2022-2023 Undergraduate Achievements

Judith A. and David C. Kelly Summer MCB Research Fellowships

The 2023 recipients of the Judith A. and David C. Kelly Summer MCB Research Fellowship Awards are Sindy Gorka (Leighton Core’s lab), Klea Nito (Charlie Giardina’s lab), and Victoria Yi (Aoife Heaslip’s lab).

The awards support three rising senior MCB majors in their research activities in an MCB Faculty laboratory during the summer of 2023. The three fellowships are funded jointly by
Kellys and MCB, in the amount of $8,000 each, are intended to support students with demonstrated financial need who are MCB majors in good standing, and who have career goals aligned with the major.

Stephanie Schofield '23 is one of 9 UConn recipients of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Stephanie earned her UConn undergraduate degree in molecular and cell biology with a minor in psychological sciences. She will perform research in Heidelberg, Germany, and work with Magdalena Laugsch of the Heidelberg Institute for Human Genetics. She and Laugsch will study the genetics behind hereditary neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on early embryonic human neural crest cell development. Schofield is planning to pursue a career in genetic counseling.

Tamborra-Walton Invited to 2nd Annual BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium

Teresa Tamborra-Walton, an MCB major and senior undergraduate research student in the Lynes laboratory, was selected to represent the University of Connecticut at the second annual BIG EAST Undergraduate Research Poster Symposium.  Her work was chosen to represent the best of student research being done across all disciplines including natural sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, humanities, nursing, business, engineering, and fine arts at UConn.  Her presentation is entitled “Characterization of anti-MT monoclonal antibody as a potential therapeutic in autoimmune or chronic inflammatory diseases”.  This symposium took place on March 11 at Madison Square Garden. Five posters from each BIG EAST institution participated and each presenter was invited to the BIG EAST  Championship game to be played the night of the symposium.

Erceg Lab Member, Romir Raj Named Goldwater Scholar

MCB Students win Undergraduate Research Symposium Awards

Three MCB undergraduates who were selected to give talks at the All Biology Undergraduate Research Symposium last week have been selected by the panel of judges to receive an award. Teresa Tamborra-Walton has received the Outstanding Senior in MCB Award, Rayna Esch has received the Excellence in System Genomics Award, and Taylor Domingue has received the Biology Directors Award. 

2022 Drotch Memorial Scholarship

MCB student Hayden Yuan was a recipient of the 2022 Drotch Memorial Scholarship Awards. This competition is open to UConn undergraduates in biology, including Biological Sciences, EEB, MCB, PNB, and Biophysics, who have demonstrated both scholarship and financial need and who have completed a minimum of 3 and maximum of 7 semesters of study.

2023 University Scholars:

Ananya Aggarwal "Cisplatin Loaded Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma"

Sindy Gorka "Investigation of Post-Mitotic Read-through Transcription Timing and Function"

Spring 2023 IDEA Grant Recipient

Olivia Bowes ’24, Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS, The Effects of Phosphodiesterases on Drosophila melanogaster Sperm Storage

2023 Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards

Priya Aggarwal ’24 (Physiology and Neurobiology & Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Corpus Luteum Movement in Drosophila
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jianjun Sun, Physiology and Neurobiology

Harshita Akella ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: The First Genome Reference for the Tropical Legume, Inga vera, and Comparative Analysis of
Genes Involved in Nitrogen Fixation Among the Fabaceae
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jill Wegrzyn, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Emma Beard ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: The Role of Histone H3 in Transposon Repression
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mayu Inaba, Cell Biology

Rey Carten, Dec. ’23 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Molecular Simulation Investigations into Amino Acid Substitutions in the Design of Janus-Based
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Eric May, Molecular and Cell Biology

Fariha Fardin ’25 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Investigating the Effect of Acvr1R206H Expression in Muscle Stem Cells on Skeletal Muscle
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Goldhamer, Molecular and Cell Biology

Ryan Gado, Dec. ’23 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Determining How the TM3, Sb Ser Balancer Chromosome Contributes to the Meiotic Drive of the
B Chromosomes in Drosophila melanogaster
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stacey Hanlon, Molecular and Cell Biology

Cristopher Guzman ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: De Novo Genome Assembly, Annotation, and Comparative Genomics of Juglans ailantifolia
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jill Wegrzyn, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Fraser McGurk ’25 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: CD13 Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Controls Macrophage Fusion
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Mallika Ghosh, Cell Biology

Taylor Orban ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: The Relationship Between Homolog Pairing and Gene Expression during Drosophila Development
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jelena Erceg, Molecular and Cell Biology

Trevor Religa ’25 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: The Synaptic Adhesion Protein C1QL3 in the Prefrontal Cortex is Required for Learning Cognitively
Challenging Tasks
Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Martinelli, Neuroscience

Emily Trybulec ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Automation of De Novo Genome Assembly and Comparative Genomics Using Bioinformatic
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Rachel O'Neill, Molecular and Cell Biology

Grace Xiong ’25 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Using the ADAPT-ITT Model to Adapt a Tailored Oral Health and Nutrition Educational Messaging
and Game Intervention for Children and Adolescents in a Pediatric Dental Office Setting
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Valerie Duffy, Allied Health Sciences

Hayden Yuan ’24 (Molecular and Cell Biology, CLAS)
Project Title: Identifying Key Evolving Residues That Drive CID/CAL1 Incompatibility in Drosophila Species
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Barbara Mellone, Molecular and Cell Biology