Dr. Marianna Agudelo
Mentor: Chet Joyner
Marianna obtained a B.S. in Biology, with a minor in German, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016. She then completed her PhD studies at Rockefeller University in the lab of Michel Nussenzweig, describing the antibody response to tick-borne flaviviruses. This work resulted in patented antibodies which are soon to undergo multicentre clinical trials. Following her interest in the immunology of infectious diseases, she joined the laboratory of Chet Joyner in the CTEGD as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the biology of antibody-secreting cells in the context of malaria. Now as a T32 trainee, Marianna looks forward to developing her project, her knowledge of B lymphocyte-mediated immunity, and her career as an independent researcher.
Mentor: M. Belen Cassera
Emily received her Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While in undergrad, Emily worked with Dr. Caroline Ng studying malaria drug resistance and identifying novel compounds that kill drug-resistant malaria parasites. This research inspired Emily to attend the University of Georgia for their graduate studies in order to continue pursuing research in parasitology. Now, Emily works with Dr. Belen Cassera on identifying novel antimalarials, in addition to studying a common mechanism of drug resistance in the malaria parasite. Emily has previously served as Secretary and President of the CTEGD Graduate Student Association. Through the T32 fellowship, Emily hopes to further develop her skills in molecular parasitology. Emily’s long-term career goals are to remain in academia and help teach/train the next generation of parasitologists.
Mentor: Michael Strand
Derek received a bachelor’s degree in Evolution and Ecology from Ohio State University in 2020. During this time, he completed a course in parasitology which spurred an interest in mosquitoes and other arthropod vectors. He also studied the relationship between nutrition and reproductive physiology in male mosquitoes in the lab of Dr. Megan Meuti as an undergraduate at OSU. This experience was impactful and inspired him to pursue a graduate degree in vector biology. He then began a PhD in Entomology at UGA under Dr. Michael Strand, where his research focuses on interactions between mosquitoes and microbes like bacteria. He is particularly interested in how microbes influence key processes in mosquitoes including development and pathogen transmission. He has served as both secretary and president for the H.O. Lund Entomology Club.
2023-present, Infectious Diseases
Mentor: Dennis Kyle
Tori is a PhD candidate and her interest is in tropical parasitic diseases and integrative biology. Her interest in tropical parasitic diseases stems from an undergraduate NSF REU where she was first introduced to hookworm persistence and a unique immune response in South American Fur Seals in the Gottdenker Lab at UGA. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Biology from Kennesaw State University, she was accepted to the NIH Bridges to the Doctorate program at Kennesaw State University where she obtained a Master’s of Integrative Biology. Her present research aims to develop high throughput methods to visualize, enumerate and phenotype Artemisinin-induced dormant Plasmodium falciparum using high-content imaging. Her long-term career goal is to utilize her diverse training in physiology, developmental and cellular biology, and infectious diseases to design, optimize and implement phenotypic assays for drug discovery and disruption of parasite homeostasis.
2023-present, Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences
Mentor: Diego Huet
Kaelynn received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Mary Washington in 2021. There she worked with CTEGD alum, Dr. Swati Agrawal, which is where her passion for parasitology was first sparked. Under Dr. Agrawal’s guidance she worked on adapting CRISPR/Cas9 for Crithidia fasciculata for use as a model organism to study pathogenic kinetoplastids. This experience inspired her to attend UGA specifically to join a CTEGD laboratory. She was accepted to the Cellular Biology PhD program in 2021 and joined the Huet lab, where she works on mitochondrial dynamics and interorganellar communication in Toxoplasma gondii.
Dr. Corey Rennolds
Mentor: Tania Rozario
Corey received his Ph.D. in biological sciences in 2022 from the University of Maryland, College Park, working in the laboratory of Dr. Alexa Bely. For his dissertation, Corey studied aspects of injury and whole-body regeneration in the annelid Pristina leidyi, including metabolic physiology, transcriptomics, and resource allocation patterns. Corey then joined the lab of Dr. Tania Rozario at UGA and was later awarded a T32 postdoctoral fellowship from CTEGD beginning in September 2023. Corey’s postdoctoral research under Dr. Rozario’s mentorship is aimed at characterizing stem cell populations in the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, including their molecular identities, plasticity, and functional contributions to growth and regeneration. Corey hopes that this fellowship will allow him to strengthen his technical and professional skills to pursue an independent and integrative research program focused on regeneration and other developmental processes in a variety of organisms, including parasites.
2022-present, Infectious Diseases
Mentor: Chet Joyner
Saniya received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015, where she studied organic synthesis investigating the methodology of the photo-Fries rearrangement, the mechanism of the novel, one-pot Biginelli reaction followed by a Diels-Alder reaction, and the synthesis of phenyl indole derivatives targeting p97 ATPase. To further explore the translational aspects of science, she earned a Master’s of Public Health degree in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. While there, she investigated the correlation between single-nucleotide polymorphisms and the progress of HIV-positive individuals and completed her thesis assessing patient, surgical, and environmental risk factors for neurosurgery intensive care unit patients while evaluating a policy change regarding the prevention of surgical meningitis and ventriculitis from external ventricular drains. During this time, she became fascinated with immunology and joined the UGA Ph.D. program in Fall 2020. Her present work in Dr. Chester Joyner’s lab is on the etiology of severe malarial anemia and the role of autoantibodies in Plasmodium coatneyi infected-rhesus macaques, an animal model of Plasmodium falciparum.
2023-present, Cellular Biology
Mentor: Sam Kurup
2022-present, Cellular Biology
Mentor: Vasant Muralidharan
Grace received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Western Carolina University in 2017. During her undergraduate, she was introduced to basic research in genetics. After graduation, she interned at the Defense Forensic Science Center in Atlanta, GA, and spent the next two years as an ORISE Fellow in the Division of Sexually Transmitted Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both post-baccalaureate positions gave her further experience in molecular genetics. In the fall of 2020, she joined ILS at UGA and rotated through several labs before joining the Muralidharan lab and she is working on understanding the molecular mechanisms that lead Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of malaria, to egress from host red blood cells. Grace’s project uses genetic engineering tools to investigate the function of transmembrane proteins hypothesized to play a role in Plasmodium egress. This past year she served as vice president for the CTEGD GSA.