Graduate Student Research

  •  Abbott Lab
  • Antony Lab
  • Arble Lab
  • Blumenthal Lab
  • Gamble Lab
  • Hristova Lab
  • LaManna Lab
  • Manogaran Lab
  • Mynlieff Lab
  • Origanti Lab
  • Petrella Lab
  • St. Maurice Lab
  • Schläppi Lab
  • Schnitzer Lab
  • Stuart Lab
  • Yang Lab
  • First Year Students

Research in Dr. Allison Abbott's lab focuses on microRNA genes in C. elegans development.

Dr. Abbott is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Katherine Maniates
Katie ManiatesResearch Interest:
microRNAs are ~22 nucleotide non-coding RNAs that function to regulate genes post-transcriptionally. While it is known that microRNAs are necessary for proper development and physiology, the functions of individual microRNAs are largely unknown. My research focuses on understanding how the miR-44 family of microRNAs regulates sperm formation and function in C. elegans. I have identified important roles for the miR-44 family in the regulation of spermiogenesis and the sperm oocyte switch. I am currently identifying the specific genes and pathways that are targeted by the miR-44 family.

Enrolled Fall 2014
B.A. and B.S., St. Catherine University

The Allied Genetics Conference, Orlando, FL, 2016
21st International C. elegans Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, 2017
Germ Cells, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Long Island, NY, 2018

2018-19 Marquette University Fellowship
2017 Arthur J. Schmitt Leadership Fellowship
2017, 2018 Marquette University Graduate School Travel Award
2016 Genetics Society of America Travel Award

Lu Lu
Lu Lu Research Interest:
miRNAs are short non-coding RNAs with a length of -22 nucleotides that regulate gene expression at post-transcriptional level.  miRNAs have been shown to regulate crucial development and physiological processes. And dysregulation miRNA expression is associated with a wide array of human diseases, including male factor infertility. While studies have suggested that miRNAs play important regulatory roles for producing functional sperm, the specific roles are not well understood. My research aims to address the specific roles of individual miRNA in sperm production and sperm function using C. elegans as model.

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.S. South China Agricultural University

Research in Dr. Edwin Antony's lab focuses on the enzymology of ATPases.

Dr. Antony is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Elliot Corless
Elliot CorlessResearch Interest: 
Photosynthetic bacteria growing in the dark require the hetero-octameric complex dark operative protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase complex (DPOR) to reduce the chlorophyll precursor protochlorophyllide (PChlide) to chlorophyllide (Chlide.) DPOR consists of 3 parts (Bch-L, Bch-N, and Bch-B) which catalyze a specific double bond reduction requiring 4 ATP, multiple binding and dissociation events, as well as inter- and intra-complex communication. My research focuses on communication between halves of the complex, pre-steady state kinetics, and structure determinations.

Enrolled Fall 2015
B.S. Utah State University

4th Midwest Single Molecule Workshop, Iowa

Nilisha Pokhrel
Nilisha PokhrelResearch Interest: 
Replication Protein A (RPA) is an abundant single- stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding protein in eukaryotes. It binds to ssDNA with high affinity, prevents formation of secondary DNA structures and protects it from nucleases. Individual subunits of RPA bind to ssDNA through their four DNA binding domains (DBDs) i.e DBD-A, DBD-B, DBD-C and DBD-D. Despite the versatile roles of RPA in maintenance of the integrity of DNA, its precise mechanism of action remains unclear. I am interested in answering two fundamental questions regarding RPA:
1. What is the precise mechanism underlying engagement of individual DBDs of RPA on ssDNA?
2. How does RPA ‘hand- over’ ssDNA to other DNA binding enzymes which have comparatively lower binding for ssDNA?
To answer these questions, I have generated fluorescent RPA with fluorophores incorporated at specific DBDs, which allow us to monitor dynamics of that particular DBD in a multi-protein reaction.

