Directory

Graduate Students

MBS Grad Students 2023

NTMS Students

 
Name Advisor
Bethanie Gore Diane Te Strake
Stephanie Walker Diane Te Strake
Karla Alvarado Diane Te Strake
Mac Shebes Diane Te Strake
English Todd Diane Te Strake
Laura Verdina Diane Te Strake
Areej Alharbi Diane Te Strake
Raghad Alshehri Diane Te Strake
Artem Abramov Diane Te Strake



M.S. Students

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Mueez Amoo

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Prahathees Eswara

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Caitlin Hathaway

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Huzefa Dungrawala

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Baylie Schott

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Rojan Chimehrad

LinkedIn

BIO

 

Advisor : Kristina Schmidt

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Koushik Majumder

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Sameer Varma

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Lily Mcknight

LinkedIn

BIO

Lily graduated with a B.S. degree from the University of Florida's Microbiology and Cell Science program in 2022. Throughout her degree, she participated in undergraduate research at the Emerging Pathogens Institute, predominantly studying Chlamydial genetics and viral genetics. In the Eswara Lab, Lily's interests revolve around S. aureus protein GpsB and elucidating how phosphorylation plays a role in its functionality and regulation.

Advisor: Prahathees Eswara

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John Felleter

LinkedIn

BIO

John is currently investigating the role of human gut microbiota on the development and profession of protein conformation diseases (PCDs), including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS.

Advisor: Sandy Westerheide

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Sakshi Karra

LinkedIn

BIO

Sakshi currently works with Dr. Kristina Schmidt studying Bloom Syndrome. Her current works specifically revolves around studying his rare inherited disease using laboratory-based techniques in maintaining genome integrity. 

Advisor: Kristina Schmidt

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Julia Schumacher

LinkedIn

BIO

Julia graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Wake Forest University, researching cyanophage infections under Dr. Sheri Floge. Her graduate research is centered on differential control of virulence in S. aureus.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Seth Brady-Johnson

LinkedIn

BIO

Seth received undergraduate degree from the University of South Florida in Cell and Molecular Biology. Current thesis project involves the characterizing the phosphorylation of the A2AR GPCR protein and the role of different kinase enzymes influence this phosphorylation.

Advisor: Libin Ye

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Isabelle Powell

LinkedIn

BIO

 

Advisor: Maksym Bobrovskyy

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Noelia Escamilla

LinkedIn

BIO

Noelia's current research uses Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to explore the different effects of bacteria in host proteostasis, focusing on its influence in amyloid beta aggregation in Alzheimer's Disease

Advisor: Sandy Westerheide

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Miriam Cardena

LinkedIn

BIO

Currently investigating the interplay between microbiome and protein homeostasis. This research focuses on how these bacteria may influence protein misfolding and aggregation, processes strongly associated with the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

Advisor: Sandy Westerheide

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Grant Hathaway

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Abigail Lowenkron

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Schmidt



Ph.D. Students

Justin Fletcher

Justin Fletcher

 

BIO

Justin received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Hawaii and is now working on his Ph.D. here at the University of South Florida. His current research focuses on drug development and discovery in the prevention of type 1 diabetes.

Advisor: Brant Burkhardt

Emily Gregory-Lott

Emily Gregory-Lott

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Gary Daughdrill

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Jessica Wohlfahrt

LinkedIn

BIO

Jessica's research focuses on elucidating the epigenetic mechanisms involved in the neuroimmune response to ethanol exposure. Optimizing sample processing and ion mobility-based mass spectrometry approaches in order to improve depth of proteomics coverage.

Advisor: Stanley Stevens

Malissa Fenton

Malissa Fenton

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Gary Daughdrill

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Jessica Jackson

LinkedIn

BIO

Jessica graduated with a BS in Microbiology and a minor in criminology from USF in the Spring of 2019. During her undergraduate career she worked in the Shaw lab alongside Jessie testing compounds for activity against the ESKAPE pathogens and their ability to eradicate biofilms. She rejoined the Shaw lab as a doctoral student in fall of 2019, working on the regulatory networks that control protease production in S. aureus.

