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Spotlight On...

2015 Archive

The Spotlight series was created in 2009 as a way of building camaraderie in our department and as a way of communicating our unique departmental culture to prospective students and visitors. Featuring current graduate students, postdoctoral associates, technical staff, and administrative staff it showcases the broad interests and talent of our many department members. In April of 2015, we launched our first online version.


Joshua Dewe

December 2015

I am currently investigating the molecular mechanism underlying the link between tRNA modification and human intellectual disability.

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Jasmine Siler

November 2015

I am a fourth-year graduate student in the Xin Bi laboratory.  I am studying the chromatin remodeler Fun30 in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  Recent studies revealed a role of Fun30 in the resection of double stranded DNA breaks as part of homologous recombination.  We have shown that Fun30 contributes to cellular tolerance to genotoxins that stall the progression of DNA replication.  I am currently investigating the function of Fun30 in DNA damage tolerance pathways. 

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Zhonghe Ke

October 2015

I am a 5th year graduate student in the lab of Drs. Seluanov and Gorbunova. Currently, I’m working on the hematopoietic stem cells in the longest-lived rodent, the naked mole rat (maximum lifespan, 32 years). I aim to discover the stem cell capacities that contribute to the extreme longevity of the naked mole rats, and in the long term to reverse age-associated degeneration of stem cells.

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Anusha Naganathan

September 2015

In the Culver lab, our research is aimed at understanding how a ribosome (the cellular machine that synthesizes proteins in all living organisms) and its components are assembled in a bacterial cell. Specifically, I focus on studying how certain ribosome biogenesis factors, conserved throughout evolution aid in the fast and efficient assembly of these protein-synthesizing machineries.

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J'Quan Graddic

August 2015

My current role in this department is as a Laboratory Tech.  Meaning any help (aside from scientific experiments) in the labs minor enough for the mechanics to bypass, we as stockroom employees tend to. I am also responsible for making fly food for a few of our labs. Just to add to the chaos, I am also the assistant for the awesome and well-respected Mary Bissell. From TGIF parties, to golf tourneys, to everyday problem solving, we proudly handle it all.  

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Purba Gupta

July 2015

I am looking at the genetic architecture of natural variation in sex-specific behaviors in the nematode, C. elegans.

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Luticha Doucette

June 2015

I currently work in the Werren lab. We study the model organism Nasonia vitripennis, which is an ecto parasitoid wasp. These wasps are very different from what people are normally used to. The females inject venom into fly pupae and then lay their eggs inside. They are also very tiny, so, unless you're a fly, you have nothing to be afraid of! What we've learned from these wasps is that their venom, which is really a cocktail of components working in concert, causes developmental arrest in the host. My focus is to try to ascertain the evolutionary history and possible functionality of some of these venom components, as we currently only have an understanding of what some of the components do but there is a subset that are completely unknown.

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Jonathan Millen

May 2015

I am currently investigating lifespan using yeast as a model system.  My goal is to discover new components that can be used to treat age related diseases.

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Daniel Emerson Khost

April 2015

I work on satellite DNA, which is a type of DNA that is non-coding, highly repetitive, and makes up a large fraction of the genome but is nevertheless still somewhat mysterious. Part of my work uses bioinformatic approaches to analyze the structure and evolution of satellite DNA loci, which have traditionally been very hard to sequence and assemble. I also take a molecular approach and look at their transcriptional activity to determine what sort of cellular function they serve.

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