He ($870)
Meeting: NIH-IEEE 2016 Strategic Conference on Healthcare Innovations and Point-of-Care Technologies, Cancun, Mexico 
Cautious Use of Mobile Device Cameras for Color-Scale assays

Peter Esau & Alexander Opoku-Acheampong – Mentor: Brad Behnke ($1,455)
Meeting: Experimental Biology, Chicago, Illinois
Effect of Prostate Cancer on Heart Function and exercise capacity independent of treatment

Spring 2017


(Awarded $100,705 - Requested $152,560)

Bo Hao – mentor: Duy Hua ($6,615)
Targeting melanoma by C-16 oxime derivatives of estrone and oxymetrines

Yang Song – Mentor: Jun Li ($6,615)
Electronic nanobiosensors for cancer diagnosis and monitoring

Kaimin Jia – mentor: Ping Li ($6,615)
Substrate profiling of protein N-terminal methyltransferases

Jing Yu – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann ($6,615)
Gate controlled mesoporous silica nanoparticles for anti-cancer peptide delivery

Stefan Andree – Mentor: Christer Ackeroy ($6,615)
From molecular recognition to improved drug formulations

Kathleen Sellens - Mentor: Christopher Culbertson ($6,615)
The development and testing of an automated microfluidic IEF device for the detection of cancers at stage 0 and 1 through the measurement of  enzymatic activity using nanobiosensors

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Pavithra Natarajan – Mentor: John Tomich ($6,672)
Studying the structure, characteristics and applications of a peptide-bilayer that forms nano-capsules that efficiently deliver nucleic acid to cells

Lynn Schrag – Mentor: Om Prakash ($6,672)
Structure-function-disease relationship of p-53 TAD and its cancer mutants

Randi Wise – Mentor: Anna Zolkiewska ($6,672)
The role of ADAM-12 in breast cancer

Nicole Green – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht (6,300)
Understanding the connection between tissue damage and immune activation

Anil Pant – Mentor: Zhilong Yang ($7,035)
Molecular Mechanisms involved in glutamine addiction in vaccinia virus (VACV) infection

Leah Radeke – Mentor: Michael Herman ($7,035)
Candidate innate immune response genes: Analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans genes differentially expressed in response to virulent vs. nonvirulent Stenotrophomonas maltophilia strains

Babita Dhungel – Mentor: Stella Lee ($7,035)
Investigating the protein-protein interaction and function of CLN8: a protein associated with Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis

Brintha Girinathan – Mentor: Revathi Govind ($7,000)
Deciphering the regulatory links between toxin production and sporulation in Clostridium difficile

Plant Pathology
Cameron Hunter – Mentor: Richard Todd ($ 6,594)
Nitrogen signaling and nuclear import of the GATA transcription factor AreA


(Awarded:  $6,309 - Requested: $8,286)

Anatomy & Physiology
Adrian Cromer & Thitikan Jirakittisonthon – Mentor: Mark Weiss  ($831)
Meeting: Experimental Biology, Chicago, Illinois

Leah Radeke – Mentor: Michael Herman ($480)
Meeting: 21st International C. elegans Conference, Los Angeles, California

Brintha Gininathan – Mentor: Revetha Govind ($1,225)
Meeting: ClostPath 2017, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ren Jie – Mentor: Cen Wu ($588)
Meeting: Joint Statistical Meetings, Baltimore, Maryland

Biological & Agricultural Engineering
John Sibbett – Mentor: Mei He ($800)
Meeting: MSEC 2017-dvances in Analysis, Design, and Manufacturing of Biomedical Devices, Los Angeles, California

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering
Rohan Amare – Mentor: Amir Bahadori ($985)
Meeting: IEEE EMBS International Summer School on Computer Modeling in Medicine, Charleston, South Carolina

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