2018 SLB Travel Awardees

SLB is commited to supporting our junior members and their participation in the annual meeting.  Learn more about the many 2018 travel awardees below and be featured next year as a 2019 awardee!  Consider submitting an abstract and applying during the 2019 submission process!

Benjamin Avner

I am a physician-scientist, both by training (combined MD/PhD) and by my career-long involvement in both academic medicine and in biological research.  My fascination with how bacteria engage with their environment, including the innate immune system, was a major factor in deciding upon Infectious Disease as my clinical sub-specialty.  I have continued to engage in research throughout clinical training.  I currently study the interface between innate immune leukocytes and the pathogenic bacterium Staphylococcus aureus as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. William Nauseef.  My present research will be the foundation of my bid to become an established investigator.

Mausita Karmakar

Mausita Karmakar is currently a research associate at Case Western Reserve University. She obtained her doctoral degree from the department of pathology at Case Western Reserve University in 2014. She has gained extensive training in studying one of the predominant blood leukocytes – the neutrophils, and how these cells regulate innate immune response during sterile inflammation or microbial infection. She has made significant contribution to the field of neutrophil research and her pioneering work on neutrophil inflammasome helps in understanding how innate immunity is regulated by neutrophils.  

Seeun Oh

I received my master's degree from the Yonsei University in South Korea, where I studied a tumorigenic effect of TGF-β family members in cancer cells. After I graduated, I moved to the United States and started working as a research assistant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the Graduate Program at Cedars-Sinai. I joined Dr. Underhill’s lab because I became interested in how innate immune cells orchestrate an immune response. My current research project is to understand the mechanisms of Dectin-1 signaling in dendritic cells that direct different subsets of T helper cell differentiation.

Devin Boe

While in high school, I was offered the amazing opportunity to begin a career in biomedical research under the mentorship of Dr. Jerrold Turner.  After undergraduate studies at Northwestern University and post-bac research at the University of Chicago, I matriculated into a MD/PhD program at Loyola University Chicago.  When my PhD mentor Dr. Elizabeth Kovacs moved her lab to the University of Colorado Denver, I transferred into the Medical Scientist Training Program, where I have continued my research into innate immunity, aging, and inflammatory responses to injury while conducting my PhD research in the Graduate Program in Immunology.

Paulius Kuprys

Paulius completed his bachelor’s degree in Biology at Lake Forest College where his research focused on identifying fungal telomerase RNAs in Dr. Karen Kirk’s lab. Upon graduation, he researched biomarkers of glaucoma in the lab of Dr. Paul Knepper at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, Paulius is an MD/PhD student in the department of Integrative Cell Biology at the Loyola University of Chicago Health Sciences Division. He studies the effects of alcohol in dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis on microbial populations, inflammation, and gut barrier integrity in the lab of Dr. Mashkoor Choudhry.

Allison Rahtes

Allison Rahtes is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Dr. Liwu Li’s lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech.  She received her B.S. in Biology from Elizabethtown College in 2009 and spent two and half years at Penn State College of Medicine before deciding to pursue a PhD instead.  Her current research focuses on the molecular mechanism behind non-resolving inflammatory macrophage programming in response to chronic subclinical endotoxin exposure. When she is not in the lab, she enjoys being a part of the local Blacksburg, VA running community. 

Megan Bosch

Megan Bosch, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology. Her research focuses on identifying central mechanisms responsible for Staphylococcus aureus biofilm immune evasion, in particular the role of Stap. aureus ATP production. Through this work she hopes to uncover novel pathways to redirect the host immune system to facilitate biofilm clearance in both an orthopedic implant and craniotomy infection model. Megan is currently working under the direction of Tammy Kielian, Ph.D.

Marisa Luck

Marisa is an MD/PhD student starting her second year of the PhD program at Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division. She graduated from Carleton College in 2013 with a B.A. in Biology and worked for the University of Colorado as a research technician for two years prior to returning to school. She is currently working in the lab or Dr. Mashkoor Choudhry and studying the effects of alcohol and burn injury in the small intestine. Her current project focuses on the role of regulatory T cells in this model.

Nicholas Rhoades

I am a second year Ph.D. student at University of California Irvine in Dr. Ilhem Messoudi. I am interested in interactions between the trillions of microbes that colonize our bodies and the immune system in both health and disease. My research focuses the role of dysbiosis in the gut microbiota on chronic inflammation, and the response of the local immune system in a Rhesus Macaque Model for Environmental Enteric disease. By integrating immunological and microbiome data I aim to identify immunomodulatory microbial products and how they can alter the host susceptibility to disease.

Elaine Bradford

Elaine Bradford is a second year Ph.D. student in biology at Virginia Tech. Prior to graduate school, she attended Clemson University where she received her B.S. in Microbiology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Bausch + Lomb. She currently studies altered anti-microbial neutrophil function in the context of chronic, low-level inflammation in the Liwu Li research group. Through her research, Elaine hopes to help identify targets for immunotherapy in the face of inflammation.

Sarah Metcalfe

I received my BS in Biochemistry from St. Bonaventure University in 2016. I joined Dr. Jason Kay’s lab in the department of Oral Biology at the University at Buffalo in 2017. My research focuses on understanding the cell biology of macrophages and dendriticcells in the context of the oral environment to increase our understanding of the roles these cells play in both oral cavity immune homeostasis and disease development. I have also been investigating the interaction between normally commensal oral microbes and classical oral pathogens within the context of the innate immune response.

Tatiane S. Lima

Tatiane Soares de Lima completed her Ph.D. in Physiology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She moved to California to become a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and the Institute for Immunology at the University of California, Irvine. Tatiane is currently a postdoc in the Laboratory of Dr. Melissa Lodoen. Her research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular interactions between the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii and the neutrophil. The goal of her research is to define mechanisms of T. gondii immune evasion of human neutrophil-mediated host defense.

Yeonhee Cho

Graduate student in Szabo Gyongyi Lab. Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in University of Massachusetts Medical School. I’m currently studying and working as a graduate student in Szabo Gyongyi lab in University of Massachusetts Medical School. Alcoholic hepatitis is my research area, and I have been actively participated in the projects identifying a role of neutrophil in alcoholic hepatitis pathogenesis. Previously, I worked in microbiology lab in a cheese company in Toronto, Canada. I was responsible for microbial and chemical testing of milk and cheese products. And one of my projects focused on development of best sanitization and disinfection procedures. I received B.S. with Bioengineering  from Inha University in South Korea.

Kathryn Michels

Dr. Kathryn Michels is a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Nicholas Lukacs at the University of Michigan Department of Pathology.  Her current research focuses on how respiratory syncytial virus causes long-term changes in the immune landscape of the lung, setting the stage for enhanced susceptibility to asthma and bacterial infections. Her other area of research is the role of altered iron metabolism in the susceptibility of mammalian hosts to acute bacterial infections.   The role of phagocytes as sentinels of tissue homeostasis the dominant area of study in both of these research areas.

Michael Shehat

Michael Shehat is currently a PhD candidate in Dr. Tigno-Aranjuez’s lab at University of Central Florida. Michael is originally from Egypt where he received his B.S. degree in pharmaceutical sciences and subsequently a Master’s degree in microbiology and immunology from Alexandria University. His current research focuses on identifying novel signaling pathways for RIP2 kinase which will highly impact its therapeutic applications in treatment of inflammatory diseases. Michael aspires into a research career in immunology where he can help in development of new therapies for infectious and autoimmune diseases.

Krystal Colon-Rivera

Dr. Krystal Colón-Rivera received her PhD at University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Loyda Meléndez were her focus was in understanding the mechanism of antioxidants in prevent HIV-induced neurotoxicity. Currently, she is part of Dr. Luis Montaner’s team at Wistar Institute as postdoctoral fellow. Dr. Colón-Rivera current work is focused in HIV pathogenesis and understating the immune mechanisms for HIV-1 resistance.

Madelyn Miller

My name is Madelyn Miller and I am a PhD candidate in Biomedical Sciences. I am starting my third year at the University of Central Florida. I am from Fishers, Indiana. My research focuses on identifying novel mechanisms and receptors involved in the innate immune response to house dust mite. I hope that my research will help identify therapeutic targets for the treatment of allergic asthma while elucidating the role of the innate immune response in initiating the type 2 adaptive immune response. 

Gwenn Skar

Dr. Gwenn L. Skar is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha, NE. She received her M.D. at UNMC where she also completed pediatric residency and pediatric infectious disease fellowship. During fellowship began investigating the neonatal immune response to cerebrospinal fluid shunt infections. Through this research and her clinical experience she has become passionate about improving diagnostic techniques for cerebrospinal fluid shunt infections.  Dr. Skar’s work centers on developing novel diagnostic biomarkers for cerebrospinal fluid shunt infections.

Felix Ellett

Dr. Felix Ellett is a Research Fellow in the Irimia Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. His research focuses on innate immune biology in the context of inflammation and infection, with a particular emphasis on cell-cell interactions at the host-pathogen interface. Since the beginning of his research career, Felix has authored more than 25 papers on leukocyte biology. Key primary papers include development of the first macrophage-expressed transgenes in zebrafish (Blood, 2010), characterisation of neutrophil activity following reverse migration (JLB, 2015), and identification of spontaneous neutrophil motility signatures that allow accurate diagnosis of sepsis (Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2018).

Irina Miralda

I am originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, but for the past three years, I have lived in Louisville, KY where I am studying Microbiology & Immunology as a PhD student in Dr. Silvia Uriarte’s lab at the University of Louisville. My project studies the neutrophil signaling pathways activated and modulated by the newly discovered oral pathogen, Filifactor alocis. Once I graduate, I hope to continue studying infectious diseases and how pathogens subvert the innate immune system.

Chanchal Surchowdhury

Following my interest in biology from school days, I graduated with BSc and MSc degree in Microbiology from India. I gained good understanding cell biology while during my PhD from University of Basel.  As exchange scholar at Harvard Medical School, I gained experience in-vivo studies. Currently I am working as a post-doctoral fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical center. My current and past projects were broadly focused on understanding innate immune functions and vascular biology, with specific interest in areas such as neutrophil transendothelial migration, cytoskeletal regulation during invadosome formation, metabolic adaptations during cell migration and neutrophil extracellular traps.

Lynn Frydrych

Lynn Frydrych is a PGY-5 General Surgery resident at the University of Michigan. As part of her academic development, she is completing a T32 postdoctoral research fellowship under the co-mentorship of Dr. Matthew Delano, MD, PhD, in the Department of Surgery, and Dr. Peter Ward, MD, in the Department of Pathology. Her research focuses on investigating innate immune dysfunction in obesity and type 2 diabetes and how this dysfunction affects survival after trauma and sepsis.

Hemant Mishra

I am a researcher working at University of Minnesota under the mentorship of Prof. Bruce Walcheck. We are investigating the underlying mechanisms of damaging and excessive inflammation. Currently, my work focuses on the role of ADAM17 (a member of the A Disintegrin And Metalloprotease family) in regulating the infiltration and function of neutrophils, the most abundant population of white blood cells at sites of acute inflammation during sepsis. We are also improving tumor killing abilities of NK cells through various novel mechanisms to explore better cancer immunotherapies.

Suhas Sureshchandra

Suhas Sureshchandra is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences (Immunology focus) at University of California Irvine. Supervised by Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi, he is interested in elucidating genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of cellular and phenotypic variability in monocytes and macrophages in response to environmental cues such as obesity and alcohol consumption. Previously, Suhas worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Medical College of Georgia, and has an engineering degree in Biotechnology from India and a master’s degree in Bioinformatics from Indiana University Bloomington. His dissertation focuses on using systems approaches to dissect epigenetic mechanisms that regulate innate immune dysfunction following chronic ethanol consumption.

Zhen Gu

My name is Zhen Gu and I obtained my Ph.D degree in the Department of Anatomy at Nanjing Medical University in China in 2008.  The primary focus of my research is on the identification of novel interventional therapeutics of chronic inflammatory diseases and elucidation of related molecular mechanisms. While my research is broadly applicable, oral bacterial induced periodontitis is the usual models I focus on. I am also interested in the pro-tumorigenic properties of oral bacteria. These studies will increase our understanding of the broad influences of oral bacterial infection and highlight the importance of the oral hygiene in general.  

Fatemeh Momen-Heravi

Fatemeh Momen-Heravi, DDS, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Momen-Heravi received her DDS from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2009 and moved to the USA in 2011 to pursue fundamental science. She conducted several years of fundamental research at Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts Medical School, focusing on the role of miRNAs in the regulation of innate immunity and cellular cross-talk. This research resulted in a PhD in Molecular Biology in 2016. As a clinician scientist, she is involved in patient care and leads clinical and mechanistic fundamental research projects focusing on the role of innate immunity in head and neck cancer, and inflammation-related diseases such as periodontal disease and sepsis.

Kelsey Yamada

Kelsey Yamada is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Tammy Kielian’s laboratory at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Kelsey’s research focuses on understanding the cross-talk between leukocytes and S. aureus biofilms during orthopedic implant infections. Specifically, he is interested in the relationship between the metabolic and inflammatory properties of macrophages that are associated with these infections. A better understanding of how macrophage pro-inflammatory activity is inhibited during biofilm infections could allow for the development of novel treatments to increase their ability to kill bacteria and clear these chronic infections.

Marziah Hashimi

Marziah Hashimi is a second-year graduate student at Montana State University in Dr. Diane Bimczok’s lab.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree of Arts in Biology from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan in 2010.  After earning her master’s degree in Biochemistry from Montana State University in 2015 she started her PhD degree in 2017.   Marziah’s graduate project is evaluating the mechanisms of dendritic cell recruitment to the gastric epithelium under steady state conditions and upon infection with Helicobacter pylori.

Fauziyya Muhammad

I received a medical degree from Nigeria in 2011 and subsequently gained clinical research experience until moving to the US to further pursue a research career. I was admitted to the college of Public Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2014. In 2015 I became certified in public health and subsequently was admitted to the Graduate program to pursue a PhD. I am currently a graduate student in the Lee lab in the Department of Ophthalmology, and Microbiology and Immunology.  My research project is focused on understanding how regulatory T cells function to suppress autoimmune uveitis.

Chenxuan Yang

Chenxuan Yang is an undergraduate medical student from Tsinghua University, currently a visiting scholar at University of Pittsburgh to finish his oversea research training program by conducting biomedical research in the field of innate immunity. Chenxuan was awarded travel award in the 41th Shock Society Meeting, and was awarded best oral presenter in the UPMC surgery research day. Chenxuan was also a co-author of a publication in the journal of Blood Advances.

Holly Hulsebus

During my undergraduate studies at Simpson College, a semester of research under the guidance of Dr. Patricia Singer compelled me to pursue a career in research. I transitioned to a research assistant position in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Des Moines University and completed my Master of Public Health degree while working full-time. In 2016, I matriculated into the Immunology Graduate Program at the University of Colorado Denver and joined the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth Kovacs for my PhD training, where I study the innate immune response to pulmonary infection in the context of ethanol exposure and aging.  

Christopher Nazaroff

I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry from Arizona State University. Currently I am working on my PhD in Biochemistry from school of molecular sciences at ASU. I have a joint research appointment between a chemistry lab at ASU and an immunology lab at Mayo Clinic Arizona. This unique opportunity allows me to bridge knowledge and techniques between two separate fields. My thesis is characterizing eosinophil subtypes and understanding the role they have on disease pathology. After graduation I plan on continuing my work in leukocyte biology by taking an academic post-doc position.

Dae-goon Yoo

Dae-goon Yoo received his Ph.D. in field of Infectious Diseases from the University of Georgia. He is currently a postdoctoral research scholar in Dr. Mary C. Dinauer’s laboratory in Washington University in St. Louis. He currently studies the role of the NADPH oxidase in regulating the response to critical inflammatory mediators such as Damage-Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs) or Pathogen-Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) using mouse models, including a strain with lineage-specific deletion of NADPH oxidase. His long-term research goal is to better understand the underlying mechanisms of how NADPH oxidase-derived ROS regulate immune responses. 

Artur Javmen

Artur Javmen is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. His main research field is innate immunity, signaling of TLR receptors and its inhibition.  Artur believes that new knowledge in this area is crucial for developing new compounds and methods that will help to deal with a number of inflammatory diseases.  Artur holds a Ph.D. degree from the Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania and is the first author of several publications and a co-author on a patent application.

Wurood Neamah

I did B.S and M.S from University of Basrah, Iraq. My research is interest in the area of medical science and use of aromatic plants for medical use. During my MS study, I used fennel plant, which is one of the most important medical plants in Iraq. I continued my Research interest and that’s why I chose to investigate Resveratrol, which is a polyphonic compared found in red grapes, blue berries etc to study its therapeutic use against inflammatory diseases including Hepatitis. I am also involved in studying the effect of resveratrol on amelioration the TCDD-induced immune toxicity.