Our Graduate Students

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.

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.

Henry V. Baker, PhD Biological Sciences ’84, BA Biological Sciences & Psychology ’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.  He then 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 rose through the ranks. He now occupies the Hazel Kitzman Professor of Genetics Chair and serves as chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. He also holds a joint professorship in the Department of Surgery and he serves as Associate Director of the University of Florida Genetics Institute. He was recently elected president-elect of the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs. Henry’s research focuses on developing gene expression classifiers that can be used to diagnose illness, predict clinical courses and responsiveness to therapy. In 2016, Henry was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award for CNMS.

Gerard J. Barcak, PhD Biological Sciences ’86

While at UMBC, Gerry worked in the laboratories of Dr. Robert Burchard and Dr. Richard E. Wolf, Jr. After leaving UMBC, he began his post-doctoral training with Nobel Laureate Hamilton Smith at Johns Hopkins University, where he focused on signal transduction and gene regulation in prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, rising to the rank of Associate Professor.

Sadly, on September 22, 2007 Gerry passed away after a courageous battle with prostate cancer. To honor his memory, 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. In 2011, Gerry was posthumously awarded the Pass & Susel Academy of Educational Excellence.

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. In 2011, Martek was sold to DSM Nutritional Products, where Paul now serves as director. Paul continues his connection to UMBC as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

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 became a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. She is currently a biology teacher at Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro, MD. Prior to teaching, she had no formal experience outside of being a teaching assistant at UMBC. She applied to the Prince George’s County Resident Teacher Program to receive mentorship in the classroom. At UMBC, Carlise worked in Dr. Chuck Bieberich’s Lab and was a Meyerhoff Scholar. In 2016, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) featured her journey to become a teacher HERE.

Kelly Robinson Bidle, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’96

She is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a Professor of Biology at Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ. Her recent areas of study included detection of light-dependent gene expression in haloarchaea and the study of caspase-like protein activity and expression in Archaea.

Prior her position at Rider, Kelly conducted research as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, Ca. She completed her PhD in Molecular & Cell Biology in connection with the Center of Marine Biotechnology (IMET).

Sheldon E. Broedel, Jr., PhD Biological Sciences ’90, MS Biological Sciences ’84

After completing postdoctoral work, Sheldon co-founded Athena 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. He has published a diverse range of scientific publications, holds three issued patents, and has designed, reduced to practice and launched more than 160 products.

In 2005, Sheldon was named UMBC Alumnus of the Year in the Life Sciences. Sheldon continues his service to UMBC as an adjunct faculty member for the Biotechnology Program.

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

Elisabeth left UMBC to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Munich, Germany. She has since held positions as a senior research scientist, project manager, and validation coordinator at Klinikum Grosshadern and Octapharma Biopharmaceuticals GmbH in Munich. She is now a Senior Manager at Roche, a pharmaceutical company also based near Munich.

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.

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 and with Richard Masland, Howard Hughes Professor at Harvard University. He is now an Associate Professor at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, where he also serves as Director for the institution’s Center for Teaching and Learning Development and the Director of Institute of Systems Neuroscience. CC’s research interest include a variety of vision-related topics, including retinal neurobiology, visual camouflage, and visual ecology.

Gerrit DeBoer, PhD Biological Sciences ’85

Gerrit is an Associate Professor at Kansas University. His research focuses on the physiological basis of insect-plant interactions, specifically on the chemical and chemoperceptual mechanisms underlying feeding decisions by caterpillars. Gerrit splits his research time with his responsibilities as a faculty advisor in the areas of Sensory Behavior/Physiology and Insect-Plant Interactions.

Frederick Flanagan,  MS Applied Molecular Biology ’18, BA Biological Sciences ’16

After receiving his bachelors in 2016, Freddy returned to UMBC to purse a Master’s degree in Applied Molecular Biology. He left UMBC to pursue a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

Will Gretes, PhD Biological Sciences ’10

Will serves as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at Howard Community College (Columbia, MD).

Robert Harrod, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’96

Robert Harrod is now an 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. 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) and a Cancer Research Training Award (CRTA) postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD).

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

Adam is currently a Field Applications Scientist at 10X Genomic (Raleigh-Durham, NC). He has worked as a Field Applications Scientist at Illumina (Raleigh-Durham, NC), as well as a research associate at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (Blacksburg, VA) and Human Genome Sciences (Rockvlle, MD).

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. She is now the Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Post-secondary Education.

In 2000, Diane became the founding director of an NSF-funded Biotechnology Institute. She 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 was the Assistant Secretary of Education for Post-Secondary Education during the George W. Bush Administration. She left government service to become President and CEO of The Washington Campus. Diane has held ranking positions at Career Education Corporation, AJsquared Consulting, and The Urban Institute.

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 Deputy Director of the Office of Food Safety at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. After leaving UMBC, 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. She then joined the faculty at St. Josephs University in Philadelphia, where she is professor and chair of the Department of Biology.

Beatrice Kondo, PhD Biological Sciences ’06

Before coming to UMBC, Beatrice worked as a software test engineering, testing Hubble Space Telescope management and control software and communications systems. It was at UMBC that we found her interests in teaching. She began her post-graduate career as a visiting assistant professor at Cornell College in Iowa, before coming back to Maryland to teach at Johns Hopkins University. In 2011, Beatrice started advised undergraduates students as part of the Advanced Academic Programs Center for Biotechnology Education. She is now the Assistant Program Director for the Master’s in Biotechnology program at JHU. Beatrice has a B.A. degree in German Language & Literature from Loyola University, Maryland.

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 to pursue 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.

Bryan MacKay, MS Biological Sciences ’79, BA Biological Sciences ’73

Bryan MacKay earned a BA in Biological Sciences from UMBC in 1973, and subsequently spent four years as a technician at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center in Catonsville.  He then earned a MS in Biological Sciences, again from UMBC, in 1979, and was thereafter hired to teach labs at UMBC.  Bryan worked as Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer, from 1979 – 2013, teaching Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Plant Biology labs. His professional association with UMBC has permitted him to publish six popular guidebooks to outdoor activities and nature, including “A Year Across Maryland: A Week by Week Guide to Discovering Nature in the Chesapeake Region” through the Johns Hopkins University Press. Now retired, Bryan lives in the house he was born in in Catonsville, has never had a job he couldn’t walk to, and was associated with UMBC Biology as either a student or teacher for 44 consecutive years.

Marc S. Nasoff, PhD Biological Sciences ’83

Before beginning a long career in industry, Marc pursed a postdoctoral position at the University of Colorado. He now serves as the Chief Scientific Officer at Fortis Therapeutics, Inc., PDI Therapeutics Inc, and COI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He has worked for GNF (a subsidiary of Novartis Pharma), Pharmacia, and the Genetics Institute in Boston.

Mike Nishimura, PhD Biological Sciences ’89, MS Biological Science ’84, BA Biological Sciences ’80

Mike is currently the program director of Immunologic Therapeutics, associate director of the Oncology Institute , and a professor in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

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 University of Chicago before moving to University of South Carolina, where he was a professor in the Department of Surgery and scientific director of the Center for Cellular Therapy. In 2010, Mike received the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Award in the National and Mathematical Sciences, and, in 2012, was the Keynote Speaker at UMBC’s Graduate Research Conference.

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.

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 Stevenson University (formerly 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. He is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Wright State University (Dayton, OH). His current research focuses on population genetics in five species of ducks to test for population size changes, gene flow, and divergence times.

Ishita Shah, PhD Molecular/Cell Biology ’05

Ishita was the international winner of the Nat L. Sternberg Award for the Best Dissertation in Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics in 2005, before starting her postdoctoral work with Dr. Jonathan Dworkin at Columbia University. She has worked as a Senior Research Associate at Genentech, Microbial Pathogenesis Division (San Francisco, CA). She is now the Associate Director at the Foods for Health Institute, UC Davis.

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, where he is now an Associate Professor. His current research focuses on polarized light distribution and polarization vision in aquatic environments.

Vickram Srinivas, PhD Biological Sciences ’94

After completing a postdoctoral 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.

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

After completing his Ph.D., Sezai pursed a postdoctoral research postition at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. In 1999, he joined the faculty of the Department of Biology, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Bolu, Turkey. He is currently a member of the Department 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.

Gang Wu, PhD Biological Sciences ’06

After completing his Ph.D. with Dr. Stephen Freeland, Gang has held many exciting research positions. In 2010, Gang started as a researcher at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and has recently been named Director of their Center of Applied Bioinformatics.

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

Following his studies at UMBC, Bradley was the Alexander Hollander Postdoctoral Fellow 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. His laboratory has been instrumental in identifying genes that play a role in polycysitic kidney disease.


Last updated in June 2018