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Honors and Awards

Spring 2017 Student Awards

The Gerald S. Gussack ’75 M.D. Award

This Award goes to the most outstanding graduating senior in Cell and Molecular Biology. The recipient is chosen based on excellence in Grade Point Average, creativity in honors thesis research, and a demonstration of well balanced academic achievement. The award is named in honor of the late Gerald Gussack, a Professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine, who was a 1975 graduate of Tulane College.


Adam N. Faletsky: Adam is a bright, friendly, and accomplished young man. He has excelled in Cell and Molecular Biology, with a GPA of 3.9. He is a courteous and inquisitive student, always willing to help his peers. Adam is highly involved in the Tulane community, currently serving as Academic Council Chair in the USG and a board member of Tulane Chabad. During his academic career at Tulane, he was a 2013 Tulane Community Service Fellow and participated in the 2014 Medical/Dental Brigade to Honduras. After several years of serving with TEMS, Adam is heading on to attend Tufts University School of Medicine in the fall, where he will pursue his dream of becoming a physician.

The Professor Erik G. Ellgaard Award for Excellence in Cell and Molecular Biology for the best Graduating Senior in Tulane/Newcomb College in Cell and Molecular Biology.Professor Ellgaard was very popular with students because of his excellent teaching and his devotion to advising and helping students achieve their career goals. The Erik G. Ellgaard Fund awards money and a trophy each year for a graduating senior in Tulane/Newcomb College for demonstrating excellence in cell and molecular biology. A trophy is presented to the student for it signifies the many trophies presented to students in Professor Ellgaard’s classes for achievement, e.g., highest grade point, most improved scores, etc.


Raven A. Bailey: Raven is a highly motivated, conscientious and persistent student, as evidenced by her formidable academic accomplishments. She has obtained the highest GPA of graduating seniors in the CMB department. Her dedication to the community through her service work in academic tutoring with the Roots of Music marching band has given her the privilege of working with the New Orleans music culture. She plans to pursue her endeavors as a musician and producer while also continuing her education in medical research and the practice of medicine.

Magdalena S. Hecht: Magdalena has shown unique academic curiosity and outstanding dedication to her learning in science. Her understanding of cell and molecular biology, for example, extends far beyond the accepted standard for Tulane students as evidenced by the numerous supplemental CELL classes she has taken after completing the major. By taking on a vigorous course load each semester, Magdalena was able to complete the prerequisites and core courses for each of her degrees early on, enabling her to take advantage of the graduate level courses available to undergraduates. Her GPA is approximately 3.91. Finally, Magdalena has extended her academic repertoire beyond biology as evidenced by her dedication to service, her semester in Costa Rica, and her secondary major in environmental studies.

The Liz Earley Prize for Proficiency in Laboratory Science: based on excellence and proficiency in laboratory science. This award is named after the late Dr. Elisabeth Earley, a long-standing, dedicated member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department.

 

Adhera Divagaran: Adhira worked in Professor Jeffrey Tasker’s laboratory as a work-study student for 4 years. She worked as if she was performing an independent study project, becoming responsible for animal husbandry, genotyping, and basic molecular biology techniques for the lab. Adhira was highly dependable, reliable, punctual, and friendly, and a real asset to the Tasker lab during her undergraduate pursuits.

Garrett M Bartoletti: Garrett has worked and studied in the CMB labs for the last three years under the instruction and supervision of both Professors Nancy Hopkins and Elizabeth Abboud. His extensive knowledge of laboratory procedures and willingness to help with anything asked of him has been an invaluable asset to the department. He has also been an engaging contributor and an inspiration to the students and their learning experience.

The Cell and Molecular Biology Prize: special recognition for interest, enthusiasm and proficiency in Biology.


Dillion Hutson: Dillion distinguishes himself as a student interested in learning more than what is required for the exam. He has his own project working in a pharmacology lab at the medical school campus on the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor and its activity in vascular smooth muscle.

Honors Program – Senior Scholar Award


Magdalena S. Hecht
: Magdalena has shown unique academic curiosity and outstanding dedication to her learning in science. Her understanding of cell and molecular biology, for example, extends far beyond the accepted standard for Tulane students as evidenced by the numerous supplemental CELL classes she has taken after completing the major. By taking on a vigorous course load each semester, Magdalena was able to complete the prerequisites and core courses for each of her degrees early on, enabling her to take advantage of the graduate level courses available to undergraduates. Her GPA is approximately 3.91. Finally, Magdalena has extended her academic repertoire beyond biology as evidenced by her dedication to service, her semester in Costa Rica, and her secondary major in environmental studies.

Ching Fellowship


Maria Gomez: Maria's focus is to further unravel the human genome and the mysterious identity of what was previously considered “junk DNA” continues to be uncovered. Functional micro peptides found in these regions of presumed noncoding DNA may hold key roles in various biological processes, yet this field still remains largely underdeveloped. Maria has focused on studying one such micro peptide, Pants or Plasticity Associated Neural Transcript Short comprised of merely 105 amino acids. Studying micro peptides like Pants provides a greater understanding of regions in our genome that had previously been disregarded. The potential finding of a key role of Pants in schizophrenia and modulation of plasticity could result in a new approach for treating age-related memory loss. If successful, it would also focus research attention to the cognitive deficits that result from
schizophrenia, a side of the disorder that is often disregarded when compared to other associated symptoms.

Judy Chen: Judy is currently working on research relating to the biological targets of a new class of antimicrobial drugs (AP9) which has been shown to be effective against gram positive bacteria including the methicillin resistance staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain. Judy is utilizing PCR amplification of AP9 resistant bacteria in order to identify target genes that result in AP9 resistance. She plans to identify the repressor protein responsible for AP9 resistance and determine how it confers antibiotic resistance. The hope of this research is to decrease the mortality rates conferred by drug-resistant bacteria by understanding this new class of antimicrobial drug.  

Spring 2016 Student Awardstop ⇑

Congratulations to CMB graduate student, Annie Bowles, who was recently awarded the James de la Houssaye Mentor Award! This award is sponsored by Mr. H. Britton Sanderford and recognizes a high school teacher or mentor for their educational and inspirational work with students pursuing STEM inquiry.

 

The Cell and Molecular Biology Prize: special recognition for interest, enthusiasm and proficiency in Biology.

Jesse D. Coren: Jesse has a cheerful enthusiasm for science and earned a GPA over 3.9. He enjoys skiing and mountain biking and completed wilderness first responder training. He plans to work with Médecins sans Frontières after completing medical school and establishing his practice.

Christian N. Nguyen: Christian is one of our most impressive students, both in terms of academics and extracurricular achievement. He maintained a GPA of 3.984. His memory is astounding and he is able to apply knowledge to unfamiliar problems with a remarkable alacrity. He brought his energy to multiple projects, working with a clinical research project on stroke and public health, shadowing an orthopedic surgical team, and mentoring local youth at a non-profit urban farm. Christian plans to pursue a career in medicine.

The Gerald S. Gussack ’75 M.D. Award

This Award goes to the most outstanding graduating senior in Cell and Molecular Biology. The recipient is chosen based on excellence in Grade Point Average, creativity in honors thesis research, and a demonstration of well balanced academic achievement. The award is named in honor of the late Gerald Gussack, a Professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine, who was a 1975 graduate of Tulane College.



Brett J. Barrilleaux:  Brett began working in Professor Laura Schrader’s lab during the summer of his sophomore year, and he quickly involved himself in an ongoing project involving molecular mechanisms of stress and how chronic stress progresses to pathological conditions. Brett became a mainstay in the lab as he ran behavioral paradigms and performed surgeries. In addition, he investigated the biochemical regulation of plasticity pathways in the prefrontal cortex after stress. Brett is an extremely bright and innovative young man, and he made various technical suggestions that improved the overall output of the Schrader lab. Brett maintained an overall GPA of 3.9.

The Liz Earley Prize for Proficiency in Laboratory Science: based on excellence and proficiency in laboratory science. This award is named after the late Dr. Elisabeth Earley, a long-standing, dedicated member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department.

Joshua A. Mansfield: Josh did three semesters of independent research with Professor Zhouru Wu. He stood out in his understanding and his ability to carry out experiments involving multiple difficult procedures. Josh is also exceptional at addressing novel biological questions by designing his own experiments, and was awarded a Lurcy grant from Tulane to test one of his ideas.

Prasad K. Akula: Prasad is a friendly, outgoing student, excited about biology and learning. He participated in laboratory research, working on the organic synthesis of carrier-shaped molecules called cavitands. He was careful at the laboratory bench and made connections between the chemical details and the larger picture. A natural scholar who made community service and outreach priorities. He also offered informal tutoring to local high school students.

Jillian N. Rosenberg: Jill completed her Honors Thesis research at the Medical School in the biochemistry lab of Dr. Heather Machado, where she developed multiple assays to investigate the signal transduction pathways downstream of GAS6 binding its receptor AXL -- important in the microenvironment of certain cancerous tumors. A well-rounded student, Jill enjoys painting and riding horses. She plans to continue studying cancer biology and will be pursuing a PhD at the University of Chicago.

The Professor Erik G. Ellgaard Award for Excellence in Cell and Molecular Biology for the best Graduating Senior in Tulane/Newcomb College in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Jonathan M. Katz: Ever an enthusiastic student and driven by a bottomless curiosity, Jonathan graduated with a GPA of 3.987. He is a tireless worker and has a wide range of interests, ranging from organizational policy to computer science. He plans to pursue a career in medicine where he can continue to solve problems from his unique perspective, seamlessly integrating both direct and creative strategies.

Kelsey E. Lacourrege: Kelsey was an exemplary student, regularly earning the top grade in even her most challenging cell biology courses and graduating with an unblemished 4.0 GPA. She is interested in many subjects, ranging from public health policy to vaccine development. She is well travelled and is fluent in German. A very well- rounded young person, she also enjoys ballet.

The Senior Honors Thesis Award in Cell and Molecular Biology

Rachel R. Hill: Rachel completed an Honors Thesis project in Professor Frank Jones’ lab on an extremely complex bioinformatics project. In an amazing example of self-directed learning, Rachel taught herself bioinformatics and completed an impressive amount of analysis on breast tumor expression data from the Cancer Genome Atlas. Her ability to formulate and test hypotheses and interpret results shows sophistication unusual in an undergraduate. In addition to time-consuming research, Rachel managed to maintain a GPA in excess of 3.9 and played saxophone with the marching band and a jazz ensemble.

Honors Program – Senior Scholar Award

Natasha Topolski: Natasha completed an Honors Thesis project in Dr. Stacy Drury’s lab on a mediation of the relationship between the experience of corporal punishment and DNA methylation by behavioral symptoms in New Orleans youth. Starting the summer after her freshman year, Natasha worked arduously in Dr Drury’s lab throughout her undergraduate career. Her work and ideas there earned her national recognition from the Goldwater Foundation as an honorable mention in the 2015 competition. Outside of the lab, Natasha was actively engaged in the New Orleans community, serving as president of the Neuroscience Association where she organized the first Louisiana Brain Bee and was a co-founder of both the elderly outreach organization Bridging Generations and the Celebrate Mental Health Festival.

Rachel R. Hill: Rachel completed an Honors Thesis project in Professor Frank Jones’ lab on an extremely complex bioinformatics project. In an amazing example of self-directed learning, Rachel taught herself bioinformatics and completed an impressive amount of analysis on breast tumor expression data from the Cancer Genome Atlas. Her ability to formulate and test hypotheses and interpret results shows sophistication unusual in an undergraduate. In addition to time-consuming research, Rachel managed to maintain a GPA in excess of 3.9 and played saxophone with the marching band and a jazz ensemble.


 

 




Faculty Awardstop ⇑

Dr.Shusheng Wang received an NIH grant for his study entitled The Role of Long Noncoding RNAs in Human Ocular Angiogenesis's. Dr. Wang will receive $376,250/year from 09/01/2016 through 08/31/2021. The goal of the project is to uncover the mechanism whereby long noncoding RNAs regulate ocular angiogenesis in humans using our unique ex vivo model and the cutting-edge CRISPR technology. Findings from the proposed project could be directly translated into human vascular diseases. Dr. Wang was recently published in Scientific Reports Journal. His paper was entitled "Regulation of Intraocular Pressure by MicroRNA cluster miR-143/145."  In this paper they showed that two microRNAs, miR-143 and miR-145, are important regulators of intraocular pressure in mice.

Dr. Yiping Chen was awarded a 5 year NIH grant starting April 1, 2017. The total amount of the grant is $1,787,190. The title of the grant is “Molecular patterning of the hard palate during palatogenesis”. The goal of this project is reveal how the transcription factor Shox2 interacts with TALE factors to regulate osteogenesis and pattern the hard palate. The proposed studies will utilize multiple unique transgenic/knockout mouse lines, biochemistry, molecular biology, and the state-of-the art genomic approaches as well as CRISPR/Cas-9 technology to uncover key elements of chromatin regulatory network and epigenetic states of regulatory genes that are essential for hard palate development. Dr. Chen was recently published. His article was titled, "A Unique Stylopod Patterning Mechanism by Shox2 Controlled Osteogenesis"

Dr. Stryder Meadows received a 3-year grant from the State of Louisiana Board of Regents - Research Competitiveness Subprogram. "Molecular Characterization of Blood Vessel Fusion"

Dr. Shusheng Wang and his post-doctoral fellow just published an important paper describing a compound that they have patented which could have a clinical application for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. The title of their paper is “Gossypol Acetic Acid Prevents Oxidative Stress-Induced Retinal Pigment Epithelial Necrosis by Regulating the FoxO3/Sestrin2 Pathway”, published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology (Hanus, Zhang, Chen, Zhou, Jin, Liu, and Wang, Molecular and Cellular Biology 35: 1952, 2015).

Dr. YiPing Chen received the School of Science and Engineering “Outstanding Researcher Award” in 2016. Jeff Tasker had received this award previously in 2015.

Dr. Jeff Tasker received a 3-year NSF grant in the summer of 2015 for $650,000, “Neuronal‐glial interactions mediating crosstalk of homeostatic systems”.


YiPing Chen
received a 5-year NIH grant in the fall of 2014 for $1.8 M. "Role of BMP and Wnt signaling in early tooth development"

In this project, the Chen lab will investigate how BMP and Wnt signaling pathways act in a synergistic way to regulate early tooth development and will also study the functional mechanism of a novel BMP signaling pathway in the developing tooth that was recently discovered by the Chen lab.

Jeff Tasker received a 5-year NIH grant in the spring of 2015 for $1.8 M, “Stress Facilitation of Fear Memory”.

In this project, Tasker’s lab will study how stress affects the formation of fear memories by stimulating endogenous cannabis production in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. Their studies will provide insight into how stress affects fear and anxiety and will contribute to our understanding of anxiety disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder.

 

Spring 2015 Student Awardstop ⇑

Chase Anderson was selected to receive an Outstanding Poster Award at Vascular Biology 2015 presented by North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO).

PhD student Michael Cypress recently was awarded the American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship. Title: Na-Glucose Cotransporter 2 and AT1 Receptor Synergistically Increase Angiotensinogen Expression in Proximal Tubule Cells

PhD student Michael Cypress recently was awarded the National Institutes of Health Ruth Kirschstein Predoctoral Fellowship. Title: SGLT2 Mediates Glucose-Induced Angiotensinogen Synthesis in Proximal Tubule Cells

The Cell and Molecular Biology Prize: special recognition for interest, enthusiasm and proficiency in Biology.

Sherry Cui: Sherry is an outstanding young woman and an excellent researcher. A solid student, she has overcome hardship to complete her degree. Sherry was diagnosed with cancer in the summer after her sophomore year and was forced to withdraw from school to battle her disease. She returned to school in the fall of 2013 and began to do research at Children’s Hospital, which she conducted during the past two years. In the spring of 2014, she competed for a Louisiana Board of Regents SURE grant and received the largest grant awarded. Her work will be included in at least two manuscripts coming out of the laboratory of Dr. Seth Pincus.

The Gerald S. Gussack ’75 M.D. Award

This Award goes to the most outstanding graduating senior in Cell and Molecular Biology. The recipient is chosen based on excellence in Grade Point Average, creativity in honors thesis research, and a demonstration of well balanced academic achievement. The award is named in honor of the late Gerald Gussack, a Professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University School of Medicine, who was a 1975 graduate of Tulane College.



Joshua R. Ortego:  Josh is the first person in his family to attend college. He worked his way through school as a pharmacy technician -- experience that he brought into the classroom and shared with his fellow students. His remarkable toughness to succeed academically with a GPA just under 3.8, while commuting and working night shifts, is a testament to his maturity and academic ability. Josh is a well-rounded young man who plays piano and guitar and is very active in his community. He will be attending medical school this fall.

The Liz Earley Prize for Proficiency in Laboratory Science: based on excellence and proficiency in laboratory science. This award is named after the late Dr. Elisabeth Earley, a long-standing, dedicated member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department.

Gina Tram Nguyen: Gina blossomed into a first-rate undergraduate research student while at Tulane. During the summer of 2012, she became an intern for the Tulane/Xavier University Enhancing Diversity in Environmental Biology (EDEB) Project. During the past three years, she has made significant contributions to several ongoing research endeavors related to breast cancer. She has become proficient in many laboratory techniques and demonstrated perseverance at the bench. She has presented her work at national meetings, co-authored multiple abstracts, and has submitted a manuscript for publication. Gina is a well-rounded leader and selflessly gives of her time to numerous community outreach efforts. Gina was accepted into LSUHSC School of Dentistry for the fall 2015 semester.

The Professor Erik G. Ellgaard Award for Excellence in Cell and Molecular Biology for the best Graduating Senior in Tulane/Newcomb College in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Suchi Agrawal: Suchi is an outstand student, earning a perfect 4.0 GPA at Tulane. She seeks to learn and understand information both in the classroom and the lab. Suchi pursued independent research downtown at the Tulane Cancer Center with Dr. Srikanta Dash, studying combination therapies in cancer. She also tutors on campus, helping her peers with organic chemistry and genetics. She has been active in Women in Science, a student organization that sponsors speakers and volunteer opportunities in the community. She has also held several offices including serving as president this year.

Ashlyn E. McRae: Ashlyn is an outstanding student, maintaining a GPA in excess of 3.9. Her learning is driven by an insatiable curiosity and her study skills are exemplary. She is currently devoting fifteen hours a week to a laboratory studying hepatic reperfusion injury at the Tulane Medical School. She appreciates the educational opportunities afforded by both Tulane University and the city of New Orleans, and takes advantage of the local live music scene, especially funk. She will continue her education in medical school this fall.

The Senior Honors Thesis Award in Cell and Molecular Biology

Sara N. Karnes: Sara is a double major in Cell and Molecular Biology and Jewish Studies with an overall GPA of nearly 3.8. Sara joined Dr. Shusheng Wang’s lab in 2012 as a work-study student, and then, after a semester abroad in Copenhagen, returned to pursue her research interests. Her research in the Wang lab has culminated in her honors thesis work on the role of a microRNA molecule in vascular development. She was a finalist for a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English as a second language in South Korea. Sara will be entering medical school in the fall.

Honors Program – Senior Scholar Award

Janell D. Cyprich: Janelle is an outstanding student who has excelled in her course work and in the laboratory. Her cumulative GPA is in excess of 3.85. Her honors thesis dealt with empiric risk factors affecting stroke patients’ outcomes. She worked with a team downtown mining a large dataset, and this work promises to lead to multiple publications. She was a double major in Cell and Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, taking courses in both majors that enhanced her research. Janelle is a true scholar who understands the importance of inquiry.



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