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Our Trainees

photo of AlanAlan Brooks, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Education: M.D. University of Louisville, Ph.D. University of Louisville
  • Lab: Small Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2019
  • Research Interests:  My research focuses on identifying determinates of cardiac fibrosis and ventricular remodeling. In particular, I am interested in the contribution of epicardium derived progenitor cells to arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and biomarkers predicting right ventricular failure in left ventricular assist device (LVAD) patients.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: It has epicardium derived progenitor cells which supply many of its fibroblast subpopulations similar to the heart.
  • Fun fact: I work at the same hospital I was born but have only lived in Rochester for 7 years of my life.

photo of MattMatthew Eckard, Ph.D.

  • Education: B.A. University of North Carolina Wilmington, M.S. West Virginia University, Ph.D. West Virginia University
  • Lab: Cory-Slechta Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2020
  • Research Interests: I am interested in determining the extent to which air pollution contributes to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders using mice as a model system. Part of my research also focuses on how functional air pollution neurotoxicity can be mitigated through behavioral experience and neuroplasticity. I am also broadly interested in using sensitive rodent behavioral assays to increase translation to human behavioral processes.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: Both the lung and the larger respiratory system allow a privileged portal of entry for air pollutants to enter/affect the brain.
  • Fun fact: I have a cat that plays fetch very well.

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 AshleyAshley Rackow, M.S.

  • Education: B.A.’s in Chemistry, Psychology and Spanish from Coe College, M.S. in Toxicology from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Lab: Kottmann Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2016
  • Research Interests: My research focuses on the endogenous function and manipulation of pH-sensing G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the context of pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: I am passionate about lung research because the lung is one of only a few organs which directly senses the environment and thus is particularly interesting through the lens of toxicology.
  • Fun fact: One of my favorite hobbies is to build playlists to pair with recipes.

photo of AlecAlec Salminen, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. University of Arkansas, M.S. University of Rochester
  • Lab:  McGrath Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2018
  • Research Interests: I am interested in designing novel pulmonary microvascular mimetics to study the role of endothelium apicobasal polarity (defined apical and basal sides) in inflammation. We utilize ultrathin, nanoporous cell culture supports and microfluidics to facilitate the growth and formation of a pulmonary capillary microphysiological systems. These systems ultimately allow for highly controlled investigation of endothelium responses in models of local infection and sepsis.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: The alveoli have a combined surface area of nearly 70 m2!!
  • Fun fact: Between lab sessions, I spend countless hours entertaining my incredibly energetic border collie, Beaker.

photo of TimTim Smyth, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. in Biochemistry from SUNY Geneseo, M.S. in Toxicology from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Lab: Georas Lab
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2019
  • Research Interests: My research focuses on the impact of inhaled diesel exhaust particles on the expression of the tight junction protein Tricellulin and the role of Tricellulin in maintaining pulmonary epithelial barrier integrity.
  • Most interesting thing about the lung: After fully exhaling, the average healthy adult lung still holds over a liter of air!
  • Fun fact: During my free time, I enjoy walking and hiking the many trails around Rochester.