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Past Trainees

Trainees 2019 - 2021

  • Cassandra Houser, M.S.
    • Education: B.S. Loyola University Maryland, M.S. University of Rochester
    • Lab: Paige Lawrence
    • T32 association: Trainee since October 2020
    • Research Interests:  I am interested in deciphering how exposure to environmental contaminants that activate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) impacts humoral immunity to respiratory viruses, such as influenza. My project focuses of a special type of CD4+ T cell, T follicular helper (Tfh) cells, and aims to determine how AhR activation effects Tfh cells on the cellular and molecular level.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor: CD4+ T cells
    • Fun fact: I have walked The Great Wall of China and have seen The Terracotta Army.
  • Andrea Amitrano, M.S.
    • Education: B.S. SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY
    • Lab: Minsoo Kim
    • T32 association: Trainee since October 2019
    • Research Interests:  I am interested in investigating novel techniques to improve cancer immunotherapy treatments for solid malignancies. CAR-T cell therapies have worked well for hematological malignancies, however there has been very limited success with solid malignancies. The tumor microenvironment presents significant metabolic challenges to infiltrated CD8+ T cells. My project utilizes an optogenetic approach to increase CD8+ T cell mitochondrial ATP production, with the goal of increasing anti-tumor activity of CAR-T cells in solid tumors.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor: CD8+ T cells
    • Fun fact: I have played the clarinet for 16 years.
  • Briaunna Minor​ - Hammes lab
    • Education: B.S. Xavier University of Louisiana.
    • Lab: Stephen Hammes
    • T32 association: Trainee since October 2019
    • Research Interests:  I have a unique opportunity to study estrogen augmentation of myeloid cells in the microenvironment of lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) tumors. The aim of my project is to delineate the role of estrogen signaling in granulopoeisis, granulocytic myeloid derived suppressor cell (G-MDSC) recruitment, and suppressor functions in the context of LAM tumor progression. Interestingly, LAM tumors are estrogen sensitive, thus my research interest are essential to determining the relative contributions of estrogen stimulation directly on tumor cell and in the infiltrating stroma to promote LAM tumor growth.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor: Neutrophils
    • Fun fact:  I volunteered at an exotic feline conservation center and worked with rare and endangered feline species including black-footed cats, snow leopards, and tigers.
    • Beyond the lab: I once traveled to Italy just for Lemonade.
  • Karli Norville​ - Frelinger lab
    • Education: B.S. University of California, Santa Barbara
    • Lab: John Frelinger
    • T32 association: Trainee since 2018
    • Research Interests:  I’m interested in the tumor microenvironment (TME) and how inflammatory cytokines can alter the TME and initiate robust anti-tumor responses. We focus mainly on the cytokines IL-2, IL-12, and IL-18, and their potential synergies within a tumor. We are engineering cytokine fusion proteins which target the activity of the cytokines to the TME, while maintaining limited systemic toxicities. Understanding the mechanisms of cytokine-driven anti-tumor responses and improving the safety of systemic delivery of cytokines will allow us to develop better cytokine anti-cancer therapeutics for use in the clinic.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor: Natural Killer (NK) cells
    • Fun fact: I volunteered at an exotic feline conservation center and worked with rare and endangered feline species including black-footed cats, snow leopards, and tigers.
    • Beyond the lab: Rock climbing, hiking, painting
  • Jonathan Pinney - Elliott lab
    • Education: B.A. Hamilton College, US; M.S. University of Rochester
    • Lab: Michael Rusty Elliott
    • T32 association: Trainee since 2018
    • Research Interests:  I’m interested in macrophage phagocytic capacity and the functional outcome of exhausting phagocytic capabilities.  My research has largely utilized a live-cell real-time high content microscopy imaging method to quantify individual phagocytic events and their processing over the course of multiple hours.  By identifying how phagocytic capacity is regulated and the extent of interconnectivity between different phagocytic pathways we hope to improve current cancer therapeutics where phagocytosis is a key effector mechanism as well as provide new insight for autoimmune diseases where aberrant phagocytosis is a key player in the pathology.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor:  Macrophages – the immune system’s biggest eaters
    • Fun fact: After earning my undergraduate degree I went on a bicycling trip across the U.S. with my (then) future wife and her brother. The trip lasted 52 days and covered more than 3,500 miles.
    • Beyond the lab: Running, basketball, ultimate frisbee, board games and video games (the more complicated the better)
  • Booyeon Han - Gerber lab
    • Education: A.B. Princeton University
    • Lab: Scott A. Gerber
    • T32 association: Trainee since 2019
    • Research Interests: I am very interested in investigating the role of the tumor-draining lymph node in generating the anti-tumor immune response. Using CyTOF and Luminex, I am exploring the immune microenvironments of the tumor and tumor-draining lymph nodes. I have focused my studies in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma as it is a highly aggressive and lethal disease that remains the third leading cause of cancer deaths. My studies will inform the therapeutic value of targeting the pancreatic lymph node to mobilize anti-tumor potential for enhanced tumor regression and improved host survival.
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor:  CD4 T cells – the orchestrators of the immune response
    • Fun fact: One of my all-time fun and exciting experiences was playing chamber music in cathedrals in Paris and Nice, France.
    • Beyond the lab: Cooking with friends, watching sports (mostly basketball and football), and reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Trainees 2018 - 2019

  • Catherine Burke - Lawrence Lab
    • Education: B.S. SUNY Geneseo; M.S. and Ph.D. University of Rochester; Post-doc NIH/NIEHS (current)
    • Lab/Mentor: B. Paige Lawrence
    • T32 association: Trainee July 2017-July 2019
    • Research Interests:  I’m interested in understanding how the environment influences the function of the immune system. Specifically, my thesis project focused on understand how exposure to environmental contaminants during early can shape the long-term health of an organism. By understanding which cell types and cellular functions are targeted by early life environmental exposures, we can devise better-targeted vaccine and treatment strategies for people at high risk of exposure.
    • Favorite cell type:  CD4+ T cells
    • Beyond the lab: Running 5Ks with friends, exploring the Finger Lakes, and trying new breweries in Rochester!
  • Nicholas Battaglia - Lord Lab
    • Education: B.S. Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; M.S. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
    • Lab: Edith Lord
    • T32 association: Trainee, 2017-2019
    • Research Interests: My work studies the immune response elicited by radiotherapy. Specifically, how it can be improved through combination with immunotherapies and conversely how it can be affected by other currently used co-therapies, such as anti-inflammatory steroids.
    • Favorite Factor: IFN-g
    • Beyond the lab: Playing guitar and painting minis.
  • Daphne Pariser - Morell Lab
    • Education: B.A. Flagler College, M.A. University of Rochester, Ph.D. Candidate University of Rochester
    • Lab: Craig Morrell
    • T32 association: Trainee, 2017-2018
    • Research Interests:  I am interested in megakaryocytes (Mks) in the lung and their function. My research focuses on how the lung and BM Mks are different. Lung Mks seem to have a more prominent role in antigen presentation then their BM counterparts. 
    • Best Immune cell/favorite factor:  Lung Mks
    • Fun fact:  I almost got my phone stolen by a troop of monkeys in Kenya
    • Beyond the lab: Hiking, reading, swimming, and rock climbing.

Trainees 2017 - 2018

Trainees 2016 - 2017

Trainees 2015 - 2016

Trainees 2014 - 2015

Trainees 2013 - 2014

Trainees prior to 2013