Current Students

Amanda Garfield

Amanda Garfield



About Me: 

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Amanda Garfield

Charles Griffin



About Me: 

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Amanda Garfield

Margaret Keating



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Amanda Garfield

Edwin Ortiz Gaxon



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Amanda Garfield

Preston Stafford



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Kelsey Abrams (she/her)

Rotating: Jess Nelson, Bruce Appel, Stephen Santoro

Research: I have a passion for anything related to cell biology and developmental neurobiology.

About Me: I grew up in South Florida, and went to the University of Colorado in Denver. In my free time you can find me on the mountain, at the skate park, or enjoying some live music.

Career Goals: Still figuring it out! As long as I am involved in scientific research and the pursuit of knowledge I'll be happy.

Amanda Garfield

Lily Folts

Rotating: Emily Bates, Emily Su, Jen McKey


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Amanda Garfield

Stefano Ginocchio



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Katie Alemany (she/her) | T32 Appointee

BS in Biology, Pennsylvania State University
Moore Lab

Rotation Labs: Rytis Prekeris, Eszter Vladar, Jeff Moore

Research: I joined this program with a passion for cell biology and a drive to learn more about it. Each of my rotations were in different areas of focus but each touched on big biological concepts and processes. My thesis tests the model that cells create programs for regulating microtubule dynamics based on the expression of tubulin genes or isotypes, post-translational modifications, and motor proteins that are regulated by these differences and modulate microtubule dynamics.

About Me: I am originally from California but moved to Colorado with my family before college. Coming back to be close to family was an easy decision and now I can spend time with them, my husband, and my dog Sky.

Career Goals: My goal is to become a professor at an institution with a strong research and teaching mission. After I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Biology, I joined an entomology lab as a PRA to gain more experience in scientific research. Now in graduate school, I am doing what I can to prepare myself to be a good mentor and professor. CSD is a great program for developing these skills from program update talks to making lectures for courses to taking workshops for new techniques.


Amy Briggs (she/her) | NIH Diversity Supplement

BS in Biotechnology, California State University San Marcos
DeGregori Lab

Rotation Labs: Eszter Vladar, Melanie Koenigshoff, Xiao-Jing Wang, James DeGregori

Research: My project is focused on studying the relationship between autophagy and oncogenesis through the decline of tissue maintenance and increase in positive selection of potentially harmful clones in the changing microenvironment. I hope to parse out the mechanism of the role autophagy is playing in this. Tools that I typically use to answer my questions are mouse models coupled with tissue culturing and molecular techniques. 

About Me: I was born and raised in San Diego, CA and now I have traded the ocean for the mountains! When I am not in lab I enjoy backpacking, biking and reading. I am also involved with SACNAS in the CU Anschutz chapter where I hope to create a lively community and engaging outreach opportunities. 


Elliott Brooks (he/him)

BS in Biology, University of Oregon
Sussel Lab

Rotation Labs: Chad Pearson, Lori Sussel, Katie Fantauzzo

Research: I study how the transcription factor NKX2.2 maintains pancreatic alpha cell identity and how its function differs between alpha and beta cells. By understanding the molecular mechanism of NKX2.2 (ie where it binds DNA, what genes does it transcriptionally regulate, what other proteins it interacts with) I can make conclusions about how identity is maintained but also compare mechanisms between different cell types. During my rotation in Dr. Sussel's lab I was inspired to learn how the same transcription factor can work differently in different cell types. The collaborative environment of CSD and at the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes have been highlights and a continuing force during my time at CU Anschutz.

About Me: Being from Oregon stoked my love for the outdoors very early and I have carried on my adventures in the Colorado Rockies. I also have been an active musician and look forward to playing out more as COVID eases up. Grad School is a challenging path and I have found that my labmates, PhD mentor and my partner have all been crucial support allies.

Career Goals: I started my lab career in the lab of Dr. Charles Kimmel at the UO studying the role of Mef2ca in zebrafish craniofacial development. I continued that research when I came to colorado to help Dr. Jamie Nichols start his zebrafish lab at CU Anschutz. During my graduate studies I would like to master many molecular and in vivo techniques, expand my science communication skills and increase my analytical and bioinformatic toolbox. After my time at CSD I would like to pursuit work in the sciences that allow me to use informatics analysis to further our understanding of biology and the molecular realm. CSD has my back on every aspect of my short and long term goals by providing relevant classes, facilitating mentorship opportunities and cultivating a supportive environment.


Jeremy Brown (he/him)

Southern Arkansas University - Bachelors of Science in Biology
Rotating: Emily Bates, Bruce Appel, Jeff Moore

Research: My research has focused around molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and overtime, I have developed a passion for regenerative biology. I started as a volunteer research assistant during university as a freshman. For my first assignment, I separated and counted Daphnia, or water fleas, from pond water samples to study population genetics. We studied how the water fleas changed their sex based on environmental cues. My second project was neurodevelopment based and aimed at describing the role of BMP signaling during axonal guidance. We used Drosophila, or the fruit fly, to study motor neurons, axons, and neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) and specifically how axons are correctly guided to NMJs. I identified non-canonically roles for Mothers against Decapentaplegic, or MAD, during axon development. I published software that I developed to automate the analysis of the data generated from immunohistochemistry experiments performed during this project. After this undergraduate work, I became a professional research assistant. I spent three years identifying genes and pathways that affect the number of cells that survive radiation. From this work, I identified specific timepoints during development during which the removal of cells with DNA damage after irradiation occurs. We published these results along with a new methodology that enabled us to study loss-of-heterozygosity, or LOH. In parallel with the cell survival studies, I studied how cells translocate, transdifferentiate, and regenerate the pouch of the wing after irradiation as a PRA. In this regenerative biology project, I helped perform RNAseq on two populations of cells. One population was the less regenerative notum and pouch cells of the wing disc and the other was the highly regenerative hinge cells. The results of this study were also published. Now, I am looking to learn how to study regenerative biology in more model organisms and from any possible angle of scientific inquiry. I also have a particular interest in looking to automation of research.

