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Biophysics Graduation 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations Graduates!

Since we can't come together in person this year, we created this virtual graduation website to celebrate your accomplishments as Biophysics students at the University of Michigan. We are incredibly proud of you and we wish you well as you take the next steps in your journey! 

   

  

A message from our Program Director, Charles L. Brooks III: 

   

   

Biophysics Graduation Reception
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bachelor of Science
Fall 2019 & Winter 2020

Anna Argento

Anna's undergraduate research focused on understanding extracellular matrix determinants of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration mode switching in Brendon Baker's lab in the UM department of Bioengineering. Professor Baker adds: "Anna is a quick and attentive learner in the lab. She always demonstrates a firm understanding of the motivation behind her experimental efforts and is able to synthesize new ideas based on her previous experiences and reading. She is persistent when facing inevitable experimental failures. She works hard, takes initiative, and is always eager to take on new tasks, learn new skills, and contribute to the operations of the lab."

"My Michigan Biophysics experience was amazing - the classes are super interesting, the instructors are engaging and supportive, and my peers are so smart and fun! I really enjoyed the "Techniques in Biophysics" lab class because I got to work with both undergrad and grad students to learn hands-on about both the well-known and the lesser-known biophysical methods. In the fall, I will be joining the University of Michigan's Biomedical Engineering PhD program as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. During my PhD, I plan to continue conducting interdisciplinary research on cancer cell migration mechanics and dynamics." - Anna Argento

Congratulations, Anna!

Eric Donarski

Eric’s undergraduate research has involved single molecule imaging measurements in living Vibrio Cholera cells in Julie Biteen's Lab which he joined in his first year at UM.  Professor Biteen adds: “I first met Eric when he distinguished himself as one the most enthusiastic freshmen in my General Chemistry class of 400! Eric has been a wonderful addition to the lab based on his high curiosity, his great lab citizenship, and his dedication to the project. The lab and I will miss him, but we are all excited to follow his next steps as he moves on to graduate school at UVA.” 

"Matriculating into UofM, like most students, I had absolutely no idea what studying biophysics would look like. That said, I have been, and ever will be, grateful that I was able to start exploring the field of biophysics at UofM; I certainly hope to continue shooting lasers at pathogens for years to come. In the future, I will be pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Virginia in the lab of Dr. Andreas Gahlmann. Thank you all for a great undergraduate experience and especially to Dr. Biteen, who has had my back every step of the way through undergrad." - Eric Donarski

Congratulations, Eric!

Anna Gaffney

Anna’s undergraduate research projects involved setting and measuring the chemical potential of cholesterol in lipid membranes made of purified lipids or isolated from cells in Sarah Veatch's lab which she joined after her first semester at UM.   Professor Veatch adds: “Anna is an independent and courageous experimentalist, who led a new a difficult research project in my lab, by asking tons of thoughtful questions and overcoming obstacles around every corner.  She is incredibly hard working, completing all of the requirements for a biophysics degree in 3 years while writing an impressive honors thesis.  We will miss your energy in the lab but are so happy that you will be starting the next chapter of your career at the University of Chicago next fall!” 

"When joining University of Michigan freshman year, I wasn't sure what I was going to study or where I was going to fit in. I am so glad that I found my home in a program built of a supportive group of students, shaped by the environment of our classes. I'm so grateful for the professors, who are always involved and receptive to the needs and interests of their students. The grad students in this program are so passionate and helpful as well, and I'm glad I've had these students to look up to. Lastly, I am so lucky for my research advisor, Sarah Veatch, and our lab for giving me the opportunity and freedom to explore science and biophysics with their guidance. I'll miss this program so much, but I know I've made connections that will not break. This fall, I'll be joining University of Chicago's Biophysical Sciences department in pursuit of a PhD, to continue my journey into research and academia." - Anna Gaffney

Congratulations, Anna!

Angela Hsu

Angela’s undergraduate research involved building models of neurons and networks in Michal Zochowski's Lab.  Professor Zochowski adds: “Angela stood out in the Physics of Body and Mind course that I taught before joining my lab.  She made fantastic progress for the time that we had.  Angela was always striving to learn and understand more by pushing beyond her comfort level.”

"I am grateful for Biophysics because the program has been very supportive of my academic goals. I have learned so much from both my professors and friends in the program. I was fortunate to work under Dr. Zochowski and gained experience in computational research. In the future, I hope to apply to MD-PhD programs and continue studying biophysics in graduate school." - Angela Hsu

Congratulations, Angela!

Carl Klein

Carl’s undergraduate research in Chris Meiners' Lab has focused on the growth of gas bubbles in spinal cord tissues to shed light on the pathogenesis of neurological decompression sickness. He developed a process that allows us to import magnetic resonance imaging data from spinal cords into a finite-element model for bubble growth and tissue damage. Aaron Frank, his professor in Biophysics 435 described Carl as “quiet, however, driven, self-directed, self-motivated, and intellectually curious.”

"The thing I enjoyed the most about the biophysics undergraduate program was that its small size made it so it wasn’t overwhelming to get to know and work together with all the other students and professors. I also really liked how the program approached research, both in the sense of giving us the freedom to learn about and participate in research in one of the labs on campus, but also by fostering an appreciation towards scientific literature in general.

As for my current plans, once the lockdown is over, I will be starting work in Pfizer’s human health lab. Eventually I would like to go to graduate school for bioengineering/biotech, but for now I want to take a break from school and establish some real life and working experience." - Carl Klein

Congratulations, Carl!

Lindsay Ma

Lindsay’s undergraduate research has focused on microfluidic artificial lungs in the in Joseph Potkay's Lab.  Professor Potkay adds: “Lindsay is a joy to work with, a true team player, and a model of organization and work ethic. Lindsay’s work has resulted in 3 presented conference abstracts and one co-first author journal publication, a truly impressive feat for a part-time undergraduate researcher. Her continued work is expected to result in another conference presentation and her 2nd first author journal publication. I am truly looking forward to working with her and seeing what amazing things she can accomplish as a full time researcher in the coming year and in what is destined to be a compassionate and productive career.”

"What I enjoyed most about Biophysics at U of M was the instructors. Professors were always willing to help with course materials outside of class and were flexible and accommodating using student feedback to adjust class structure and content throughout the semester. I am confident that what I have learned both inside and outside of the classroom has given me a solid foundation for pursuing further education. I will begin applying to medical schools this summer and will spend my gap year working at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs. In the coming year, I am excited about being able to dedicate my full attention to optimizing microfluidic artificial lungs and developing opioid prescribing guidelines." - Lindsay Ma

Congratulations, Lindsay!

Itai Palmon

Itai’s undergraduate research was aimed at understanding how substrates bind to an enzyme that hydroxylates saturated hydrocarbons without the need for a transition metal ion. His results have implications for enzyme design and environmental remediation efforts. Dr. Troy Wymore adds: “Itai was always very thoughtful and a fun guy to have in Biophysics 370 class, asking clear questions that benefited everyone, including the instructor.  Although he exudes calm, he is also highly motivated to make a significant contribution to society.  I have no doubt he will succeed in medical school.  I think he chose Michigan because he just could not give up having lunch at Belly Deli.”  

"I loved how flexible and accommodating the Biophysics undergrad program was. My interests were distinct from my classmates, and the courses we took to fulfill major requirements were reflective of that. In particular, I was fascinated by dynamics and structural biology. Though I’m in the biological physics track, I was able to pursue both topics. Post-graduation, I’ll be at U of M studying medicine, where I hope to use my biophysics base in medical research." - Itai Palmon

Congratulations, Itai!

Myra Visser

Myra’s undergraduate research focused on viral RNA biochemistry in the lab of Alice Telesnitsky in the UM medical school.  Professor Telesnitsky adds: “It has been a total pleasure having Myra as a researcher in our group. She is a dedicated and fearless interdisciplinary learner. We in the lab benefited from Myra's experiences--for example, she gave us a mini-lecture on biophysical modeling of RNA structures using machine learning, based on her class work with Aaron Frank.  Myra will expand into bioinformatics aspects of the project while she works in our lab before going to graduate school.”  

"The undergraduate biophysics program here at Michigan offers a truly interdisciplinary approach to biology and physics, and this is what I appreciated most. The wide variety of classes in the department gave me a strong sense of the intersection between the two disciplines, and how physics can be used to understand biology. I had so much fun in Biophysics 450 (Lab Techniques) where we had the opportunity to work through various biophysical assays in a relaxed and supportive environment. I’m also thankful for the ambitious and fun friends I’ve made through our small but unique courses. After graduation, I will be taking a gap year here in Ann Arbor to work in lab, and my plan is to eventually apply for a PhD program in biophysics or a related field." - Myra Visser

Congratulations, Myra!

Kevin Wunderly

Kevin’s undergraduate research involved analyzing MRI images of patients with the rare cardiac disease called Cardiac Sarcoidosis.  Professor Thomas Crawford added: “Kevin is an amazing learner and problem solver. His keen abilities and dedication have allowed him to participate in my medical research as if he were already a physician in training. Kevin has an exceptional work ethic and a genuine interest in the welfare of others, which will assure his success in his medical career.”

"The biophysics program has felt like a family to me and I've made some of my best friends here. The faculty and staff were always incredible and attentive to me. I most enjoyed the Biophysics Club where I served as vice president my last year. I am so glad to have chosen biophysics and taken hold of all of its opportunities. I will be continuing my education at Central Michigan Medical School this summer." - Kevin Wunderly

Congratulations, Kevin!

 

Undergraduate Biophysics Minor
Winter 2020

Yu-En Huang

Karthik Pittala

 

Doctor of Philosophy
Fall 2019 & Winter 2020

Efrosini Artikis

“The Exploration of Protein Electrostatics Through NMR Chemical Shift Perturbations” (Brooks)

"It has been an immense pleasure to have Efrosini Artikis as a collaborator and coworker. She joined our graduate program with core knowledge in solid state NMR, learned during undergraduate research at Florida State University (one of the only institutes of higher learning that also boasts a ‘Clown School’), and remained true to this calling (NMR not clowning) during her Ph.D. studies. Efrosini has established a clear theoretical link between the effects of pH on biological molecules and the NMR fingerprints that characterize the ensembles of active proteins in the changing physiological pH values encountered in the cell. Efrosini will join the laboratory of Dr Byron Caughey at the NIH in Hamilton, Montana." - Charles L. Brooks III

"My time at UofM Biophysics has been transformative, both personally and professionally. I am grateful for meeting friends and colleagues who encouraged me and collaborated with me all throughout my tenure here. I will cherish my graduate experience as I continue to learn about biophysics as a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH." - Efrosini Artikis

Congratulations, Efrosini!

Aaron Bart

“Human Cytochrome P450 Enzymes in Drug Metabolism and Chemical Activation” (Scott)

"Aaron has worked in my lab since he was an undergraduate and even then his work ethic and eagerness to learn meant he rapidly attained levels such that I treated him like a second or third year graduate student. Aaron’s Ph.D. career was highly productive and marked with numerous honors. Among them are:

  • 5 first author papers, 3 of which were selected by journals for special recognition
  • numerous national travel and poster awards and a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship
  • a summer internship at Genentech

During his time as a graduate student he quickly became the informal go-to person in my lab on all things scientific, but also for the best recommendations for excellent food, coffee, and beer. Aaron recently accepted a postdoctoral position at Merck, which he will start this summer." - Emily Scott

"After defending late last year, I have transitioned into a postdoctoral role in my graduate mentor’s lab to finish some remaining projects. Very recently I accepted a postdoctoral position at Merck in Boston in the areas of structural biology and biophysics. I am very excited to start my position at Merck, which is set to begin at the tail end of the summer!" - Aaron Bart

Congratulations, Aaron!

Maral Budak

“The Effects of Disruption of Synaptic Signaling on Neuronal Networks” (Zochowski)

"Maral joined the lab without previous experience in neuroscience research. However, she progressed amazingly fast. She worked on understanding changes in population/network dynamics due to synaptic transmission failure. Her first paper she published was from the rotation project! But then just few years later, she took completely charge of the last project she did and made exciting perditions connecting Hidden hearing loss, problems with sound localization and spike transmission abnormalities in auditory nerve. Our collaborators will be now testing those experimentally!" - Michal Zochowski

"I am so glad that I decided to join the Biophysics Graduate Program at the University of Michigan; these past 5 years have been a great experience for me. My favorite part of the Biophysics Program was being a part of the Biophysics Graduate Student Council which let us organize so many fun activities, such as potlucks, ice-skating, cider mill trips, game nights, etc. Those activities gave me an opportunity to get a break from the stressful life of grad school and to spend a lot of fun times with my friends from Biophysics. After graduation, I’m planning to start a postdoc here with Denise Kirschner, and in the future, I’m hoping to keep doing research, either in academia or in industry." - Maral Budak

Congratulations, Maral!

Jeff Folz

“Frontiers of Cancer Diagnostics: From Photoacoustic Chemical Imaging to Cellular Morphodynamics” (Kopelman)

"Jeff Folz, has been a wonderful PhD student; he has been as hardworking and productive as any of my best previous PhD students. He has made tremendous progress along two major directions in Biophysics: In vivo potassium imaging and cell morphodynamics, both of these resulting in upcoming publications (some with Jeff as the lead author). Jeff has also successfully mentored undergraduate students in my lab, has been an excellent collaborator and a great helper in writing highly rated grant proposals. I look forward to him starting as a Postdoc in my lab over the summer." - Raoul Kopelman

"Biophysics was a place I learned and grew tremendously. I made many great friends, and I'll miss the community." - Jeff Folz

Congratulations, Jeff!

Elizabeth Gichana

“Cysteine Metabolism Regulates Pellicle Biofilm Development by Uropathogenic Escherichia coli and the In Vitro Characterization of CsgA Amyloid Formation" (Chapman)

"Liz came to my lab with lots of computational knowledge and relatively little wet-bench experience. Since I can barely run a software update without angst, the match was not the most traditional. However, due to Liz's smarts and adaptability, we thrived. Liz got a crash course in protein biochemistry and microbial genetics. She doggedly and critically approached projects and new data and was able to learn the ropes of a wet lab. More impressively, Liz patiently and thoughtfully made me a better mentor and person. I have known for a long time that my lab was a better and more productive place when everyone in the lab didn't look like me. But, because of Liz I now understand so much more about the challenges URMs face. Liz educating me by being her wonderfully reasoned and compassionate self has had an incredible impact on my mentoring and educational philosophies. So, Dr. Gichana--From all of us in 5C of the BSB, especially me, thanks for sticking with us and making us better. You deserve all the successes life has to offer!" - Matt Chapman

"I'm now living and working in Chicago as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. I'm a general consultant so I work in a variety of practice areas, not just those related to my graduate research. I've found that this career is a wonderful blend of skills and training I got in graduate school as well as the skills I cultivated in extracurricular activities throughout my education." - Elizabeth Gichana

Congratulations, Liz!

Hayden Nunley

“The Physical Basis of Morphogenesis: Shaping and Patterning of Tissues via Cell-Cell Forces” (Lubensky)

"I first got to know Hayden when spent a summer in my lab as an undergraduate REU student. Even then, I was very impressed by his initiative and independence. Since that time, he has grown into a trusted collaborator, a highly productive scientist, and a pillar of my group. During his Ph.D., Hayden worked on a striking breadth of theoretical problems in the biophysics of animal development. The topics covered in his thesis range from of topological defects in crystalline cell arrays to stress fiber dynamics during fly morphogenesis. Perhaps his most important accomplishment is the discovery of evidence for a direct role of mechanical stresses in establishing fate patterns in stem cell colonies. Hayden is also the only one of my students ever to bring his kayak to the office. Hayden will be starting a postdoc in the lab of Stas Shvartsman at the Flatiron Institute in the summer." - Dave Lubensky

"Though the cohorts in the Biophysics Program are small, I did not have a problem finding friends to make me laugh and get me through the low moments. I think my favorite moment occurred when I took a trip with Jeff Folz and Katie Gentry to Sleeping Bear and Shorts Brewing Company. To reimburse me for an AirBnB, Jeff got 100 dollars in 1 dollar bills. He, then, surprised me by playing a Rihanna song and throwing 1 dollar bills all over me. Plus, Katie, Jeff, and I got to enjoy the most ridiculous cherry-themed family diner in Michigan. On the more scientific and serious side, I have really appreciated productive collaborations with Pamela Raymond, Yohanns Bellaiche, and Jianping Fu. I have loved learning from all of the faculty who have come to the department at roughly the same time that I arrived: Kevin Wood, Qiong Yang, and Sarah Keane (and more). I have really appreciated the mentorship of my P.I. David Lubensky, and thanks to his mentorship, I have gotten a postdoc at the Flatiron Institute in NYC. I am excited for a new adventure." - Hayden Nunley

Congratulations, Hayden!

Quinton Skilling

“Identifying Network Correlates of Memory Consolidation" (Zochowski)

"Quinton took ownership of the most complex project the lab was working on – analysis and understanding through modeling of the experimental data that our collaborator, Sara Aton, gave us. Understanding dynamical underpinnings of the observed spiking signals and connecting it with behavior was not easy! Quinton showed amazing perseverance and made fantastic progress! Work done by during his tenure laid foundations for work that will be done in the lab for years to come. AND, at the same time, he was doing culture experiments on his own!" - Michal Zochowski

"I joined the Biophysics graduate program in the Fall of 2014 and I am proud to have called Biophysics my home department over the last six years. I have benefitted from the amazing professional development opportunities provided by the program, including helping organize the annual biophysics symposium and traveling nationally and internationally to present my research. The administrative staff in biophysics helped my time here go smoothly and it was always nice to know that they were available if I had any questions about navigating my PhD or even booking a room for an event. I hope that wherever I end up next will have a program that is as supportive as Biophysics has been.

After I graduate, I will continue to work under Michal Zochowski for a few months over the summer before moving with my wife to Chicago, IL, where I will continue to pursue a postdoctoral position in the neurosciences, working towards developing the skills needed to run my own research lab in the future." - Quinton Skilling

Congratulations, Quinton!

Congratulations to all of our undergraduate and graduate students!