AdvisorLindsey Shaw

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Julian Melendez

LinkedIn

BIO

Julian is currently developing polarizable models to be used in molecular dynamic simulations to better represent interactions between cations and biologically relevant macromolecules.

AdvisorSameer Varma

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Shehan Sahibdeen

LinkedIn

BIO

Shehan holds an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. His current work revolves around BLM helicase in maintaining genome integrity

AdvisorKristina Schmidt

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Hiran Malinda Patabendige

 

BIO

Hiran obtained M.D from Ryazan State Medical University Russia in 2004 and my Executive Masters in Healthcare Administration from the International Institute of Health Sciences, Sri Lanka in 2018. Current research focus is working on rational structure-based drug design using X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.

Advisor: Yu Chen

Matthew Saunders

Matthew Saunders

LinkedIn

BIO

Saunders is studying phospholipid membrane biophysics and membrane-ion interactions, via computational modeling.

Advisor: Sameer Varma

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Aidan McFarland

LinkedIn

BIO

Aidan received his Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology with a minor in Education from the University of Central Florida. As a PhD candidate, he is studying the underlying mechanisms of bioluminescence in red tide algae with Dr. Libin Ye's GPCR lab. His topics of interest include biodiversity, bioluminescence, and education

Advisor: Libin Ye

Neysha Tirado-Class

Neysha Tirado-Class

LinkedIn

BIO

Neysha's research explores functional mechanisms of replication stress response proteins in vitro using innovative single-cell analyses.

Advisor: Huzefa Dungrawala

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Emily Felton

 

BIO

Emily graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Tampa in spring 2020, with a B.S. in Molecular Biology. During the summer of 2019 Emily participated in an REU at the University of Georgia in the microbiology and entomology departments. Emily joined the Shaw lab in fall 2020 as a doctoral student, working on furthering our understanding of genetic diversity of Staphylococcus aureus clinical isolates.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Mary-Elizabeth Jobson

LinkedIn

BIO

Mary-Elizabeth earned a B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida in the Spring of 2019. During her undergraduate career, she worked under Dr. Alfred Lewin developing therapeutics for retinal diseases before moving on to complete an internship with Andrew Schuerger at NASA’s Space Life Sciences Lab working with hypobarophile bacteria recovered from spacecraft. After graduating, she worked as a lab technician at Rapid Genomics, a high-throughput genotyping lab, before joining the doctoral program at USF in the Fall of 2020. Her primary goals in the Shaw lab are to characterize the complex regulatory networks governing Staph aureus pathogenesis.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Anthony Nelligan

LinkedIn

BIO

Anthony joined the Dungrawala lab in Spring 2021. His project focuses on characterizing how chromatin remodeling contributes to DNA replication fork stability. In particular, his project revolves around SNF2L, a motor protein in chromatin remodeling complexes, where its dysfunction causes replication forks to break down. Currently, he is defining which biochemical functions of SNF2L act to prevent DNA damage in S-phase.

Advisor: Huzefa Dungrawala

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Logan Suits

LinkedIn

BIO

A Tampa native all his life, Logan studies stress response in Staphylococcus aureus and fundamental biology in Bacillus subtilis.

AdvisorPrahathees Eswara

Pirada Higbee

Pirada Higbee

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Gary Daughdrill

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Ganesha Kariyawasam

LinkedIn

BIO

Ganesha has a Bachelor's degree with honors in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Sri Lanka. Her current research focuses on Bloom's syndrome helicase (BLM) and its potential protein interactions that help to maintain genome integrity and replication.

Advisor: Kristina Schmidt

Alexis Coiner

Alexis Coiner

LinkedIn

BIO

Alexis is currently investigating hepatic epigenetic mechanisms of alcohol use disorder in vivo and in vitro utilizing techniques in mass spectrometry, immunofluorescent microscopy, flow cytometry, and qRT-PCR.

Advisor: Stanley Stevens

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Jing Chen

LinkedIn

BIO

 

Advisor: Meera Nanjundan

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Emilee Mustor

LinkedIn

BIO

Current research focuses on exploring Staphylococcus aureus host-pathogen interaction using proteomic technologies.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Jazmine Virzi

LinkedIn

BIO

Jazmine Virzi originally came from Hastings, Florida but moved to the Tampa Bay area during her undergraduate years. In 2019, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from Eckerd College before joining the Department of Molecular Biosciences as a Ph.D. student. Currently, she is dedicated to conducting research in collaboration with Dr. Marcus Cooke, exploring the mechanisms of nuclear DNA damage formation and repair through the utilization and validation of urinary adductomics.

Advisor: Marcus Cooke

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Yaosheng Jia

 

BIO

Yaosheng earned his Bachelor's degree from City University of Hong Kong. He started his PhD study in Dr. Yu’s lab in Fall 2022, and his current project focuses on studying mechanisms of surface protein secretion and distribution.

Advisor: Wenqi Yu

Xudong Wang

Xudong Wang

LinkedIn

BIO

Xudong Wang hails from China and holds a Master's degree in Biological/Chemical Engineering from Beijing Institute of Technology. He was promoted to a Ph.D. student at Dr. Ye's Lab in 2022 and is currently majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology, with a passion for structural biology. Xudong is spearheading a research project aimed at advancing macromolecular 19F NMR.

Advisor: Libin Ye

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Rachel Washburn

LinkedIn

BIO

Rachel is a 2nd year Cell and Molecular Biology PhD Student in the Shaw Lab. She graduated from USF with a B.S. in Microbiology in 2022. Her current research focuses on differential expression of Two Component Systems in S. aureus between in vitro and in vivo environments.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Karla Castillo

LinkedIn

BIO

Karla graduated with a B.S. Engineering in Nanotechnology and currently investigating protein interactions of 53BP1 and its role in p53 regulation using NMR, molecular dynamic simulations and cryo-EM.

Advisor: Gary Daughdrill 

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Ran Zhang

LinkedIn

BIO

Ran's work centers on "The function of single peptide for protein expression, localization and secretion".

Advisor: Wenqi Yu

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Marcelo Di Gruccio

LinkedIn

BIO

Marcelo is currently investigating how the S289 region of MDMX's acidic domain interacts with the p53 binding domain of MDMX as well as the identification of secondary structures within the human BLM protein.

Advisor: Gary Daughdrill

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Irene Guiterrez

 

BIO

 

Advisor: Sameer Varma

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Salvatore Scaffidi

 

BIO

Sal received his B.S. in Microbiology from USF in 2020 and is currently a PhD student in the Yu Lab. Our primary focus is understanding the biogenesis and pathogenesis related to the cell envelope of Staphylococcus aureus. His current project focuses on identifying and characterizing novel nonessential genes capable of spatially regulating surface protein trafficking in S. aureus.

Advisor: Wenqi Yu

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Giorgio Schillaci

LinkedIn

BIO

Giorgio Schillaci received his Bachelor and Master degree in Biotechnology from University of Milan-Bicocca and has 4 years experience in industrial R&D. His current research, under the leadership of Professor Varma, consists in studying the physical phenomena behind the behavior of biologic molecules, and develop more accurate parameters to describe them through the application of molecular and quantum mechanical tools.

Advisor: Sameer Varma

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Saidiburkhaniddin Adikhanov  

LinkedIn

BIO

Saidiburkhaniddin is a PhD student studying the mechanisms of surface proteins localization and cell wall biosynthesis in Staphylococcus aureus and joined Dr Wenqi Yu lab in Fall 2023. Previously, he studied MSc in Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh and worked on developing synthetic biology toolkits for cardiovascular disease diagnosis and treatment at the University of South Dakota.

Advisor: Wenqi Yu

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Richard Agyen

 

BIO

 

Advisor: 

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Claire Blanchard

LinkedIn

BIO

Claire graduated with an M.S. in Molecular Biology from George Mason University in Spring 2023. She worked under Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon at GMU, where she studied tumor heterogeneity and NSCLC chemotherapy resistance. She joined the Dungrawala Lab as a doctorate student in Fall 2023 where she works on replication stress response in eukaryotes.