About Me: I grew up in a small Texas town called Paris. I went to college in another small town but this time in Arkansas where I met my wife, Su Ann. After college, I got a job at CU Boulder working for Dr. Tin Tin Su and I moved to Allenspark which is right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. During that time, I enjoyed volunteering as a firefighter. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, hanging out with my dogs, hiking, snowboarding, and Jiu Jitsu.

Career Goals: To advance regenerative biology and to start my own biotechnology company.


Judy Cheng (she/her)

BA in Molecular Biology, Colorado College
Reis Lab

Rotation Labs: Charles Sagerstrom, Tânia Reis, Bruce Appel

Research: Reis's lab is interested in studying the genetic and cellular mechanisms of obesity and neuronal controls of metabolism. My project focuses on a gene called Arc1 and its role in regulating fat metabolisms at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. Previous work from the lab identified Arc1 to promote lean phenotype in drosophila larvae. Recently, progress in the field revealed that Arc1 could traffic its own transcript by capsid formation. Following up on these, I will explore the regulation of Arc1 between the brain and fat body and how that modulates metabolic phenotypes using the Drosophila model. 

About Me: I was born in Tianjin China, grew up in Suzhou China until the end of primary school. After that, I studied in international schools in Singapore for six years prior to coming to the U.S. I attended Colorado College for my undergraduate study, where I acquired my passion for developmental and RNA biology. I like to sketch random things or go out for a walk or hike in my free time.

Career Goals: I majored in Molecular Biology and minored in Biochemistry during my undergraduate study in Colorado College. At this point of time, I do not have a firm idea of my career. Yet, I would like to continue research career.


Erik Collet (he/him)

BS in Biology, St. Olaf College
Pearson Lab

Rotation Labs: Jeff Moore, Michael McMurray, Chad Pearson

About Me: I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa and went to St. Olaf College in Minnesota. I'm a huge sci-fi nerd, in my free time I enjoy watching movies and exploring the Colorado wilderness.

Research: I'm a cell biologist at heart, I love any research which gets into the nitty-gritty of cellular processes and mechanisms. 

Career Goals: While I'm yet to decide on a specific field or even area of study, as long as I end up researching and working in a lab I'll be happy!


Devon "Koya" Lumbao-Conradson (he/him)

B.A. Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Lewis & Clark College
Vagnozzi Lab

Rotation Labs: Jamie Nichols, Linda Barlow, and Ronald Vagnozzi

Research: There are two immune responses to injury: the pathological one and the therapeutic one. An imbalance between these two can have adverse effects. For example, favoring the pathological response over the therapeutic one can lead to an excess buildup of scar tissue around a wound. When this happens in the heart, it can lead to cardiac fibrosis which restricts the hearts proper beating and can lead to death and other adverse symptoms. Hence, research into controlling the two immune responses is crucial to curing diseases like cardiac fibrosis. My research aims to understand the role that the CX3CR1 receptor plays in these two immune responses within the cardiac setting. My research utilizes in vivo mouse models as well as in vitro cell culture systems.

About Me: I've moved around a lot throughout my life. I grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, then moved to France with my folks my senior year of high school. I then went to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR and earned my Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry and molecular biology. Most of my undergraduate training and lab experience took place in labs that focused on structural biochemistry including Stanford and SLAC/LCLS. After college, I moved to the Bay Area where I worked in the Xinnan Wang lab in Stanford's Neurosurgery department as a PRA for two years before attending graduate school. My folks and I owned rats as pets since I was 10 years old, but the pet I want most now is a ferret.

Career Goals: At the moment, I'm leaning towards a career in academia; but the future is still wide open. I know that I want to continue doing research in labs that focus on regenerative medicine, but which setting that'll happen in—academia or tech—is still on the table. I also intend to continue my work in advocacy and inspiring other POC/QTPOC (Queer/Trans POC) to pursue careers in STEM.


Mikaela Follmer (she/her)

BS in Biology & Religious Studies, Susquehanna University
Bates Lab

Rotation Labs: Kristin Artinger, Emily Bates, Richard Benninger

About Me: I’m originally from a small town in Pennsylvania (think public high school 40 person graduating class small). I attended Susquehanna University for my bachelors degree in Biology with a second major in Religious Studies, my areas of focus were Developmental Biology and Eastern Religions. After graduating I moved to State College, PA and worked as a research technologist in the Lindner Lab at Penn State. There I studied malaria and cared for a few thousand mosquitoes for the lab. When I’m not thinking about science I spend my time mountain biking, backpacking, and playing with my cat- Dr. Anthony Meowci.

Career Goals: I’ve always been passionate about science and political issues, because of this choosing a career was challenging, until I discovered science policy. My ultimate goal is to use my understanding of scientific research to influence policy decisions and create a better relationship between important scientific work and public comprehension. 


Maria Hansen (she/her)

BS in Biology, MS in Human Biology, University of Copenhagen
Sussel Lab

Rotation Labs: James DeGregori, Richard Benninger, Lori Sussel

Research: My main passion is type 1 diabetes research. In the Sussel lab, we are interested in understanding the transcriptional networks regulating pancreatic development and function. Using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) as a model system, I study the function of Groucho co-repressors during human pancreatic development. Additionally, I’m interested in understanding the autoimmune attack of the pancreatic beta cells in type 1 diabetes. I utilize a combination of short-read and long-read RNA sequencing to identify splice variants of beta cell genes, which could potentially give rise to neo-epitopes in the type 1 diabetic pancreas.   

