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Johnson Cancer Research Center

2018-2019 Student Awardees

Fall 2018


(Awarded $87,500 for students and research expenses)

College of Veterinary Medicine 

Anatomy & Physiology 

Grant Huslig – Mentor: Robert DeLong
Quantitative-structure-activity-relationships between cancer-specific aptamer and physiologically-based nanoparticles

Mayme Loyd – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Study of adenovirus vector-based gene therapy using the PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitory peptide secretory gene for the treatment of lung cancer 

Nina Marchell – Mentor: Robert DeLong
Delivery of triplex forming oligonucleotide (TFO) targeting RAS by physiological metal oxide nanoparticle

Nicole Robben– Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Delivery of triplex forming oligonucleotide (TFO) targeting RAS by physiological metal oxide nanoparticle

College of Arts & Sciences

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Michelle Coca – Mentor: Maureen Gorman
Mechanisms of regulated iron uptake by cells

Baltazar Claro-Martinez – Mentor: John Tomich
Development of Timed-Release Peptide Nano-Capsules

Hawa Dembele – Mentor: Om Prakash
NMR Studies of an Insect Cytokine: Towards Understanding the Structural Basis for Development of EGFR Inhibitors for Cancer Treatment

Samantha Gameros– Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht
TRIM32-mediated regulation of glycolysis a new model for the Warburg effect in cancer

Megan Goeckel – Mentor: Gregory Finnigan
Development of a molecular screening tool for new CRISPR variants for use in gene therapies

Isabel Lewis – Mentor: Gregory Finnigan
Control of gene editing using novel anti-CRISPR proteins to the Cast12a nuclease

Fawwaz Naeem – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht
Identification of genes that function with Starvin/Bag3 to elucidate cancer-related functions

Robert Small – Mentor: John Tomich
Interactions of Proteins with the outer leaflet of Branched Amphiphilic Peptide Capsules


Cesar Aparicio – Mentor: Santosh Aryal
Synthesis and Characterization of hypoxia-sensitive platinum (IV) prodrug

Ashley Bartels – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Investigations into a Universal Platform for Blood-Brain Barrier Penetration

Johnathan Dallman – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Anticancer Agent Discovery: Total Synthesis of Potent Anticancer Natural Products and Applications into Targeted Delivery

Joseph Hammer – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann
Nano carriers for Controlled Release of anticancer Agents at Tumor Cites

Maria Montes-Gonzalez – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann
Imaginz/Treating Pancreatic Tumors and Metastases by Targeting GRP78  

Gage Wright – Mentor: Jun Li
Developing Nanobiosensors for Rapid Protease Profiling toward Cancer Diagnosis


Ariana Cecil – Mentor: Katsura Asano
Transitional reprograming of cMyc by a novel oncogene 5MP1

Marlene Campos-Guerrero – Mentor: Zhilong Yang
Engineering vaccina virus for cancer treatment

Eric Austin Cheng – Mentor: Zhilong Yang
Mimicry of cancer cell metabolism in VACV infection

Sarah Hansen– Mentor: Kristin Michel
The Investigation of Fungal Pathogens in Immunocompromised Organisms

Madelyn Hilgers– Mentor: Chingakham Singh
Transitional reprogramming during adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) production through eIF5-mimic protein

Marissa Komp – Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Identification of Potential Human Cancer Invasion Genes using Drosophlia

Joshua Lingo – Mentor: Jeroen Roelofs
Alteration of proteasome abundance and localization in response to the cancer drug, Bortezomib

Yibo Liu – Mentor: Ruth Welti
Understanding the function of a homolog of a gene involved in fatty liver disease

Carter Moravek – Mentor: Chingakham Singh
The role of mRNA methylation in cancer development

Samuel Ockerhausen – Mentor: Jeroen Roelofs
Understanding the mislocalization of the proteasome, a cancer drug target, upon subunit truncation

Seth Peery - Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Flavonoid Anticancer Compounds and associated regulatory pathways in green algae

Whitney Pepper - Mentor: Katsura Asano
The central role of GCN2 eIF2alpha kinase in nutritional stress response, which is important for cancer cell malignancy and metastasis 

Haley Smalley – Mentor: Sherry Fleming
Beta2 Glycoprotein I derived peptides alter melanoma tumor growth

Kyle Thompson – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Characterization of a novel transcriptional activation domain with relevance to gene expression in cancer cells

Alexa Wilden – Mentor: Stella Lee
Recovery mechanisms of enlarge lysosomes as mediate by the solute carrier transporter SLC38 family

College of Agriculture 

Plant Pathology

Sara Hopkins – Mentor: Richard Todd
Characterization of a putative L-amino acid oxidase gene, a counterpart of an enzyme with anti-proliferative effects

College of Engineering 

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Prerona Kundu – Mentor: Amir Bahadori
Incorporation of Spatial Effects in a Cellular Automata Model with a Focus on Astronaut Radiation Protection


(Awarded: $1,200 – Requested: $1,268)

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Rohan Amare – Mentor: Amir Bahadori
International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Pittsburgh, PA

Spring 2019


(Awarded: $2,250 - Requested: $7,675)

Dalton Dacus, Changkun Hu - Mentor: Nicholas Wallace ($1,500)
DNA Tumor Virus Meeting 50th Anniversary, Trieste, Italy

Babita Dhungel - Mentor: Revathi Govind ($750)
ClostPath Conference, Leiden, Netherland

GRADUATE STUDENT TRAVEL (outside Division of Biology)

(Awarded: $5,390 - Requested: $6,034)

Anatomy & Physiology

Ezla Mathew - Mentor: Robert DeLong ($1,400)
Cancer Nanotechnology Conference, West Dover, Vt.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Pavithra Natarajan - Mentor: John Tomich ($500)
American Chemical Society, Orlando, Fla.


Ramesh Marasini - Mentor: Santosh Aryal ($1,000)
American Chemical Society, Orlando, Fla.

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Hojjatollah Fallahi - Mentor: Punit Prakash ($500)
Society for Thermal Medicine meeting, St. Pete's Beach, Fla.


Dryden Baumfalk, Olivia Kunkel - Mentor: Brad Behnke ($1,000)
Experimental Biology meeting, Orlando, Fla.


Jie Ren, Yinaho Du, Fei Zhou - Mentor: Cen Wu ($990)
Joint Statistical Meeting 2019, Denver, Colo.


(Awarded: $2,000 - Requested: $2,661)

Sabastian Wendel - Mentor: Nicholas Wallace, Biology ($2,000)
DNA Tumor Virus Meeting, Trieste, Italy


(Awarded: $114,943 - Requested: $114,943)


Kayla Eschliman – Mentor: Stefan Bossmann ($6,361)
Synthesis of copper-activated drugs against cancer and pathogenic bacteria

Ramesh Marasini – Mentor: Santosh Aryal ($6,450)
Precise delivery of Doxorubicin to the osteosarcoma using lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticle 

Shu Jia – Mentor: Chris Culbertson ($6,500)
Development of a sample-in/answer-out integrated microfluidic device for the early detection of solid tumor cancers

Kaimin Jia – Mentor: Ping Li ($6,615)
Substrate profiling of carcinogens N-terminal RCC1 methyl transferase 1

Prathibha Desman – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty ($6,615)
Balgacyclamide A: Total synthesis, biological evaluation, cancer delivery vehicle and construction of chemical libraries to probe the physicochemical property requirement of complex biological barrier transport

Yang Song – Mentor: Jun Li ($6,361)
Electronic biosensors for cancer diagnosis and monitoring

Amila Abeysekera – Mentor:  Christer Aakeroy ($6,500)
Design and synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant co-crystals

Anatomy & Physiology

Liang Hu - Mentor: Jianzhong Yu ($7,000)
Characterization of a novel growth regulator in the Hippo signaling pathway

Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology

Brandy Kastl - Mentor: Nora Springer ($8,983)
Identifying associations of chemokine and sphingolipid receptor expression with canine lymphoma 

Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Halil Tetik - Mentor: Dong Lin ($6,500)
3D-printed hydroxyapatite scaffolds as local drug delivery agents


Alexis Carpenter - Mentor: Rollie Clem ($7,080)
Using microRNA targeting to manipulate the tissue tropism of Sindbis virus

Anil Pant – Mentor: Zhilong Yang ($7,080)
Host cell metabolic reprogramming by oncolytic vaccinia virus

Yu Song – Mentor: Ruth Welti ($4,578)
Development and demonstration of a pipeline for discovery of lipid biomarkers and genes that mediate their metabolism

Babita Dhungel – Mentor: Revathi Govind ($7,080)
Phase variation in Clostridioides difficile

Anuja Paudyal – Mentor: Govind Vediyappan ($7,080)
Role of Gymnemic acids in Candida albicans morphology and virulence

Alicia Burris – Mentor: Jeroen Roelofs ($7,080)
Factors that regulate proteasome localization under various stress conditions

Dalton Dacus – Mentor: Nicholas Wallace ($7,080)
Beta HPV oncogenes contributes to non-melanoma skin cancer development by inhibiting the Hippo pathway

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