The Bloggers

Current (2020) Writers and Senior Editors

Brianna Alexander (Senior Editor)

A Philadelphia native, Brianna is a 5th year PhD candidate in the Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Physiology (CBNP) track at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. In the Astrof Lab, her work focuses on understanding the regulatory mechanisms of the matrix protein, Fibronectin, during cardiovascular morphogenesis. As a graduate student, she is passionate about communicating science to others, mentoring, and making discoveries that will advance the field of congenital heart disease and developmental delays. In 2016 she graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. She also enjoys mathematics and physiology. Her hobbies include writing, calligraphy, reading, and volunteering within her community. She also loves plants, a good laugh, and a warm cup of tea.

Samantha Avina (Senior Editor)

Samantha is a 3rd year PhD candidate at the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies in the Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunology Track. In 2019, she joined Dr. Amariliz Rivera’s laboratory at the Rutgers NJMS Center for Immunity and Inflammation. Her work focuses on characterizing the role of Carbonic Anhydrase IV in inflammatory monocyte and macrophage effector function, differentiation, and cross-communication during pulmonary fungal pathogenesis. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Hawaii Pacific University in 2017, where she worked under the direction of Dr. David Horgen. There, her work focused on the isolation of small organic compounds from indigenous Hawaiian algae for the NIH small molecule repository, where novel compounds are screened for drug target potential in various diseases. Samantha is the first in her family to earn a college degree. She is also a student program coordinator for the Rutgers Undergraduate Summer Research Program, which aims to expose undergraduate students to STEM research and related fields. Outside of the lab Samantha enjoys hiking, volunteering at her local animal shelter, and baking.

Natalie Losada

My name is Natalie Losada and I’m a third-year biophysical chemistry PhD student studying the structure and function of HIV-1 enzymatic proteins.  I’ve always loved to apply my chemistry knowledge in biological systems, but I never thought I’d love studying viruses so much.  I studied art in school throughout my life and completed a minor in visual art during my undergrad years.  So, it probably goes without saying that one of my favorite parts of writing and presenting my scientific work is making the figures!  However, writing is therapeutic to me – sometimes thoughts and ideas don’t make sense in before they’re written and getting those thoughts to be cohesive and memorable is truly an art.  The iJOBS blog has given me a space to indulge in my craft, meet new friends, and discover new careers and scientists.

Fun fact: I’m a gymnast and a recreational gymnastics coach.

Gina Sanchez

Gina Sanchez is a PhD candidate in the Department of Medicine within the Center for Immunity and Inflammation. She received her B.S. at Stony Brook University in 2017 in Biology with a Concentration in Developmental Genetics. She is a member of the Weinstein Lab and studies the implication of two subsets of B cells in the origins of autoimmunity: Germinal Center B cells and Inflammatory B cells. In lab, she has gained extensive experience in flow cytometry, ELISAs, and ELISpots, but also has been working on several epigenetic techniques including ATAC-seq and ChIPmentation. She also enjoys mentoring students. Outside of the lab, Gina enjoys baking, hiking, communicating science to non-scientists, true crime stories, going to museums, and her fair share of tv varied programming.

Monal Mehta (2019 Senior Editor)

Coming soon!IMG_4236

Helena Mello (2019 Senior Editor)

Coming soon!

Past Contributors

Jennifer Casiano

Headshot of Jennifer Casiano, Writer

Jennifer Casiano is a graduate student from the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program. She received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Microbiology and a master’s degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). During that time, she worked on determining the seroprevalence of Epstein-Barr Virus and Parvovirus B19 in Puerto Rico. She gained experience teaching and learned techniques like ELISA, western blot and DNA extraction. She started her Ph.D. in the summer of 2015 as part of the BRIDGE UPRM to Rutgers Program. Currently she is working in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Marcotrigiano at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine. She is dedicated to the study of the structure and function of the Alphavirus RNA replication complex. During this year, she has been trained in techniques like: protein expression, purification, tissue culture and transfection techniques. She is participating actively in the iJOBS Program and the IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) Program. Her interests are continuing research in antiviral therapy development, creating a science blog for non-scientists and being a mentor for undergraduate students to increase their interest in research.

