4 GDCB students earn advanced degrees

August 3, 2018

Three genetics, development and cell biology (GDCB) students earned their doctorates and one GDCB student earned her master of science during the spring 2018 commencement. Earning a Ph.D. were Soujanya Akella, Lauren Laboissonniere and Laura Schultz-Rogers. Axelle Weeger earned an M.S.

Akella’s major was genetics, and her major professors were GDCB Emeritus Faculty Marty Spalding and GDCB Professor Steve Rodermel.

Laboissonniere’s major was neuroscience, and her major professor was former GDCB Assistant Professor Jeff Trimarchi.

Laboissonniere joined the lab of Dr. Laura Ranum in the Center for NeuroGenetics at University of Florida. Laboissonniere said, “Dr. Ranum's lab focuses on repeat-associated disorders, such as Huntington's, myotonic dystrophy, spinocerebellar ataxias, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). My research will involve the study of her C9ORF72 mouse model (of ALS) and further characterization of the role of repeat associated non-ATG (RAN) translation in disease progression.” 

Schultz-Rogers’ major was genetics, and her major professor was GDCB Associate Professor Maura McGrail.

Schultz-Rogers recently started as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Individualized Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Currently, Schultz-Rogers is working with Dr. Eric Klee and a team of postdocs on “analyzing RNAseq and whole exome sequencing data from patients with un-diagnosed disorders to help identify disease causing genetic variants. I'm also facilitating functional studies in the lab to help validate the role of specific gene variants in disease etiology.”

Schultz-Rogers said her goal has always been to work in clinical genetics. “I am excited to be using my foundational knowledge in genetics and extensive molecular biology skills I gained while in Maura McGrail's lab to directly help patients struggling with un-diagnosed disorders.” 

Weeger’s major was in genetics and genomics, and her major professor was GDCB Assistant Professor Hua Bai. After graduating in spring, Weeger began preparations to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and genomics at Iowa State University in fall 2018. She will enroll in rotations and will begin looking for a new area of study.

“I’m looking forward to teaching as a TA again and continuing my path with ISU,” Weeger said.

Congratulations to these four GDCB alumni on their success, and best of luck in the future.

Spring 2018 GDCB graduates
Four genetics, development and cell biology students graduated in spring 2018. From left are Laura Schultz-Rogers, Ph.D. (genetics); Lauren Laboissonniere, Ph.D. (neuroscience); Soujanya Akella, Ph.D. (genetics); and Axelle Weeger, M.S. (genetics and genomics).

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