Enrolled Fall 2015
B.T. Sharda University


Pokhrel, N., Caldwell, C. C., Corless, E. I., Tillison, E. A., Tibbs, J., Jocic, N., Antony, E. (2018). Dynamics and Selective Remodeling of the DNA Binding Domains of RPA. BioRxiv.  Nature Stucture and Molecular Biology (Under Revision)

Mustafa, G., Chuang, C.-Y., Roy, W. A., Farhath, M. M., Pokhrel, N., Ma, Y., Balci, H. (2018). A force sensor that converts fluorescence signal into force measurement utilizing short looped DNA. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 121, 34–40.

Venkiteshwaran, K., Pokhrel, N., Hussein, F., Antony, E., & Mayer, B. K. (2018). Phosphate removal and recovery using immobilized phosphate binding proteins. Water Research X. (In press)

Yates, L. A., Aramayo, R. J., Pokhrel, N., Caldwell, C. C., Kaplan, J.A., Parera, R.L., Zhang, X. (2018). Structural and dynamic model for the assembly of Replication Protein A on single- stranded DNA. Nature Communications. (Under Revision)

Pokhrel, N., Origanti, S., Davenport, E. P., Gandhi, D., Kaniecki, K., Mehl, R. A., Greene, C. E., Dockendorff, C., Antony, E. (2017). Monitoring Replication Protein A (RPA) dynamics in homologous recombination through site-specific incorporation of non-canonical amino acids. Nucleic Acids Research, 45(16), 9413–9426.

Yang, Z.-Y., Ledbetter, R., Shaw, S., Pence, N., Tokmina-Lukaszewska, M., Eilers, B., Guo, Q., Pokhrel, N., Cash, V. L., Dean, D. R., Antony, E., Bothner, B., Peters, J. W., Seefeldt, L. C. (2016). Evidence That the P i Release Event Is the Rate-Limiting Step in the Nitrogenase Catalytic Cycle. Biochemistry, 55(26), 3625–3635.

Pokhrel, N., Tillison E. A. and Antony, E. Polarity of Rad52 ssDNA interactions dictates its positioning alongside RPA during homologous recombination. (In preparation)


2018 Genetic Code Expansion Conference, Oregon State University, OR
Mechanisms of Recombination, 2018, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK. 2018
37th Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference, Loyola University, IL, 2017
19th Annual Mid-West DNA Repair Symposium, Wright State University, OH, 2017
25th Enzyme Mechanics Conference, St. Paul Beach, FL, 2017
36thMidwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, 2016
Genetic Code Expansion Conference and workshop, Oregon State University, OR. 2016
4th Midwest Single Molecule Workshop, University of Iowa, IA, 2016


2018, Oliver H. Smith Award, Marquette University
2018, Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Summer Scholarship, Marquette University
2018, Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J. Fellowship, Marquette University
2017 Best Poster Award, 37th Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference (MECC)
2016, Charles O'Hara Scholarship, Marquette University

Sahiti Kuppa
Sahiti KuppaResearch Interest:
DNA is damaged during normal replication and by external carcinogens or radiation. Ultraviolet light generates bulky DNA adducts that are repaired by the Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) system. Defects in NER enzymes lead to genomic instability and result in major diseases such as skin cancer (Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP), Trichothiodystrophy (TTD) or Cockayne Syndrome (CS) etc.). Replication protein A (RPA) and Xeroderma Pigmentosum group A (XPA) are two proteins that are known to play a significant role during NER. My research focuses on understanding how RPA and XPA bind to damaged versus undamaged DNA and how they influence each other during the assembly of the NER bubble – a key intermediate for successful repair of bulky lesions.

Enrolled Fall 2017
B.S. Sathyabama University

Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 2018
Genetic Code Expansion; Oregon State University, Corvallis, 2018



Antony V. Samrot, M. Bhakyalakshmi, K.L. Venkatraman, K. Sahiti, Sheryl-Ann Philip, T. Jahnavi and P. Senthilkumar Optimization and Characterization of Poly[R]Hydroxyalkanoates Of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia, December 2015. Vol. 12(3)

Sahiti K, Raji P, Bennett Rohan, Divya Kumar M, Antony V. Samrot. In vitro Bioactivity Screening of Desmostachya bipinnata. Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 2016; 9(4): 361-364.

Antony V. Samrot, Sahiti K., Raji P., Bennet Rohan, Divya Kumar and Kripu Sharma.TLC Bio-autography guided identification of antioxidant and antibacterial activity of Acacia senegal. Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2016, 8 (9):41-47

Antony V. Samrot, Bennet Rohan D., Sahiti K., Raji P., Divya Kumar M. and Ratna Geethika G. TLC bioautography guided identification of antioxidant and antibacterial activity of various extracts of Punica granatum. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2016, 8(5):815-820

Research in Dr. Deanna Arble's lab focuses on sleep, circadian rhythms, and metabolism.

Dr. Arble is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Sarah Framnes
Sarah FramnesResearch Interest: 
I am broadly interested in obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes and obesity.

Enrolled Fall 2017
B.S., Marquette University

Society for Neuroscience, San Diego, CA. 2018.

Society for Neuroscience- Trainee Professional Development Award

Framnes, S.N. and Arble, D.M., 2018. The bidirectional relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic disease. Frontiers in endocrinology, 9, 440.

Research in Dr. Edward Blumenthal's lab focuses on epithelial development and function.

Dr. Blumenthal is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Research in Dr. Tony Gamble's lab focuses on evolutionary processes that generate and maintain biological diversity.

Dr. Gamble is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Brendan Pinto
Brendan PintoResearch Interest: 
Identifying diverse mechanisms of speciation without invoking overly-simplistic models of allopatry and genetic drift is a cornerstone investigation of 21st century evolutionary biology. My work focuses on disentangling the genomic mechanisms of speciation. Namely, I am working to understand how independently evolving genomes combine during the process of interspecific hybridization and the role of regions in the genome that may be more susceptible to large changes over short periods of time, such as the sex chromosomes or regions under strong selection. We have established a model system to investigate the role of sex chromosomes on speciation in a group of speciose gecko lizards endemic to the Puerto Rican Bank.

Enrolled Fall 2015
B.S., Morningside College 


Gamble T, McKenna E*, Meyer W*, Nielsen SV, Pinto BJ, Scantlebury DP†, Higham TE. (2018). XX/XY sex chromosomes in the South American dwarf gecko (Gonatodes humeralis). Journal of Heredity. 109(4): 462–468. doi:10.1093/jhered/esx112

Pinto BJ, Banks JL*, Becker D†, Gamble T. (2018). Identification of an intergeneric hybrid, between Pituophis catenifer sayi (Bullsnake) and Pantherophis vulpinus (Western Foxsnake), from the midwestern United States. Herpetological Review. 49(2): 350–351.

Nielsen SV, Daza JD, Pinto BJ, Gamble T. (2018). Identification of conserved female heterogamety in the leaf-toed geckos (Squamata: Phyllodactylidae: Phyllodactylus). Cytogenetic and Genome Research. In press.

Pinto BJ, Colli GR, Higham TE, Russell AP, Scantlebury DP†, Vitt LJ, Gamble T. (201x). Population genetic structure and species delimitation of a widespread neotropical dwarf gecko. In review.

Pinto BJ, Daza JD, Titus-McQuillan J, Gamble T. (201x). Persistence of a stable hybrid zone in Puerto Rican dwarf geckos. In review.

Pinto BJ, Card DC, Castoe TA, Diaz Jr. RE, Nielsen SV, Trainor PA, Gamble T. (201x). De novo assembled and annotated multi-tissue transcriptome of the emerging model system, veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus), elucidates the visual acuity of Acrodonts. In review.

* and † indicate undergraduate and non-academic collaborators, respectively.



Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH). Rochester, NY. 2018.
Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology. Montpellier, France. 2018.
Evolution. Portland, OR. 2017
Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (JMIH). New Orleans, LA. 2016.



2016, Graduate Student Travel Award – Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR)
2016, Graduate Student Travel Award – American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH)
2017, Graduate Student Travel Award – Carl Gans Charitable Fund
2018, Denis J. O’Brien Summer Fellowship
2018, Dean’s Research Enhancement Award
2018, Helen T. and Frederick M. Gaige Award – ASIH
2018, Graduate Student Fellowship

Invited Peer Reviewer - South American Journal of Herpetology

Aaron Griffing
Aaron GriffingResearch Interest:
My research uses phylogenies, detailed morphological inspection, and diverse developmental data to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms that lead to morphological novelty and convergence. In particular, I study the evolution of differential regenerative capabilities in geckos and the repeated evolution of gliding morphologies in Asian geckos.