 Tomas Kasza (2019 Senior Editor)

Tomas Kasza is a 6th year PIMG_5544_shopedhD student in the Neuroscience program at Rutgers University. He received a Bachelor’s of science in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012 and then worked as a lab technician at the University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics. Tomas is in Dr. Jim Millonig’s lab at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine where he studies adult neurogenesis and the GPCR Gpr161. Outside of the lab, Tomas enjoys playing and watching soccer, eating delicious Chinese food, and spending time with his wife and daughter.

Paulina Krzyszczyk 

Headshot of Paulina Krzyszczyk, WriterPaulina Krzyszczyk is a rising 5th year Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering. She works with Dr. François Berthiaume, Dr. Martin Yarmish, and Dr. Andre Palmer (collaborator from Ohio State University). Her project is on the development of a polymerized-hemoglobin therapy for chronic wound healing. She obtained her B.S. in Bioengineering at Lehigh University in 2012 where she worked on a bone tissue engineering project under Dr. Matthias Falk and Dr. Himanshu Jain. Her career goals involve continuing in research at a biotechnology company.

Maryam Alapa

Maryam Alapa is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the maryamCell biology, neuroscience, and physiology (CBNP) track. She received both her Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry and Master’s in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry from Montclair State University. Her current project focuses on understanding the role of cysteines in modulating the function of guanylyl cyclase, an enzyme involved in vasodilation.  Maryam enjoys research, teaching, writing and spending time with her family.

Aminat Saliu

Hello there! My name is Aminat Musah, a fifth-year PhD student at Rutgers University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, CBNP track. My current research is in the laboratory of Dr. Teresa Wood where I focus on identifying mechanisms through which mTOR mediates oligodendrocyte morphological differentiation. Outside of the lab, my hobbies include crafts, photography, and stacking up/breaking down Legos with my 3-year-old.

Tatiana Popovitchenko

tpopovitchenko_pictureTatiana Popovitchenko is currently a part of the senior editor team at the iJobs blog. She has always had a love for the brain. This was most accessible through writing and reading the results of other’s cognitive processes, but she found herself wanting to know more about the “how” of the brain. She switched over from the English department to the Natural Science department for her B.A. at Fordham University. She went on to complete a M.Sc. in Biological Chemistry at the University of Stavanger in Norway. Tatiana is now a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology in the lab of Dr. Mladen-Roko Rasin. She is focusing her doctoral work on investigating the role of post-transcriptional mechanisms in the development of the neocortex during postnatal stages. Her articles focus on the graduate student experience and what we can do now to best take advantage of all that our programs have to offer us.

Yang Chen

Headshot of Yang Chen, WriterYang Chen is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.  She is currently doing her thesis with Dr. Falvo at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center, Veteran Affair New Jersey Health Care System. Because of her experiences in collaborating with both clinical research and basic science teams, Yang has developed the passion to pursue career goals in scientific/medical communication.  She is also passionate about international communication due to her studies in China and Japan. Yang is currently enrolled in the iJOBS Phase II program to continue to develop her professional skills to pursue her career goals.

Headshot of Itzamarie Chevere-Torres, Founding WriterItzamarie is a behavioral neuroscientist, working as a postdoctoral associate for the Genetics Department, Rutgers University. Recently bestowed with the NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, for her research proposal on understanding how changes in microtubules stability contribute to symptoms of depression. Itzamarie obtained her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan Puerto Rico in 2007. Since then, she has conducted neuroscience research work at the Center for Neural Sciences, New York University and at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers University. She is trying to find a job where she can have a role as a mentor, counselor, teacher and science communicator.

Sarah Misenko

Headshot of Sarah Misenko, Founding WriterSarah is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry department at Rutgers University. She completed her undergraduate work at Rowan University with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a minor in Biology. Sarah has also spent summers researching at the University of Rochester and Celgene Cellular Therapeutics. Her current research in the Bunting lab focuses on understanding the contribution of DNA resection factors to mammalian DNA double-strand break repair. More broadly, Sarah is interested in personalized medicine in the oncology field and hopes to work in business management or clinical trial management for clinical oncology.

Ina Nikolaeva

Headshot of Ina Nikoleva, Founding Writer, Former EditorIna is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate at the D’Arcangelo laboratory at Rutgers University. Originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at University of Toronto and moved to New Jersey to join the Molecular Biosciences graduate program at Rutgers. Her current research interests include traumatic brain injury and developmental brain disorders, specifically in the area of cortical dysplasia. She has also been a teaching assistant for the Biological Research Laboratory course at Rutgers for over a year. She hopes to go onto an academic postdoctoral position and then transition into industry, writing, or teaching.

Samantha Yost, Ph.D.

Headshot of Samantha Yost, Writer, Senior EditorSamantha is a 2016 graduate of the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics program at Rutgers University. She completed both her B.S. and M.S. degrees at Florida Institute of Technology. As a laboratory technician at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory of the University of Florida, Samantha surveyed the mosquito populations of Florida and studied the effects of West Nile virus infection on gene expression of mosquitoes. This experience sparked her interest in the virus world which motivated her graduate research. Currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Marcotrigiano lab at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Samantha studies the structures and functions of hepatitis C virus envelope glycoproteins.

Chris Lowe

Headshot of Christopher Lowe, Founding Writer, Senior EditorChris is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Engineering program at Rutgers. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry, along with a minor in Engineering Management, in 2012. His research here at Rutgers is focused on developing novel biomaterial-based therapies for traumatic brain injury, in the laboratories of Dr. David Shreiber. Chris is also significantly involved in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, serving on the Young Professionals Committee working to enhance opportunities for graduate students and early career professionals within the field.

Katelyn Marshall

Headshot of Katelyn Marshall, WriterKatelyn Marshall is a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry department. Originally from the Midwest, Katelyn grew up in Minnesota and did her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry. She then moved to New Jersey for her graduate studies. She currently works in Dr. Kiran Madura’s lab, where her research is focused on delineating the site and basic mechanism of proteasome-mediated protein degradation in the cell. Katelyn is interested in a career in scientific writing, specifically as a consultant to improve communications between pharmaceutical companies and physicians.

Andrea Gray, Ph.D.

Headshot of Andrea Gray, WriterAndrea recently received her Ph.D. in
Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers.Prior to that she completed her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park and also received a M.Eng. in Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers. Andrea’s undergraduate research focused on aerosolizing liposomes for pulmonary vaccine and drug delivery, thus laying the foundation for her interest in applying engineering principles to medical problems. At Rutgers, Andrea’s dissertation research focused on improving the efficacy of mesenchymal stromal cell therapies using pre-activation methods and assessment of patient and donor variability. She has accepted a position as a regulatory reviewer in the Cell Therapies Branch of the Office of Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies within the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration.

Bob O’Hagan, Ph.D

Headshot of Bob O'Hagan, Founding WriterBob is a Rutgers post-doc in Dr. Maureen Barr’s laboratory who is considering the next step in his career. Bob has been funded by fellowships from HHMI, NIH, the American Heart Association, and the NJ State Commission on Spinal Cord Research. He currently uses the nematode C. elegans and a combination of electrophysiology, genetics, and cell biology to study sensory transduction and microtubule-based transport. In the past, Bob worked in the film and TV industry.

Jack Pike

Headshot of Jack Pike, WriterJack is a post-doctoral fellow in Neuroscience and Cell Biology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College in the field of Neuroscience in 2009. From there, Jack went on to obtain his PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in 2014. His graduate work focused on identifying factors contributing to abnormalities in male reproductive development through disruption of the testosterone biosynthesis pathway. Presently, Jack is researching the roles of RNA binding proteins on the translational regulation of neocortical development in the mouse.

Myka Ababon

Headshot of Myka Abadon, Founding Writer, Senior EditorMyka is a Ph.D. student in the Cell & Developmental Biology program. Originally from the Philippines, she obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines. She currently works with Dr. James Millonig in the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, where they study endogenous adult neural stem cells in the context of traumatic brain injury using a mouse model system. Her research, funded by the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, focuses on how the GPCR, Gpr161, regulates these neural stem cells under normal and post-injury conditions.

Fatu Badiane

Fatu Badiane Markey received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and Masters degree from Thomas Jefferson University. She has over 10 years of lab experience exploring topics ranging from neurite outgrowth to cancer diagnostics. She happily resides in the Philadelphia area with her tech savvy husband. When not in lab, Fatu enjoys surrounding herself with food, friends, and family. After graduation, she hopes to find a career that will allow her to pursue her three main passions: teaching, policy work, and research.

Urmimala Basu

Headshot of Urmimala Basu, WriterUrmimala is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program, training to become an enzymologist. She studies the mechanisms of transcription initiation in the yeast and human mitochondrial systems and is pursuing her dissertation research in Dr. Smita Patel’s lab in the School of Public Health. Her research focuses on how the mitochondrial transcription factors aid the RNA polymerase to initiate transcription of mitochondrial DNA, thus adding complex layers of regulation to gene expression in the mitochondria. Currently, her research is supported by a pre-doctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association. Hailing from Kolkata, India, Urmimala obtained her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Master of Science in Biophysics and Molecular Biology from the University of Calcutta. Apart from her research, science writing and advocacy, music, reading, and cooking makes her tick!

Zakiya Qualls

Writer, Senior Editor

Zakiya is a Ph.D. candidate in the Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation (I^3) Track of the Rutgers Biomedical & Heath Sciences graduate school.  She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Chemistry from Howard University in Washington, DC. Currently, Zakiya is finishing her dissertation work in the lab of Dr. Abraham Pinter of the Public Health Research Institute. Her project focuses on understanding the mechanisms of conformational masking leading to neutralization resistance against antibodies that is common among primary HIV-1 isolates.  Upon graduation, Zakiya hopes to begin a career in the field of medical communications as a medical writer/editor.

Yaa Haber

Headshot of Yaa Haber, Founding WriterYaa is currently a 5th year Ph.D. Candidate in the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences graduate school where she is in the Cell Biology Physiology and Neurosciences (CBNP) Track. She received a Bachelor’s of Science in Neurophysiology from the University of Maryland College. She is currently an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar doing her thesis work in the Laboratory of Dr. Jorge Serrador at the War Related Illness Injury Study Center located within the Veterans Affairs Hospital in East Orange, NJ. Her thesis is focused on understanding the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder and vestibular impairment in veterans.

Eileen Oni

Headshot of Eileen Oni, Writer

Eileen is a sixth year Ph.D. candidate in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program. A New Jersey native and resident of South Brunswick Township, she began career obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at Rowan University. Interested in addiction, with expertise in stem cell biology, Eileen’s work currently involves understanding the molecular mechanisms of alcohol and nicotine addiction using neurons and neural stem cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells. Post- PhD, Eileen plans to pursue a career within the space of science policy and program development.

Dharm Patel

Headshot of Dharm Patel, Founding WriterDharm is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in Biochemistry. His current research in the Bunting Lab focuses on identifying the role of the BLM DNA helicase in mammalian DNA double strand break repair. Dharm hopes to pursue a career in bridging industry research endeavors and clinical observations to better align drug pipelines to clinical needs. He is a product of the Woodbridge Township School District (K-12), less than 10 miles from Rutgers. Dharm graduated from Monmouth University (West Long Branch, NJ) in Molecular Cell Physiology and was a technician there for a year before starting graduate school. Most importantly, Dharm loves every minute of living in Jersey!

Maria Qadri 

Headshot of Maria Qadri, Founding Writer, Senior EditorMaria is a sixth year Ph.D. student in a joint program for the Biomedical Engineering and Quantitative Biomedicine programs. Although she is a northern New Jersey native, her academic career began in Connecticut, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Hartford and a Master of Science from the University of Connecticut. Her previous research focused on human movement disorders and joint biomechanics. At Rutgers, she works to improve severe traumatic brain injury diagnostics using quantitative methods and physiological modeling. Her interests include the future of higher education, medical devices, and data analytics.

2 thoughts on “The Bloggers”

  1. Excellent blog, with pertinent, very useful content for PhD candidates, job seekers or anyone interested in academia!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *