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Pulse - Spring 2021 Recent Thesis Defenses

We congratulate the following master’s and PhD students from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies on the successful defense of their theses.

Ilse Pamela Alonso
Neuroscience PhD Program
Title: Impact of Sleep on Incubation of Cocaine Craving and Dopamine Terminal Adaptations Following Abstinence
Advisor: Rodrigo A. España, PhD

Sara Blazejewski
Neuroscience PhD Program
Title: Dissecting Cellular Mechanisms of Neurite Formation in the Developing Cortex
Advisor: Kazuhito Toyooka, PhD

Anthony DiNatale
Pharmacology and Physiology PhD Program (MD/PhD Student)
Title: Newly Identified Mediators and Mechanisms Promoting Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Advisor: Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD

Rita Aurora Esposito
Microbiology and Immunology MS Program
Title: The Effect of Nonthermal Plasma on Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infectivity
Advisors: Fred Krebs, PhD, and Vandana Miller, MD

Katherine A. Innamorati
Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics PhD Program
Title: Comparative Genomics of the Keystone Mucosal Pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis and Gardnerella vaginalis Reveal Associations Between Virulence Phenotypes and Phylogenetic Structure
Advisor: Garth Ehrlich, PhD

Shawn Joshi
Biomedical Engineering PhD Program (MD/PhD Student)
Title: Cognitive Workload Assessment During Complex Coordinated Motor Tasks in Real-World Environments With Both Healthy and Clinical Populations
Advisor: Hasan Ayaz, PhD

Brett LaBier
Microbiology and Immunology MS Program
Title: Novel Insights Into TLR4:TLR3 Crosstalk in Response to TLR4 Specific Ultrapure Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) From Highly Pathogenic Escherichia coli 0111:B4 in Murine Microglia
Advisor: Sonia Navas-Martin, PhD

Stacia Irene Lewandowski
Pharmacology and Physiology PhD Program
Title: In Vivo Studies of the ERK1/2 Phosphatase, MKP3 in Dopaminergic Neurons on Cocaine-Associated Behaviors, Dopamine Signaling and Gene Expression
Advisor: Ole Valente Mortensen, PhD

Ronak Loonawat
Microbiology and Immunology PhD Program
Title: Interplay of Hepatitis B Virus Infection and Hepatocyte Metabolism: A Virus-Induced Warburg-Like Effect Stimulates Hepatitis B Virus Replication
Advisor: Michael J. Bouchard, PhD

Kiran Kumar Madugula
Microbiology and Immunology PhD Program
Title: Over Representation of Myocyte Enhancer Factor (MEF-2) in HTLV-1-Induced Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma Contributes to Acute Disease by Facilitating the Activity of Antisense Promoter and HBZ via JunD
Advisor: Pooja Jain, PhD

Haley Morgan Majer
Microbiology and Immunology PhD Program
Title: Natural Product Discovery of Thiopeptide Producers and Functional Characterization of Adenylation-Domains in Thiostrepton and Siomycin Biosynthesis
Advisor: Joris Beld, PhD

Margo Randelman
Neuroscience PhD Program
Title: Hypercapnia Respiratory Training to Enhance Plasticity After Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
Advisor: Michael A. Lane, PhD

Daniel Slusaw
Molecular & Cell Biology & Genetics MS Program
Title: HOTAIR Domains Can Independently Regulate Gene Expression in Breast Cancer
Advisor: Srinivas Somarowthu, PhD

Matthew Stout
Pharmacology and Physiology PhD Program
Title: Investigating the Interaction Between K-Ras and HuR in Pancreatic Cancer
Advisor: Paul Campbell, PhD

Philip Langdon Yates
Neuroscience PhD Program (MD/PhD Student)
Title: A Cellular Approach to Understanding and Treating Gulf War Illness
Advisor: Peter W. Baas, PhD

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Pulse is published five times a year for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the College, highlighting innovations in research, clinical practice and education; key events; and accomplishments. News, professional and academic achievements, calendar items and story ideas may be submitted by email to