Student and Faculty Achievements

Here are some of the recent achievements and milestones from our current students and faculty!

2021

Defenses

  • Joseph Beyene successfully defended his dissertation “The molecular composition and biodistribution of ARRDC1-mediated Microvesicles (ARMMs)” on March 12 and will graduate in May.
  • Rebecca Mandt successfully defended her dissertation “Pre-clinical studies characterizing the evolutionary dynamics of resistance to novel antimalarials in Plasmodium falciparum” on April 19th and will graduate in May.
  • Aditi Jatkar successfully defended her dissertation “Mechanism underlying the regulation of SREBP-1 activation by glycerolipids” on May 3rd and will graduate in May.
  • Meghan Torrence successful defended her dissertation “Defining Anabolic Functions of ATF4 as a Downstream Effector of mTORC1 Signaling on May 5th and will graduate in May.
  • Samantha Giffen successfully defended her dissertation The Essential whiB2 Transcriptional Network and its Role in Cell Division” on May 18th and will graduate in November.

2020

Defenses

  • Michael MacArthur successfully defended his dissertation “Improving metabolic health via dietary and pharmacologic modulation of stress response pathways” on August 21st and will graduate in November.
  • Sergine Brutus successfully defended her dissertation “Kinase regulation of microtubule dynamics” o May 8th and will graduate in May.
  • Kristine Werling successfully defended, the first ever, BPH virtual dissertation “The insect steroid hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone as a key regulator of the interplay between Anopheles gambiae and Plasmodium falciparum on March 27th and will graduate in May.
  • Nate Hicks was also successful in virtually defending his dissertation “Functional analysis of drug resistance associated genetic variation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis on March 30th and will graduate in May.

Scholarships/Awards:

2019

Defenses

  • Erika Ilagan successfully defended her dissertation “Growth factor signaling pathways converge on the TSC complex to control mTOR” on May 8th and will graduate in May.
  • Gabe Rangel successfully defended his dissertation “Empowering the experimental biology of Plasmodium vivax through elucidating requirements for ex vivo culture” on April 29th and will graduate in May.
  • Skye Fishbein successfully defended her dissertation “Friends of the ribosome: translational regulation in mycobacteria” on April 26th and will graduate in May.
  • Andrea Smidler successfully defended her dissertation “CRISPR-based innovative genetic tools for control of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes” on April 26th and will graduate in May.
  • Pei-Yun Tsai successfully defended her dissertation “Metabolic adaptations of pancreatic cancer to a nutrient-deprived environment” on April 26th and will graduate in May.
  • Cory Gerlach successfully defended his dissertation “MicroRNAs in Kidney Injury & Repair: Characterizing the Role of miR-132″ on April 24th and will graduate in May.
  • Kent Langston successfully defended his dissertation “Regulation of Inflammatory Macrophage Activation and Tolerance by Modulation of Glucose Metabolism” on April 23rd and will graduate in May.
  • Allison Andraski  successfully defended her dissertation “HDL in humans: a complex system of proteins, each with its own unique size distribution, metabolism, and diet regulation” on April 5th and will graduate in May.

Other:

  • Chimwemwe Mwase was elected as a co-chair for the next Gordon Research Conferences/Gordon Research Seminars (GRC/GRS): Lung Development, Injury and Repair to be held in 2021. She was the only graduate student among the four nominees.

2018

Publications:

Scholarships/Awards:

  • Harry Won received the Herchel Smith Fellowship which provides two years of full tuition/fees and a stipend.
  • Joe Beyene was awarded an F31 Predoctoral Fellowship from the NIH.
  • Sneha Dutta was selected as a recipient of a Merit/Graduate Society Term-time Research Fellowship for the 2018-2019 academic year. This award allows outstanding GSAS students to focus their time on research, fieldwork, and writing by providing support at critical junctures for students in the humanities and social sciences and natural sciences while reducing their excessive reliance on teaching fellowships and other income sources.
  • Meghan Torrence was awarded an F31 Predoctoral Fellowship from the NIH with her proposal entitled “Defining the Novel mTORC1-ATF4 Axis in Cancer.”
  • Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem was one of the recipients of the 2018 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship. This fellowship is open to immigrants and children of immigrants with the potential to make significant contributions to US society, culture, or their academic fields.