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.A., Hartwick College
M.S., Villanova University



Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Rochester, NY, 2018
Evolution, Portland, OR, 2017



2018, SSAR Grant in Herpetology for Laboratory Research
2018, SSE Graduate Research Excellence Grant — RC Lewontin Award
2018, SICB Grant in Aid of Research
2017, Forward Thinking Poster Session Jumpstart Award, Marquette University



DeBoer JC, Griffing AH, Iyengar VK, Bauer AM. 2018. New dietary records for croaking lizards of the genus Aristelliger (Reptilia: Sphaerodactylidae). Carib. Herpetol. 62:1–8.

Griffing AH, Sanger TJ, Matamoros IC, Nielsen SV, Gamble T. 2018. Protocols for husbandry and embryo collection of a parthenogenetic gecko, Lepidodactylus lugubris (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Herpetol. Rev. 49:230–235.

Griffing AH, Daza JD, DeBoer JC, Bauer AM. 2018. Developmental osteology of the parafrontal bones of the Sphaeroactylidae. Anat. Rec. 301:581–606.

Paluh DJ, Griffing AH, Bauer AM. 2017. Sheddable armour: Identification of osteoderms in the integument of Geckolepis maculata (Gekkota). Afr. J. Herpetol. 66:12–24.

Griffing AH, Bowerman J, Sessions SK. 2017. Histology reveals testicular oocytes and trematode cysts in the threatened Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa). Northwestern Nat. 98:24–32.

Griffing AH, DeBoer JC, Campbell PD, Wilson BS, Bauer AM. 2017. Aristelliger praesignis (Jamaican croaking lizard). Maximum size. Herpetol. Rev. 48:184–185.

Griffing AH, López-Torres AL, Landestoy MA, Daza JD, Bauer AM. 2016. Aristelliger lar (spotted Caribbean gecko). Communal daytime retreat behavior. Herpetol. Rev. 47:293­–294.

Bernstein JM, Griffing AH, Daza JD, Gamble T, Bauer AM. 2016. Using alien resources: Caribbean dwarf geckos nesting communally in invasive flora. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians 23:40–43.

Griffing AH, Bauer AM. 2016. Hemidactylus mabouia (wood slave). Geographic distribution. Herpetol. Rev. 47:80–81.

Shannon Keating
Shannon KeatingResearch Interest: 
(not yet available)

Info: (not yet available)

Research in Dr. Krassimira Hristova's lab focuses on studying the functional role of microbial communities in contaminated environments. 

Dr. Hristova is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Rachelle Beattie
Rachelle BeattieResearch Interest: 
Misuse of antibiotic compounds in healthcare, veterinary medicine, and agriculture has led to an increase in bacterial antibiotic resistance in both the clinic and the environment. Of these, environmental antibiotic resistance has recently become an important area of research as antibiotic resistance bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) are now recognized as emerging biological contaminants. ARB and ARGs in the environment are prevalent in areas of concentrated agriculture due to the use of antibiotics for disease treatment and prevention. My research aims to identify how common agricultural practices (such as manure fertilization of farmland) impact the abundance and distribution of antibiotic resistance genes and bacteria in an area of concentrated livestock farming: Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Additionally, we are working to elucidate connections between environmental and clinical antibiotic resistant pathogens in northeastern Wisconsin.

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.S., Northwest Missouri State University
M.S., Northwest Missouri State University


Biren, J., Beattie, R., Gaul-Stout, J. “The Science and Politics of Water Protection in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin.” Water Conversations, Global Water Center, Milwaukee, WI, 2017.

Hristova, K., Walsh, M., Beattie, R. “Kewaunee County: Using research to help determine contaminants and risks to human health.” Town Hall Meeting of Kewaunee County citizens, Algoma, WI, 2017.



Beattie, R.E., Walsh, M., Cruz, M.C., McAliley, L.R., Dodgen, L., Zheng, W., Hristova, K.R. Antibiotic resistance genes are emerging contaminants in surface waterways impacted by non-point source agricultural contamination. Annual Meeting of Midwest SETAC, Chicago, IL, 2018.

Beattie, R., Walsh, M., Hristova, K.R. Antibiotic resistance genes are emerging contaminants in surface waterways impacted by agricultural practices. 38th Annual Meeting of the Society for Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, Minneapolis, MN, 2017.



Beattie, R., Bakke E., Munson, E., Hristova, K.R. Kewaunee County, Wisconsin: Using a “One Health” approach to investigate multidimensional aspects of antibiotic resistance. 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology, Sacramento, CA, 2018.

Beattie, R., Walsh, M., Hristova, K. Dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes via CAFO manure application runoff in surface water and sediment, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. 4th International Meeting of the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR), Lansing, MI, 2017.



2018, Singapore Center for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering Summer Course Participant
2017, Marquette University Graduate Student Summer Fellow
2017, SETAC Graduate Student Travel Grant
2017, EDAR Graduate Student Travel Grant



Beattie, R.E., Henke, W., Campa Ayala, M.F., Hazen, T.C., McAliley, L.R., Campbell, J.H. Variation in microbial community structure correlates with heavy-metal contamination in soils decades after mining ceased, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 126(2018):57-63.

Beattie, R.E., Walsh, M., Cruz, M.C., McAliley, L.R., Dodgen, L., Zheng, W., Hristova, K.R. 2018. Agricultural contamination impacts antibiotic resistance gene abundances in river bed sediment temporally, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 94(9):fiy131.

Beattie, R.E., Henke, W., Davis, C., Mottaleb, M.A., Campbell, J.H., McAliley, L.R. 2017. Quantitative analysis of the extent of heavy-metal contamination in soils near Picher, Oklahoma, within the Tar Creek Superfund Site, Chemosphere, 172(2017): 89-95.

Research in Dr. Joe LaManna's lab focuses on community and population ecology. Dr. LaManna is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Research in Dr. Anita Manogaran's lab focuses on protein misfolding and prion biology.

Dr. Manogaran is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Doug Lyke
Doug LykeResearch Interest: 
Misfolded and aggregating proteins are the underlying cause of many neurodegenerative diseases, including prion disease. My work focuses on using yeast as a model to understand the cellular response to newly formed protein aggregates and the relationships between misfolded proteins, chaperone proteins, the actin cytoskeleton, and the homeostasis of other organelles in the cell.  

Enrolled Fall 2014
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Gordon Research Conference. Barga, Italy. 2015
Midwest Yeast Meeting. Chicago, Illinois. 2015
Allied Genetics Conference. Orlando, Florida. 2016
Midwest Yeast Meeting. Chicago, Illinois. 2016
Gordon Research Conference. Newry, Maine. 2017
Midwest Yeast Meeting. Chicago, Illinois. 2017
Midwest Yeast Meeting. Chicago, Illinois. 2018

Lyke, DR., and Manogaran, AL. (2017) Spatial sequestration and oligomer remodeling during de novo [PSI+] formation. Prion. 11(5) 332-337

Lyke, DR., Dorweiler, JE., Legan, ER., Wisniewski, BT., Davis, EE., and Manogaran, AL. (2017) Actin impacts the late stages of prion formation and prion propagation. bioRxiv 145060

Lyke, DR., Dorweiler, JE., and Manogaran, AL. (201X) The Three Faces of Sup35 (In Review)

Graduate Student Research Travel Award (2016)
Richard W. Jobling Travel Award (2016)
Graduate Student Research Travel Award (2017)
MU Fellowship (2018)

Research in Dr. Michelle Mynlieff's lab focuses on ion channels and neuronal function.

Dr. Mynlieff is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Michael Hunsberger
Michael HunsbergerResearch Interest: 
I'm interested in studying the differences in excitability between the adult and infant brain. My long term intent is to map developmental patterns of ion channel expression and to understand why infants are more susceptible to seizures than adults. To accomplish this, our lab employs electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and various molecular techniques.

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Research in Dr. Sofia Origanti's lab focuses on signaling mechanisms regulating mammaliam protein synthesis. Dr. Origanti is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Research in Dr. Lisa Petrella's lab focuses on chromatin and gene expression responses to temperature in C. elegans.

