Ade Adepoju

Olusegun Adepoju (Ade)
Gillaspy Lab

Ade is originally from Nigeria in West Africa where he earned a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Ade moved to the United States to obtain a Masters in Biology from East Tennessee State University, and is now a Biochemistry PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Glenda Gillapsy. His research centers around the plant signaling molecules, inositol phosphates, and their connection to energy, metabolism, and stress. When not researching, Ade is an avid chess player and enjoys movies.

Tahmina Ahmed1

Tahmina Ahmed
Zhu Lab

Tahmina is originally from Bangladesh, where she obtained a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry and a Masters in Molecular Biology at the University of Dhaka. Now, Tahmina is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry in the lab of Dr. Jinsong Zhu. Her research focuses uncovering the molecular mechanism of juvenile hormone (JH) in the development and reproduction in Aedes aegypti mosquitos. Outside of the lab, Tahmina enjoys travelling, teaching, and community service.

Ryan Antal
Sobrado Lab

Aaron Brock
Jutras Lab

Connor Brown
Mukhopadhyay Lab

Mike Cassasanta

Michael Casasanta
Slade Lab

Michael is originally from Manassas, Virginia and he earned Bachelors degrees in Biology and Biochemistry from Virginia Tech. He currently is in the lab of Dr. Daniel Slade researching host-pathogen interactions important in bacterial infection and invasion. Michael describes his journey below:

“I have been interested in science and biology since childhood when I watched countless hours of nature documentaries with the great Sir David Attenborough, leading to a significant portion of my youth walking around looking for birds. I count one of my greatest achievements as an undergrad as finding and identifying 89 species of birds at the Virginia Tech Duck Pond over the course of a few months. Despite the endless string of heart crushing losses, I am a diehard fan of all things Hokies, Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and DC United.  I believe my passion for disappointing sports teams has prepared me well for a career in science in which failures are inevitable. I'm ready to make a difference in the fight against cancer, and the Slade Lab is a perfect place to do this.”

 

Chujia Chen
Tu Lab

Austin Compton

Austin Compton
Tu Lab

Originally raised in the rural counties of Southwest Virginia, Austin came to Virginia Tech for his undergraduate studies as a transfer student from Virginia Highlands Community College with an Associates Degree in Science. At Virginia Tech, he majored in Biochemistry and graduate in 2013 with his BS. Now as a graduate student, Austin is interested in using novel genetic, bioinformatic, and biochemical approaches to understand sex determination in vector mosquitoes in the Tu Lab. The ultimate goal of his research is to develop a novel vector control strategy to stop the spread of mosquito-borne infectious illnesses. Austin also spends his time going on hikes, working out, and watching the Office.

Caitlin Cridland

Caitlin Cridland
Gillaspy Lab

Caitlin is an international graduate student from Perth, Australia. Her undergraduate degree is a BS in Chemistry from Winthrop University. Now at Virginia Tech, Caitlin's research in the Gillapsy Lab focuses on understanding the complex inositol phosphate signaling pathways in model organism Arabidopsis thaliana in response to variable environmental conditions. Outside of the lab, she enjoy playing tennis, going to the beach and watching her favorite AFL (Australian Rules Football) team, the Brisbane Lions. 

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Darcy Davidson

Darcy Davidson
Lemkul Lab

Darcy is originally from Reston, Virginia and pursued a BS in Biochemistry from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. During her research rotation, she found her area of study, Computational Biochemistry, in the Lemkul Lab. In her new lab, Darcy focuses on molecular dynamics of amyloidogenic proteins, and has already submitted a paper for peer review! When not researching in her lab, Darcy likes to spend time outdoors, be with her family, play with her dogs, or dance.

 

Diane Eilerts

Diane Eilerts
Vinauger Lab

Diane is originally from San Jose, California. Prior to starting her doctoral degree, she obtained a BS from CSU Chico in Northern California, where she double majored in Biochemistry and Biological Sciences with an emphasis on Cellular and Molecular Biology and minored in Mathematics. After graduating, Diane moved back to the Bay Area to attend San Jose State University, where she obtained her MS in Chemistry, working in the lab of Prof. Alberto A. Rascón, Jr. to complete her thesis project, in which she worked to characterize two Aedes aegypti midgut serine proteases (AaSPII and AaSPIV). In order to further pursue research in disease vector insects, Diane joined the Vinauger Lab, where she uses interdisciplinary research to study vector-host interactions, including host-seeking mechanisms and circadian rhythms in vector insects. In addition to caring for her laboratory mosquitoes, Diane has three cats at home. Outside of the lab, Diane enjoys science fiction, fantasy, and mystery literature and film, theatre, and cooking.

 

Rubayet Elahi 1

AEM Rubayet Elahi
Klemba Lab

Rubayet is originally from Bangladesh where he obtained a Masters in Parasitology from the University of Dhaka in 2011. Now in Dr. Klemba’s lab, Rubayet researches Plasmodium falciparum, the cause of malaria. Outside of the lab, he is a fan of cricket, and enjoys hiking the hilly countryside of Blacksburg, VA.

Catherine Freed
Gillaspy Lab

Christian Heryakusuma

Christian Heryakusuma
Mukhopadhyay Lab (GBCB)

Christian is from Bandung, Indonesia. He earned a B.S. degree in Chemistry with research experience and thesis in biochemistry from the Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB). His undergraduate research was on Hepatitis B surface antigen with the goal of developing diagnostic tools. In Dr. Biswarup Mukhopadhyay's lab, he focuses on redox metabolism of methanogenic archaea that foster their communication with other microorganisms within a gut microbiome, which in turn affects the host’s physiology. He is captivated with this research because a clear understanding of the process involved in the biochemical communication among gut microorganisms will open the doorway to the discovery of new concepts in health and disease such as autoimmune disorders, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

 

 

Bella Khairunisa

Bela Khairunisa
Mukhopadhyay Lab (GBCB)

Bela is from Indonesia and earned a Bachelors degree in Biology at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). In Dr. Biswarup Mukhopadhyay's lab, she focuses on redox communication within the bovine rumen microbiome important for feed efficiency. Bela’s research interest is heavily influenced by genomics research and analyzing the data with computational tools. With free time, she enjoys cooking and travelling.

