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Name & E-mail

Year & Advisor
Academic Background
Research & Personal Statement

Nicholas Burgraff



Daniel Fehrenbach



Cody Plasterer



Denisha Spires



Andrew Kadlec


2 [MSTP]


Graduated in 2011 English Degree


I am a member of the Gutterman lab and the Medical Scientist Training Program. Our lab is interested in vascular biology, and we use human tissue from discarded surgical specimens to perform microvascular function studies. Of particular interest to the lab is investigating the transition in the mechanism of blood vessel dilation from health to disease. I am attempting to uncover a role for PGC-1a, the master mitochondrial regulator, in mediating this transition via an impact on reactive oxygen species formation. This translational project provides an ideal training opportunity to guide my future research endeavors as a physician scientist.

Sarah Logan





Graduated in 2014

B.S. Biology

Bates College

I graduated from Bates College in 2014 from Bates College with a B.S. in Biology. The highlight of my undergraduate experience was participating in two years of research in respiratory neurophysiology. Completion of a year-long research-intensive thesis, contribution to various publications, and being mentored by an outstanding advisor prompted me to consider graduate school, in order to become a more knowledgeable and confident scientist and individual. I am a member of the laboratory of Dr. Xiaowen Bai, where we study the adverse neural effects of anesthetic exposure during the developmental period. To approach our scientific questions, we utilize rodent models, human stem cells, and perform cellular and molecular protocols, electrophysiology, histological analysis, and whole-animal behavioral studies. Our lab is among the first to attempt to bridge the gap between established anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity in animal models and clinical morbidities in human children. This highly translational research area subsequently led me to the Basic and Translational Science doctoral program, which I hope will contribute to and complement my physiology degree throughout my graduate work and career.

Maribel Marquez





Graduated 2011

B.S. Microbiology

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology with a medical technology option from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) in 2011. During my last two years as an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to join Dr. Ansel Zhao’s research group.  My research focused on investigating the effects various compounds, including drugs and pesticides, would have on human mesenchymal stem cells ability to proliferate, self-renew, and differentiate into various cell types. Towards the end of my undergraduate career at Cal Poly Pomona, I was highly encouraged by both my PI and other faculty to enroll in the Master’s program. I decided to stay for a Master’s in order to participate in the Minority Biomedical Research Support- Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement program (MBRS-RISE). MBRS-RISE is geared towards increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in completing Ph.D. degrees in biomedical sciences by requiring participants to attend various seminars including grant writing and GRE workshops, journal club discussions, and attending professional conferences. Two years later, I joined the Physiology department at the Medical College of Wisconsin. I am now a second year graduate student, and recently joined the Geurts’ lab. I am currently working on using the CRISPR/Cas9  gene editing technology to generate knock out models in human induce pluripotent stems in order to study genes that are associated or have been linked to  disease, such as  those caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.

Mark Paterson





Graduated in 2007

B.S. Biology Wisconsin Lutheran College


I graduated from Wisconsin Lutheran College in 2007, having received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. At WLC, Robert Balza, PhD (MCW Class of 2005), inspired me to pursue a career in scientific research. After graduation, I joined a research laboratory at MCW in the Department of Anesthesiology where we studied the cardioprotective effect of anesthetic preconditioning on the diabetic heart. My professional experience laid the technical and intellectual groundwork for transition into graduate school. Subsequently, I matriculated in 2014 as a graduate student in the Department of Physiology. Since then, I have also joined the doctoral program in Basic and Translational Sciences through the MCW CTSI. I will continue my training under the mentorship of Alison Kriegel, PhD (MCW Class of 2008). In the Kriegel Lab, we study the mechanism of Cardiorenal Syndrome Type IV (CRSIV) in which primary renal disease effects secondary cardiac pathology. Additionally, we are interested in microRNA regulation and its role in the pathophysiology of CRSIV.

David Jensen






Biology - University of Wisconsin-Parkside

My undergraduate education was at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside where I majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry and Philosophy.  After working as a Lab Tech in Dr. Harder’s lab for a year, I joined the Medical College of Wisconsin as a graduate student in Physiology in 2013.  I recently joined the Liang lab, which specializes in studying microRNAs across a variety of disease types and rat models.



Anna Williams






University of Wisconsin-Madison

I completed my undergraduate and Master's studies at UW-Madison. My Master's thesis was titled, "The use of iPSC-derived cardiac progenitor cells for regenerative therapy: current roadblocks to clinical success," under the direction of Dr. Tom Burke. In 2013, I was admitted to the Physiology Ph.D. program at the Medical College of Wisconsin. I am currently working in a stem cell laboratory under the direction of Dr. Zeljko Bosnjak, studying how anesthetic cardioprotection is impaired in diabetes patients, focusing on the role of reactive oxygen species, NO signaling, and mitochondrial fission.



John Bukowy






I work in Dr. Cowley’s lab, and I am interested in the control of renal blood distribution and its contribution to kidney function. Specifically, I am interested in using observed renal transit times to make predictions of microvascular recruitment within the kidney under varying physiologically relevant states. A goal of this study is to describe the mechanisms that are responsible for the observed control of renal blood distribution. In order to study these mechanisms, I use computational modelling approaches, as well as signal and image processing techniques.



Marc Casati






I am a second year graduate student in the Liang Lab. My research is focused on studying the role that microRNAs expressed in the kidney play in the development of hypertension and renal disease. I enjoy using my background in utilizing a variety of gene-editing animal models, combined with molecular techniques, such as qRT-PCR and RNA-seq to understand human physiology.



Alex Dayton





4 [MSTP]


I work in Dr. Cowley’s lab, and I am interested in the genetic causes of hypertension. Specifically, I am  interested in predicting the phenotypes of novel knock-out rat strains by creating a gene-gene interaction network and simulating the effects of perturbations within that network. In order to create this network, I use molecular –omics techniques such as RNA-seq, as well as novel Bayesian statistical methods. I am also a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Medical College.



Eric Exner




4 [MSTP]


As a member of the Medical Scientist Training Program, the genomic and translational focus of MCW’s physiology department makes it a perfect fit for me.  Under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Greene, I am studying endothelial progenitor cell physiology and dysfunction in an animal model of autologous stem cell therapy.  While recent graduates from the lab have studied salt-sensitivity, adhesion and engraftment of this cell population, current work is focused on exploring interactions of endothelial progenitor cell with the immune system.  The collaborative environment at MCW has allowed me to explore aspects of this model beyond the immediate expertise of our lab, and access to technologies afforded to us through the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center ensures that I have the opportunity to gain concrete, practical technical skills.



Thomas Langer, III






Graduated in 2009 with a Biology degree from

Wisconsin Lutheran College

I have always had an interest in science and medicine which influenced my decision to major in biology at Wisconsin Lutheran College. As an undergraduate student, I had the opportunity participate in a research project studying induced pluripotent stem cells with a mentor who is a graduate of MCW. This project, as well as other internships and clinical experiences, sparked my desire to continue my education at MCW, in the department of physiology. The focus of my project is studying the neural control of breathing in the lab of Dr. Hubert Forster. I am also part of the CTSI program at MCW. My goal is to pursue a career working to translate research into clinical practice in order to expand our capabilities to provide care for patients. 



Shauna Rasmussen






Pharmacology & Toxicology - University of Wisconsin-Madison

I am a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I earned a B.S in Pharmacology & Toxicology, with a second major in Biology. I joined the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Physiology Graduate program in the summer of 2012, and the Basic and Translational Science Ph.D. program in the summer of 2013. Currently, I am a second year graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Aron Geurts, where my research is focused on generating a rat liver xenotransplantation model by generating the Fah -/- Il2rg -/- Rag-1-/- rat.  This model will be extremely useful to several different areas of research, such as organ regeneration and pharmaceuticals. It will also allow us to further investigate human liver diseases that are difficult to study in living individuals and other animal models. Upon completion of these programs, I hope to find a post-doctoral position that will further advance my knowledge and skills within the field of physiology. Subsequently, I would like to return to academia and obtain a part time research and teaching position. This will allow me to continue my passion for research while influencing the next generation of scientists.



Timothy Stodola






Graduated in 1998 with a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota

I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in 1998 with a B.S. in Chemistry. At the University of Minnesota, I worked in the lab of Dr. David Andow, where we studied predator/prey relations among insects in agricultural ecosystems. We also modeled and studied the evolution of resistance in pest insects to the Cry insecticidal toxins engineered into genetically modified corn.  One project that was especially exciting was working with a diverse group of labs, mostly in Europe, that studied the genetics, molecular biology and in-field and lab population screening for Cry1Ab resistance.  After this, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Greene as a technician, and continued to study problems from a physiology and genomics perspective.  These experiences excited me to go back to school at MCW due to their high-quality research and multidisciplinary focus.



Maria Angeles Baker





B.S. Clinical Laboratory Science, Univeristy of Wisconsin Milwaukee May 2000, MBA University of Wisconsin Milwaukee December 2008

My undergraduate studies were at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where I was the class president of the then Clinical Laboratory Science Program, now known as the Biomedical Science program. I graduated in 2000, and after passing the ASCP Board of Registry exam, I was an instructor for the same program for 3 years while also working at the Columbia Hospital laboratory. In 2008, I completed my MBA also from UW-Milwaukee and got moved to a laboratory administration position at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin laboratory.  In 2011, I was admitted into the Physiology Ph.D. Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin.  At MCW, I joined Dr. Mingyu Liang’s laboratory where we focus on microRNA and the role microRNAs play in kidney disease and hypertension. I enjoy being able to combine the whole animal physiology approach with molecular biology techniques in my work. At the end of my first year of graduate work I was accepted into the Basic and Translational Science program in which my goal is to enhance my scientific training and complement my clinical background.



Brittany Wade






Northern Illinois University

During my undergraduate years at Northern Illinois University, I developed a strong interest in the physiological aspects of science. I obtained various internships and research projects, including one here at MCW, studying vascular reactivity. The experience was very rewarding and educational. After that internship, I knew MCW would be a great place for me to attend graduate school. Currently, I am a member of Dr. David Mattson’s lab, performing studies that investigate the role of immune cells, specifically T lymphocytes, in the pathogenesis of hypertension and renal disease.



Bryce Schuler





Graduated in 2009 from Lawrence University with a B.A. in Biology

I grew up in a small town in northwestern Wisconsin called Prairie Farm where I attempted to prepare for an eventual career in the sciences by working as a nursing assistant in the local nursing home. My interests in science and medicine led me to pursue my undergraduate studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. My research at Lawrence focused on characterizing the contribution of the immune response to the common cold virus in exacerbating asthma symptoms and was vital in leading me to the realization that I wanted to pursue medical research as a part of my future career. To that end, I am currently a physiology graduate student in the Medical Scientist Training Program and my research focuses on utilizing whole genome sequencing (WGS) as a means of uncovering genetic etiologies of two specific disease phenotypes as well as adapting WGS analysis pipelines for use in several different Mendelian inheritance models. Being a graduate student in the department of physiology has afforded me the opportunity to determine how pathological genetic variation leads to dysfunction of tissues and organ systems, allowing for a more complete characterization of genetic pathologies. This work has solidified an interest in clinical genetics as well as helped me identify the need for additional research that strives to complete the annotation of the human genome in respect to Mendelian genetic disorders and I hope to incorporate these interrelated fields in my future career.   





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