About me: I am originally from Denmark but moved to Colorado in 2018. I immediately fell in love with the mountains, and I now spend most of my spare time climbing and hiking. I have become somewhat obsessed with climbing 14ers, and I hope to climb all of them over the next couple of years. I am type 1 diabetic myself, which adds an additional layer of complexity to outdoor adventures. I would love to someday work on increasing accessibility to the outdoors (especially mountaineering) for people with chronic diseases.

Career goals: I earned my bachelor’s degree in biology and my master’s degree in human biology at University of Copenhagen. I wrote my master’s thesis in the Serup lab at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology, where I worked on characterizing the pancreatic progenitor stage during directed differentiation of hESCs into pancreatic beta cells. I moved to Colorado and joined the Russ lab at Anschutz in 2018, where I continued to work on the generation of stem cell-derived beta-like cells.    

In addition to understanding the transcriptional programs driving pancreatic development, and understanding the autoimmune pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes, I am passionate about scientific communication. During graduate school, I hope to improve my scientific communication skills and learn how to convey complex scientific information to a much broader audience. I am a firm believer that we need to narrow the gap between scientists and society in order to build public trust in science.


Trevor Isner (he/him) | T32 Appointee

B.A in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Barlow Lab

Rotation Labs: Emily Bates, Linda Barlow, Santos Franco

Research: During my time in the Barlow lab, I have focused primarily on two projects regarding taste homeostasis. Much of my early work was examine the role of Notch signaling in taste homeostasis, specifically interrogating how the iterative function of Notch may lead to differential differentiation of mature taste cells. Currently, I am studying a potential bi-potent progenitor that is thought to give rise to both taste and salivary gland tissue.

About me: I was raised just down the highway in Colorado Springs. I received my B.A in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from CU-Boulder, where I truly found my love for research while studying the evolutionary development of the vertebrate jaw in Dr. Dan Medeiros’ lab. After graduating I worked in the lab of Dr. Emily Bates at CU-Anschutz as a research assistant where I studied the role of ion channels in craniofacial development. After feeling confident in my bench work and ability to think critically, I applied to the graduate school in 2020. In CSD, I plan to continue honing my independent research skills so that I may proceed with researching and contributing to the scientific body of knowledge after graduation. 

Bryan Johnson (he/him)

BS Evolutionary Biology, University of Iowa; MS Biology, University of Northern Colorado
DeGregori Lab

Rotation Labs: Linda Barlow, James DeGregori, Rytis Prekeris

Research Statement: I am interested in understanding the role the tumor microenvironment plays in regulating metastatic outgrowth of dormant cancer cells. Specifically, how the tumor microenvironment changes with age or in response to insults like viral infection to facilitate the switch from dormant cancer cells to overt metastatic growth.

About me: I was born and raised in Iowa. When I’m not in the lab I enjoy doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and being outdoors. Since moving to Colorado, I have been learning how to fly fish.


Hannah Jones (she/her) NIH F31 Fellowship

BS Molecular and Cellular Biology, Johns Hopkins University
Siegenthaler Lab

Rotation Labs: Julie Siegenthaler, Chad Pearson, Linda Barlow

Research: I am fascinated by the mechanisms underlying development of the vasculature in the central nervous system (CNS) and the associated cell types that create a unique niche within the brain. My project in the Siegenthaler Lab focuses on characterizing a subset of fibroblasts that reside on CNS vasculature called perivascular fibroblasts (PVFs). Following CNS injury, PVFs contribute to fibrotic scar formation and secrete factors that coordinate regeneration. However, the developmental origins and homeostatic functions of PVFs are unknown. My goal is to identify the mechanisms underlying recruitment of PVFs to the vasculature during development and use this knowledge to create model systems to study their role in CNS homeostasis and after injury.

About Me: I’m an East-coast transplant; I do miss the ocean, but I can’t complain about Colorado’s majestic mountains! In my spare time you can find me skiing, biking, rock climbing, or hiking. I also enjoy cooking delicious meals, trying new beer, cross-stitching, listening to podcasts, and spending quality time with my partner, Mark, and our cat, Juniper. Beyond lab and my hobbies, I participate in science outreach by volunteering with the Denver Metro Regional Science & Engineering Fair and coordinating outreach activities with Project Bridge.

Career Goals: My ultimate goal is to become a research professor with my own lab and with my own students to teach and mentor. CSD has done a great job in preparing me for this! Within the program, there are multiple opportunities to teach and be involved with mentorship. I’ve developed lectures for CSD courses, I’m a student representative on the CSD curriculum committee, and I am a co-director of the student-run Journal Club. I’ve also had the opportunity to mentor undergraduate & master’s students within my lab and gain formal mentorship training through CSD’s Developing Scholars program. With the support of the program, my thesis mentor, and my thesis committee, I feel thoroughly prepared for the next stop in my career-- obtaining a postdoc position!


Sol (Sophia) Kim (she/her)

BS in Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Siegenthaler Lab

Rotation Labs: Julie Siegenthaler, Bruce Appel, Ethan Hughes

About Me: During my free time, I am mostly indoors--cooking/baking, working on arts and crafts, yoga/Pilates. I also love spontaneous solo trips and trying new outdoor activities under beautiful Colorado weather. 

Career Goals: I am still undecided but one thing I do know is that I love being in a lab, wet or dry, and I wish to continue to work as a research scientist studying brains!

Research Interests: One of my research interests is the cross-talk between the CNS and immune system and I would like to be involved in both developmental and translational aspect of the topic.


