Dr. Anna Gioseffi, 2021-present. Mentor: Roberto Docampo

Anna joined the CTEGD after obtaining their Ph.D. in microbiology and cell science from the University of Florida in April 2021. During their graduate training, Anna studied the composition and pathological function of extracellular vesicles released by macrophages infected with Leishmania donovani, leading to a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions in the context of leishmaniasis. Anna has been appointed as postdoctoral fellow at UGA under the T32 trainee grant in August 2021. Under the mentorship of Dr. Roberto Docampo, Anna is studying the extracellular release of polyphosphate from infective stages of Trypanosoma cruzi and its possible role in cardiac manifestations of chronic chagas disease. Outside the lab, Anna enjoys a number of artistic hobbies as well as spending time with their pets. Through the T32 fellowship Anna hopes to further their knowledge of host-parasite interactions as well as develop the independence and skills necessary to effectively drive and manage their own future research goals in the field of parasitology. Anna’s long term career goal is to continue pursuing parasitology in the academic sector, where they hope to inspire curiosity about the “monsters inside us” and foster a new generation of diverse and inclusive scientists.

Reagan Haney, 2022-present. Biochemistry. Mentor: Maria Belen Cassera

Reagan earned her Bachelor in animal and veterinary sciences with a minor in pre-health studies from the University of Idaho (UI) in May 2019. During her undergraduate, Reagan studied the effects of abscisic acid (ABA) on Anopheles mosquito reproduction with Dr. Shirley Luckhart. This project resulted in Reagan’s first scientific publication. After graduation, Reagan continued working for Dr. Luckhart as a lab technician on a collaborative project with the University of Arizona. Her efforts were focused on the effects of pantothenate kinase (PANK) inhibitors and activators on gene expression in A. stephensi, on growth and development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in vitro, and on parasite infection in A. stephensi. Reagan was accepted into the UGA Integrated Life Science program Fall 2020, and later, joined the laboratory of Belen Cassera. In the Cassera’s lab, Reagan has been involved in various stages of antimalarial drug discovery ranging from screening natural products to further investigating structure activity relationships for antimalarial analogs. Reagan’s dissertation project focuses on discovering the mechanism of action of a novel antimalarial and identify and validate the molecular target(s) of this novel therapeutic.

Dr. Ruby Harrison, 2021-present. Mentor: Drew Etheridge

Ruby received a bachelor’s degree in entomology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 followed by a PhD in entomology from UGA in 2021, working with CTEGD trainers Michael Strand and Mark Brown. Her doctoral research, which was partially supported by a predoctoral T32 fellowship from the CTEGD, focused on nutritional and endocrine regulation of mosquito reproduction as well as mosquito-microbe interactions. Ruby went on to apply for the T32 a second time and was accepted as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Drew Etheridge in September 2021. Under the mentorship of Dr. Etheridge and in conjunction with collaborator from UGA Entomology Kevin Vogel, Ruby’s postdoctoral research will focus on the molecular interactions between the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and its kissing bug vector host Rhodnius prolixus. Support from the CTEGD during both her doctoral and postdoctoral positions has been invaluable to Ruby’s training and career development and has greatly facilitated interdisciplinary research on understudied parasite-vector systems.

Katherine Moen, 2022-present. Cellular Biology. Mentor: Silvia Moreno

Katie received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Georgia College and State University in December 2018. While at GCSU she worked with Dr. Kasey Karen on finding the binding site of adenoviral E4 11k protein and P-body component Ddx6. Through her coursework, she gained an interest in parasitology. She was accepted into the Cellular Biology Master’s program at the University of Georgia, Fall 2019 with the intent of studying protozoan parasites and joined Dr. Silvia Moreno’s lab to study how the Endoplasmic reticulum of the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii regulates Calcium for optimal signaling. In Spring of 2021, she decided to change her degree path and pursue a Ph.D. She has served as treasurer for both the Cellular Biology Graduate Student Association (CBGSA) and the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases Student Association (CGSA).

Benjamin Phipps, 2021-present. Genetics. Mentor: Michael Strand

Benjamin earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and biology and a minor in chemistry from the University of North Texas in May 2019. While at UNT, he studied the influence of mixed vehicle emissions on regulation of the renin-angiotensin system with Dr. Amie Lund and programmed translational frameshifts in Streptomyces bacteriophages with Dr. Lee Hughes. Benjamin earned research support and two travel grants to report his findings for his undergraduate projects. In August 2019, he enrolled in the Integrated Life Sciences (ILS) program at UGA and completed several laboratory rotations in parasitology before joining the laboratory of Dr. Michael Strand. Benjamin’s dissertation project focuses on the effects of mosquito neurohormones and gut microbiota on egg production and malaria infection in the Indian malaria vector An. stephensi. He has served as treasurer of the Genetics Graduate Student Association and currently serves in that role for the CTEGD GSA.

Antoinette Cassiopeia Russell, 2022-present. Infectious Diseases. Mentor: Dennis Kyle

Cassie received her bachelor’s degree in Microbial, Cellular and Molecular Biology at Auburn University, where she first took a Parasitology and Virology course that ignited her passion for infectious diseases research. She was accepted into the Integrated Life Sciences graduate program at UGA in Fall of 2018 and joined the lab of Dr. Dennis Kyle. During her undergraduate years, she performed research and worked as a microbiology research technician in the lab of Dr. Paul Cobine at Auburn where she studied the mechanism of copper import/export to/from the mitochondrial matrix using a yeast model. In the Kyle lab, Cassie is currently working to elucidate intercellular communication of the brain-eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, with the hopes of developing a novel diagnostic approach for this deadly infection. She has participated in multiple drug discovery efforts for this parasite and has authored 2 papers based on her research so far.

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Saniya Sabnis, 2022-present. Infectious Diseases. Mentor: Chester 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.

Justine Shiau, 2021-present. Infectious Diseases. Mentor: Dennis Kyle

Justine received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Pennsylvania State University, where she was introduced to parasite biology and infectious diseases/disease transmissions. She was accepted by the UGA Integrated Life Science graduate program in Fall 2018, and later, joined the laboratory of Dennis Kyle. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a research technician at UGA in the laboratory of Courtney Murdock, during which she studied ecology of vector-borne diseases and transmission dynamics. In the Kyle lab, Justine is currently working on the transmission stages of Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that infects humans and causes significant mortality worldwide. Justine’s project focuses specifically on the vector to human life-stages transmission. Her project aims to understand better the biology of the malaria parasite during the vector to human transition and parasite’s development in the liver, an obligatory yet silent phase of the disease in humans.

Grace Woods, 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.