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Postdoctoral Perspectives

Micheal AyersMichael Ayers

Hometown: Clifton Forge, Virginia
Education Background:  B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Virginia; Ph.D. in Biology from West Virginia University
Research Group: Murphy Lab

What is your research focus?
My research focus is on the epigenetic control of stress responses from chemotherapeutic DNA demethylating agents. I look at how cells respond to these agents to alter their chromatin organization using proteins such as the histone variant H2A.Z and its chaperone ANP32E. These responses control how the cell activates interferon and stress pathways, which are key to understanding how efficacy of these agents varies or wanes.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far?
I have most enjoyed working with the people in my lab and collaborations with other groups. The scientists I get to work with are teaching me new things every day. The opportunity to participate in interesting science is immense.

What do you like to do in Rochester?
Rochester is close to a lot of fun things in nature. The summer is a great time to be able to go places like the lakes or even a fairly short trip to places like Niagara.​

Calla GoekeCalla Goeke 

Hometown:  Rochester, NY
Education Background: B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the State University of New York at Geneseo; Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Oregon Health & Science University 

Research Group:  Sobolewski Lab

What is your research focus?
My research focus is on how developmental exposure to air pollution alters neuronal death and neuronal proliferation in the brain.  This is primarily examined via immunohistochemistry, microscopy and stereology, and the goal of the research is to determine the specific effects not only of air pollution as a general mixture, but also the effects of individual components of air pollution, which vary widely by geography.  The end goal of this research is to improve public health via regulation of air pollution sources.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far?  
I have been able to pursue my research in an environment that is highly supportive and encouraging.  I have been able to build upon skills learned in previous research labs and develop myself further as a scientist.

What do you like to do in Rochester?  
In the city there are a number of good museums, including the science museum, which have a number of interesting and enjoyable exhibits.  In the greater Rochester area, there are a number of parks which are great to visit.

Dr. KaurGagandeep Kaur

Hometown: Lucknow, India

Education Background: B.Tech. in Biotechnology from Amity University; M.Tech. in Biotechnology from the University of Glasgow; Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Southern University and A&M College – Baton Rouge

Research Group: Irfan Rahman Lab

What is your research focus?
Understanding the role of cellular senescence in lung related pathologies.

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far?​ 
I have really enjoyed the work culture, diversity and the opportunities provided to the postdocs at the University of Rochester.

What do you like to do in Rochester?  
I for the most part enjoy hiking and travelling to nearby places like Syracuse.

Dr. Meehan-AtrashJiries Meehan-Atrash

Hometown: Mentor, OH

Education Background: B.S. in Chemistry from SUNY New Paltz; Ph.D. in Chemistry from Portland State University

Research Group: Irfan Rahman Lab

What is your research focus?  
My research focus is related to identifying novel components in electronic cigarette liquids (cannabis- or nicotine-containing) and studying their toxicological effects on the respiratory tract. I specialize in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for identifying and quantifying analytically-challenging molecules and for characterizing e-cigarette aerosol properties.

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far? 
As an analytical-organic chemist with little experience in biological methods, the enthusiasm of the researchers here to cross-train and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects has been enlightening and encouraging.

What do you like to do in Rochester? ​
I like to ride up and down the Erie Canal on my bicycle, no matter the weather!

Thivanka MuthumalageThivanka Muthumalage

Hometown: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Education Background: B.S. in Biology/Biologial Sciences from the University of Nevada-Reno; Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from University of Nevada-Reno

Research Group: Irfan Rahman Lab

What is your research focus?
Inhalation Toxicology (emerging vaping products exposure-induced toxicity).

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far?
A highly collaborative research environment with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. My mentor, program director, and program chair are always available to provide guidance. Our department faculty & staff members are very helpful! It feels good to work in a supportive & inclusive environment. 

What do you like to do in Rochester? 
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, concerts at the Eastman School of Music, ice skating, and wine tasting in the Finger Lakes.

Qixin WangQixin Wang  

Hometown: China

Education Background: B.S. in Biotechnology from the University of Science and Technology Beijing; M.S. in Biomedical/Medical Engineering from the University at Buffalo; Ph.D. in Biomedical/Medical Engineering from the University at Buffalo

Research Group: Irfan Rahman Lab

What is your research focus?
My research focuses on molecular mechanisms associated with the circadian clock in cigarette smoke and other environmental stimuli induced chronic lung diseases.

What have you enjoyed the most about your time at the University of Rochester thus far? 
First of all, working with excellent colleagues in the group is very exciting and intriguing. Also, I like the academic environment of URMC.

What do you like to do in Rochester? 
It’s a north city, I enjoy the hiking in the summer and snow sports in the winter.