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Our Trainees

photo of MargaretMargaret Connolly, M.D.

  • Education: B.A., Boston College; M.D., Tufts University
  • Mentors: Dr. Sandy Khurana, Dr. Steve Georas
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests: I am interested in evaluating how using the current standard race adjusted normal values in interpretation of pulmonary function testing impacts the clinical utility of testing. My research focuses on how transitioning to interpretation of pulmonary function tests without adjusting for race affects the diagnostic accuracy of pulmonary function tests and clinical decision making.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: Thing about the Lung: Ancient Egyptians, who developed some of the earliest known medical treatments, had a hieroglyph representing the lungs and trachea. This was a symbol of unity based on the understanding that the trachea and lungs had to work together for a person to survive.
  • Fun fact: I have a Great Dane who can serve herself ice from the freezer.

photo of EmmaEmma House, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. Biology, Wayne State University; M.S. Pathology, University of Rochester
  • Lab: McGraw Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests: My research focuses on defining the role of CD4 T cells in diacetyl induced bronchiolitis obliterans.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: No matter how hard you exhale, residual air remains in your airways, and because of this lungs are the only organ that will float on water.
  • Fun fact: I have a cat named Potato, and he really lives up to the name.

photo of ErinErin Gibbons, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. Biological Sciences, B.S. Pathobiology, University of Connecticut; M.S. Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester
  • Lab: Hammes Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests: I study Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM), a rare cystic lung disease that occurs almost exclusively in women. My project looks at LAM in the context of an immune response and a cancer cell intrinsic response. I am investigating two estrogen regulated genes- one immune related gene, Neutrophil elastase, which is secreted by polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs), and one cancer cell related gene, GPNMB, which has known pro-metastatic functions in various cancers.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: All the alveoli in the lungs give them such a large surface area that is equivalent to the size of a tennis court.
  • Fun fact: I have run 2 marathons and will soon be running my third, the Boston Marathon.

photo of CourtneyCourtney Jackson, Ph.D.

  • Education: B.S. SUNY Buffalo, Ph.D. University of Cincinnati
  • Lab: Jarvinen-Seppo Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2020
  • Research Interests: I am interested in the influence of farm living and the susceptibility to allergic diseases. My project focuses on B cell immunity in infant populations that are at risk of developing allergic diseases.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: The enormous number of alveoli in the lung.
  • Fun fact: I was once a certified lifeguard.

photo of SeanSean Nelson, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. Biology Lehigh University, M.S. Immunology University of Rochester
  • Lab: Sant Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2019
  • Research Interests: A unique subset of memory T cells, termed tissue-resident memory cells, persist in barrier sites such as the lung where they mediate protection from pathogens. My research focuses on tissue-resident CD4 T cells  that can contribute to protective immunity against influenza virus infection, and how we can elicit lung localized CD4 T cells via intranasal vaccination.  
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: How the lung can maintain critical homeostatic functions while also mediating defense against respiratory pathogens.
  • Fun fact: I’ve travelled to 45 of the 50 states in the US!

photo of SamiSamantha Romanick, M.S.

  • Education: B.S./M.S. in Biotechnology from University of Nevada, Reno 2014; PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology from University of Nevada, Reno 2020.
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests: Plastic pollution in our environment breaks down into tiny micro sized pieces known as microplastics. Ultimately, humans are ingesting and inhaling these microplastics. I am interested in studying how inhaling such microplastics affect our lung health.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: Humans can exhale up to 17.5 milliliters of water per hour!
  • Fun fact: Living a low waste and plastic free lifestyle is what lead me here today.

photo of MichaelMichael Sportiello, M.S.

  • Education: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Lab: Topham Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests: The intersection of metabolic signalling and transcriptional programming in memory T cells, as well as bridging the fields of immunology, bioinformatics, and computer science to develop easily accessible tools to more fully understand both omics data sets in immunology as well as to develop new software to develop novel experimental models and data interrogation.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: There are more than 10 billion T cells in the lung! Wow!
  • Fun fact: There are more T cells on earth than anywhere else in the galaxy. However, since we have left human waste on the moon from the Apollo mission, it is not the only place in the observable universe with T cells. The moon T cells are probably dead now, but until we go back and check we can't know for sure.