Defenses:

  • Nelson Knudsen  successfully defended his dissertation “Molecular mechanisms of metabolic adaptation to endurance exercise” on July 24th and will graduate in November.
  • Bobby Brooke Herrera successfully defended his dissertation “Epidemiology and Immunopathogenesis of Ebola and Flaviviruses” on April 26th and will graduate in May.
  • Perrine Marcenac successfully defended her dissertation “Molecular and ecological factors modulating the fitness of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium falciparum” on April 24th and will graduate in May.
  • Lauren Robertson successfully defended her dissertation “Targeting Circulating Adipocyte Protein 2 in the Context of Type 1 Diabetes Incidence and Pathogenesis” on April 23rd and will graduate in May.
  • Christalyn Rhodes successfully defended her dissertation “Unjamming the airway epithelium: A novel role for rhinovirus in asthma pathogenesis” on April 13th and will graduate in May.
  • Eli Gerrick successfully defended his dissertation “Discovery of small RNAs and characterization of their regulatory roles in Mycobacterium tuberculosis” on April 12nd and will graduate in May.
  • Kasia Baranowski successfully defended her dissertation “Peptidoglycan Synthesis and Rod Shape Maintenance in Mycobacteria” on April 2nd and will graduate in May.
  • Allyson Morton successfully defended her dissertation “Dietary unsaturated fat improves high density lipoprotein function: opposing roles of apoE and apoCII” on March 28th and will graduate in May.
  • Alena Yermalovich successfully defended her dissertation “Lin28: Linking Organ Development and Tumorigenesis in the Kidney” on March 8th and will graduate in May.
  • Yue Zhang successfully defended her dissertation “Cell non-autonomous modulation of longevity by TORC1 and AMPK” on January 30th and will graduate in May.

2017

Presentations:

  • Christalyn Rhodes received top honor for “Best Oral Presentation” at the New England Science Symposium at Harvard Medical School on March 25th. The talk she gave was entitled “The Role of Rhinovirus Induced Epithelial Migration in the Pathogenesis of Asthma” for which she won the Ruth and William Silen, M.D. Award which recognizes participants who deliver outstanding oral presentations and who create exceptional scientific posters. Christalyn received a certificate and $300 award. Photos from the event are forthcoming and will be able to be seen here.
  • Christalyn Rhodes attended the Gordon Research Conference: Directed Cell Migration, in Galveston, Texas where she received the Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority (CSURM) Fellowship from this GRC conference. Her submitted abstract was also chosen for the podium presentation both at the Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Gordon Research Conference (GRC). The title of her talk is “Rhinovirus Induces TGF-Beta Dependent Collective Cellular Migration in Airway Epithelial Cells in Normal and Asthmatic Donor.”
  • Cory Gerlach is attending the Society of Toxicology annual meeting in Baltimore, MD this March where he has already won two awards for his research on “The Role MicroRNA-132 in Kidney Disease.” Cory was awarded 1st Place in the Sheldon D. Murphy Mechanisms Specialty Section Student Travel Endowment Award and received 2nd place in the Northeast Society of Toxicology Travel Award.

Publications:

  • Kevin Ma had his first author paper, from his undergraduate thesis work, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
  • Pedro Lamothe Molina had a paper published, in which he was fourth author, in the Journal of Virology. Another paper of his, in which he is second author, was accepted for publication and is currently in press in the Cellular and Molecular Immunology Journal.
  • Bobby Brooke Herrera’s study entitled, “Continued transmission of Zika virus in humans in West Africa, 1992-2016,” was accepted for publication and is currently in press in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. It is available online here.
  • BPH faculty member Les Kobzik, along with BPH alum, Christine Ordija, had their paper “Free Actin Impairs Macrophage Bacterial Defenses via Scavenger Receptor MARCO Interaction, with Reversal by Plasma Gelsolin” recently accepted for publication in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. More details to come.

