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GSS Board

The Graduate Student Society (GSS) Executive Board members serving for the 2014-15 academic year are listed below. Please contact us at

2014-2015 GSS Executive Board Members

Elizabeth Belcher

Elizabeth BelcherI am a second year student in the Translational and Biomedical Science Ph.D. program.  I recently joined the neuroinflammation laboratories of Drs. John Olschowka and Kerry O’Banion, where I currently study the acute effect of low-dose irradiation on hippocampal neurogenesis.  Before coming to Rochester, I received my B.S. in both neuroscience and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, where I conducted research in the Translational Neuroscience Program.  After graduation I worked in a clinical cognitive neuroscience lab for two years.  Now that I am at the University of Rochester, this is my first year serving on GSS. I am transitioning into the role of Chair of Professional Development and will be co-chair of our 2015 Career Conference. Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions for professional development seminars, workshops, or speakers!

Lesley Chapman

Lesley ChapmanI am a fifth year graduate student in the Translational Biomedical Sciences (TBS) Program. Before moving to Rochester, I completed my undergraduate studies at Duke University in 2008 and received a BS degree in Biology. While at Duke I studied the role of human microRNAs in regulating malaria parasite growth. For my thesis project, I am currently studying the ways in which microRNAs regulate the host immune response during malaria infection under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Morrell. I originally joined GSS as a department representative during my second year of graduate school. I am currently serving as the co-President of the GSS Executive Board. My goal is to help graduate students stay informed about new exciting academic, professional and social events as well as support the fellow members of the board.

Carrie Klocke

Carrie KlockeOriginally from Idaho, I graduated from Boise State University in the spring of 2012 with a BS in Human Biology and immediately began my studies in the Toxicology program the following fall. I conducted my undergraduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Kristen Mitchell, focusing on the effects of the environmental contaminant dioxin on the liver and immune system. I am currently in my third year working with Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechta on the developmental and behavioral neurotoxicity of inhaled ambient ultrafine nanoparticles. In addition to GSS, I currently serve as a member of the Toxicology Program’s Retreat Committee and I am a student member of the Society of Toxicology. This is my first year as a member of the GSS Executive Board as Social co-Chair and Communications Chair and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead! If you have questions or ideas, feel free to contact me at

Xuan Li


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Genetics and I am working on my thesis in Dr. Dirk Bohmann’s lab. My research focuses on the Nrf2 antioxidant response pathway, which is a major cellular defense against the damaging effects of oxidative stress. I specifically study how some important factors regulate the function of Nrf2 pathway and how to adjust this pathway’s activity to improve the organism’s stress resistance and lifespan. Before coming to US, I went to Nankai University in China and received my bachelor degree in Biological Sciences. I am currently the President and Finance Chair of the Graduate Student Society. I am passionate about serving as an interface between the university and the students and organizing professional, social and philanthropic events to support the graduate student community. Through these events we aim to provide students with career advice and opportunities, enrich their lives, and help them grow both professionally and personally. We are dedicated to organizing activities that cater to students’ needs, so please reach out to us if there is something in particular you would like to see in your graduate life and we will try our best to make it happen!

Bronwyn Lucas

Bronwyn LucasI am a third year Biochemistry PhD student in Professor Lynne Maquat's laboratory. I am originally from Australia, where I completed my undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Adelaide. I am the Social Chair of the GSS and in this position I organize events to bring the graduate student community together. Events we have organized include a yoga and stress management session run by Dr. Joanne Wu, MD as well as happy hours, wine tours and an annual Halloween party. As an international student I understand the importance of a supportive graduate community. Most graduate students are not from Rochester originally, making the connections we make in school all the more important. My thesis project centers on a pathway, initially characterized by my mentor, which maintains the integrity of gene expression by degrading defective RNAs. When I can, I travel to compete in marathons and triathlons around the USA. If you have any suggestions for future social events or queries or comments about upcoming or past events please get in touch at

Taylor Moon

Taylor MoonI'm a second year immunology student in Dr. Elliott's lab. My thesis project studies cell death in tumors and how factors recruit myeloid cells into the tumor. I'm currently serving as philanthropy chair on GSS and helping design an exhibit for the Rochester Museum of Science. I hope to teach at the undergraduate or graduate level after earning my PhD. Before coming to Rochester, I attended St. Lawrence University and majored in Biology. There I studied tumor immunology and discovered how interesting immunology is! At St. Lawrence I was a member of the 2012 National Champion Riding team, and in Rochester I enjoy riding my two horses, Ben and Duke, in my free time!

Liz Marie Albertorio Sáez

Liz Albertorio SaezMy name is Liz and I am originally from San Germán, Puerto Rico. In 2012 I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. As an undergraduate student I undertook studies in population genetics under the supervision of Dr. Juan Carlos Martínez-Cruzado. Currently, I am an Immunology PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Ritchlin at the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology. Our laboratory is interested in understanding the mechanisms of bone resorption and formation in inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. I joined GSS with the goal of creating science outreach opportunities for graduate students. My academic interests are related to the field of osteoimmunology, autoimmunity, inflammation, and science communication. Feel free to contact me ( if you have any questions, ideas or would like to get involved.

Laura Shum

Laura ShumA Rochester native, I learned to love research while earning my B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from SUNY Brockport. I studied migration of pre-adipocytes, and was active in a handful of clubs and organizations. I then moved to Colorado and was a Research Assistant in an Orthopaedics molecular biology lab for three years. In 2013, I left the Rocky Mountains and returned to Rochester to join the Translational Biomedical Science PhD program, and work in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research studying stem cell metabolism. I believe that enjoying life both in and out of the lab is crucial to success in grad school, and I joined GSS in 2014 to help foster the student community at the University of Rochester

Aleta Steevens

Aleta Steevens

I am a third year student in the Neuroscience graduate program, training in Dr. Amy Keirnan's lab.  My thesis work is studying the role of the transcription factor SOX2 in inner ear development; specifically my interest is in elucidating how SOX2 operates in the processes of the specification and differentiation of sensory progenitors.  Prior to graduate school, I studied Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Minnesota.  While there, I studied the selective degeneration of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease, using a transgenic mouse model.  Upon graduating I worked in an acute psychiatric hospital for several years and volunteered as a researcher with the Cognitive Neuroscience Test Reliability and Clinical Applications for Schizophrenia (CNTRACS) consortium.  This is my first year on the GSS board and I am very excited to a part of this group.  My goal is to develop workshops and resources that will aid the graduate student body in academic/professional development.

Jennifer Stripay

StripayI graduated from Penn State University in 2009 and spent the next two years working at the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently a fourth year Neuroscience graduate student working in the lab of Dr. Mark Noble. My thesis work is focused on identifying novel mechanisms of chemoresistance in glioblastoma multiforme and developing therapeutic approaches to this, and other, malignancies. I current serve as the graduate student representative to the URMC Alumni Council and am also a member of the National Trainee Advisory Committee for the Society for Neuroscience. I welcome any and all feedback in an effort to improve the academic and professional development opportunities for our graduate students!