Jiapeng Liu

Jiapeng Liu
Klemba Lab

Jiapeng is originally from China and got his bachelor degree in biotechnology and master in biology both in Harbin Institute of Technology, China. He is interested in the cause and treatment of disease and now he is in Dr. Klemba’s lab focusing on the antimalaria medicine. Outside of the lab, he enjoys reading, traveling and cooking.

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Jing Liang

Didier Mena
Helm Lab

Didier came to Virginia Tech from Costa Rica where he earned a Bachelors degree in Biotechnology Engineering at the Costa Rican Institute of Technology. He consequently got his Masters degree in Biochemistry in the Sobrado Lab at Virginia Tech. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in the Helm lab, where he studies proteomics and metabolomics of biological processes related to cow nutrition and milk synthesis. 

Olivia Park

Olivia Park
Jutras Lab

Olivia Park is originally from Blacksburg, VA. She finished her undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduating from UIUC she worked at Color Genomics in Burlingame, CA for about 2 years. She is currently pursuing her Master's in the Jutras Lab at Virginia Tech, where she studies the neurological manifestation of Lyme Disease. 

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Megan Richardson

Megan Richardson
Zhu Lab

Megan is from Virginia Beach, Virginia and earned her BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech. Megan is now in the lab of Dr. Jinsong Zhu, where she studies mosquito reproduction and physiology at the genetic level. Her work focuses on the juvenile hormone signaling pathway, which is crucial for metamorphosis, and on the endosymbiont Wolbachia for their roles as potential vector control strategies. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, baking, and watching classic movies like Full Metal Jacket.

Alexa Salsbury

Alexa Salsbury
Lemkul Lab

Alexa is originally from Delta, OH and did her undergraduate studies at Eastern Michigan University where she earned a B.S. in Biochemistry with Honors. After working in industry for a year, she joined our Biochemistry Department and Dr. Justin Lemkul's lab. Her graduate research project applies the CHARMM and Drude force fields to model noncanonical nucleic acids, specifically G-quadruplexes, and better understand folding pathways, conformational ensembles, and targeting GQs for drug design. While away from the computer, she spends times with her dogs, enjoys biking and hiking in the area, and is an avid fan of college and professional athletics. GO HOKIES! More information on research and credentials is available @https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alexa_Salsbury .

Blake Sanders

Blake Sanders
Slade Lab

Blake expertly summarizes his backstory and current research.

“My enthusiasm for science, but most importantly for research, first took root at the small, private liberal arts school of Mars Hill College. Although I began my undergraduate education with a clear, defined purpose of majoring in biology and minoring in pre-professional studies for a career path as a medical doctor, it did not take long after my microbiology course to realize that I had some underlying passion and excitement for what the naked eye could not see. After receiving my BS in Biology, I continued this new-found love for bacteria by following the mountains up to earn my MS in Molecular Biology at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC where I studied the effect of transport systems on biofilm formation in the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. I am excited to be following my passion here at Virginia Tech in the Slade Lab where he wants to make an impact on the microbiology and cancer field. I am a second-year student and my research focuses on studying and characterizing the roles of embedded and secreted outer membrane of Fusobacterium nucleatum in infection, signaling, and disease most importantly colorectal cancer.”

Ariana Umana

Ariana Umana
Slade Lab

Originally from San Jose in Costa Rica, Ariana earned her Bachelors degree in Biotechnology Engineering at Technological Institute of Costa Rica. She says that she discovered her love for research while doing an internship at Virginia Tech.  Ariana focuses her current research on determining and studying the roles of bacterial outer membrane proteins and secreted proteins of Fusobacterium nucleatum in infection, signaling, and inflammatory diseases like colorectal cancer.

Forde Upshur

Forde Upshur
Sobrado Lab

Forde Upshur is a Biochemistry Master's student at Virginia Tech. He also recently graduated from Virginia Tech in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry and a minor in Chemistry. He did undergraduate research at UVa under the supervision of Dr. Brown, working to develop a promoter database for the entire human genome. Forde is looking to gain a diverse array of experience and knowledge during his time as a graduate student, particularly in the fields of biochemistry, chemistry, and behavioral ecology. He also plays guitar and sings and is currently in the process of starting a band.  

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Hannah Valentino

Hannah Valentino
Sobrado Lab

Hannah is originally from upstate New York graduating with a B.S. in biochemistry from SUNY Oswego in 2016. She is in her third year and works in Dr. Pablo Sobrado's lab. Her research focuses on the characterization of flavin dependent enzymes involved in natural product biosynthesis. 

Nicole Wynne

Nicole Wynne
Vinauger Lab

Nicole is originally from Marcellus, New York and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. In the Vinauger lab, Nicole studies the sensory and behavioral mechanisms underlying vector-host interactions in mosquitoes. Outside of lab she enjoys playing sports, traveling, and watching her favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Christopher Yoo
Slade Lab

Chris hails from Potomac, Maryland, and he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech. As a Masters student in the Slade Lab, Chris studys the role of trimeric autotransporters in the pathogenesis of Fusobacterium nucleatum. When not in the lab, he likes to get outside and enjoy all of the hiking, camping and fishing opportunities that Blacksburg has to offer!