Samantha Landgrave (she/her)

BS in Biochemistry, California State University San Marcos
Zuscik Lab

Rotation Labs: Richard Benninger, Kristen Boyle, Mike Zuscik

Research: My doctoral training research interest involves developing a comprehensive understanding of how parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) and type I parathyroid hormone receptor (PTHR1) pathways change and contribute to the development of posttraumatic osteoarthritis.

About Me: I am originally from San Diego, CA. When I am not in lab I love to be outdoors. Colorado has plenty of outdoor activities and things to explore. My support system through graduate school is my family and friends. With the pandemic, it has become very important to me to balance my work life balance to maintain my mental health.


Michael Lippincott (he/him)

BS in Biochemistry, Maryville University of Saint Louis
Rotating: Edward Lau, Lori Sussel, Greg Way

Research: I am most curious about RNA’s role and interaction both backwards and forwards in the Central Dogma during development. I am pursuing this area utilizing both bioinformatics and “wet-bench” methods.

About Me: I grew up in Saint Louis and earned my BS in Biochemistry from Maryville University of Saint Louis. I worked in industry for 2 years as a Molecular Biologist and then spent a year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researching telomeres, insulin signaling, and DNA damage response in C. elegans. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, snowboarding, rock-climbing, cycling, photography, and not being able to reassemble kitchen appliances after dissembling them in a desperate attempt to restore them to their former glory.


J.P. Martin (he/him)

B.S in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry, M.S in Biology
Rotating: Wendy Macklin, Santos Franco, Arianne Theiss

Research: I am very interested in neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration and autoimmunity. Ideally, I would like to employ an interdisciplinary approach to merge these research interests.

About Me: I was Born and Raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, then I moved to Austin, Texas where I completed high school. After high school, I spent the last 11 years in North Dakota prior to arriving in Colorado. I am very passionate about science communication and community engagement.

Career Goals: I would like to eventually conduct neurodegenerative disease research. Due to my love for teaching, I would like to conduct my research in an academic setting.


Hannah Moran (she/her) | T32 Appointee

BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology, BA in Biochemistry, University of Arizona
Mosimann Lab

Rotation Labs: Emily Bates, Katie Fantauzzo, Christian Mosimann

Research: In the Mosimann lab, I investigate early heart development and cell fate commitment to cardiac lineages from the uncommitted mesoderm in zebrafish. My project focuses on how different structures of the vertebrate heart acquire their fates and where their progenitor populations come from, and how these processes can go wrong in congenital disease. My favorite resources within CSD are the training courses in grant writing and critical analysis of literature. Grant writing can be intimidating, but having a strong foundation and ample resources gained from these courses makes the process much more approachable and less nerve-wracking. I love that CSD gives me the opportunity to explore my research passions while also supporting my personal and professional goals.

About Me: When I'm not in the lab, I love to go hiking and camping, as well as explore the breweries that Colorado has to offer. I am originally from Arizona, so I love experiencing all the seasons while still soaking in lots of sunshine! My cohort has been the best support system ever since interview weekend. Going through classes and rotations together was challenging, but being able to lean on each other made the transition to graduate school much easier. I serve on the Student Executive Committee as a part of CSD Voices, which allows students to communicate feedback to the program provides students with a way to express their questions or concerns whenever they arise. Additionally, I work with the Denver Metro Regional Science and Engineering Fair on the Mentorship and Outreach Team to make the science fair accessible and exciting for students of all backgrounds in the Denver area.

Career Goals: I received by Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology and my Bachelors of Arts in Biochemistry at the University of Arizona. I transitioned straight from undergrad to graduate school, but took time to travel before I started in the CSD program. My goal in graduate school is to expand our current understanding of the biological processes that contribute to congenital diseases, while also gaining skills in mentorship, grant writing and outreach to continue my path to becoming a fully independent scientist. I am extremely passionate about improving the landscape of academia for both current and future academics, and I am grateful that CSD supports me in these endeavors through both courses and personal and professional support.


Abi Mumme-Monheit (she/her) | NSF GRFP 

BS in Biology, Haverford College 

Nichols Lab


Rotation Labs: Matthew Taylor & Luisa Mestroni, Jamie Nichols, Paul Norman 

Research: MEF2C Haploinsufficiency Syndrome is a human disorder characterized by craniofacial phenotypes. This disorder also displays incomplete penetrance, meaning that some individuals with deleterious mutations exhibit phenotypes while others do not. I am using a zebrafish model to study incomplete penetrance in this disorder. The zebrafish gene mef2ca is orthologous to MEF2C and when mutated results in craniofacial phenotypes. Specifically, I am investigating whether paralogs of mef2ca are compensating for mef2ca loss, resulting in incomplete penetrance of disease phenotypes.

About Me: I grew up in MA, just outside of Boston. I went to Haverford College in PA for undergraduate, where I fostered my love for research in labs studying sea anemones and corn genetics. Since moving here I have fallen in love with the mountains. Outside of lab I can be found running, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how to make fitness accessible to everyone. I coach functional fitness classes at Colorado Fitness and Strength; specifically, I am passionate about coaching an inclusive fitness class for LGBTQ+ youth there.

Career Goals: I hope to continue research after getting my PhD with a particular focus on human genetic disorders. I am leaving my options open as to where I would like to continue my research. However, I love doing research in the context of medicine, and would like to be involved in the translational research pipeline. I hope to emphasize communication to the public in whatever realm of research I pursue.


Kyle Northington (he/him) | NSF GRFP Honorable Mention; T32 Appointee

BS Biological Sciences, Molecular and Cellular Biology Concentration
Bates Lab

Rotation Labs: Emily Bates, Julie Siegenthaler, Kelly Sullivan

About Me: Hi, my name is Kyle and I am originally from California! I grew up in a really small town near Yosemite where I had amazing access to hiking and skiing. I moved to San Diego for college where I fell in love with biology. When I'm not in lab I love to go to the movies and visit the Denver Botanic Gardens. I am also involved with the LGBTQ+ Hub on the Anschutz campus, where I meet monthly for the Governance and Leadership Committee to provide input on the Hub's operations and planned activities.

Research: I research the role of the microtubule cytoskeleton in brain development. I am specifically interested in how microtubules inside of neurons are controlled when exposed to developmental guidance cues. Our floor has two incredible confocal microscopes that make imaging neurons both exciting and fun! With two of these microscopes it is so much easier to find time to image your samples. My original interest was in neuroscience, but after rotating in Dr. Emily Bates' lab I was introduced to developmental biology. Now in my project I can combine my love for the brain with developmental and cellular biology.

Career Goals: I'm still thinking hard about my career goals! During my undergraduate education I worked for a year at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Carlsbad, CA. This was great exposure to a career in biotech, and I could see myself returning to that field. However, I do love bench science and mentoring students so I could envision myself as a PI at a primarily undergraduate institution. While we don't have undergraduate students on this campus CSD does offer unique teaching opportunities for students, and during the summer we bring undergraduate students into labs where we can get mentorship opportunities.


Sylvia Nunez (she/her)

BS in Integrative Biology, University of Illinois
Sagerstrom Lab

Rotation Labs: Katie Fantauzzo, Stephen Santoro, Santos Franco, Charles Sagerstrom

Research: Developmental biology is one of my main research interests. I am currently studying cell fate decisions at the midbrain-hindbrain boundary in zebrafish.

About Me: I was born and raised in the Windy City (Chicago, IL), and went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my undergraduate degree where I discovered my passion for biological research. When not in the lab, I love solo traveling, visiting museums, going to concerts, and seeing live theater. 

Career Goals: I am still considering all my options to pursue my research interests after graduate school in an academic or industry setting. Scientific outreach is another passion of mine, and so I look forward to becoming more involved in these areas going into my second year!

Omar Ochoa Olmos (he/him)

BS Biology, MS Biochemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Brzezinski Lab

About Me: I am originally from Mexico City and my native language is Spanish. I graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) with a BS in Biology in 2008, and later earned a MS in Biochemistry in 2012. Initially, I collaborated with Dr. Elena Basiuk and Dr. Tzvetanka Drimitrova developing novel DNA-delivery technologies based on carbon nanotubes to improve plant cell transformation. Before starting my PhD studies, I received teaching training in Japan at the Japan Foundation Japanese-Language Institute, Urawa. After returning to Mexico, I became a science and language instructor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. 

Research Goals: In 2020, I joined the Brzezinski Lab to investigate the gene regulatory network involved in cone photoreceptor specification using CRISPR/Cas9 technologies in the mouse and retinal human organoid models. My goal is to provide new insights on how to treat retinal degenerative diseases that cause color blindness by instructing progenitor cells to adopt cone identity and potentiate the production of cones.


Tina Piarowski (she/her) | NSF-GRFP Honorable Mention; Past T32 appointee; NIH F31 Fellowship

BS Genetics, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Arizona State University
Barlow Lab

Rotation Labs: Linda Barlow, Melanie Koenigshoff, Sujatha Jagannathan

Research: My research focuses on the role of receptor tyrosine kinases in the taste system, particularly the role of c-Kit it sweet-sensing cells. Using lingual organoids as a model system I found that inhibiting c-Kit leads to a decrease in sweet cell markers. This lead me to my hypothesis that c-Kit is necessary for the differentiation or survival of sweet sensing cells. My thesis work will aim to unravel this relationship using a combination of in vitro organoid models and in vivo work. I was inspired to join the Barlow lab because the sense of taste is central to the human experience, and understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms mediating taste could help improve the quality of life of people who have lost their sense of taste due to disease or drug treatments.

About Me: In my free time I enjoy hiking, biking, figure skating and hanging out with my cat. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago before moving to Phoenix for college. After graduating I moved to Denver for graduate school in the CSD program, where I have grown close with my classmates and colleagues. Like many others in CSD, I prioritize work/life balance and usually spend my weekends relaxing or exploring Colorado!

Career Goals: I attended Arizona State University for my undergraduate degree, where I majored in Genetics, Cellular and Developmental Biology with minors in French and Global Health. I took a gap semester after graduating to work as a PRA, which was a great reset that re-energized me before heading to graduate school. During graduate school my goals are to get practice presenting my work to different audiences as well as gain experience mentoring students at the bench. CSD offers many opportunities for students to teach and present, and I also worked with our program director Jeff Moore to create the Developing Scholars mentorship program. I'm very excited about all the opportunities within CSD that can prepare students for a wide variety of careers.


Ian Purvis (he/him)

BS in Natural Sciences, Xavier University
Brzezinski Lab

Rotation Labs: Ethan Hughes, Rajeev Vibhakar, Joe Brzezinski

Research Statement: In the Brzezinski lab, I am researching vertebrate retinal development. Specifically, I am using the mouse retina as a model to understand how Otx2, a gene necessary for retinal development, is regulated during the development and maturation of different cell types within the retina. Using in vivo and ex vivo models along with CRISPR technology, I am teasing out mechanisms mediated by non-coding regions of DNA that regulate the expression of this gene across the developing retina.

About Me: Originally from Peoria, IL, I received my Bachelor’s of Science from Xavier University. I then worked for 2 years at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria conducting research on the progression of brain tumors. While in the CSD program, I plan on improving my skills communicating scientific data and conclusions, enhancing my analytical skills while gaining more experience mentoring students.


Addison Rains (she/her) | T32 Appointee

BS in Biology, Birmingham - Southern College
Artinger Lab

Rotation Labs: Macklin, Prekeris, Artinger

Research: I am interested in the intersection of cell biology and developmental biology. I study mechanisms of cell migration and fate acquisition of neural crest cells in the zebrafish model. Neural crest cells are a highly migratory population of developmental stem cells responsible for giving rise to many cell types, including nerves and glia of the peripheral nervous system. My project is focused on understanding how neural crest cells migrate to and differentiate into cells of the peripheral nervous system.  

About Me: I was born and raised in a small Alabama town. I earned my BS in Biology from Birmingham-Southern College, where I first discovered my passion for research. In undergrad, I studied membrane trafficking mechanisms in fission yeast, during this time I became fascinated with utilizing fluorescent microscopy to probe questions of cellular dynamics. After graduation, I worked for four years as a technician at UAB. It was there I developed a love for developmental biology. Outside of research, I am an avid crafter and enjoy spending my free time knitting, crocheting, or beading. I am a big music lover, I take any opportunity I can to catch a show at Red Rocks, or attend a music festival.

Career Goals: I intend to pursue a career as a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution where I can create a small independent research program, and share the joy of research with new generations of young scientists.


Chris Schaaf (he/him) | T32 Appointee

BS in Biochemistry, Colorado Mesa University

Sussel Lab

Rotation Labs: Lori Sussel, Richard Benninger, Olivia Rissland

Research: My research focuses on the transcriptional regulation of cell fate decisions in developing endocrine cells in human stem cell lines. I am applying the extensive research done on the transcription factor NKX2.2 in mice by the Sussel lab, and translating that into a human based model system to better understands the differences between mouse and human pancreatic development.

About Me: I love many of the typical Colorado activities that have drawn us all to the area. Rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, and camping are all high on my list of fun activities. I also enjoy going to live music events, checking out new breweries and food halls, and finding great new coffee spots.

Career Goals: The driving factor in my scientific career is a passion for researching type 1 diabetes. With the majority of the field shifting towards stem cell research for functional cures, I hope to be able to continue applying the skills that I develop during my graduate studies towards helping us achieve that functional cure. 


Wolf Schleicher (he/him) | T32 Appointee

BS in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Neuroscience
Pietras DeGregori Labs

Rotation Labs: James DeGregori, Eric Pietras, Kunhua Song

Research: My initial research project aims to understand whether and how metabolism and the NLRP3/IL-1beta axis are linked to facilitate selective hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) expansion in clonal hematopoiesis. Tet2- and Dnmt3a-deficiency are the two most common mutations in clonal hematopoiesis, and they result in similar phenotypes of selective HSPC expansion. Previous work in the Pietras Lab has identified a potential link between these two cellular processes in Tet2-deficient mice, so my current work will explore this same link in Dnmt3a-deficient mice.

About Me: I consider myself to be a bit of a pop-culture geek, so many of my interests outside of the lab involve playing tabletop games with friends, marathoning Tolkien and Marvel movies, and volunteering with local conventions (when time allows). However, as I've lived in Colorado my whole life, I also love hiking and camping in the mountains. My support system through graduate school is mainly comprised of close friends (with which I play the aforementioned games) and my significant other. As such, I try to maintain a good work/life balance to afford me time with the people I care about, but some weeks are more successful than others. Currently I am not involved in any school/community activities, but as I transition into my second year, I will hopefully get more engaged with CSD program activities.

Career Goals: My research interests are in stem cell biology and aging, and how these focuses provide a unique perspective of regenerative medicine. As such, my goals during graduate school are to develop an expertise in stem cell biology and aging-associated morbidity. While my current goal after graduate school is to pursue a leadership position in the biotech industry, I may also pursue a career in the academic setting. The diversity of training faculty in CSD provides me the opportunity to receive mentorship that will cater to these career goals, preparing me for either industry or academia. Moreover, CSD workshops, journal clubs, and seminars provide opportunities to collaboratively develop skills, ideas, and interests to help shape my PhD training.


Susannah Schloss (she/her)

BA in Psychology, BS in Neuroscience
Rotating: Jamie Nichols, Charles Sagerstrom, Jess Nelson

Research: My undergraduate research focused on the cellular mechanisms of hearing loss in zebrafish, where I focused specifically on the mechanisms behind hair cell regeneration. I'm interested in studying the cellular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disease, specifically multiple sclerosis, but would like to learn more about cellular biology and development.

About Me: I grew up in Miami, Florida and received a B.A. in Psychology from Flagler College in St. Augustine. During this degree, I realized I wanted to delve more into science, so I moved to Vancouver, Washington and got another Bachelors degree in Neuroscience, along with some undergraduate research experience. Outside of the lab, I enjoy reading all kinds of literature, from scientific to fantasy, as well as dabbling in cooking meals from around the world.

Career Goals: My ultimate goal is to work with a company or organization where I can research multiple sclerosis in some capacity. Ideally, I would like to be involved in developing treatments or improving existing stem cell therapies.


Kaleigh Schuler (she/her)

Bachelor's of Science Biology - Neurobiology
Rotating: Chad Pearson, Lori Sussel, David Clouthier

Research: I'm interested in the signaling mechanisms necessary for development (cell specification, migration, polarity, etc) from signal induction to downstream effects, particularly transcription factor binding.

About Me: I received my bachelor's at the University of Texas at Austin, after which I joined Steve Vokes' lab as a technician. It was there that I first fell in love with signaling (specifically Sonic Hedgehog in the early mouse limb bud). I've spent the last 2 years working at the University of Wisconsin Madison under Anne Griep studying PCP signaling factors in neonatal mouse eye lens epithelial cells.

Career Goals: I would love to either tackle a new signaling pathway in development during my PhD, or explore primary cilia dynamics and mechanisms. Beyond graduate school, I want to pursue a postdoc position and eventually become a professor. That said, I'm determined to explore a wide array of career paths over the course of my graduate training to be sure I'm choosing a career trajectory that best suits me.


Amanda Stenzel (she/her)  

BS in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Rotating: Stephen Santoro, Linda Barlow, Jess Nelson

Research: During my undergraduate studies, I investigated how triclosan affects metamorphosis and reproductive fitness in zebrafish. After graduating I got a job working as a research technician in the Nichols lab at CU Anschutz where I studied the role her9 plays in craniofacial patterning and development, and bone ossification. My research interests include anything and everything related to developmental biology and molecular genetics. 

About Me: I am originally from Minnesota but in the middle of the 2020 COVID pandemic I decided I wanted a change of scenery and moved out to Colorado. I have loved living in Colorado, even though I miss all the lakes in Minnesota from time to time. In my free time I enjoy hiking with my dog, skiing, rock climbing, and playing piano. 

Career Goals: I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse where I had so many AMAZING professors who helped me pursue my passion for science. It was because of this experience that I decided to pursue a graduate degree in biology. My goal is to one day become a professor at a college that can inspire the next generation of undergraduate students to pursue a career in science.


Harrison Wells (he/him) 

BA in Biology, Carroll College
Mosimann Lab

Rotation Labs: Patricia Ernst, Christian Mosimann, Eric Pietras

Research: I am interested in the genetic programs that drive cell fate decisions during early development. In the Mosimann lab, we work on characterizing regulatory elements that drive the development of mesoderm-derived embryonic structures.

About Me: I grew up in Spokane, WA and received my bachelor’s from Carroll College in Helena, MT. I spent a few years at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota studying kidney disease before starting grad school. Outside of the lab, I try to get into the mountains as often as possible, where I love to hike and camp. Otherwise, I enjoy cooking, reading, and trying to drink all of Colorado’s fantastic beer.


Shane Williams (he/him)

BS in Biology, Saint Michael's College
Dempsey Lab

Rotation Labs: Eszter Vladar, Kunhua Song, Xiao-Jing Wang, Peter Dempsey

Research: I’m interested in improving our ability to utilize stem cell derived models to study human organ development and disease. I’m currently generating fluorescent reporter knock-ins to track intestinal organoid development in real time.  

About me: I grew up in New Hampshire and moved to Colorado after finishing undergrad in Vermont. I spend most of my free time exploring the Rockies with my wife searching for the perfect campsite or skiing fresh powder. I also seem to like fish since I’m a reef aquarium hobbyist and have recently picked up fly fishing.


Student NameDefense DateLabCurrent Position
Yunus OzekinJuly, 2023Emily BatesAssistant Research Professor, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Nicole MossMarch, 2023Lori SusselPostdoctoral Fellow, Duke University, Debby Silver Lab
John DeSistoJune, 2023Adam GreenPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
David VillaniApril, 2023Michael ZuscikPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Adam AlmeidaApril, 2023Wendy MacklinPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Department of Ophthalmology
Zeke ThomasApril, 2023Jeffrey MoorePostdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Michigan, labs of Drs. Kristen Verhey & Puck Ohi (starting July 2023)
Ali ShillehOctober, 2022Holger RussPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford
Madison RogersAugust, 2022 Katherine FantauzzoMedical Writer, Real Chemistry
Adam SohAugust, 2022Chad PearsonPostdoctoral Fellow, Duke University, David Sherwood Lab 
Alexandra TheisApril, 2022Lori SusselPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Melissa Harrison Lab 
Ian StancilMarch, 2022David SchwartzPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Helen Blau's lab - Stanford University
Diane GuminaNovember, 2021Emily SuFederal Executive Branch Policy Fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Brenna DennisonSeptember, 2021Katherine FantauzzoScientist at Lanterne Dx
Taylor WallaceJuly, 2021Traci LyonsSenior Scientific Editor, Research to Practice
Anthony JunkerJuly, 2021Chad PearsonPostdoctoral researcher; Gerardo Lab - Emory University
Michael KaufmanJuly, 2021Joe BrzezinskiPostdoctoral researcher; RBI Fellowship - Anschutz Medical Campus
Kayt ScottJune, 2021Bruce AppelSPIRE Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Kacy Gordon's lab, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Heather BrownNovember, 2020Lee NiswanderCaptain & Application Scientist, Enzo Life Sciences
Mark GutierrezMay, 2020Santos FrancoCaptain & Staff Scientist, United States Army Medical Department
Sofia PezoaApril, 2020Lee NiswanderCell Culture Scientist, Invitria
Jayne AikenApril, 2019Jeffrey MoorePostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Erika Holzbaur - UPenn
Stephanie BonneyMarch, 2019Julie SiegenthalerPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr Andy Shih's lab - Seattle Children's Research Institute
Tanya BrownMay, 2019Wendy MacklinPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Jeff Rasmussen's lab - University of Washington
Santiago FregosoApril, 2019Santos FrancoPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Kathleen Millen's lab - Seattle Children's Research Institute
Veronica FregosoFebruary, 2019Amanda LawPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Wendy Macklin's lab - Anschutz Medical Campus
Alex LiggettAugust, 2019James DeGregoriPostdoctoral Fellow at the Broad Institue, Dr. Vijay Sankaran's lab
Eric PetermanAugust, 2019Rytis PrekerisPostdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington, Dr. Jeff Rasmussen's lab
Caitlin WinklerApril, 2019Santos FrancoSenior Research Associate, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
Jennifer JonesMay, 2019Peter Dempsey 
Ismail SolaNovember, 2019Rajeev Vibhakar 
Colleen BartmanJune, 2018Tobias EcklePostdoctoral Fellow, Mayo Clinic
Colby FeesOctober, 2018Jeffrey MoorePostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Bruce Goode's lab - Brandeis University
Senthilnath Lakshmana ChettyNovember, 2018Maranke KosterPostdoctoral Fellow; Dr. Siddhartha Mitra's lab - Anschutz Medical Campus
Swati MishraFebruary, 2018Julie SiegenthalerPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, Dr. Jessica Young's lab
Jason WilliamsApril, 2018Kristin ArtingerPostdoctoral Fellow, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Drs. Hanson and Stenmark's labs
Jason DinellaNovember, 2017Peter KochScientist position in Reprogramming Biology at Fate Therapeutics, Inc.
Andrew WeemsJuly, 2017Michael McMurrayPostdoctoral Fellow, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Gaudenz Danuser's lab
Brian BaylessJuly, 2016Chad PearsonAssistant Professor, Santa Clara University, Biology Department
David Castillo-AzofeifaApril, 2016Linda BarlowPostdoctoral Fellow, Dept of Craniofacial Biology, University of California, San Francisco CA
Heather RayApril, 2016Lee NiswanderAssistant Professor, Idaho State University, Department of Biological Sciences
Jonathan WildeMarch, 2016Lee NiswanderPostdoctoral Fellow, MIT, Dr. Guoping Feng's Lab
Jinxiang DaiJuly, 2015Wendy MacklinPostdoctoral Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dr. Cyrus Ghajar's lab
Brad KubickDecember, 2015Dennis RoopFellow, Flagship Pioneering
Davalyn PowellMay, 2014Kristin ArtingerScience Writer at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Alex BlaskyMay, 2013Bruce AppelGlobal Market Development Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Dongying LiDecember, 2013Rytis PrekerisORISE fellow, FDA National Center for Toxicology Research
Brittany Allen-PetersenMay, 2012Mary RelandPostdoctoral Fellow, Oregon Health & Sciences Univ, Dr. Rosalie Sears' Lab
Francie BarronMay, 2012David ClouthierVP Biology and Regulatory Affairs, Nanomedical Diagnostics
Aaron HuebnerDecember, 2012Dennis RoopPostdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Konrad Hochedlinger's Lab
Jennifer IkleMay, 2012David ClouthierPediatric Endocrinology Fellow, Washington University
John SchielDecember, 2012Rytis PrekerisR&D Senior Scientist, Horizon Discovery
Ying ZhangMay, 2012Lee NiswanderPostdoctoral Fellow, Harvard School of Medicine, Dr. Richard Maas' Lab
Tariq AdwanAugust, 2011Mary ReylandChief Scientific Officer, Alpha Genomix Laboratories
Ha NguyenMay, 2011Linda BarlowProfessor and Chair, Hanoi Medical University, Hanoi Vietnam
Jian JingMay, 2010Rytis PrekerisPostdoctoral Fellow, National Jewish Med Research Ctr, Dr. David Schwartz Lab
Lai KuanDecember, 2010Alexander SorkinPostdoctoral Researcher, University of Colorado, Department of Pathology
Lai Kuan Dionne (Goh)December, 2010Alexander SorkinInstructor, Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at Washington University in St. Louis
David McKeanDecember, 2010Lee NiswanderResearch Fellow, Harvard Medical School, Seidman Lab, Dept of Genetics
Danielle HarlowMay, 2009Linda BarlowMedical Director, Neurology and Immunology, EMD Serono
Roslyn BauerDecember, 2008John HuttonScience Writer and Editor, JoVE (Journal Visualized Experiments), Sommerville, MA
Glenn SimonDecember, 2008Rytis PrekerisPostdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado, Department of Pediatrics
Agne Taraseviciute (MSTP)May, 2008, (MD, 5/2010)Peter JonesFellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Seattle Children's Hospital
Christiana ChaoMay, 2007, (MD, 5/2009)Lori SusselResidency, Univ of Washington-Seattle, Dept of Pediatrics
James EarlMay, 2006, (MD, 5/2008)Steve BrittPhysician, St. Alphonsus Hospital, Dept of Ophthalmology
Denise BirkholzAugust, 2005Steve BrittIntraoperative Neuromonitoring Tech, PhySIOM, NIDCR-NRSA
Jay GatlinMay, 2005Karl PfenningerAssociate Professor, Univ Wyoming-Laramie, Dept of Botony & Molecular Biology
Mike HumphriesDecember, 2005Mary ReylandStaff Scientist, Array BioPharma, Boulder, CO
Alex LublinMay, 2005Tom EvansInstructor, Mt. Sinai Hospital, NY, Dept of Neuroscience
Scott BarbeeMay, 2004Tom EvansAssociate Professor, Univ of Denver, Dept of Biological Sciences
Jennifer GilletteMay, 2004Sheila Nielsen-PreissAssociate Professor, Univ New Mexico School of Medicine, Dept of Pathology
David KentDecember, 2004Joan HooperPostdoctoral Fellow, Univ of Utah
Cindy YeeMay, 2003Tom FingerResearch Scientist, Genetech, San Francisco, CA
Luis MirandaMay, 2002Alex FranzusoffPostdoctoral Fellow, Beth Israel Deaconess Med Ctr/Harvard, Boston, MA
James WitowskyDecember, 2002JohnsonResearch Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna, Austria
Russ BowlerAugust, 2001, (MD, 1993, UCSF)James CrapoProfessor, National Jewish Med Research Ctr, Dept of Pulmonary/Critical Care
Josh HallDecember, 2001, (MD, 5/2003)Tom FingerPrivate Practice, Psychiatric & Behavioral Health Clinic, Poway, CA
Keith MikuleAugust, 2001Karl PfenningerArQule Biomedical Institute, Inc., Norwood, MA
Christine WuMay, 2001Howell/NevilleAssistant Professor, UC Anschutz Medical Campus, Dept of Pharmacology

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