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Education / Immunology Training Grant / Trainees / Selected Alumni Bios


Past Trainee Bios

Heidi D. Morales Diaz, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • ​​2018- Pres      Senior Scientist Abbvie Ltd. Barceloneta, Puerto Rico
    • 2017-2018       Professor of Natural Sciences University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla
    • 2012-2016       Post doctorate fellow at University of California Santa Barbara
    • 2008-2011       Post doctorate fellow at Vesalius Research Center, Belgium
  • Research/Career Interests: My research interests were always focused on molecular mechanisms of cell behavior during immunological responses or embryonic development. My latest work involved the use of marine invertebrates to understand the formation of neural networks during embryogenesis. Now in the Industry sector, I’m working with cell culture techniques for the improvement of antibody production and quality for drug manufacturing.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The T32 award allowed for my growth as an independent scholar. Training at U of R was very effective in ensuring I become a self-sufficient scientist and provided the necessary tools to become a competitive professional.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 2018      Society of Developmental Biologists Puerto Rico Relief Grant
    • 2014      Santa Barbara Tri-counties Blood Bank Postdoctoral Fellowship
    • 2010      M2 Experimental Techniques Award (Leuven, Belgium)

Maureen L. Banach, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2018 - Pres      Postdoctoral Fellow in John Cambier Lab, Department of Immunology & Microbiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Research/Career Interests: I am interested in how immunological processes occur in health and disease. Currently, I would like to understand how autoreactive B cells contribute to the immunological imbalance in autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: T32 and IMV graduate program have equipped me with a number of valuable research skills, supported me in securing an individual F31 fellowship as well as in publishing two lead author publications. In addition, the IMV faculty helped me to expand not only my knowledge in immunology but also my professional skills.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 09/2019      Melville A. Hare Award for Excellence in Research, Rochester, NY
    • 10/2018 - Pres      T32 NRSA Institutional Postdoctoral Training Grant in Immunology (T32 AI007405)
    • 08/2015 - 10/2018      F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral NRSA (F31 CA192664)  
    • 06/2018      14th ISDCI Congress – NSF Travel Award, Santa Fe, NM
    • 06/2017      8th NACIW – Trainee Travel Stipend, Raleigh, NC
    • 06/2016      7th NACIW – Graduate Student Talk 1st Prize, Prince Edward Island, Canada
    • 07/2014 - 07/2015      T32 NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant in Immunology (T32 AI007285)

Alison Gaylo-Moynihan, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 7/2019 - Pres      Dermatology Resident at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    • 7/2018 - 6/2019      Intern Year in Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    • 6/2016 - 5/2018      Medical student at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Research/Career Interests: My eventual goal is to pursue a career in academic Dermatology, with research in translational and clinical dermatology/immunology. Currently completing my residency in Dermatology with a plan to complete an additional year of basic science training during residency.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The T32 and graduate prepared me extraordinarily well for my current position and provided opportunities to showcase my work and interact with an excellent scientific community.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 2018      Pathology Honor Society Award

James Moran, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2008 - Pres      Associate Professor of Biology, Division of Natural Sciences, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY.
    • 2007      Visiting Assistant Professor/SPIRE Postdoctoral fellow, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC.  BIO-405 Microbial Pathogenesis.
    • 2006      Visiting Assistant Professor/SPIRE Postdoctoral fellow, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, NC.  BIO-100-09 Principles of Biology.
    • 2003 - 2008      Seeding Postdoctoral Innovators in Research and Education (SPIRE) Postdoctoral Fellow and Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. R. Balfour Sartor, University of North Carolina at  Chapel Hill, Dept. of Medicine.
      • Immunological mechanisms of colitis induced by non-pathogenic bacteria in susceptible murine models.
    • 2002      Post-doctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Edith M. Lord, University of Rochester, Cancer Center.
      • Immune response to malignant melanoma following tumor irradiation.
  • Courses Taught:
    • BIO-2020        Microbiology
    • BIO-2080        Principles of Microbiology
    • BIO-3020        Genetics
    • BIO-114L        Biological Principles II Lab
    • BIO-3200        Immunology
    • BIO-3910        Natural Science Seminar
  • Research/Career Interests: Professor Moran began his career at Mount Saint Mary College as an assistant professor of biology in 2008. He currently teaches courses in Microbiology and Immunology. His research interests include the immune safety of synthetic blood substitutes and developments in cancer immunotherapy.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: Much of my success can be credited to the graduate training I received in the Immunology Division at the University of Rochester.  The faculty in the division are dedicated to helping their students achieve their goals.   My research mentor, Dr. Edith Lord, and my doctoral committee members supported me when I chose to follow a path in undergraduate science education.  Through their example I acquired skills in critical thinking, experimental design, time management, teaching and leadership.  I graduated as a well-prepared and competitive candidate for my career in science research and education.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 2018      URMC Vincent du Vigneaud PhD Thesis Award
    • 2016      NIAID CEIRS Inter-Collaborative Training Award
    • 2014      NIAID CEIRS Inter-Collaborative Training Award

Kelli A. Connolly, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • ​​Postdoctoral Associate in the Joshi Lab at Yale University, Department of Immunobiology
  • Research/Career Interests: My research interests include understanding the maintenance of the ongoing anti-tumor immune response in the context of disease progression, specifically of tumor-specific CD8 T cell differentiation, in order to ultimately inform better immunotherapeutic strategies.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The T32 provided me with opportunities during my graduate research that I would otherwise not have had such as attending conferences at which to network with top researchers in my field (where I ultimately met my current postdoc adviser).
  • Honors & Awards:
    • Interdisciplinary Immunology Training Program T32 Yale University, Leslie H. Warner Postdoctoral Fellowship

Shoshana Katzman, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2016 - Pres    Assistant Professor of Biology – Georgia Gwinnett College
    • 2013 - 2016   Program Director, Health Sciences - UC Berkeley Extension
    • 2011 - 2013   Interim Program Director, Sciences, Biotechnology and Mathematics - UC Berkeley Extension
    • 2008 - 2013   Part-Time Faculty - University of San Francisco
    • 2007 - 2011   Post-Doctoral Fellow - University of California, San Francisco
  • Research/Career Interests: I am currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) which is located in the most ethnically diverse county in Georgia and strives to provide educational opportunities to our student population at an affordable cost. My current research and career interests are in the scholarship of teaching and learning, providing engaging teaching strategies and cost effective options for our students.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The T32 and my time as a graduate student in the IMV graduate program provided me with the time and mentoring necessary to promote my ability to think critically about science, present information to others, and obtain funding to pursue my interests in the field of education.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • Fall 2019 - Fall 2020   Affordable Learning Gegorgia: Textbook Transformation Grants, Round Fifteen, Transformation to a no-cost Cell Biology textbook.
    • 2003 - 2008   Pre-and Postdoctoral Training Program in Immunology (NIH T32)

Anthony Thomas DiPiazza, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2018   Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH
  • Research/Career Interests: I continue to pursue research in the areas of cellular immunology and viral pathogenesis, while further developing interest in clinical vaccine development.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: Training received by the T32 mechanism profoundly enhanced my critical thinking/analytical skills, oral and written communication, and broadened my understanding of career opportunities in the fields of infectious diseases, vaccine biology and immunology.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 2018   URMC Vincent du Vigneaud PhD Thesis Award
    • 2016   NIAID CEIRS Inter-Collaborative Training Award
    • 2014   NIAID CEIRS Inter-Collaborative Training Award

Dillon Schrock, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow, NHLBI
  • Research/Career Interests: My current research is focused on the actin and actomyosin structures that underlie the T cell immune synapse, their functional importance, and their mechanisms of regulation.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: As an IMV student and a recipient of the T32 training grant, I was exposed to an excellent research and training environment. In addition to the broad array of research being conducted within the department, I was also given the chance to interact with faculty from other institutions, network with other trainees, attend career development events, and present my work at domestic and international meetings.

Tara Capece Balys, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2019 - Pres    Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Program, Immunology Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, NIAID, NIH, Rockville, MD
    • 2017 - 2019   Postdoctoral Fellow (IRTA) PI: Martin Meier-Schellersheim NIAID, NIH Bethesda, MD
  • Research/Career Interests: My research interests span several disciplines of both natural and social sciences My doctoral and post-doctoral work provided a strong research background in cell biology, immunology, and tumor biology whereas my Master of Public Health expanded my knowledge to the population level with epidemiology, behavioral health sciences, and health policy management. My career interests include scientific review, grantsmanship, and public health administration.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The IMV program fostered a training environment based on lifelong learning and collaboration - skills that build excellent candidates and productive scientists for any career choice. IMV accomplished this through its composition of a diverse set of research fields, allowing students to explore their interest in different topics and techniques. The program also provided ample opportunity to explore non-academic options, as well as acquire experiences and competencies outside the lab.

Steven F. Baker, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • April 2015 - Pres    Postdoc, Mehle lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Research/Career Interests: How do host cells prevent viral infection? How do viruses subvert these processes? I use influenza virus to search for cryptic host factors that through alternative splicing, reveal novel functions towards promoting or restricting viral infection.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The tight-knit IMV program nurtured a collaborative environment. Often students can become siloed in their labs, but having multiple professors teach in the Virology and Advance Immunology classes, and presenting their ongoing work at Friday Research in Progress seminars, nudged me towards being familiar and interacting with the professors to establish collaborations or to seek additional mentorship.
  • Honors & Awards:
    • 2019  Pacific Biosciences Local SMRT Grant, University of Wisconsin-Madison
      Awarded by grant review. Covered costs of sequencing on the Sequel II.
    • 2017 - 2019   NIH Microbes in Health and Disease Training Grant – T32 AI55397
      Awarded by grant review. Provided my salary support, fringe and travel expenses
    • 2019, 2017 American Society for Virology Postdoc Travel Award

Dorothy K. Sojka, Ph.D.

  • Position(s) since PhD graduation:
    • 2018 - Pres    Instructor
    • 2014 - 2018   Staff Scientist
    • 2011 - 2014   Postdoctoral Fellow
    • 2009 - 2011   Poatdoctoral Associate
  • Research/Career Interests: In humans and mice, NK cells are the most abundant leukocytes at the maternal-fetal interface and support placental vascular modifications. During early pregnancy tissue-resident NK cells proliferate locally, with minimal contribution from migrating conventional NK cells to the proliferating pool. Better insight into uterine NK cell biology at the maternal-fetal interface will provide insight into their clinical effects to treat pregnancy failures.
  • Impact of T32 (or IMV graduate program) on my career: The strength of the IMV graduate program is in the mentorship the faculty provides each student. The relationship does not end at graduation but is lifelong.