19 GDCB students earn master's and doctoral degrees

July 25, 2019
News

Nineteen Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology (GDCB) students earned their doctoral and master’s degrees from Iowa State University during spring 2019, fall 2018 and summer 2018. ISU graduate commencement ceremonies were held on May 9 and Dec. 14, 2018, at Hilton Coliseum.

Spring 2019 graduates

Bhavika Patel, Michelle Guo, Najiba Mammadova, Alfredo Kono and Si Nian Char
Several genetics, development and cell biology students received their doctoral degrees in spring 2019. From left are Bhavika Patel, Hongqing Guo, Najiba Mammadova, Alfredo Kono and Si Nian Char.

Zebulun Arendsee earned his Ph.D. with a major in bioinformatics and computational biology. Arendsee’s major professor was GDCB Professor Eve Wurtele. Arendsee is currently employed with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Si Nian Char received his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. Former GDCB Professor Bing Yang served as his major professor.

Hongqing (Michelle) Guo earned her Ph.D. in genetics. GDCB Professor Jo Anne Powell-Coffman and Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology Professor Steve Whitham served as her co-major professors. She is an assistant scientist in the Yin Lab.

Alfredo Kono received his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. His major professors were GDCB Professor Steven Rodermel and GDCB Emeritus Professor Marty Spalding. Currently, he is a postdoctoral research associate in the Yin Lab.

Najiba Mammadova earned her Ph.D. with a major in immunobiology and co-major in neuroscience. Morrill Professor Don Sakaguchi and Department of Biomedical Sciences Professor Heather Greenlee served as major professors. Mammadova is a postdoctoral research associate in the Greenlee Lab.

Bhavika Patel received her Ph.D. with a major in neuroscience. Her major professor was Morrill Professor Don Sakaguchi. 

Jordan Welker, Zebulun Arendsee and Sweta Roy-Carson
Three of the eight genetics, development and cell biology spring 2019 graduates are, from left, Jordan Welker, Zebulun Arendsee and Sweta Roy-Carson.

Sweta Roy-Carson earned her Ph.D. with a major in bioinformatics and computational biology. University Professor Drena Dobbs and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Assistant Professor Matthew Hufford served as her co-major professors.

Jordan Welker received his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. His major professor was Jeff Essner. Welker is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Frankfurt, Germany, with Professor Didier Stanier where he will work on understanding the mechanism of genetic compensation.

Fall 2018 graduates

Honghao Bi earned his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. Former GDCB Professor Bing Yang was his major professor.

Mingze He received his Ph.D. with a major in bioinformatics and computational biology. His major professor was GDCB Associate Professor Carolyn Lawrence-Dill (since named professor). Currently, he is a bioinformatics post-doc scientist at SRI International.

Trevor Nolan earned his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. His major professor was GDCB Professor Yanhai Yin. Through July, Nolan will serve as a postdoctoral research associate in the Yin Lab. He has accepted a postdoc position with Duke University.

Junmarie Soto-Burgos is a Ph.D. graduate with a major in genetics. Her major professor was Diane Bassham. She currently is working as an instructor with Des Moines Area Community College.

Zhouli Xie received her Ph.D. with a major in plant biology. GDCB Professor Yanhai Yin was her major professor.

Wesley Wierson received his Ph.D. with a major in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. His major professor was GDCB Professor Jeff Essner. Wierson is a principal scientist and co-founder of Lifengine Animal Health Laboratories (LEAH Labs). Wierson said, "LEAH Labs is a biotech startup aiming to control, cure, and conquer canine cancer using precision genome engineering."

Kokulapalan Wimalanathan earned his Ph.D. with a major in bioinformatics and computational biology. His major professors were GDCB Professor Carolyn Lawrence-Dill and GDCB Professor Erik Vollbrecht. He is a bioinformatics specialist at SOPHiA Genetics in Boston.

Honghao Bi, Wes Wierson, Mingze He, Trevor Nolan, Junmarie Soto-Burgos and Kokulapalan Wimalanathan
Seven genetics, development and cell biology students earned their doctoral degrees in fall 2018. From left are Honghao Bi, Zhouli Xie, Wes Wierson, Mingze He, Trevor Nolan, Junmarie Soto-Burgos and Kokulapalan Wimalanathan. (Photo courtesy of Trevor Nolan.)

Summer 2018 graduates

Majd Abdulghani earned her master of science degree from Iowa State University with a major in genetics and genomics. GDCB Assistant Professor Geetu Tuteja was her major professor. Since graduating from ISU, Abdulghani became the first person in Saudi Arabia to be named a Rhodes Scholar. Currently, she is a research assistant at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute.

Benjamin Bastin earned his Ph.D. with a major in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Former GDCB Assistant Professor Julie Kuhlman and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Associate Professor Dennis Lavrov served as his major professors.

Jeff Haltom received his master of science from ISU with a major in genetics and genomics under the direction of his major professor, GDCB Associate Professor Maura McGrail. Currently, Haltom is working toward his Ph.D. with a major in genetics and genomics. GDCB Professor Xun Gu currently serves as Haltom’s major professor. In the lab, he is conducting “research into cancer somatic mutations using a variety of bioinformatic and molecular evolutionary approaches.”

Kevin Natukunda received his Ph.D. with a major in genetics. His major professor was former GDCB Assistant Professor Julie Kuhlman. Natukunda is currently at South Dakota State University (University Center, Sioux Falls) where he is working on an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing to enable him to join the Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) School.

Congratulations to these GDCB alumni.

Majd Abdulghani, Benjamin Bastin, Jeff Haltom and Kevin Natukunda
Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology summer 2018 graduates are, from left, Majd Abdulghani, Benjamin Bastin, Jeff Haltom and Kevin Natukunda.