Dr. Petrella is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Meghan Fealey
Meghan FealeyResearch Interest:  
I am determining how temperature affects chromatin state and therefore gene regulation using C. elegans as a model. I utilize synMuv B mutants, a system unable to regulate gene expression at high temperatures, to study these processes. 

Enrolled Fall 2012
B.S., Purdue University

Jerrin Roy Cherian
Jerrin CherianResearch Interest: 
It is important for organisms to buffer gene expression when they face an environmental challenge. In C.elegans, the DREAM complex helps in maintaining proper gene expression in somatic cells by repressing germline gene expression. I am trying to decipher how the DREAM complex promotes proper gene expression in somatic cells of C. elegans at high temperature.

Enrolled Fall 2014
Tech, Padmashree Dr. D. Y. Patil University

20th International C. elegans Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, 2015 
Midwest Chromatin and Epigenetics Meeting, Grand Rapids, MI, 2016
21st International C. elegans Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, 2017 
Chicago Area Worm Meeting (ChAWM). Chicago, IL, 2018
Midwest Chromatin and Epigenetics Meeting. West Lafayette, IN, 2018

2017-2018   MU Fellowship
2017            Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship
2018-2019   MU Fellowship

Franki Compere
Franki CompereResearch Interest: 
(not yet available)

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.S., Augustana College Illinois

Nicholas Sepúlveda

Nicholas SepulvedaResearch Interest: 
Sexual reproduction affords many benefits to multicellular organisms, but it has a deeply conserved flaw: fertility is temperature sensitive. I am interested in determining the effects temperature stress has on fertility. Currently, I am examining the temperature sensitive processes in sperm production, migration, and fertilization in Caenorhabditis elegans males. In addition, I am exploring the natural variation in temperature stress response by examining these effects in both the standard laboratory wild type, N2, and wild isolates collected from across the globe. I hope to assemble a comprehensive portrait of the effects temperature stress has on these crucial processes at a cellular and molecular level. 

Enrolled Fall 2017
B.S. Juniata College

Chicago Area Worm Meeting (ChAWM). Chicago, IL, 2018.
Midwest Chromatin and Epigenetics Meeting. Grand Rapids, MI, 2016.
C. elegans International Meeting. Los Angeles, CA, 2015.

U.S. Department of Education GAANN Fellowship 2018-present
NIH Diversity Supplement Grant, 2014- 2016

Research in Dr. Martin St. Maurice's lab focuses on structural biology and enzymology.

Dr. St. Maurice is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Josh Hakala
Josh HakalaResearch Interest: 
My research involves investigating the dynamics of the swinging arm-like BCCP domain of the biotin-dependent, multi-domain enzyme pyruvate carboxylase. I study the effect of substrates and effectors on the positioning and movement of this swinging carrier domain as it translocates between two distant active sites using a variety of biophysical techniques. This will ultimately lead to a better understanding of how catalysis is coordinated in multi-domain enzymes.

Enrolled Fall 2013
B.S., University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
B.A., Lakeland College

2014 36th Steenbock Symposium, Madison, WI
2014 Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference (MECC), Chicago, IL
2015 Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference (MECC), Evanston, IL
2016 Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference (MECC), Chicago, IL
2016 30th Anniversary Symposium of The Protein Society, Baltimore, MD 

2017-18 MU Fellowship

Dan Dong
Dan DongResearch Interest: 
Screen specific, potent small molecule inhibitors for pyruvate carboxylase. 

Enrolled Fall 2017
B.S. Linyi Normal University
M.S. Adelphi University

Midwest Enzyme Chemistry Conference, Chicago, IL, 2018. 

Simultaneous detection of three Arbovirus using a Triplex RT-PCR enzyme hybridization assay. Virologic Sinca. June 2012.

Research in Dr. Michael Schläppi's lab focuses on cold tolerance and flowering time regulation in plants.

Dr. Schläppi is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Yao Shi
Yao ShiResearch Interest: Our aim is to better understand the biochemical and genetic mechanism of cold tolerance in Rice. My research will be identifying putative candidate genes near to some novel cold tolerance QTLs that are involved in cold temperature response.

Enrolled Fall 2012
B.S., M.S., Xi'an Northwest University

Naoki Shimoyama
Naoki ShimoyamaResearch Interest: All respiring organisms must deal with oxidative stress both from within its cells and from the surrounding environment. Better understanding of how organisms react to and deal with changes in oxidative stress may help to develop new rice cultivars that can mitigate the effects of environmental stressors.​ My current research is focused on studying the role of oxidative stress in the mechanisms that confer cold tolerance in rice.


Nasim Maghboli Balasjin
Nasim Maghboli BalasjinResearch Interest: 
I am working on cold tolerant rice root microbiome and I am trying to find differences between cold tolerant and non-cold tolerant rice root microbiome. In the proposed research we aim to identify positive root-microbiome interactions that promote cold tolerance in rice. To our knowledge, the root microbiome in rice has not been thoroughly studied and the effect of the microbiome on rice cold tolerance is completely unknown. The results of these experiments offer a basic understanding of microbiome-plant relationships during temperature stress, potentially unlocking improved rice growth in cold environments. This could potentially expand the agricultural range of the world’s most important staple crop. 

Enrolled Fall 2017
B.S. Islamic Azad University, Tehran-Medical branch
M.S. Alzahra University

Mohammadi, N. Maghboli Balasjin, Isolation and Molecular Identification of Fungi from Cyrus the Great Tomb Stones, Iranian Journal of Microbiology, Volume: 6, No. 5, 361-370. 2014

Mohammadi, N. Maghboli Balasjin, Fungi as a biodeteriorant of Pasargadae stone monuments, Iranian Biological Magazine, Volume: 28, No. 2, 290-298. 2014

 Research in Dr. Stefan Schnitzer's lab focuses on plant community ecology and tropical forest ecology.

Dr. Schnitzer is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Sergio Estrada Villegas
Sergio Estrada VillegasResearch Interest: My overall research goal is to understand the mechanisms that structure tropical communities. To do so, I study how ecological interactions and anthropogenic disturbances affect biological communities. For my dissertation I am studying the effects of liana-tree competition on tropical forest succession, with a particular emphasis on how competition may preclude biomass accumulation (wood) in regenerating forests. My research will provide management tools to maximize biomass accumulation, and will contribute to understand the factors that structure tropical secondary forests. ​

Enrolled Fall 2015
B.S. Universidad de los Andes
M.S. McGill University

2017 Dr. Catherine Grotelueschen Scholarship
2014 Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies UWM, Travel Award
2013 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Travel Award
2013 Department of Science, Technology and Innovation – Colciencias, Colombia. PhD Fellowship 2013 – 2018.  

2018 55th Annual Meeting of Association of Tropical Ecology and Conservation. Kuching, Malaysia.
2017 II Latin-American Bat Meeting. San Salvador, El Salvador.
2017 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology. Cartagena, Colombia.
2015 Acoustical Society of America meeting. Jacksonville, FL.
2014 Latin-American Bat Meeting. Quito, Ecuador.
2014 Network of Neotropical Biogeography. Bogotá, Colombia.



Estrada-Villegas, S., Schnitzer, S. A. 2018. A comprehensive synthesis of liana removal experiments in tropical forests. Biotropica. DOI: 10.1111/btp.12571.

Estrada-Villegas, S., T. K. Halczok, M. Tschapka, R. A. Page, S. D. Brändel, and T. Hiller. 2018. Bats and their Bat Flies: Community Composition and Host Specificity on a Pacific Island Archipelago. Acta Chiropterologica DOI: 3161/15081109ACC2018.20.1.012

Estrada-Villegas, S., Bailón, M. Hall, J. S., Schnitzer, S. A, Turner, B. L., Caughlin, T. Breugel, Mv. In review. Edaphic factors and historical contingencies influence successional trajectories of early regenerating tropical dry forests. Journal of Ecology.

Felipe Mello
Felipe MelloResearch Interest: I’m interested in the mechanisms driving plant's abundance and distribution in tropical forests and its implications for conservation and ecological restoration. For my dissertation, I aim to understand how liana and tree's functional traits varies along environmental gradients and if that can explain the distribution and abundance of these plants. The results from my study might be used to inform management actions in disturbed forest fragments with high liana densities. 

Enrolled Spring 2016
M.S., Universidade de Sao Paulo


GARCIA-LEON, M.M.; IZQUIERDO, L.M.; MELLO, F.N.A.; POWERS, J.S.; SCHNITZER, S.A. 2017. Lianas reduce community-level canopy tree reproduction in a Panamanian forest. JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY, v. 105, p. 1-9.

 COLLETTA, G.D.S.; CASTRO, V.A.; CABRAL, T.E.; DIOGO, F.N.; JEFERSON, I.; FLORES, T. B.; COELHO, R.L.; MORENO, V.S.; SALINO, A.F.; PINHO, M.A.; IVANAUSKAS, N. M.; TAMASHIRO, J.Y.; LIBONI, A.P.; NETO, A.C.R.; VIRILLO, C.B.; DELFINI, C.F.; POTASCHEFF, C.M.; BRAGA, D.P.; PEREZ OLIVEIRA, D.B.; CASTILLO-DÍAZ, D.C.; MELLO, F.N.A.; FLORIDO, F.G.; FAGUNDES, I.C.; RIGON, J.; KUNTZ, J. et al. 2016. Vascular flora of the Legado das Águas, Reserva Votorantim, municipalities of Tapiraí, Miracatú and Juquiá, São Paulo, Brazil. CHECK LIST, JOURNAL OF SPICIES LIST AND DISTRIBUTION, v. 12, p. 2020.

CÉSAR, R. G.; HOLL, K. D.; GIRÃO, V. J.; MELLO, F. N. A.; VIDAL, E.; ALVES, M. C.; BRANCALION, P.H.S. 2016. Evaluating climber cutting as a strategy to restore degraded tropical forests. Biological Conservation, v. 201, p. 309-313.

VIANI, R. A. G.; MELLO, F. N. A.; CHI, I. E.; BRANCALION, P. H. S. 2015. A new focus for ecological restoration: management of degraded forest remnants in fragmented landscapes. GLPNEWS, v. 12, p. 1.

ATTANASIO, C. M.; CARLINI-GARCIA, L. A.; MELLO, F. N. A. 2015. Métodos para Restauração de Florestas de Brejo Degradadas. PESQUISA & TECNOLOGIA, v. 12, p. 1-6.

2016 National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – CNPq, Brazil. Science without Borders PhD Fellowship 2016 – 2018. 
2015 Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development – Government of Canada. Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program Scholarship.
2013 Coordination of Improvement of Higher Level Personnel – CAPES, Brazil. M.Sc. Fellowship 2013 – 2015. 

2017 World Conference on Ecological Restoration, (Society for Ecological Restoration), Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.

David DeFilippis
David DeFilippisResearch Interest:
(not yet available)


Enrolled Fall 2016
B.S., University of WI Milwaukee

Research in Dr. Rosemary Stuart's lab focuses on mitochondrial biogenesis and function.

Dr. Stuart is NOT accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Jessica Anderson
Jessica AndersonResearch Interest: 
(not yet available)


Enrolled Fall 2015
B.S. Utah State University

 Research in Dr. Pinfen Yang's lab focuses on the control of flagellar motility.

Dr. Yang is accepting new Ph.D. students into the lab. 

Brandon M. Wills
Brandon WillsResearch Interest: The Yang lab uses the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to illuminate biology. Both flagella and cilia play central roles in most human cells. One major question is how various components are delivered to the flagellar compartment. However, the autofluorescence in the cell body of Chlamydomonas hinders imaging of the trafficking process. I am developing strategies to overcome the autofluorescence so that we can further investigate this process.

Enrolled Fall 2016
B.A., Augustana College Illinois

Principles of Fluorescence Techniques Workshop, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2018.

Unmila Jhuti

Enrolled Fall 2018
B.S. University of Dhaka
M.S. University of Dhaka

Aaron Jones

Enrolled Fall 2018
B.A. Augustana College

ASCB-EMBO, Philadelphia, PA, 2017.

Leigh Smith

Enrolled Fall 2018

Adam Knier

Enrolled Fall 2018

Huy Phan

Enrolled Fall 2018

Amanda Laseke

Enrolled Fall 2018