Graduate students from a variety of programs work with faculty in the Department of Biochemistry

Ade Adepoju

Olusegun Adepoju (Ade)
Gillaspy Lab

Originally from Nigeria in West Africa, earned a BS in Biochemistry from the university of Lagos, Nigeria. Obtained an MS in Biology from East Tennessee State University before proceeding to Virginia Tech for a doctoral program in Biochemistry.

My research centers around plant signaling using inositol phosphates, and their connection with energy, nutrient and stress. Outside research, i play chess actively and love watching movies.

Tahmina Ahmed1

Tahmina Ahmed
Zhu Lab

I am originally from Bangladesh and earned BS and MS degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Currently, I am a 2nd year PhD student in the department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tec and doing my PhD research in Dr. Jinsong Zhu lab.  My research focuses on the “Molecular mechanism of juvenile hormone (JH) and its cross-talk with crucial insect hormone 20 Hydroxyecdysone (20 E) in Aedes aegypti” which is important to explore the regulatory mechanisms of these two insect hormones in mosquito development/reproduction and designing novel insecticides to prevent the spreading of these deadly disease causing vectors.

Personal interest: Travelling, learning new things, teaching, community based voluntary works etc.

Mike Cassasanta

Michael Casasanta
Slade Lab

I am originally from Manassas, VA and earned a BS degree in both Biology and Biochemistry at Virginia Tech. I am a 3rd year student in the Slade lab. My research focuses on host-pathogen interactions which is important for bacterial infection and invasion.

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.

Caitlin Cridland

Caitlin Cridland
Mackey Lab

 

 

 

Austin Compton

Austin Compton
Tu Lab

 

 

Darcy Davidson

Darcy Davidson
Xu Lab

 

 

 

Rubayet Elahi 1

AEM Rubayet Elahi
Klemba Lab

I am originally from Bangladesh and earned a MS degree in Parasitology from University of Dhaka in 2011. I am a 3rd year student in the Klemba lab. My research focuses on Plasmodium falciparum biology which is the cause for the deadliest form of malaria. I am huge fan of the great game of Cricket. I like to hike and drive around the curvy roads of country side.

Diane Eilerts

Diane Eilerts
Zhu Lab

 

 

 

Amanda Fisher
GBCB (Bevan Lab)

Xiaonan Fu

Xiaonan Fu
GBCB (Zhu Lab)

Originally from china, I obtained a Bachelor degree in Biological Science from East China Normal University. I am currently working with Dr. Jinsong Zhu. My research focused on functional study of microRNAs in mosquitoes using AgAgo1 CLASH. I am quite interested in RNA biology, lots of newly categorized RNAs or RNA-modifications were found playing specific regulatory roles in biological processes. My interest is rock climbing, traveling and fishing.

Britton Hipple

Britton Hipple
Mackey Lab

After graduating from a small private liberal arts college with a BS in Chemistry, I joined the lab of Dr. Zachary Mackey to focus on research into Trypanosoma brucei, an African extracellular parasite. Previous studies have shown that the parasite uses homologs of the Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) and extracellular-signal regulated kinase 8 (ERK8), both of which are involved in DNA replication, and more specifically may be present in the replisome. However, the remainder of the replisome is less characterized in T. brucei. My research focus is to demonstrate a more comprehensive view of the T. brucei replisome to identify potential therapeutic targets. Check out our lab website for more information on current projects: mackeylabvt.com

Bela Khairunisa

Bela Khairunisa
GBCB (Mukhopadhyay Lab)

I am originally from Indonesia and earned a BS degree in Biology at Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). I am a first year student in the Biswarup's lab. My research focuses on redox communication within cow's rumen microbiome which is important for feed efficiency. I'm also interested in genomics research and analyzing the data with computational tools. In terms of hobbies, I enjoy cooking and traveling.

Jing Liang

Jing Liang
Li Lab

I am originally from China and earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Northwest University in China. I am a 4th year graduate student in Dr. Jianyong Li’s lab. My research focuses on structure-function relationship of aromatic amino acid decarboxylase and acetaldehyde synthase, which is important for insect neurotransmitter production and cuticle formation. My interest is reading, swimming, painting and music.

Didier Mena

Didier Mena
Sobrado Lab

I am originally from Costa Rica and earned a BS degree in Biotechnology Engineering at Costarican Institute of Technology. My research focuses on the enzymatic and structural characterization of flavoenzymes from pathogens such as Aspergillus fumigatus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Bordetella bronchiseptica. The significance of this research falls under the use of this knowledge for designing specific inhibitors that will be used as chemotherapeutic drugs against these organisms of importance.

Han Nam (M.S.)
Sobrado Lab

Megan Richardson

Megan Richardson
Lemkul, Brown and Bevan Labs

I am originally from Virginia Beach and just graduated with my BS in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech this past spring. My research interests include vector diseases and parasitology, specifically their interaction with human hosts at the cellular level. I conducted my undergraduate research regarding Type 2 Diabetes therapeutics and have been trained thus far as a computational biochemist.

Alexa Salsbury

Alexa Salsbury
Sobrado Lab

 

 

 

Blake Sanders

Blake Sanders
Slade Lab

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.   

Nazneen Sultana

Nazneen Sultana
Mukhopadhyay Lab

 

 

 

Ariana Umana

Ariana Umana
Slade Lab

I am originally from San Jose, Costa Rica and earned my BS degree in Biotechnology Engineering at Technological Institute of Costa Rica. I discovered my love for research while doing an internship at Virginia Tech.  My research focuses on determining and studying the roles of bacterial outer membrane and secreted proteins of Fusobacterium nucleatum in infection, signaling, and inflammatory diseases like colorectal cancer.

Hannah Valentino

Hannah Valentino
Sobrado Lab

I am originally from New Haven, New York and earned a BS degree in biochemistry at SUNY Oswego. I am a first year student currently doing rotations

Paul Velander

Paul Velander
Xu Lab

I am originally from Blacksburg and earned a BS degree in biology at the university of Nebraska-Lincoln.  I am a 4th yr student in the Xu lab.  My research focuses on identifying and characterizing small molecule natural compounds that inhibit amyloid which is important for treating Alzheimers disease and Type II diabetes.  My longterm career aspiration is to serve as a science educator and basketball coach.

Chris Yoo

Christopher Yoo
Slade Lab

I am originally from Potomac, MD and earned a BS degree in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech. I am currently a first year masters student in The Slade Lab where I am is studying the role of trimeric autotransporters in the pathogenesis of Fusobacterium nucleatum. When not in the lab, I like to get outside and enjoy all of the hiking, camping and fishing opportunities that Blacksburg has to offer!