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Student Perspectives

Michal ShaposhnikovMichal Shaposhnikov - 1st year

Hometown:  Edmonton, Canada and Be'er Sheva, Israel

Undergraduate:  University of Alberta

Career Plans: I aspire to conduct academic research revolving the contribution of cardiac health to viral disease development, as well as teach on a post-secondary level.

Why did you choose to do your PhD training at URMC?

Pharmacology is my passion, and I am grateful to be here. I knew that the CMPP program was the right fit for me since my first interview - in which I noticed that the department values scientists for factors beyond their grades. While the heavy emphasis was placed on marks throughout my undergraduate degree back in Canada, the faculty here acknowledge that science stems from the people who conduct it and therefore contribute great efforts to building a sense of cooperativity and companionship throughout the department. 

What do you like best about your program?

Collaboration is the word. Starting graduate school is definitely exciting as well as can, especially as an international student, be quite stressful. I have been welcomed with open arms since my first day - which made me look forward even more to calling Rochester my new home. The CMPP program at URMC, while strong in its curriculum, as well as hosts inspirational and impactful research, goes above and beyond to make sure students succeed. The faculty are open and ready to answer any questions, and students are trained to the best of their abilities through the various courses and lab opportunities.  I quickly came to learn that the CMPP program is a place that nourishes growth and development like no other.​

What do you like best about living in Rochester?

As I am sure my peers have mentioned, everything is so close! Really! Not only within Rochester where you can get anywhere within 20 minutes, but it is also a bomb location geographically. If you have been stuck studying on a hot summer’s day - you can splish-splash at Lake Ontario right here in Rochester. If you made waffles and are in the mood for fresh maple syrup - the Canadian border is an hour and a half away. If you are wanting to experience the big city life - Toronto and New York City are nearby. I didn’t even mention the beautiful state parks that surround the city and the chance to fully experience all four seasons that living in Rochester provides. Also, thanks to the affordable living expenses, going on adventures and saving up as you complete your degree is very realistic. 

Is there a faculty member or a mentor that has helped you the most during your training here, and how have they been instrumental?

Although my journey here had only just begun a couple of months ago, I can definitively say that everyone I reached out to for help has put 100% of their effort to help me with any issues or problems. Even while I was still in Canada, Dr. Glading and Dr. Lueck were quick to answer emails and help me find my way. Other professors were very attentive and welcoming when I reached out to request a lab rotation. I also have to mention that the administrative team is extremely helpful, especially the graduate administrator Lori White, who will make sure everything is in place as you begin your journey here. Numerous resources and support outlets are widely accessible throughout the department as well, to ensure the safety and well-being of the CMPP participants. I am grateful to be in a place where I can share my passion for science and pharmacology with so many people.  

Michal ShaposhnikovDavid Delemos - 2nd year

Why did you choose to do your PhD training at URMC?

I chose to do my PhD training at URMC because during my recruitment weekend I felt a very passionate and friendly collaborate atmosphere that not only looks to make the individual better, but also the community as a whole.

What do you like best about your program?

What I like best about our program is the diversity of research opportunities and the courses that us students are allowed to take. The program does a great job of allowing students to explore their interests and be able to find themselves as aspiring scientists and follow their passions.

What do you like best about living in Rochester?

The best thing about living in Rochester is the affordability of the city, also the size of the city is great where you can get anywhere within 20 minutes. There is also plenty of places to get good food, go on bike trails and attend summer festivals.

Is there a faculty member or a mentor that has helped you the most during your training here, and how have they been instrumental?

The faculty member that is helped me most has been my PI Dr. David A. Dean. Dr. Dean has been responsible for introducing me to new methods and techniques I have not used before, and is also responsible for giving a lot of confidence in myself in becoming a scientist. 

CiscoLily Cisco - 3rd year

Graduate Student in the Laboratory of Dr. John D. Lueck

Hometown:  Livonia, NY

Education Background:  BS in Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience at RIT (with minors in mathematics and chemistry)

What is your research focus? Myotonic Dystrophy

Why did you choose to do your PhD training at URMC?

I was initially excited by the strong RNA research that is found at the U of R. Though my research interests have changed, I have found that URMC has a lot to offer from all its research areas. Additionally, I am a greater Rochester area native. I am very close with my family and I like that I am close to home. Rochester is also an affordable place to live with a lot to offer.

What do you like best about your program?

The people! You will not find a friendlier environment to be in. Everyone really cares about you and wants you to succeed as you move through your education and scientific career. 

What do you like best about living in Rochester?

There are a lot of great places to dance. I Lindy Hop and there is a strong swing dance scene here in Rochester. There are some cool places to Latin dance around the city as well as other dance styles. It is a great way to stay active and get away from the lab. In early summer the Rochester International Jazz Festival is also a great event to check out, dance, and listen to some great music.  

Is there a faculty member or a mentor that has helped you the most during your training here, and how have they been instrumental?

My PI John Lueck has been my biggest mentor. John was my facilitator for the IND Ethics course my first year, I decided to rotate in his lab and felt it was the best fit for me.  He is extremely excited about the work I am doing and the work being done in the lab. It is fun to be a part of a younger lab and to be a part of its many firsts. I found that, for me, I needed to have a compatible personality with my PI and I feel I have found that in the Lueck lab. 

HuangKai-Ting Huang - 3rd year

Graduate Student in the Laboratory of Dr. David I. Yule

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Education Background: Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and Technology, China Medical University, Taiwan

M.S in Molecular and Genomic Medicine, National Tsing-Hua University/National Health Research Institute, Taiwan

Career Plans: After graduation, I would like to have training/ experience in industry.

What is your research focus? The effect of mitochondrial bioenergetics and calcium signaling on an autoimmune disorder, Sjogren's Syndrome.

Why the University of Rochester? The University of Rochester is well-known for their outstanding medical research and devotion to students’ training.

Favorite thing about the CMPP Program? Everyone in the CMPP program is kind and supportive. They are always willing to assist you as much as they can. I like this big family vibe. In addition, the faculty not only do impressive research, but also are attentive to the students’ interests, providing support in developing the skills necessary for their career following graduation.Favorite thing about Rochester? Travel time between any two points in or around the city is twenty minutes and there are lots of things to do in different seasons: During the summer time, there are numerous outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking, kayaking/ canoeing, winery tours and fantastic summer festivals almost every weekend. Apple/pumpkin picking and seeing foliage in the fall. In the winter and spring, skiing and skating definitely are fun activities to experience.

RookMatthew Rook - 4th year

Graduate Student in the Laboratory of Dr. David M. MacLean

Hometown:  Rochester, New York

Undergraduate: SUNY University at Buffalo

What is your research focus? In my 3rd year, my thesis project investigates the biophysical aspects of Acid-sensing Ion Channels to tease apart how these unique "receptors for protons" are activated by extracellular acidification.

Career Plans? I plan on becoming an independent investigator to study channelopathies, translating structural and biophysical information into the design of efficacious therapeutics.

Why did you choose to do your PhD training at URMC? 

When I came and talked to professors before applying to the CMPP Masters Program, they were all very kind and willing to sit down and talk to me one on one. Despite my lack of research experience coming into graduate school, the professors here welcomed me with open arms.

What do you like best about your program?

The amazing collaborative environment. While the labs in the department vary greatly on their field of research, the robust collaboration between groups is astonishing. Additionally, PharmPhys is a top notch department for those who want to study electrophysiology and channelopathies.

What do you like best about living in Rochester?

Being from the area, I have always loved the small city feel. Whether you want to go downtown to a concert or have a peaceful time camping in the wilderness, it's all available to you in less than a 20 minute drive. Also: Garbage plates. ;)

Is there a faculty member or a mentor that has helped you the most during your training here, and how have they been instrumental?

My PI, Dr. David MacLean, has most definitely helped me the most during my training here in CMPP. He has an insane dedication to training his students. Whether it be technical work, like patching a cell, or fine-tuning scientific communication skills, Dr. MacLean has contributed countless hours to help me become the best scientist I can be. 

brandon berryBrandon Berry - 6th year

Graduate Student in the Laboratory of Dr. Andrew P. Wojtovich

Hometown: Auburn, NY

Undergraduate: State University of New York Geneseo

Career Plans: I am passionate about mitochondrial biology, and I plan to be an independent investigator to study metabolism and stress resistance to understand human diseases.

Favorite thing about Rochester?

The size of the city is great, where it can feel like a quiet suburb or a bustling city, depending on where you decide to go.

Favorite thing about the CMPP Program?

The mentoring is excellent, and I am thankful for the freedom to pursue scientific questions that I am passionate about in my laboratory.

Why did you choose URMC?

URMC has a friendly, collaborative atmosphere that is great to achieve personal goals that add to a collective mission to become ever better, individually and as a community. 

Where are you now?

I am currently finishing my PhD work investigating mechanisms of hypoxia adaptation, and how mitochondria control the metabolic signaling that shapes fundamental stress resistance programs in complex organisms.

DorvalLouben Dorval - 6th year

Graduate Student in the Laboratory of Dr. Jean M. Bidlack

Hometown:  Port-De-Paix, Haiti​

Undergraduate:  Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale FL

Career Plans:  I plan to work in Industry and eventually go back home.

Favorite thing about Rochester?

All the bike trails and parks, fantastic Summer festivals.

Favorite thing about the CMPP Program?

I have made some great friends, a second family.

Why did you choose URMC?

I had a good experience during the interview weekend. I had a feeling the URMC would be a good place to foster learning and growth.

Where are you now?

I am now a 6th year student. I am studying the effects of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) on opioid tolerance development, dependence, and addiction.