Scholarships/Awards:

  • Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem was awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predectoral Fellowship (F31). This funding will support him as he completes his dissertation research which uses DNA methylation based markers of aging to better understand the health effects of fine particulate air pollution exposure.
  • Caroline Keroack was elected to be the 2017-2018 student representative for the American Society of Parasitologists.
  • BPH faculty members Wendy Garrett and Curtis Huttenhower, along with HSPH faculty members Shelley Tworoger and Eric Rimm, received a Capital Program Award from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to build the Biobank for Microbiome Research in Massachusetts (BIOM-Mass). BIOM-Mass will: (a) create the world’s largest prospective collection of microbiome specimens from 25,000 individuals in the Nurses’ Health Study II; (b) leverage cutting edge laboratory automation to collect and store biospecimens for this and many future studies; and (c) deploy a novel analysis and bioinformatics data portal to support microbiome research and development. The primary goal is to build an integrated microbiome research platform allowing collection, use, and analysis of microbiome-targeted biospeciments accessible to all investigators at the Harvard Chan School that complements existing microbiome resources at the School. Please contact Dr. Eric Rimm (erimm@hsph.harvard.edu) if you are interested in learning more about the resource.
  • BPH Associate Director of Administration, Deirdre Duckett, was named one of HLC’s 2017 Harvard Heroes. More details about the Harvard Heroes program can be found here.

Defenses:

  • Mustafa Yilmaz successfully defended his dissertation “Oxygen-dependent regulation of fatty acid metabolism and endoplasmic reticulum function in adipocytes” on December 15th and will graduate in March.
  • Wesley Wong successfully defended his dissertation “A tale of brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles: using genomics and modeling to uncover the nature of P. falciparum polygenomic infections and cotransmission” on December 7th and will graduate in March.
  • Jamaji Nwanaji-Enwerem successfully defended his dissertation “On Aging: Analyses of Long-term Fine Particulate Air Pollution Exposure, Genetic Variants, and Blood DNA Methylation Age in the Elderly” on November 20th and will graduate in March.
  • Koji Yasuda successfully defended his dissertation “Gut and tissue microbiome biogeography and its response to environmental perturbation” on September 18th and will graduate in March.
  • Sheena Shah-Simpson successfully defended her dissertation “Interplay of Trypanosoma cruzi and host metabloism and impact on parasite intracellular growth” on August 11th and will graduate in November. Congrats to Sheena on not only this, but on her recent engagement as well!
  • Rose (Filoramo) Joachim successfully defended her dissertation “Characterizing the role of pre-pubertal status in sepsis: Why do children survive when adults do not?” on April 14th and will graduate in May.
  • YoungJi (Helen) Cho successfully defended her dissertation “The Role of the Microbiome in Sex and Obesity Effects on Ozone-Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness” on April 11th and will graduate in May.
  • Jemila Caplan Kester successfully defended her dissertation “Clp-Mediated Regulation of the Mycobacterial Cell Cycle” on March 27th and will graduate in May. She will now be doing her postdoc at MIT in the Bioengineering department.

2016

Publications:

  • BPH alum Peter Wagner (PhD ’15) led a study that was published in Environment Health Perspectives that can be found here. BPH faculty Quan Lu was a senior author, while David Christiani also authored on this paper.
  • Meghan Torrence’s undergraduate research, in which she was co 1st author, was published in Science.
  • Pedro Lamothe Molina has had several papers published this year so far, including being co-first author in Immunity, second author in Protein Cell, and co-author in Nature Immunity. He also appears as co-author in a paper recently accepted by Nature Genetics and is in press.
  • Erika Illagan published an invited review as first author in the Trends In Cancer (2016; 2:241-251).

Scholarships:

  • Alena Yermalovich recieved the F99 scholarship

Defenses:

  • Kutay Karatepe successfully defended his dissertation “Role of Proteinase 3 in bone marrow hematopoiesis and neutrophil function” on August 16th and will graduate in November. He will be moving to New Haven, CT with his wife in the upcoming months
  • Lear Brace successfully defended her dissertation “Alterations in energy metabolism and neurodegeneration as a consequence of DNA damage” on October 20th and will graduate in March. She will be moving to California this month where she will be a postdoc in the lab of Brian Kennedy at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in the San Francisco Bay area.
  • Christine Ordija successfully defended her dissertation “Free Actin and Effects on Lung Macrophage Bacterial Defenses” on November 1st and will graduate in March.

Presentations: