Carnegie Mellon University

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences: Alumni Career Paths & Recent Alumni

Career paths of Ph.D. graduates of the Department of Biological Sciences have led to research, teaching, and administrative positions at renowned academic institutions. Graduates are also leaders in industry and government.

2017 Graduates

Stacie Oliver, Ph.D.
The Wnt Signaling and Actin Regulator Adenomatous Polyposis Coli-2 Controls Stem Cell Niche Size and Architecture
Advisor: Brooke McCartney

Christopher Pratt, Ph.D.
In vitro and in vivo Studies of BK Channel Trafficking and Localization Using Fluorogen-Activating Peptides
Advisor: Marcel Bruchez

Tanvi Shashikant, Ph.D.
From Genome to Morphology: The Dissection of a Developmental Gene Regulatory Network
Advisor: Charles Ettensohn

Dan Shiwarski, Ph.D.
Unlocking the DOR to the Surface: Regulated Surface Trafficking of the δ-Opioid Receptor
Advisor: Manoj Puthenveedu

Lina Song, Ph.D.
Identification of Modulators of O-glycosylation Using Isoform-Specific Sensors for GalNAc Transferase Activity
Advisor: Adam Linstedt

Pieter Spealman, Ph.D.
The Role of Alternative Translation Initiation in the Regulation of Gene Expression
Advisor: Joel McManus

Beril Tutuncuoglu, Ph.D.
60S Ribosomal Subunit Assembly in Yeast Involves Major Conformational Changes Facilitated by Sequential Binding of Individual Ribosomal Proteins
Advisor: John Woolford

2016 Graduates

Shawn Burton, Ph.D.
Novel Cell Types and Circuits in the Mouse Main Olfactory Bulb
Advisor: Nathan Urban

Shanna Bowman, Ph.D.
Regulation of G Protein-Coupled Receptor Trafficking by Downstream Signaling Kinases
Advisor: Manoj Puthenveedu
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine - PennPORT (Postdoctoral Opportunities in Research and Teaching) Teaching Postdoc Program

Salini Konikkat, Ph.D.
Dynamic Remodeling Events Drive the Removal of the ITS2 Spacer Sequence During Assembly of 60S Ribosomal Subunits in S. cerevisiae
Advisor: John Woolford
Postdoctoral position at Carnegie Mellon University

Karen Kormuth, Ph.D.
Targeting and Biological Implications of Guanine Quadruplexes
Advisors: Bruce Armitage & John Woolford
Postdoctoral position at the University of Pittsburgh, Lakdawala Lab

Ting Liu, Ph.D.
Biophysics of Encapsidated DNA States in Viruses and their Role for Infectivity
Advisor: Alex Evilevitch

Olivia Molinar, Ph.D.
A Multi-Scale Approach Investigating the Physiological Relevance of APC-Dia-microtubule Mediated Actin Assembly in the Drosophila Ovary
Advisor: Brooke McCartney
University of California, San Diego - IRACDA Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award Postdoc Program

John Pettersson, Ph.D.
Single Molecule Studies of hGSTA1-1: Binding Kinetics and Active Site Dynamics
Advisors: Fred Lanni & Gordon Rule
Postdoctoral position at Carnegie Mellon University

Madhumitha Ramesh, Ph.D.
Analysis of Eukaryotic Ribosome Biogenesis from Three Standpoints: Investigating the Roles of Ribosomal RNA, Ribosomal Proteins and Assembly Factors
Advisor: John Woolford
Associate Consultant, QuintilesIMS (formerly IMS Consulting Group), San Francisco

Sahil Sangani, Ph.D.
Lanthanides to Probe Metal-induced Dynamic Changes in EcoRV-DNA Complex
Advisor: Gordon Rule

Zhonglin Sun, Ph.D.
Signal-Dependent Regulation of Skeletogenesis in the Sea Urchin Embryo
Advisor: Charles Ettensohn

2015 Graduates

Santosh Chandrasekaran, Ph.D.
Unbiased, High-throughput Electron Microscopy Analysis of Experience-dependent Synaptic Changes

Advisors: Alison Barth/Nathan Urban
Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh

Eugenio Gallo, Ph.D.
Innovations in the Field of Fluorogen-activating Proteins: Engineering scFv Biosensors as Universal Affinity Reagents, Multi-Specificity Activation
for Multi-Color Applications on Live Cells, and the Generation of scFv Multimer Assemblies for Advanced Fluorescence Detection
Advisor: Jonathan Jarvik
Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto

Andrew Kehr, Ph.D.
Structural and Biochemical Study of Two Nucleic Acid Binding Proteins: Human ADAR2 and EcoRV

Advisor: Gordon Rule
Postdoctoral Fellow at the NIH

Suchitra Ramachandran, Ph.D.
Visual Statistical Learning in Monkey Inferotemporal Cortex

Advisor: Carl Olson

Merissa Remus, Ph.D.
Contribution of Nucleus Accumbens to Reward-Seeking Behaviors: Role of Dopamine Mediated ERK Signaling

Advisor: Edda Thiels
Science Educator at BASIS.ed

Simran Saini, Ph.D.
Mechanistic Insights into Homotypic Fusion of ER Membranes by the Atlastin GTPase

Advisor: Tina Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco

Gregory Smith, Ph.D.
Unraveling the Role of Cellular Factors in Viral Capsid Formation 

Advisor: Russell Schwartz
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ichan School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York

Amanda Soohoo, Ph.D.
Self-Controlled Regulation of Mu Opioid Receptor Trafficking
Advisor: Manoj Puthenveedu
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Monell Chemical Senses Center

Ritika Tewari, Ph.D.
Mechanism of Manganese-induced Protection against Shiga Toxicosis 

Advisor: Adam Linstedt
Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston

Idil Ulengin, Ph.D.
ER Network Formation and Membrane Fusion by Atlastin1/ SPG3A Disease Variants 

Advisor: Tina Lee

Yi Wang, Ph.D.
Labeling and Photomanipulation of Endogenous ErbB Receptors 

Advisor: Marcel Bruchez
Postdoctoral position with Dr. Marcel Bruchez, Carnegie Mellon University

Mingrui Zhang, Ph.D.
New Fluoromodules for Biosensing and in Vivo Imaging

Advisor: Alan Waggoner

2014 Graduates

Jineta Banerjee, Ph.D.
A Study of the Different Phases of Refinement of an Inhibitory Circuit in the Mouse Auditory Brainstem

Advisor: Karl Kandler
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Kennedy Krieger Institute

Jigar Desai, Ph.D.
The role of glycerol in Candida albicans biofilm formation and invasion
Advisor: Aaron Mitchell/Fred Lanni
Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fungal Pathogenesis Unit led by Dr. Michail Lionakis, Lab of Clinical Infectious Diseases at NIAID/NIH

Emily Furbee, Ph.D.
Investigating the Role of Hsp27 in Drosophila Genetic And Phospho-mutant Analysis
Advisor: Jon Minden
Research and Teaching at the University of Pittsburgh

Michael Gamalinda, Ph.D.
Ribosomal Proteins Orchestrate the Biogenesis of Eukaryotic Large Ribosomal Subunits in a Sequential Fashion
Advisor: John Woolford
Postdoctoral position with Dr. Thomas Jenuwein, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics
Alys Jarvela, Ph.D.
Evolution of DNA Recognition in a Tbrain Transcription Factor and Its Impact on Larval Neurogenesis in Echinderms
Advisor: Veronica Hinman
Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland

Ezgi Kunttas-Tatli, Ph.D.
Role of APC proteins in regulating Wnt signaling and cytoskeletal organization in Drosophila

Advisor: Brooke McCartney
Postdoctoral postition with Dr. Marianne Bronner, California Institute of Technology

Phu Van, Ph.D.
Improving 2D Gel Proteomics with the Structured Illumination Gel Imager
Advisor: Jon Minden
Postdoctoral Fellow in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington
Rachel Vistein, Ph.D.
Hierarchical Sorting and Trafficking of β-2 Adrenergic Receptors via Endosomal Microdomains
Advisor: Manoj Puthenveedu
DVM student at Ross School of Veterinary Medicine

2013 Graduates

Ashrifia Adomako-Ankomah, Ph.D.
A Molecular Analysis of Skeletal Morphogenesis in the Sea Urchin Embryo
Advisor: Charles Ettensohn
Postdoctoral Fellow, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

Shantanu Bhattacharyya, Ph.D.
Relaxation Dynamics of Single Chain Variable Fragment Light Chain M8Vlg
Advisor: Gordon Rule
Research Associate at Dr. William Schief's Laboratory, The Scripps Research Institute

Anmol Grover, Ph.D.
Toward Single Molecule Measurements of Cotranslational Folding in Eukaryotic Lysates: Labeling Ribosomes and Ribosome-bound Nascent Peptides
Advisor: Marcel Buchez
Postdoctoral Research Associate in Dr. Timothy Ryan's Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University

Timothy Jarvela, Ph.D.
Acutely Controlled Inactivation Reveals Requirements for Maintenance and Subcompartmentalization of the Mammalian Golgi Ribbon
Advisor: Adam Linstedt
Postdoctoral position with Dr. Adam Linstedt, Carnegie Mellon University

Kiran Rafiq, Ph.D.
Analysis of a Developmental Gene Regulatory Network Driving Skeletogenesis in the Sea Urchin Embryo
Advisor: Charles Ettensohn

Ayshwarya Subramanian, Ph.D.
Inferring Tumor Progression Using Computational Phylogenetics
Advisor: Russel Schwartz
Postdoctoral position in the Huttenhower Lab, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health

Jason Talkish, Ph.D.
Hierarchical Assembly of Subcomplexes Drives pre-rRNA Folding during Ribosome Biogenesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Advisor: John Woolford
Postdoctoral position with Dr. John Woolford, Carnegie Mellon University

David Whitney, Ph.D.
Functional Organization and Plasticity of Visual Cortex over the Lifespan of the Ferret
Advisor: Justin Crowley
Postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology

2012 Graduates

Bradley Yates, Ph.D.
Directed Evolution of a Fluorogen-Activating Single Chain Antibody for Function and Enhanced Brightness in the Cytoplasm
Advisor: Peter Berget
Postdoctoral Fellow at Sachdev Sidhu'a group, University of Toronto

Kaitlyn Dykstra, Ph.D.
Yip1A Structures the Endoplasmic Reticulum
Advisor: Tina Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Robert Tarran's Laboratory, UNC Chapel Hill

Kalin Vasilev, Ph.D.
Novel Biosensor System for Reporting Membrane Protein Proximity and Cell Surface Contacts in Living Cells
Advisor: Jonathan Jarvik
Postdoctoral Fellow at Cambridge University

Qi Yan, Ph.D.
FAP Based New Applications for Super-resolution Imaging and Quantification of Receptor Trafficking
Advisor: Marcel Bruchez
Scientist at Sharp Edge Labs

Brenna McCauley, Ph.D.
Gene Regulatory Network Changes Associated with the Evolution of a Novel Cell Population in Sea Urchin Embryos
Advisor: Veronica Hinman
Postdoctoral Associate in Weiwei Dang Laboratory at Huffington Center on Aging, Baylor College of Medicine

Kristen Yankura, Ph.D.
Mechanisms of Ectodermal Patterning in a Dipleurula-like Sea Star Larva and the Evolutionary Origins of Centralized Nervous Systems
Advisor: Veronica Hinman
Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Elissa Hallem's Laboratory, UCLA

Jing Wen, Ph.D.
Experience-dependent Plasticity of Layer 2/3 Circuits in Developing Somatosensory Neocortex
Advisor: Alison Barth
Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Nathan Urban's Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University

Elmer Ker, Ph.D.
Monitoring and Engineering of the Stem Cell Microenvironment: Inkjet Printing of Growth Factors onto Novel Scaffolds for Controlling Musculoskeletal Stem Cell Differentiation and Alignment and Development of a Computer Vision-based System to Characterize Stem Cell Growth

Advisor: Phil Campbell
Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Yunzhi Peter Yang's Laboratory, Stanford University

2011 Graduates

Jeanne Morin-Leisk, Ph.D.
Mechanistic Insights into ER Network Branching by the Large GTPase Atlastin
Advisor: Tina Lee
Postdoctoral Fellow at Jenny Hinshaw's Laboratory, National Institutes of Health characterizing the structures, activities and mechanisms of the proteins in the dynamin superfamily of large GTPases

Nina Senutovitch, Ph.D.
Isolation and Characterization of Fluoromodules
Advisor: Peter Berget
Postdoctoral position at University of Pittsburgh

John Holleran, Ph.D.
Fluorescence Platform Development for Detection of Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator Trafficking
Advisor: Jonathan Jarvik
Dr. Simon Watkins' Laboratory, Center for Biologic Imaging, University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Pay Frizzell's Laboratory at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh

Shantanu Ganguly, Ph.D.
Analysis of Cell-cell Signaling in C. albicans Biofilms
Advisor: Aaron Mitchell
Product Manager at Medidata, Inc.

Melissa Witzberger Krajcovic, Ph.D.
Investigating the Role of Myosin II During the Cell Shape Changes of Ventral Furrow Formation
Advisor: Jon Minden
Adjunct Faculty at Grove City College teaching genetics

Shu Ying Kwan, Ph.D.
The Flip Side of Osteoimmunity: Crosstalk Between Stem Cells, BMP-2 and Innate Immune Cells, and the Control of Osteoblastogenesis
Advisor: Phil Campbell

Michael Chen, Ph.D.
Regulation of Non-Exonic Recursive Splicing in Drosophila melanogaster
Advisor: Javier Lopez

Maureen E. Stolzer, Ph.D.
Phylogenetic Inference for Multidomain Proteins
Advisor: Dannie Durand
Postdoctoral Research Associate with Dr. Dannie Durand, Carnegie Mellon University

Smita Yadav, Ph.D.
Mechanistic and Functional Aspects in Positioning of the Golgi Apparatus in Mammalian Cells
Advisor: Adam Linstedt
Postdoctoral position in Jan Lab, University of California, San Francisco

Parker H. Mills, Ph.D.
Computational Methods for Enhancing Sensitivity to MRI Cell-tracking Agents
Advisor: Eric Ahrens

Corey Flynn,  Ph.D.
Molecular Correlates of Visual System Development
Advisor: Justin Crowley
Bioinformatics Scientist II at Broad Institute

Tara Sharma, Ph.D.
Analysis of a Developmental Gene Regulatory Network in the Sea Urchin Embryo During Normal and Regulative Development
Advisor: Charles Ettensohn
Postdoctoral postion at Sloan Kettering

Ken Hovis, Ph.D.
Analysis of Functional Circuitry and the Effect of Activity Across Development in the Mouse Accessory Olfactory System
Advisor: Nathan Urban
Assistant Teaching Professor, Academic Advisor for CMU-Q Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar

Bistra Iordanova, Ph.D.
Ferritin-based Reporter Genes for Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the Brain
Advisor: Eric Ahrens
Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Eric Ahrens's Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon Univesity

Deepak Kadayakkara, Ph.D.
Advances in 19F Cellular MRI to Study Inflammation and Cancer
Advisor: Eric Ahrens
Postdoctoral Fellow at Levitsky Laboratory, Department of Oncology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine