MARC Fellow Profiles

Cohort for Academic Years 2021-2023

Jonathan Dean


Major: Biochemistry 
Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Petersen

Current Research Activities: Jonathan is studying new asymmetric methods of synthesizing simple enantioenriched compounds, which can be used as building blocks to more complex molecules with biologically important properties. He is currently working as part of a project to synthesize lactones with chiral centers.

 


David Miller


Major: Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Kari Eddington

Current Research Activities: David's research seeks to identify a potential causal relationship between behaviors learned through military training, reinforcement, and social folkways and maladaptive post-service adjustment. These behaviors and perceptions, while a functional necessity during combat or training, manifest in maladaptive forms post-discharge as the veteran is removed from the conditions in which they were practical. 

 


Jaziah Rispress


Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Zhenquan Jia

Current Research Activities: Jaziah is currently researching the effects of carbon nanodots on vascular inflammation.  Carbon nanodots are a new type of nanoparticle with a size of less than 10 nm, which have a wide range of uses in medical research. His research involves treating human monocytes with carbon nanodots and using real-time PCR to examine the expression of pro-inflammatory genes.

 


Sydney Thompson


Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Norman Chiu

Current Research Activities: Under Dr. Chiu's supervision, Sydney has joined one of his NIH-funded projects which focuses on analyzing the RNA modifications in glioblastoma, the most aggressive brain tumor, by using the patient-derived cellular models. This is a collaborative project with the Tannous group at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

 


 

Cohort for Academic Years 2020-2022

Caroline Nelson


Major: Biology, Pre-Medical Concentration
Minor: Chemistry & French
Mentor: Dr. Yashomati Patel

Current Research Activities: Studying the effects of the grapefruit flavanone Naringenin on the metabolic processes of breast cancer and insulin resistant type 2 diabetes cells. Specifically, the research focuses on understanding the mechanisms through which Naringenin hinders the survival and proliferation of breast cancer cells, while also being beneficial to insulin resistant cells, as a preliminary step in finding a clinical application for the flavanone.

Awards: Caroline won $175 awards for her Cell Biology ePoster presentation at ABRCMS 2020.

Presentations:

  • Nelson, C., Patel, Y. Understanding the Beneficial Effects of the Flavonoid Naringenin in the Treatment of Breast Cancer. Poster presentation in the 2021 URSCO Thomas Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Nelson, C., Patel, Y. Metabolic Regulation in Breast Cancer Cells Using the Grapefruit Flavonoid Naringenin. Poster presentation in the 2020 State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.
  • Nelson, C., Patel, Y. Metabolic Regulation in Type 2 Diabetes and Breast Cancer Using a Grapefruit Flavonoid. Poster presentation in the 2020 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and State of North Carolina Research and Creativity Symposium.

 


Jade Lyons


Major: Biology, Biotechnology Concentration
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Ayalew Osena

Current Research Activities: Jade is currently working on enhancing the nutritional quality, yield, and stress resilience of cassava via genetic engineering. This involves inserting transgenes into the plant's genome and then doing a molecular characterization of the transgenic plant.

Awards: Jade won STEM “Honorable Mention” in the UNCG 2021 Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo.

Presentations:

  • Lyons, J., Roe, K., Osena, A. (2020, November) Overexpression of Arabidopsis thaliana PSY gene in cassava for enhanced carotenoid biosynthesis. Virtual poster presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. 
  • Lyons, J., Roe, K., Osena, A. (2021, March) Overexpression of Arabidopsis thaliana PSY gene in cassava for enhanced carotenoid biosynthesis. Virtual poster presented at Wake Forest University Integrating Research in Science Conference.
  • Lyons, J., Roe, K., Osena, A. (2021, April) Overexpression of Arabidopsis thaliana PSY gene in cassava for enhanced carotenoid biosynthesis. Virtual poster presented at the annual Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Research & Creativity Expo.

