Our Students & Grads
Stem Cell Biology Master's Students Graduates, May 2023
Sether Johnson, Sonam, and Zainab Khalid (shown above, left to right) completed the Stem Cell Biology Master's program in December 2022 and graduated on May 15, 2023. Sether conducted research in the laboratory of Walter Low, and his thesis was entitled "The Potential to Generate Exogenic Interneurons for Alzheimer’s Disease via Blastocyst Complementation". He is currently employed in the Low lab and is continuing his research.
Sonam's thesis, entitled "Developing a Mouse Model of Metastatic Osteosarcoma for Immunotherapy", described the research that she conducted under the supervision of Jaime Modiano. Sonam is continuing her research in the Modiano laboratory.
Zainab was engaged in research in the laboratory of Ann Parr which she described in her thesis entitled "Developing Rat Model of Optogenetic Stimulation of Motor Cortex for Spinal Cord Injury Therapy". Zainab will begin a PhD program in Neuroscience at the Medical College of Wisconsin in August 2023.
Swathi graduated from the Stem Cell Biology Master’s program in 2019 where she worked in the lab of Dr. Walter Low. Her thesis title was “Proneural transcription factor NeuroD1-mediated direct reprogramming - an AAV approach.” Swathi continued to work as a research assistant in Dr. Low's lab after graduation. She began a Neuroscience PhD program in Fall 2021 at the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN) at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich undertaking research in the lab of Dr. Mikael Simons. The lab research focuses on myelination during development and in demyelinating MS disease. In January 2023 she was an author on a paper entitled "Myelination generates aberrant ultrastructure that is resolved by microglia" in the Journal of Cell Biology.
Jennifer graduated from the program in 2016. She is now pursuing a PhD in Integrative Biology & Physiology with Jop van Berlo as her advisor. Her thesis project is about "Single nucleus sequencing to define gene expression patterns in mouse cardiomyocytes and non-cardiomyocytes during normal development and maturation." Jennifer received an SCI Predoctoral Infuse Award in May 2021.
Srinidhi Rao graduated from the Stem Cell Biology Master's program in December 2016. As a student, she worked in Dr. James Dutton's lab to develop an in vivo adeno viral-based rescue system for Diatbetes Mellitus. She began working as a Research Associate at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development early in 2017. Srinidhi was promoted to a Staff Scientist position at the Lieber Institute in 2021 where she currently develops stem cell-based assays to study the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders The Interview Portal published an interview with Srinidhi where she discussed her research and described how her experience in the Stem Cell Biology Master's program and other life experiences helped to shape her career.
Abheepsa Gupta conducted the research for her thesis in Nobuaki Kikyo’s lab graduating in December 2020. Abheepsa now works as an Assistant Scientist at Ligand Pharmaceuticals in their OmniAb division in Emeryville, California. She is part of the antibody engineering team that designs and introduces genes with human sequences into chicken embryos. These transgenic chickens develop bispecific antibodies that are human therapeutic candidates.
In her words, "Coming from India, I feel that going to grad school in Minnesota gave me the perfect buffer to acclimatize to this country before joining the fast-paced lifestyle of the Bay Area workforce. I loved the SCB program for the rigorous training I received and the opportunity to interact and learn from a number of experts in the field. At the University of Minnesota, I was surrounded by people that wanted me to succeed and that was a wonderful motivator. The experience and mentorship that I received here helped me achieve my goal of working in the therapeutics industry."
Tianxia (Mike) Lan
Mike conducted his Master's thesis research project in the laboratory of Beau Webber, seeking to identify the cell type that gives rise to Ewing's sarcoma, a rare and lethal childhood bone cancer. He graduated in Jan 2020 and started working as a Potential Project Analyst at Huiyu Seacross in March 2020. In this capacity Mike screened for targets for anti-cancer drugs based on disclosed clinical data and potential market size, and recommended promising targets for innovative drug development.
Mike went on to work as a technician at Sichuan University where he studied using mesenchymal stem cells to treat pulmonary fibrosis. Mike joined a PhD program at Sichuan University in September, 2021.
Caitlin graduated from the Stem Cell Biology Master’s program in 2013 and then earned a Master’s Degree in Integrative Biology and Physiology in 2016 while she was a graduate assistant. She then began working with Medtronic as a Field Clinical Specialist in the Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure division in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the role she worked to ensure that leads and devices were implanted safely and properly and optimized device programming to benefit each patient. In June 2021, she was promoted to a Technical Field Engineer role where she educates Medtronic personnel as well as physicians and hospital staff. Caitlin says that her time in the Stem Cell Biology Master’s program “really helped me to develop the skillset to quickly pull relevant information, think critically and objectively about the results, and participate in informed discussions. This is especially helpful in building my credibility with physicians, and allows them to have confidence in my interactions with them and their patients.”
Carolina Ortiz Cordero
Carolina graduated from the Stem Cell Biology Master’s program in 2014 where she worked in the lab of Dr. Rita Perlingeiro. Her thesis title was “Optimization of an in vitro model to study Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.” Carolina continued working with Dr. Perlingeiro completing a PhD in Integrative Biology & Physiology in 2021. Her PhD thesis title was "Unraveling the Mechanisms Underlying Fukutin-Related Protein Pathogenesis using Patient-Specific Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Myotubes." In Fall 2021, Carolina will begin a PostDoc in the lab of Dr. Laura Kiessling at MIT.
Aron graduated from the Stem Cell Biology Master’s program at the U of M in 2016 where he worked in the lab of Dr. Allison Hubel optimizing the cryopreservation of mesenchymal stem cells using newly developed solutions to replace DMSO. His thesis title was “Examination of Post-Thaw Behavior between DMSO and Non-DMSO Cryopreserved Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells.” He began working at Miromatrix in 2017 through the Bio-Business Partnership internship program. Miromatrix is a private biotechnology company focused on eliminating the organ transplant waiting list by bioengineering manufacturable organs. Aron is currently the Liver Development Lead in the R&D department, managing a team working to develop a full-scale transplantable liver.
Sushmita Nayak received her masters in Stem Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in Fall of 2018. Her thesis project titled, “Accelerated neural induction to create hiPSC derived peripheral neuron progenitors in vitro via an intermediate neural crest stage” was completed under the guidance of Dr. James Dutton. Her MS thesis work was published in a paper entitled "Accelerated differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into neural lineages via an early intermediate ectoderm population." Sushmita appreciated the comprehensive mix of theory, weekly journal club sessions and high emphasis on research in the Stem Cell Biology program provided the right environment to grow. Sushmita says "It not only increased my passion as a scientist but also empowered me to get multiple job opportunities after graduation." After her graduation, she worked at Innovative Surface Technologies, MN. as an Associate Scientist, where she cultured hiPSC derived glutamatergic and GABAergic neuron progenitors on photoreactive aligned nanofiber scaffolds to simulate the Schaffer collateral pathway in vitro. Sushmita moved to Boston to become a Senior Research Assistant at Serqet Therapeutics, MA. The mission of Serqet is to combine insights from computational biology and experimental readouts from iPSC-derived diseased models to better understand complex diseases. She began a PhD program at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School in Worcester, MA in Fall 2022.
Shivanshi Vaid received her Master’s degree in Stem Cell Biology from University of Minnesota in 2017. As a student, she worked on determining the putative ZIKV receptors in the human fetal brain in Dr. Walter Low’s laboratory. After graduation she worked as a Research Technician in Dr. Jack Parent’s lab at the University of Michigan performing stem cell research to uncover the molecular and genetic causes of epilepsy, a neurological disease characterized by chronic seizures. There her research interests included modeling an mTORorpathy, Polyhydramnios, megalencephaly, and symptomatic epilepsy syndrome (PMSE) using patient iPSC-derived cortical organoids. In 2022 she moved to San Francisco where she is a Senior Research Associate in the Leonetti Group at the Chan Zuckerberg BioHub.
Anala Shetty joined the Stem Cell Biology Master's Program in the Fall of 2019 and graduated in December 2020. In Fall 2021, she will began a PhD program in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics graduate program in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Anala continues to work with Walter Low and Juan Carlos Rivera Mulia where her research focuses on developing techniques to enhance blastocyst complementation for generation of cells and organs.
Henry came to our program after completing his BS in Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota in 2014, and while he was employed in the laboratory of Dr. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, a member of the Stem Cell Biology graduate faculty. Henry's research project and thesis were entitled "Facilitation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cell Differentiation to Endoderm with a Novel Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Inhibitor". After working at the Antibody Applications Quality Control Department of Bio-Techne for 2 years, Henry matriculated into the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2018. After graduating in 2022, Henry began an internal medicine internship at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
Madison obtained her BS in Genetics & Cell Development from the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota in 2017, and worked at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center before matriculating into the SCB MS program in Fall 2017. Madison's thesis entitled "Production of induced regulatory T-cells through CRISPR/Cas9 based gene editing" was nominated for the Best MS thesis by the SCB graduate program. After obtaining her MS degree, Madison continued her research in the laboratory of her thesis advisor, Dr. Mark Osborn, and entered the MD/PhD program at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago in July 2020. Madison was a co-author of the paper "CRISPR/Cas9-Based Cellular Engineering for Targeted Gene Overexpression" published in 2018.
Graduates of the Stem Cell Biology Master's program have gone on to procure jobs in biotech industry and academic labs, and to pursue further graduate studies in PhD, MD, Vet Med and Law.