College of Science and Health > Academics > Biological Sciences > Graduate Programs > Current Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

Angelina Anderson

Angelina Anderson

Roosevelt University - BA, Biology 

My research interests are in virology and pharmacology. In undergrad, I researched the adequacy of trial design and the discrepancies in observed adverse effects of CGRP-antagonists in the treatment of migraine patients in an effort to understand best practices for optimal use as a treatment. As a graduate student, I will be focusing on the herpes simplex virus type 1 and working to understand how the glycoprotein interactions of the virus affect membrane fusion.  (Advisor: Dr. Connolly )

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Kaleigh Arnold

Loyola University - BS, Biology

My research explores how temperature induced vertebral anomalies in the spinal column of a model fish species, Astyanax mexicanus, may impact the performance of their escape response. This research will help to elucidate the effects skeletal anomalies have on freshwater fish facing threats of predicted increases in temperature within the Neotropical region.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

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Zlata Bogin

Capital University - BS, Biology

My research interests are in reproductive biology and endocrinology. As a woman in science, I recognize how medical professions have only recently acknowledged the different ways that sex and gender impact health and illnesses. Because medical research has historically left women out, we still know less about the ways in which many diseases affect women or how to prevent, diagnose, and treat them. My thesis research focuses on how vitamin A deficiency affects fertility and ovarian development in mice.  (Advisor: Dr. Kipp)

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Kiley Chernicky

University of South Florida BS, Environmental Biology

My research interests center around population dynamics of mixed conifer forests. I plan to focus on regeneration in populations of white spruce (Picea glauca) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). I am hopeful that this research will shine some light on a relatively understudied aspect of conifer forests and mast seeding.   (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

Jennifer Dinh

Jennifer Dinh

DePaul University - BS, Health Science

My research interests are focused on looking at the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in both sexes of adolescent rats.  (Advisor: Dr. Bell)

Carissa Dressel

Carissa Dressel

Ball State University - BS, Biology 

I am interested in studying how environmental contaminants influence ecosystems and organisms. As an undergraduate, I studied how microplastics and nanoparticles impact the health and growth of aquatic plants. My graduate research will be focused on PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which have been shown to affect the brain development and immune function of rats. Specifically, I will be examining the effects of PCBs on rat microglia in-vitro to determine how they interact on a cellular and molecular level.  (Advisor: Dr. Bell)

Christian Graca

Christian Graca

DePaul University - BA, Biological Sciences with a Concentration in Ecology and Evolution

Coming soon.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

James Hach

University of Mount Union - BS, Biology and Spanish

James is interested in the ecophysiology of fish, primarily how they respond to exposure to aquatic pollutants. His current research explores the effects of polyethylene nanoplastics on the gill function and behavior of Zebrafish (Danio rerio). He hopes to use this research to promote the conservation of aquatic habitats. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)

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Mary Jones

University of Mount Olive - Biological Sciences

My research involves looking at the physiological effects of ocean acidification in Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica). I am particularly interested in their ability to sequester lead [Pb] in their calcium carbonate shells in acidified water, which is an important ecosystem service oysters provide in estuarine environments. Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increase ocean acidification and pose a great threat to most shelled marine invertebrates, so it is important to understand the implications on some of the ocean's most vulnerable inhabitants - oysters. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)

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John Juranek

Loyola University Chicago - BS, Biology

I have always been interested in paleontology and evolution. As an undergrad I studied ornithology and ichthyology, and my current research is exploring the organisms that existed during the first marine incursion of the Western Interior Seaway into North America during the Cretaceous period. (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)

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Alexandra Krak

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests are in fish physiology and evolution. I studied the prehistoric shark, Megachasma applegatei, during my undergrad with Dr. Shimada and worked to reconstruct the dentition of this extinct shark. For my graduate studies, I am working on assessing the salinity tolerance of the swordtail, Xiphophorus helleri, to better understand how this fish may have been able to cross over bodies of saltwater to enter new freshwater habitats. (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)

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Olivia LaMore

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - BS, Animal Science

I am interested in exploring how changes in seawater pH affect the physiology of sea urchins (Lytechinus variegatus). (Advisor: Dr. Bystriansky)

Sarah Mashburn

Kennesaw State University - Biology

Genetics (Advisor: Dr. Gilliland)

