Katie Becklin, Ph.D., University of Missouri
Dr. Becklin’s research aims to understand mechanisms generating variation in species interactions and trace the impact of such variation on ecological interaction webs. She pursues these research goals using mycorrhizal associations, symbiotic interactions between plants and root-colonizing fungi, as a model system. In her current research at the University of Kansas, Dr. Becklin uses experimental, molecular, and paleoecological approaches to explore mycorrhizal responses to changing atmospheric [CO2] and nutrient availability since the late Pleistocene. By looking into the past, this work will provide new insights into the causes and consequences of temporal variation in species interactions.
Safiyyah Forbes, Ph.D., Kansas State University
Dr. Forbes is working with Dr. Blake Peterson to design and synthesize a series of fluorescent cholesterylamine BAPTA calcium sensors, which has the potential capability to act as localized Ca2+ sensors. These sensors will be administered into living cells to better understanding the vast array of calcium signals and how these signals regulate cellular processes.
Vanessa Koelling, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Dr. Koelling’s research interests primarily lie in the areas of speciation and plant mating system evolution. While an IRACDA fellow, she will study the evolution of inbreeding depression in natural populations of the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus. M. guttatus is an emerging model species in evolutionary biology because it expresses variation in floral form and mating system, grows at a wide range of elevations (from sea level to alpine habitats), and has a fully sequenced genome. Using field collections and laboratory-based methods, she will investigate how inbreeding depression changes with changes in population mating system, which will further our understanding of the genetics of inbreeding depression and its consequences for natural populations.
Juliana Medeiros, Ph.D., University of New Mexico
Dr. Medeiros employs an integrated approach to understand the complex relationships between plants and their environment and the evolution of plant adaptations. In her current research, she is using DNA extracted from ancient plant macrofossils found in pack rat middens to determine the magnitude, timing and speed of changes in population sizes of Pinus sp. over the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. Her ultimate goal is to understand how physiological adaptation and genetic structure resulting from the interaction of plants with past environments could impact the ability of species to adapt and persist in the face of future climate change.
Dyan Morgan, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Morgan studies the development of the nervous system in the lab of Dr. Erik Lundquist, Professor of Molecular Biosciences. During neurogenesis, axons are guided to their proper positions by cues that trigger cytoskeletal rearrangements. Dr. Morgan aims to understand how cells interpret these cues; specifically, she utilizes C. elegans as a model system to dissect the evolutionarily conserved genetic pathways governing repulsive axon guidance.
Claudia Bode, Ph.D., University of Kansas
During her time at KU, Dr. Bode studied with Dr. Kathy Mitchell in the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Her research focused on the differentiation capacity of stem cells isolated from the matrix of the umbilical cord. While pursuing research in the Mitchell lab, Dr. Bode also gained experience teaching General Biology and Bioinformatics at Haskell Indian Nations University. She is currently employed as the Outreach and Diversity Program Coordinator at the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, an NSF-funded engineering research center at KU.
James Deng, Ph.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
Dr. Deng is worked with Dr. Susan Egan, Professor of Molecular Biosciences, to identify the mechanism of allosteric signaling in members of the very large AraC/XylS family of transcription activators. Many AraC/XylS proteins are required for the expression of virulence factors in bacterial pathogens. Therefore, their goal was to identify the mechanisms that underly transcription activation to enhance the development of inhibitors of AraC/XylS proteins that may have potential as antibacterial agents.
Muir Eaton, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Dr. Eaton trained under Dr. A.T. Peterson, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Assistant Curator of the Ornithology Division of the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center. His research centered on the evolution of plumage colors in birds. He studied how hidden color variation in conspecific plumages relates to our understanding of sexual selection, and whether there is any evidence of correlated evolution of plumage colors, visual sensitivity, and habitat use (i.e. light environment and/or ecological niche). He also taught the Ecology Lab and the General Biology Lab at Haskell. Dr. Eaton is currently an assistant professor at Drake University, where he also serves as the Curator of Vertebrates for the Drake Biodiversity Center.
Maria Eifler, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Dr. Eifler worked under Dr. Deborah Smith, Associate Professor of Entomology. Dr. Eifler’s research focused on using molecular genetics to answer questions in animal behavior and ecology. Her projects focused on kinship in overwintering rattlesnakes and the evolution of sociality in spiders. She also had the opportunity to teach Animal Behavior and Principles of Ecology to Haskell undergraduates. She is currently serving as the Collections Specialist at the KU Museum of Natural History, Mammal Division.
Maria Pontes Ferreira, Ph.D., R.D., Baylor University
During the first year of her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Ferreira worked with Dr. Elias Michaelis, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology & Toxicology. They investigated the effects of ethanol on dendritic trafficking and translation of the 24-mer sequence of the NMDAR subunit NR1 in hippocampal neurons using in vitro models. During her second year, she taught Biology and Laboratory, and Exercise Nutrition at Haskell Indian Nations University. During her final postdoctoral year, Dr. Ferreira worked with Dr. Kelly Kindscher's team in the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program at KU. Dr. Ferreira is an assistant professor at Wayne State University in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science.
Ann Manzardo, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
Under the direction of Dr. William Gabrielli, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Manzardo’s research utilized a 45-yr old Danish longitudinal database to study the contributions of early childhood brain growth and injury to the later development of alcoholism in adulthood. During her postdoctoral experience, Dr. Manzardo gained experience teaching Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. She is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Damon Jacobs, Ph.D., University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Dr. Jacobs is performing postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Jeff Krise in the Pharmaceutical Chemistry department at the University of Kansas and is also instructing a course in Biostatistics at Haskell Indian Nations University. In the Krise lab, Dr. Jacobs is studying the intracellular distribution and trafficking of small molecular weight compounds in a Niemann-Pick type C model system. Niemann-Pick type C is characterized as a genetic disorder that leads to hyper-accumulations of cholesterol in lysosomes of many tissues, including neuronal. These studies are designed to reveal the molecular mechanisms of NPC disease etiology and potentially provide new strategies to combat disease progression.
Brena Mauck, Ph.D. Wright State University
Dr. Mauck worked in the geomicrobiology laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Roberts, Associate Professor of Geology. Dr. Roberts’ lab focuses on microbe:mineral interactions and the geological and ecological implications of these interactions in subsurface environments. Dr. Mauck analyzed changes in microbial community diversity due to particular environmental conditions and stresses. Her work explored whether in nutrient limited environments microbes attach to minerals that provide the limiting nutrient; specifically, she studied a petroleum contaminated aquifer in Bemidji, MN. She also taught Cellular and Molecular Biology Lab and General Biology at Haskell. She is now an Assistant Professor of Biology and the Program Director for Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry at the College of Saint Mary.
Aaron Reed, Ph.D., Kansas State University
As an IRACDA scholar, Dr. Reed worked with Dr. Norm Slade, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and curator of the Mammalogy Division of the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center. Dr. Reed researched population ecology in small mammals. Specifically, he used a long-term data set of 4 species of small mammal to examine interrelationships of vital rates (e.g., survival), density dependence in recruitment, and relation of vital rates to environmental variables. The ultimate goal of this work is to assess the effect of variability in vital rates, and the pattern of that variability, on structured demographic models. He also examined the role of small mammal disturbance on nitrogen cycling. He gained experience teaching Biostatistics, Wildlife Ecology, and Vertebrate Zoology.
Alison Scoville, Ph.D., Utah State University
Dr. Scoville worked with Dr. John Kelly, Associate Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology. Her research combined theoretical and empirical approaches to investigate fundamental questions in evolutionary biology, with an emphasis on phenotypic plasticity, epistasis, rapid evolution, and conservation. Other projects centered on understanding the contribution of phenotypic plasticity to rapid adaptation of Daphnia (water fleas) to introduced fish predators and dissecting the population-level architecture of genetic variation in floral traits of Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower). Dr. Scoville taught Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology (laboratory) and Conservation Genetics of Salmon at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Ellen Tarr, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
While she was an IRACDA post-doc, Dr. Tarr worked with Dr. Helen Alexander, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Her research in the Alexander lab focused on the identification of disease resistance genes in Carex blanda. She used the sedge Carex blanda and its smut pathogen, Anthracoidea blanda, as her disease system. Dr. Tarr’s broader research interest is in host-pathogen interactions, with a particular interest in parasitic nematodes. While pursuing her research, she taught Biology 101 and Ecology of Infectious Disease to undergraduate students at Haskell. After completing the IRACDA program, she accepted an assistant professorship in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Midwestern University School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Sandy Vigil-Cruz, Ph.D., Oregon State University
Dr. Vigil-Cruz performed research in the laboratory of Dr. Jane Aldrich, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. She also taught Introduction to Biology and Air Quality at Haskell Indian Nations University. Presently, Dr. Vigil-Cruz is enhancing her clinical training as a Doctor of Pharmacy student with the ultimate goal of teaching and doing research in a school of pharmacy.
Michael Wacker, Ph.D., University of Kansas
While in the IRACDA program, Dr. Wacker worked alongside Dr. James Orr, Professor of Molecular Biosciences. Dr. Wacker investigated if the endogenous agent, thromboxane A2, is able to directly stimulate cardiac nerves or cardiac myocytes to induce arrhythmias or other alterations in cardiac function. He also worked on projects related to genetic polymorphisms that relate to obesity with Dr. Phil Gallagher in the Applied Physiology Lab, and he researched serotonin knockout mice with Dr. Steve Fowler in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. Dr. Wacker also taught Principles of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Bioinformatics, Research Design and Methods in Science. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
Corey Welch, Ph.D., University of Washington
As an IRACDA scholar, Dr. Welch worked with Dr. Robert Timm, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dr. Welch’s research fit under the broad category of biogeography and evolution, and he employed field and molecular methods to explore patterns and causes of geographic variation of mammalian populations and species from the Pacific Northwest of North America. Dr. Welch spent the summer of 2009 in the field collecting museum specimens to understand the recent evolutionary histories of shrew-moles, western moles, and the mazama pocket gopher.
Zachary Woydziak, Ph.D., University of California-Irvine
Dr. Zachary Woydziak worked with Dr. Blake Peterson to construct a library of fluorescent cholesterylamine peptides which could potentially be used for tissue-selective drug delivery. Following synthesis the library was introduced to Caenorhabditis elegan worms to study its distribution in the various tissues of the worms. Further investigations may include selecting between cancerous and normal cells to selectively induce apoptosis in cancer cells. Zachary is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Nevada State College.