Jennifer Obike


Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Nicholas Oberlies

Current Research Activities: Jennifer is currently working on the isolation of compounds from fungi. It involves extractions and analyzing the extracts to identify the compounds present in the fungi culture.

Awards: Jennifer won STEM “Honorable Mention” in the UNCG 2021 Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo.

Presentations:

  • Obike J. C., Al Subeh Z. Y., Croatt M. P., H. A. Raja, C. J. Pearce, N. H. Oberlies. “Media optimization for enhanced production of selected Resorcylic Acid Lactone.” Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, November 9, 2020. (Virtual Poster)
  • Obike J. C., Al Subeh Z. Y., H. A. Raja, Croatt M. P.,C. J. Pearce, N. H. Oberlies. “Media and Strain Study for Enhanced Production of Cis-enone Resorcylic Acid Lactone.” Black Doctoral Network (BDN) Western Regional Virtual Conference, April 8, 2021. (Virtual Poster)
  • Obike J. C., Al Subeh Z. Y., H. A. Raja, Croatt M. P.,C. J. Pearce, N. H. Oberlies. “Media and Strain Study for Enhanced Production of Cis-enone Resorcylic Acid Lactone.” 15th Annual Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC, April 8, 2021. (Video Presentation).

Publications:

  • Al Subeh Z., H.A. Raja, A, J. C. Obike, C. J. Pearce, Mitchell P. Croatt, and N. H. Oberlies. Media and Strain Studies for the Scaled Production of cis-Enone Resorcylic Acid Lactones as Feedstocks for Semisynthesis. Journal of Antibiotics, Accepted 2021.   https://www.nature.com/articles/s41429-021-00432-3

Kayla Youngblood


Major: Chemistry, Biochemistry Concentration
Minor: American Sign Language
Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Peterson

Current Research Activities: Kala is studying new methods of synthesizing asymmetric molecules. These types of molecules are common in drug targets and biologically active compounds. She is currently working on a project to synthesize lactones and lactams using a stereoselective Pinner cyclization. 

Awards:

  • Kala was selected as the first UNCG Goldwater Scholarship recipient since 2012! She was one of 410 Scholars selected from over 5,000 students nominated by their home institutions during the 2021 application cycle.
  • Kala won $175 awards for her Chemistry ePoster presentation at ABRCMS 2020.

Presentations:

  • Youngblood, K. (2020, November 9-13). Stereoselective Synthesis of Lactones from Dinitriles. ABRCMS 2020 Virtual Conference.
  • Youngblood, K. (2021, April 12-14). Stereoselective Synthesis of Lactones from Dinitriles. NCUR 2021 Virtual Conference.
  • Youngblood, K. (2021, April 19-23). Stereoselective Synthesis of Lactones from Dinitriles. Caroline and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo.

 

Cohort for Academic Years 2019-2021


Christopher Roberts


Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Dr. Nicholas Oberlies

Research Activities: Chris studied the isolation of new cytotoxic compounds from fungi. This involves extraction and structure elucidation of secondary metabolites from fungi and testing them against different types of cancers including human melanoma, human breast cancer, and human ovarian cancer.

Publications:

  • Steenwyk JL, Mead ME, Knowles SL, Raja HA, Roberts CD, Bader O, Houbraken J, Goldman GH, Oberlies NH, Rokas A. Variation Among Biosynthetic Gene Clusters, Secondary Metabolite Profiles, and Cards of Virulence Across Species. Genetics. PMID 32817009 DOI: 10.1534/Genetics.120.303549
  • Knowles SL, Roberts CD, Augustinović M, Flores-Bocanegra L, Raja HA, Heath-Borrero KN, Burdette JE, Falkinham Iii JO, Pearce CJ, Oberlies NH. Opportunities and Limitations for Assigning Relative Configurations of Antibacterial Bislactones using GIAO NMR Shift Calculations. Journal of Natural Products. PMID 33764773 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c01309

Presentations:

  • Roberts, C. (2019, November). Isolating Fungal Secondary Metabolites as a Source of Novel Drugs Leads. Poster presented at the meeting of Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Anaheim, CA
  • Roberts, C. (2020, April). Isolating Fungal Secondary Metabolites as a Source of Novel Drugs Leads. Poster presented at the meeting of Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo. Greensboro, NC
  • Roberts, C. (2020, November). Variation in secondary metabolite production among Aspergillus spp. Poster presented at the meeting of Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Virtual
  • Roberts, C. (2021, April). Variation in secondary metabolite production among Aspergillus spp. Poster presented at the meeting Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo. Virtual

 

Chioma Cindy Onokalah


Major: Chemistry, Biochemistry concentration
Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Petersen

Research Activities: Cindy worked alongside Dr. Petersen to synthesize enantioenriched heterocyclic bioactive molecules. She tried to synthesize a lactam using a chiral Brønsted acid to initiate a stereoselective C-N bond.

Presentations:

  • Fall 2019 - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
  • Fall 2019 - National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
  • Spring 2020 -13th Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo
  • Fall 2020 - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Virtual
  • Spring 2021 -14th Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo. Virtual

Danni Brower


Major: Psychology
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Chris Wahlheim

Research Activities: Danni studied individual variation in aspects of attention and memory. Her research involved characterizing participants’ levels of working memory capacity, attentional control, and schizotypy and examining their correlation with cued recall, memory for change, and free recall.

Presentations:

  • Spring 2020 -13th Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo
  • Fall 2020 - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Virtual
  • Spring 2021 -14th Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo. Virtua

Sasha Adams


Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Joseph Santin

Research Activities: Sasha's research topics included cellular neuroscience, comparative neurobiology, and electrophysiology. She worked to determine which aspects of neuronal function are most critical to improving the brain performance under energetic stress. Her research looked at a model neuronal circuit system that has the ability to shift between two states. Over a certain time period it can transform itself into a system that works under hypoxic conditions from a system that doesn’t. Within this system she focused on how it modifies different neuronal processes, the building blocks of the brain, in order to function normally without oxygen when it hadn’t before. She looked at things such as metabolism, neuronal signaling, and homeostasis, all of which are key components to neuronal function in both humans and this model system. Learning how
this system is changing in order to become hypoxia resistant could potentially be translated to the human brain, ultimately making it possible for humans to avoid brain damage when exposed to hypoxic conditions.

Awards: Sasha won a $500 award in Spring 2020 as the winner of the 2020 Novo Nordisk Award for the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section.

Publications:

Adams, S., Zubov, T., Bueschke, N., & Santin, J. M. (2020). Neuromodulation or energy failure? Metabolic limitations silence network output in the hypoxic amphibian brainstem. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00209.2020

Presentations:

  • Fall 2019 - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
  • Spring 2020 -13th Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo
  • Fall 2020 - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Virtual
  • Spring 2021 -14th  Annual Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo. Virtual

Cohort for Academic Years 2018-2020

Oluwaseyi Isijola


Major: Public Health
Minor: Spanish
Mentor: Dr. Sandra Echeverria

Research Activities: Worked with an epidemiologist in the UNCG public health department to examine the relationship between occupational stress and leisure-time physical activity. Conducted focus groups with Latinos in the Greensboro community to gather information for an evidence-based intervention that targets diabetes. 

Career Aspirations and Goals: Oluwaseyi’s goal is to pursue graduate school focusing on Public Health administration or Epidemiology. He is currently a graduate student working towards a Masters degree in Public Health Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Presentations:

  • ABRCMS in November 2019
  • URSCO virtual presentation in April 2020

Madeline Rees


Major: Psychology
Minor: Biology
Mentor: Dr. George Michel

Research Activities: The developmental trajectory of hand use preference in infants

Career Aspirations and Goals: Madeline's goal is to earn a PhD in biological psychology so that she may pursue a career in teaching and research. She desires to approach problems in mental and physical health from a developmental psychobiological perspective to find effective and beneficial solutions.