Advisor: Huzefa Dungrawala

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Haley Lockhart

LinkedIn

BIO

Haley graduated with a B.S. in Biomedical Molecular Microbiology from the University of Central Florida in 2022. She worked as a lab technician under Dr. Mollie Jewett at the UCF Burnette School of Biomedical Sciences attempting to characterize a potential cell wall gene in the Lyme Disease causing bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Haley was accepted into the Molecular Biosciences PhD program at the University of South Florida to work in the Oxidative Stress Group under the mentorship of Dr. Marcus Cooke. With the additional direction of Dr. Lindsey Shaw, Haley will be using the bacterial model Staphylococcus aureus to uncover the consequences on DNA damage repair in mammalian host cells during a bacterial infection.

Advisor: Marcus Cooke

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Erica Quintero

LinkedIn

BIO

Erica graduated with a B.S in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Health Science from the University of Central Florida in Summer 2021. She worked under Dr. Taj Azarian at UCF, where she learned how to create virtual environments and complete genome-wide association studies. She joined the Shaw Lab as a doctoral student in Fall 2023 where she uses genomic and bioinformatic approaches to study the pathogenesis of clinical A. baumannii and S. aureus strains.  

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Amiratabak Rajaei

LinkedIn

BIO

The current research is centered on stalled replication forks and the various proteins that participate in this matter using techniques such as Western blotting, DNA cloning, Mass spectrometry and Immunofluorescent microscopy.

Advisor: Huzefa Dungrawala

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Kelly Resendes

LinkedIn

BIO

Current research focuses on characterization of cell division on the molecular level in Bacillus subtilis as well as interspecies interactions between Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis.

Advisor: Prahathees Eswara

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Arka Saha

LinkedIn

BIO

Arka is a PhD graduate student in the department of Molecular Biosciences at USF. He has a master’s degree in biotechnology and medical engineering from NIT Rourkela in India. He has worked on metabolic reprogramming in Ovarian Cancer chemoresistance development at CNCI, Kolkata under the guidance of Dr. Sutapa Mukherjee. He started in the Fall 2023 as a member of OSG under the guidance of Dr. Marcus Cooke where he will be working on determining the structural proteins implicated in the molecular basis of chemoresistance development in Ovarian Cancer with respect to better therapy planning, and prevention of off target effects incurred during conventionally administration of platinated drugs.

Advisor: Marcus Cooke

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Wenkai Sun

LinkedIn

BIO

He is a 2023 Fall Ph.D. student in Dr. Ye’s lab. With five years of experience in working on metabolic pathway analysis of medicinal plants. Characterization of the structure and function of transmembrane proteins will become the career goal for him to continue to explore in future scientific research.

Advisor: Libin Ye

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Carmella Gaucher

 

BIO

In 2023, Carmella graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Economics. She always loved science, but decided to pursue a career in research while working in a genetics lab that studied horizontal gene transfer in archaea. She hopes to spend her PhD at USF studying the molecular mechanisms underlying antibiotic resistant pathogens. Her ultimate goal is to help create new medications and identify drug targets for recurrent bacterial infections. Outside of the lab, Carmella loves visiting the beach, trail running, and spending time with her family and friends.

Advisor: Prahathees Eswara

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Erika Valdespino

LinkedIn

BIO

Erika graduated with a B.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Criminology from the University of South Florida in Spring 2021. In Dr. Valerie Harwood’s lab, Erika’s undergraduate research focused on tracking sources of fecal contamination and antibiotic resistance in public waterbodies throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida. During her gap year, she worked in Dr. Alexander Cole’s lab at the UCF College of Medicine. She joined the Shaw Lab as a doctoral student in Fall 2023 – focusing her work on the role of cell wall proteins in toxin release and retention in S. aureus.

Advisor: Lindsey Shaw

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Maria Cubero

 

BIO

 

Advisor: 

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Asher King

 

BIO

 

Advisor: 

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Jessica Grafius

 

BIO

 

Advisor: