Alumni Acheivements

From industry to the academy, UMBC’s Biological Sciences alumni are making their mark on a regional and national level. Our focus on providing opportunities for undergraduate students includes the department’s Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Training in Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) Program. Alumni of our bachelor’s programs consistently go on to some of the most selective graduate programs, including Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University.

Alumni of our graduate programs are participating in postdoctoral training in laboratories across the country and are moving into careers in academia and research. The intensive training they receive at UMBC in close collaboration with our dedicated research faculty instills the skills necessary for them to continue to grow as scientists.

Listed below are just a few examples of what our alumni are accomplishing. If you are a UMBC Biological Sciences alumnus/a – we would like to hear from you. Visit the Share Your Information page and send us an update.


Ameeta Agarwal, PhD Biological Sciences ’95

Ameeta conducted plant molecular research at Monsanto Company in St. Louis, MO, first as a postdoctoral associate from 1995-1998, and then as a staff scientist from 1998-2001.  After that, she became a member of the research faculty at the National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS.  Her research is focused on the discovery of novel drugs to treat opportunistic fungal infections associated with AIDS and cancer patients.

Oluwaseye (Sheye) Alabi, BS Biochemistry/Molecular Biology ’03

After leaving UMBC, Sheye entered the New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. He was awarded the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) Geriatric Medical Student Fellowship for 2006-07.

Henry V. Baker, PhD Biological Sciences ’84, BA Biological Sciences ’78

After earning his Ph.D. degree, Henry became a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow and carried out his postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Dan G. Fraenkel in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Baker than joined the faculty of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology in the School of Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, where he is now a professor.  In addition, he was instrumental in founding, and is currently the Co-Director, of the University’s Functional Genomics Facility.

Eric Balzer, BS Biological Sciences ’05

Eric is a second-year student in the graduate program in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He is pursuing a Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Stuart Martin, whose laboratory investigates the role of the cytoskeleton in tumor cell metastasis.

Julia Banda, BS Biological Sciences ’05

Julia is currently a second year student at University of Maryland Dental School.

Gerard J. Barcak, PhD Biological Sciences ’86

After leaving UMBC,  Gerry Barcak was a postdoctoral Research Associate with Nobel Laureate Hamilton Smith. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Maryland School of Medicine attained the rank of Associate Professor.

Sadly, on September 22, 2007 Gerry passed away after a courageous battle with prostate cancer.  He was the beloved husband of Dr. Carmen Salvaterra, and the loving father of Kristin and Danielle Barcak.  The first annual Gerard J. Barcak Memorial Lecture was presented on September 8, 2008 by Gerry’s postdoctoral advisor and Nobel Laureate Dr. Hamilton Smith, who is currently Group Leader in Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy at the J. Craig Venter Institute.  Dr. Smith’s lecture, entitled “The Quest for a Minimal Cell” will be given in Taylor Lecture Hall on the campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Paul Behrens, PhD Biological Sciences ’83, MS Biological Sciences ’80

After graduating from UMBC, Paul continued his work on photorespiration and its affects on photo synthesis at Martin Marrietta Laboratories. He subsequently left there to form Martek Biosciences, a biotechnology company focused on using microalgae to produce high-value products. He continues to work at Martek and is also an Adjunct Professor at UMBC.

Carlise (Douglas) Bethel, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’06, BS Biological Sciences ’98

Upon completing her Ph.D., Carlise received a Cancer Research Training Fellowship and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

Charles Bevins, PhD Biochemistry ’86, BA Biological Sciences ’76

Dr. Bevins is currently a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

Kelly Robinson Bidle, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’96

Kelly is currently Associate Professor of Biology at Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ. Prior to that she conducted research as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, Ca.

Stephen Blakely, BS Biological Sciences ’04

After graduating Steve received a one-year NIH Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award. In the fall of 2005 he entered the University of Maryland School of Medicine where he plans to earn his MD degree in the spring of 2009.

Sheldon E. Broedel, Jr., PhD Biological Sciences ’90

After completing postdoctoral work, Sheldon co-founded Aethena Environmental Services, where he is currently CEO and Chief Scientific Office. The company has produced a variety of products for the biotechnology market and employees about 25 personnel. Recently, Sheldon was named UMBC Alumnus of the Year in the Life Sciences.

Roxanne Brooks, BS Biological Sciences ’06

Roxann received a fellowship from Pfizer to pursue D.V.M./Ph.D. studies at theUniversity of California, Davis.

Elizabeth Casademunt, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’95, MS Applied Molecular Biology ’90

Elisabeth was a Postdoctoral Fellow Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Munich, 1995-2001, Senior Investigator, Dept. Neurological Research, Clinic Grosshadern, 2002, and from 2003 to the present she is a Project Leader at Octagene GmbH.

Qian Cheng, PhD Biological Sciences ’05

Qian began her postdoctoral studies in January of 2006 in the laboratory of Dr. Jiandong Chen, who is in the Interdisciplinary Oncology Program at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, in Tampa, Florida. Qian’s postdoctoral research focuses on the p53 tumor suppressor protein.

Roland Cheung, BS Biological Sciences ’04

Roland is currently in the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD program at the University of North Carolina.  He completed a double major at UMBC, also receiving a B.A. in Economics

Chuan-Chin Chiao, PhD Biological Sciences ’00

CC followed his graduate studies by doing postdoctoral work with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole (where he continues to collaborate each year) and with Richard Masland, Howard Hughes Professor at Harvard University. Since 2002 he has been an Assistant Professor at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan.

Koriand’r Conyers, BS Biological Sciences ’06

Kori joined the Rice University/Baylor College of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program this summer to begin her MD/PhD studies.

Selvin Gnanakkan, BS Biological Sciences ’96

After working as a technician at the University of California Los Angeles, Selvin studied Ophthalmology in Philadelphia, graduating with an O.D. and M.B.A. in 2000. He is a practicing Opthalmologist in Phoenix, AZ.

Jeff Gross, BS Biological Sciences ’96

Jeff went on to Duke University for graduate school and obtained his PhD in 2002. After three years of a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, Jeff became an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas- Austin in the section of cell and developmental biology in the fall of 2005.

Robert Harrod, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’96

Robert Harrod recently received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX.  His laboratory’s research focuses on the molecular biology and pathogenesis of human retroviruses, HIV-1 and HTLV-1, and is supported by the National Institutes of Health and Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, they are investigating cooperative interactions between viral and host factors that contribute to disease progression and carcinogenesis. Prior to joining the faculty of SMU, Rob was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD (1996-2000) and a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (2000-2002).

Liz Humphries, BS Biological Sciences ’04

Liz is pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the laboratory of Kevin Winker.  She graduated from UMBC with a double major, also receiving a B.A. in Chemistry.

Adam Jerauld, MS Applied Molecular Biology ’03, BS Biological Sciences ’02

Current Position:  Field Applications Scientist, Illumina, Inc.
Previous Positions:  Research Associate, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and also Human Genome Sciences

Diane Auer Jones, MS Applied Molecular Biology ’88

Trained as a molecular biologist, Diane Auer Jones has had successful careers as an entrepreneur, government policy maker and administrator at PrincetonUniversity. A founding director of an NSF-funded Biotechnology Institute, Diane worked as a Grant Administrator at the National Science Foundation, was a staff member for the US House of Representatives Science Committee, represented Princeton University in Washington, was Deputy Associate Director at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy and until recently was the Assistant Secretary of Education for Post-Secondary Education. She has since left government service and is President and CEO of The Washington Campus. In addition to her work in academia and government, she was a founder of AthenaES, an environmental biotechnology company where fellow alumnus, Sheldon Broedel ’84 M.S., ’90 Ph.D., biological sciences, is chief executive and science officer.

William Jones, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’90

Bill Jones is currently the Director of the Division of Seafood Safety at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). He did his postdoctoral work with J. Glenn Morris, Jr. before joining the faculty in the Department of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He went on to serve as Senior Scientist at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Center of Marine Biotechnology and was a founder of AthenaES, an environmental biotechnology company where fellow alumnus, Sheldon Broedel ’84 M.S., ’90 Ph.D., biological sciences, is chief executive and science officer.

Christina King-Smith, PhD Biological Sciences ’92

After receiving her doctorate, Chris completed postdoctoral studies on photoreceptor cell biology with Beth Burnside at the University of California, Berkeley, and then joined the faculty at St. Josephs University in Philadelphia, where she has been since 1996.

Elizabeth Kohlhepp, BA Biological Sciences ’86

After graduating from UMBC in 1986 (with a BA in Biological Sciences and a “minor” in Music Performance) I graduated from University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1991; completed my residency training in Psychiatry in 1995; and completed a fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Maryland in 1996. I have been practicing Clinical and Forensic Psychiatry in Arizona for 15 years, since 1997, after working for one year as a Psychiatrist in Australia (1996-1997). I am a past-President of the Arizona Psychiatric Society and a current Delegate to the Arizona Medical Association. I credit UMBC with my success, my continued love of and respect for science, and my early interest in Medicine. I also have incredibly fond memories of the UMBC Athletic Department, having played on the women’s volleyball team; and the UMBC Department of Music, including Gail Cameron, who was my flute teacher; the late Robert Gerle, who was Chair of the Music Department; and my dear friend! and fellow Alum, Laura Howell, also a graduate of the class of 1986; as well as a music “minor” and student of Gail Cameron. Thank you! (

Beatrice Kondo, PhD Biological Sciences ’06

Beatrice is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Cornell College in Iowa.

Margaret Kott, B.S. in Biological Sciences, 2011

Margaret is studying medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore MD.

Dhanya Kumar, MS Applied Molecular Biology ’03, BS Biological Sciences ’02

Dhanya is currently a technician with the National Institutes of Health.

Karen J. Lesser, MS Biological Sciences ’05

Karen joined the graduate program in Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at the University of California, Riverside, where she is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Marlene Zuk.

Tricia Litwiler, MS Biological Sciences ’99

Tricia followed up on her work with vision in marine mammals by taking a position with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Oxford, MD, where she continues to work with stranded marine animals.

Charles Maris, BS Biological Sciences ’97

After graduation, Charles went to Emory University in Atlanta and earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.  He postdoc’d in the Johns Hopkins University Department of Oncology and now works for the Midwest Research Institute in Rockville, MD studying host-pathogen relationships.

Marc S. Nasoff, PhD Biological Sciences ’83

Marc is now Group Leader for Advanced Technologies in the Division of Proteomics, Genetics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, San Diego, CA.

Mike Nishimura, PhD Biological Sciences ’89, BA Biological Sciences ’80

Mike is currently associated with the Hollins Cancer Center at the University of South Carolina. After graduating from UMBC, he went on to postdoctoral positions at California Institute of Technology and the National Institutes of Health. He was then an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the U. of Chicago before moving to USC.

Ioanna Paiusi, BS Biological Sciences ’05

Ioanna is currently in her first year of pharmacy school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Valeria Pappas, PhD Biological Sciences ’08, BA Biological Sciences ’98

Valeria was awarded a NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.  She is currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Pallone, Department of Medicine, on NO signaling in the innter medullary collecting duct of the kidney and how that relates to salt retention.

Susan N. Parrish, BS Biological Sciences ’94

Susan went on to receive her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 2002, where her research with her mentor Dr. Andrew Fire, the 2006 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine & Physiology, was instrumental to the development of the important RNAi paradigm. She is conducting postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health where her research focuses on vaccinia virus pathogenesis.

Andrew J. Pease, PhD Biological Sciences ’92

After completing postdoctoral work in the laboratories of Dr. Malcolm Winkler at the University of Texas and Dr. Sankar Adhya at the National Institutes of Health, Andrew joined the faculty of the Department of Biology of Villa Julie College in Baltimore, MD, where he is now an Associate Professor.

Jeff Peters, PhD Biological Sciences ’06

Jeff completed his PhD in the Omland lab in May 2006. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and was recently hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Wright State University in Dayton, OH.  In addition, Jeff also just received a $334,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Caitlin Reavey, BS Biochemistry/Molecular Biology ’06

Caitlin is pursuing her Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School. She is working in the laboratory of Dr. Fred Winston.

Ishita Shah, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’05

Dr. Ishita Shah was the international winner of the Nat L. Sternberg Award for the Best Dissertation in Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics in 2005 has accepted a position as Senior Research Associate at Genentech, located in San Francisco and considered the founder of the biotechnology industry. Dr. Shah will be working in their Microbial Pathogenesis Division, research that will build on the work she did in the laboratory of Dr. Jonathon Dworkin. in the Department of Microbiology at the Columbia University School of Medicine New York City.

Nadav Shashar, PhD Biological Sciences ’96

Nadav continued his studies on polarization signaling by doing postdoctoral work with Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory, in Woods Hole, MA. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the InterUniversity Institute of Marine Sciences, in Eilat, Israel. Since 2006 he has headed the Marine Biology and Biotechnology Program of Ben Gurion University in Eilat, Israel.  Nadav Shashar, Hatmarim St., Eilat, Israel, 88000.

Vickram Srinivas, PhD Biological Sciences ’94

After completing a post-doctoral stint at the Fel’s Institute for Cancer Research, Vic moved to Thomas Jefferson University’s Cardeza Foundation for Hematalogic Research as a research associate. Subsequently he joined the faculty in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery’s Division of Orthopaedic Research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia where he is currently an Associate Professor. His group’s broad interests are on oxygen homeostasis in disease and development with a specific emphasis on the hypoxic microenvironment of chondrocytes and it’s impact on developmental and pathological aspects on cartilagenous tissue.

Luz Catherine Tello, BS Biological Sciences ’04

Luz is currently in her second year of medical school at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  She graduated from UMBC with a double major, also receiving a B.A. in Psychology.

Sezai Turkel, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’94, MS Applied Molecular Biology ’90

After completing his Ph.D., Sezai joined the faculty of the Department of Biology, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu, Turkey. He is currently a member of theDepartment of Biology, Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey where he is a Professor.

Timothy R. Varney, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’01

Timothy is the Director of the Discovery Group at Osiris, a stem cell research biotechnology company in Baltimore. His work has involved developing stem cell lines that aid in repair of cardiac tissue following heart attacks.

Timothy I. Wood, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’99

After leaving UMBC, Timothy was a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the laboratory of Dr. John Tainor of the Scripps Institute for Research, changing fields from prokaryotic molecular biology to structural biology and X-ray crystallography and solving the structure of several key iron-containing proteins of bacteria. He is now Supervisory Research Chemist in the Department of Clinical Investigation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Bradley K. Yoder, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’93, BS Biochemistry/Molecular Biology ’88

Following his studies at UMBC, Bradley was the Alexander Hollander Postdoctoral Fellowship at The Department of Energy at Oak Ridge National Laboratories developing mouse models for animal diseases. In 1997 he joined the faculty in the Division of Cell Biology at the University of Alabama Medical School where he is now Associate Professor. His laboratory has been instrumental in identifying genes that play a role in polycysitic kidney disease.