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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Student Award Recipients

Spring 2022


(Awarded: $135,000 | Requested: $142,500)

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Hannah Miller – Mentor: Om Prakash
Understanding the molecular recognition basis of EGFR inhibitors for cancer treatment


Anuja Paudyal - Mentor: Govind Vediyappan
Role of gymnemic acids in Candida albicans morphology and virulence

Emily Burghardt - Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Analysis of the Drosophila border cell gene expression profile reveals stage-specific changes during migration

Debolina Dasgupta - Mentor: Kalyani Pyaram
Role of KEAP1-NRF2 pathway in T helper cell differentiation

Bibek Subedi - Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Post-translational regulation of GLABRA2 transcription factor in Arabidopsis

Chinemerem Onah - Mentor: Pankaj Baral
Neuronal regulation of Aspergillus fumigatus lung infection and fungal pneumonia

Tanner Richie - Mentor: Sonny Lee
Specific microbial community interactions with host and applications to disease outcome of inflammatory bowel disease

Tshegofatso Ngwaga - Mentor: Stephanie Shames
Characterizing the role of the Legionella pneumophila effector LegC4 and proteasome activator (PA)28ab in antimicrobial host defense and macrophage homeostasis

Peter Hodoameda - Mentor: Rollie Clem
Mechanisms leading to extreme variation in virus titer between individual Aedes aegypti mosquitoes after oral infection by Sindbis virus


Viraj De Silva - Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
From molecular recognition to new materials and pharmaceutical applications

Abigail Kreznor - Mentor: Chris Culbertson
Development of 3D-printed microfluidic device for the analysis of glioblastoma migration in stable chemical gradients

Bingun Habarakadage - Mentor: Jun Li
Development of nanomaterials-based electrochemical biosensors

Chao An - Mentor: Ping Li
Developing chemical probes to interrogate the biology of N-terminal methylation

Shashika Perera - Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Total synthesis of lagunamide C and biological evaluation, synthesis of the proposed natural product lagunamide E, and construction and evaluation of chemical screening libraries based on the uvaretin total synthesis


Olivia Kunkel - Mentor: Brad Behnke
Breast cancer and heat therapy

Stephen Hammond - Mentor: Carl Ade
5-Fluorouracil cardiotoxicity: Mechanisms and modalities for improved cancer outcomes

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Kuan-Lun Ho - Mentor: Shih-Kang Fan
dDMF: Digital assay on digital microfluidics with electric emulsification for single exosome analysis

Plant Pathology

Joel Steyer - Mentor: Richard Todd
Regulation of branched chain amino acid metabolic genes in Aspergillus nidulans


(Awarded: $2,800 | Requested: $2,800)

Carson Gido, Brian Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Alexis Carpenter, Rollie Clem Lab, Biology
Peter Hodoameda, Rollie Clem Lab, Biology
Yungui Guo, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Ziwei Zhao, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Olivia Kunkel, Brad Behnke Lab, Kinesiology


Fall 2021


(Awarded $65,000 for students and research expenses)

Anatomy & Physiology

Grace Calo – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Oral administration of euglena water extract increases IgA cell number in MALT which may help attenuating lung tumor growth

Morgan Phillips – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Study of the effect of a newly designed inhibitory peptide for CTLA-4 on NK cell activation and function and its effect on lung carcinoma cell growth

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Hannah Miller – Mentor: Om Prakash
Understanding the molecular recognition basis of EGFR inhibitors for cancer treatment

Taryn Lubbers – Mentor: John Tomich
Peptide nanocarrier delivery of mRNA vaccines for treating melanomas

Carson Gido – Mentor: Brian Geisbrecht
Inhibition of neutrophil serine proteases by EAP domain proteins


Mae Cook – Mentor: Duy Hua
Quantitative detection and profiling of selected overexpressed proteases for monitoring of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer

Qiling Zeng – Mentor: Ping Li
Development of inhibitors to carcinogenic NTMT1

Kaden Creamer – Mentor: Ping Li
Continued efforts of PhaC crystallization for cancer drug delivery using PHA

Jane Eilers – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
Improving bioavailability of selenium-based anti-tumor mimics


Ashley Panagakis – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Bio-layer interferometry analysis of cancer driver mutations in oncogene 5MP1

Hailey Casey – Mentor: Katsura Asano
Mechanism of transcriptional regulation with relevance to gene expression in cancer cells

Taylor Bugbee – Mentor: Nick Wallace
Effects of p300 inhibition on chemotherapeutic cytotoxicity in pancreatic cancers

Ashlyn Bugbee – Mentor: Kalyani Payaram
Role of antioxidant protein Nrf2 in metabolism and anti-tumor activities of CD8+ T-cells

Lucy Fischer – Mentor: Govind Veddiyappan
Efflux pump inhibitors for multidrug-resistant bacterial infections in cancer patients

Mikaela Garcia-Escamilla – Mentor: Thomas Mueller
The role of tumor-suppressor gene Lhx6 during cellular migration of GABAergic interneurons in the zebrafish forebrain

Emily Cranwell – Mentor: Thomas Mueller
Analyzing cFos expression patterns in zebrafish models of cancer using deep machine learning

Abigail Parker – Mentor: Ruth Welti
Subcellular localization of putative transacylase

Claire Richardson– Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Role of nuclear shape during collective cell migration and invasion

Caleb Kutz – Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Genetic screen to identify protein kinases conserved in tumor invasion and metastasis

Davanté Hammer – Mentor: Sherry Fleming 
Effect of novel peptides on tumor associated macrophage phenotype

Mia Thompson – Mentor: Sherry Fleming
Macrophage Phenotypes in Mouse Melanoma

Kennedy Ayre – Mentor: Ruth Welti
Characterization of a mutation in a gene potentially affecting tissue senescence

Hieu Nguyen – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
A novel transcriptional activation domain relevant to cancer cell regulation


Louie Cabrera – Mentor: Heather McCrea
Meeting at the margins: Approaches to cancer in Navajo communities


Indera Coffel – Mentor: Shay Logan
Investigating the impacts of correlation in iterated treatment decisions

Plant Pathology

Daniel Tran – Mentor: Richard Todd
Identification of functional domains in a mediator complex component with a human counterpart involved in breast and prostate cancers


(Awarded: $9,652 – Requested: 9,652)

Olivia Kunkel – Mentor: Brad Behnke
Protective effects of heat therapy against breast cancer-induced cardiac dysfunction

Stephen Hammond – Mentor: Carl Ade
The intersection of cancer and thromboembolism: A role for eNOS?


2020-2021, 2019-20202018-192017-182016-172015-16, 2014-15, 2013-14, 2012-13, Spring 2012

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