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.

Archives:  2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2023 Spotlights

Elizabeth Phelps

June 2023

As the biology Stockroom Clerk, I ensure that the stockroom is organized, clean, and stocked for the research labs in the building. Additionally, I help maintain the record of stockroom expenses for each lab to ensure research grants are charged properly.

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Elizabeth Brashich

May 2023

Growing up, I was naturally drawn to science, as I was always fascinated by how the world worked. It amazes me how life, seemingly simple on the surface, holds a vast amount of complexity. Throughout my education, I was fortunate to have several outstanding teachers and mentors who helped foster my strong appreciation for biology. They helped me understand the beauty and complexity of the world, and the impact that biology can have on our daily lives.

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Manasi Gangan

April 2023

I am a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Anne Meyer. Our lab uses synthetic biology tools to repurpose bacteria as the source of novel biomaterials with possible applications in industry. As a part of the team, I am genetically modifying Shewanella oneidensis, to make it a more generous electron donor that in combination with nanomaterials, would help release hydrogen gas from water. Since hydrogen is considered as an alternative source of energy, our efforts can be a step towards the development of a sustainable source of energy.

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Eric Hillpot

March 2023

I use several biochemical and biophysical techniques to understand structurally and enzymatically how Sirtuin6 extends lifespan in mammals. 

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James Miller

February 2023

Get involved with a lab ASAP.  By diving into the research being done here you will gain firsthand experiences that will be invaluable in figuring out what your next step will be after your time here.

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Federico Sánchez Vargas

January 2023

I am currently working in the Biro and Mitchell labs in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, where I am studying social cognition in marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus). My work there involves training an AI neural network to analyze videos of monkeys performing a joint-foraging task. The idea is to ask how much time monkeys look at the task versus observing each other, to attempt to understand how they are using social information to solve the problem at hand ­– a good model to probe at the evolution of our own cooperative abilities! I have also worked at the Uy lab in the Department of Biology for almost three years. My work with Dr. Floria Uy has me investigating the behavioral outcomes of parasitic manipulation of a wasp host. How has the parasite evolved to meet its reproductive and survival goals while hiding inside a host? How does it evade detection and change the wasps’ behavior to succeed? How does the parasite choose between many potential hosts? By using this system, we hope to peek through a window into complex evolutionary processes.

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