Presentations:

  • Warner, A., Rees, M., Latta, J., Michel, G. (2018 October). Infant Handedness: Developmental Cascade or Serial Homology? Poster session at the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, San Diego, CA.

  • Rees, M. (2018 March.) “T.M. Luhrmann’s of Two Minds and the Importance of Incorporating Developmental Psychology in Medicine.” Presentation at the 18th Annual Undergraduate Honors Symposium at UNCG, Greensboro, NC.

  • Rees, M. (2019 March.) “The Spread of Eugenics in the 20th Century.” Presentation at the 19th Annual Undergraduate Honors Symposium at UNCG, Greensboro, NC.

  • Rees, M. (2019 April.) “Factors Controlling the Mechanisms of Eating Behavior in Mammals.” Presentation at the 13th Annual Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo at UNCG, Greensboro, NC.

  • Rees, M. (2019 November.) “Factors Controlling the Mechanisms of Eating Behavior in Mammals.” SNCURCS at Duke University, Durham, NC.

  • Rees, M. (2020 February.) “Food Culture in France vs. United States: The Science Behind Social Norms.” Presentation at the 20th Annual Undergraduate Honors Symposium at UNCG, Greensboro, NC.

  • Rees, M. (2020 April.) “Factors Controlling the Mechanisms of Eating Behavior in Mammals.” Virtual Presentation at the 14th Annual Carolyn and Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo at UNCG, Greensboro, NC.


Mo'nay Rodgers


Major: Biology - Human Biology concentration
Minor: Chemistry and Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Joseph Graves

Research Activities: Phage and Metal Resistance Antagonistism in Escherichia coli

Career Aspirations and Goals: Mo'nay's goals are to pursue a career as a Physician-Scientist devoting her time to conducting both lab-based and clinical research as well as clinical services. 

Publications:

Ewunkem, A. J., Rodgers, L., Campbell, D., Staley, C., Subedi, K., Boyd, S., & Graves, J. L., Jr (2021). Experimental Evolution of Magnetite Nanoparticle Resistance in Escherichia coli. Nanomaterials (Basel, Switzerland), 11(3), 790. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11030790

Presentations:

  • ABRCMS in November 2019
  • URSCO virtual presentation in April 2020

 


Megan Toler


Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry and Psychology
Mentor: Dr. John Kiss and Dr. Tatsiana Shymanovich

Research Activities: Gravitropic and phototropic responses in arabidopsis plants

Career Aspirations and Goals: Megan's goal is to pursue a PhD and do research on Dementia and Alzheimer's

Presentations:

  • Toler, M., Shymanovich, T., Vandenbrink, J., Kiss, J. Z., 2018, Analysis of Phototropism and Gravitropism in Arabidopsis thaliana in a Ground-based Control Experiment, Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students: Indianapolis, IN
  • Toler, M., Shymanovich, T., Vandenbrink, J., Kiss, J. Z., 2019, Analysis of Phototropism and Gravitropism in Arabidopsis thaliana in a Ground-based Control Experiment, Southern Section of the American Society of Plant Biologists: Clemson, SC
  • Toler, M., Shymanovich, T., Vandenbrink, J., Kiss, J. Z., 2019, Analysis of Phototropism and Gravitropism in Arabidopsis thaliana in a Ground-based Control Experiment, 12th Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo: Greensboro, NC
  • Toler, M., Waters, C. M., 2019, Exploring if a cytidine deaminase is a cyclic GMP-AMP receptor in Vibrio cholerae, Mid-Michigan Symposium for Undergraduate Research Experiences: Lansing, MI
  • Toler, M., Shymanovich, T., Vandenbrink, J., Kiss, John Z., 2019, The 2D Clinostat Does Not Simulate Microgravity for Phototropism Studies. Poster session presented at the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Meeting, Denver, Colorado
  • Toler, M., Shymanovich, T., Vandenbrink, J., Kiss, J. Z., 2020, Arabidopsis Thaliana Responds Differently in a Ground-based Microgravity Simulation Study, 13th Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo: Greensboro, NC

 


 

Cohort for Academic Years 2017-2019

Kimberrly Colon


Major: Psychology
Minor: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Gabriela Livas Stein

Research Activities: Worked in Dr. Steins 'Caminos' Lab. 

Career Aspirations and Goals: Kimberrly’s goal is to get her masters and doctorate in clinical psychology to become a licensed clinical therapist. She hopes to help children and adolescents who have been through adversity.

 


 

Alicia Costa-Terryll


Majors: Archaeology & Biology
Mentors: Dr. Charles Egeland & Dr. Bruce Kirchoff

Research Activities: Researched paleoecological environments in the OIduvai Gorge

Career Aspirations and Goals: Alicia's goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in archaeology while engaging in interdisciplinary research.

Publications:

Parker KA, Springall BT, Garshong RA, Malachi AN, Dorn LE, Costa-Terryll A, Mathis RA, Lewis AN, MacCheyne CL, Davis TT, Rice AD, Varh NY, Li H, Schug MD, Kalcounis-Rueppell MC. Rapid increases in bat activity and diversity after wetland construction in an urban ecosystem. Wetlands (Wilmington). 2019 Aug;39(4) 717-727. PMID: 31564763; PMCID: PMC6764773.


 

Lauren Dorn


Major: Kinesiology
Minors: Chemistry & Psychology
Mentor: Dr. Laurie (Gold) Wideman/ Dr. Meghan Rose (Gangel)

Research Activities: Protective Effect of Positive Parenting on Neighborhood Quality/Socioeconomic Status on Insulin Resistance (Psychology/Endocrinology)

Career Aspirations and Goals: Lauren's goal is to become a Physician-Scientist in Endocrinology and Developmental Psychology

Publications:

Parker KA, Springall BT, Garshong RA, Malachi AN, Dorn LE, Costa-Terryll A, Mathis RA, Lewis AN, MacCheyne CL, Davis TT, Rice AD, Varh NY, Li H, Schug MD, Kalcounis-Rueppell MC. Rapid increases in bat activity and diversity after wetland construction in an urban ecosystem. Wetlands (Wilmington). 2019 Aug;39(4) 717-727. PMID: 31564763; PMCID: PMC6764773.

Presentations:

  • Dorn, L., Gangel, M., Berry, N.,  Dollar, D., Shanahan, L., Calkins, S.,  Keane, S., & Wideman, L. (2018, November). Parental Monitoring and Neighborhood Quality in Childhood Correlate with Adolescent Health Outcomes. Poster session presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Dorn, L., Gangel, M., Berry, N.,  Dollar, D., Shanahan, L., Calkins, S.,  Keane, S., Wideman, L. (2018, September). Parental Monitoring and Neighborhood Quality in Childhood Correlate with Adolescent Health Outcomes. Poster session presented at the Emory University STEM Symposium, Atlanta, GA
 

Alexis Rice


Major: Psychology
Minor: Sports Coaching
Mentor: Dr. Erin Reifsteck

Current Research Activities: Morehouse Health Literacy Project (beginning in 2018).

Career Aspirations and Goals: Alexis' goal is to pursue a career in sports and exercise psychology

Publications:

Parker KA, Springall BT, Garshong RA, Malachi AN, Dorn LE, Costa-Terryll A, Mathis RA, Lewis AN, MacCheyne CL, Davis TT, Rice AD, Varh NY, Li H, Schug MD, Kalcounis-Rueppell MC. Rapid increases in bat activity and diversity after wetland construction in an urban ecosystem. Wetlands (Wilmington). 2019 Aug;39(4) 717-727. PMID: 31564763; PMCID: PMC6764773.

Presentations:

Rice, A., Strayer III, T.,Gunter, K., & Harden, S. M. Comparison of Physical Activity Behaviors and Value of Physical Activity among Community-Based Health Educators. Poster Presentation. 2018 Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program Symposium; 2018 July; Blacksburg, VA