Alexis Pawlak

Alexis Pawlak

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests are in cell and molecular biology. For my thesis, I am examining the effects of gold(I) chloride compounds on the cell proliferation and cell survival proteins in prominent signaling pathways of breast cancer cells.  (Advisor: Dr. Rajah)

Langston Pendleton

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - BS, Integrative Biology

Genetics (Advisor: Dr. Gilliland)

Ana Sofia Rivera

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

Her strong interest in studying animal behavior and statistical data analysis, was the guiding force to pursue her Master’s. She will be working in Dr. LaMontagne’s lab, where she will learn more about tick-borne diseases and their outbreaks, a phenomenon that has increased over the past years and that is related to animals’ dynamics. (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

Zoe Ryan

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

 I am mainly interested in plant ecology, with a focus on community interactions. My research specifically looks at the growth of mosses based on environmental factors and other organisms in the environment through predictive mapping and specimen analysis. As mosses tend to have a very narrow niche, recording and determining their reasons for growth over time can also be an indicator of the impacts of climate change. (Advisors: Dr. Dean and Dr. von Konrat - Field Museum of Natural History)

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Olivia Schweikart

Auburn University - BS, Organismal Biology (Ecology, Evolution, Behavior) | BS, Animal Sciences (Pre-Vet Pre-Professional)

Hi, there! I am a second-year graduate student in the Aguirre Lab here at DePaul. My primary research interests include using environmental DNA as a means of identifying the presence or absence of select freshwater fish taxa in the wild, and subsequently using my data to predict the abundance of the taxa at sampling sites. Visualization of this involves distribution mapping of species occurrences and using heat maps to demonstrate abundance. In preparation for my project, and to fill in lacking information on genetic databases, I am working to create a reference library at the 12s, 16s,  and COI loci for the freshwater fish taxa represented in Western Ecuador. Whereas I aim to have all taxa represented in the reference library, my focus research with eDNA only looks at five commercially, economically, or ecologically important species that are threatened by coastal incursion events from sea level rise.  (Advisor: Dr. Aguirre)

Marcelina Skowronski

DePaul University - BS Biological Sciences

My research interest focuses on the ecology and evolution core of biology. I am currently investigating a fossil fish specimen collected from a Late Cretaceous marine deposit in Texas. It is tentatively identified to belong to a species of the extinct bony fish order Tselfatiiformes and is anticipated to offer new information about the evolution of this order. (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)

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Teddy Stoycheva

Loyola University Chicago - BS, Biology w/ Ecology emphasis

My interests revolve around understanding tree responses to climate change and the consequences for future ecosystem dynamics. I am especially interested in how climate change affects 1) conifer reproduction, 2) interspecific differences in the morphology of reproductive structures, and 3) the overall implications for future forest regeneration and composition. My thesis research focuses on the effects of experimental warming and elevated CO2 on reproduction in black spruce (Picea mariana) and eastern tamarack (Larix laricina), specifically regarding cone characteristics and seed viability. In the future, I hope to continue researching the effects of climate change on conifer reproduction, and to contribute to the improvement of conservation efforts and forest health. (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

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Lydia Walther

Truman State University - BS, Biology

I am interested in the organism Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, a bacterial pathogen that is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. I am researching phages that can infect this bacterium as a potential alternative to traditional treatments.  (Advisor: Dr. Brooke)

Jake Wood

Jake "Shark" Wood

University of California, San Diego - BS, Marine Biology

I am currently investigating shark neurocrania across various groups. Observing the optic, olfactory and otic (OOO) capsules within the neurocrania enables me to find out information related to past, present, and future ecological characteristics in sharks. Carrying out this project will illustrate the impact that climate change has on future shark populations, and thus reveals the likelihood of the oceans staying healthy.   (Advisor: Dr. Shimada)

Adrianna Yoder

Case Western Reserve University BS, Biology, Biochemistry

Coming soon.  (Advisor: Dr. LaMontagne)

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Sophia Zygowski

DePaul University - BS, Biological Sciences

My research interests include viruses that infect bacteria, known as bacteriophages. I’m interested in the use of phages as an alternative treatment strategy to infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria. My current research is focused on characterizing phages against the multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogen Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. (Advisor: Dr. Brooke)