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Rotation Faculty (past two years)


MSTP students are required to do at least two rotations before choosing a thesis mentor. 

Photo Name Department or Graduate Program Research Description (taken from their page or lab website) MSTP Student

Ted Abel, PhD

  • Psychiatry
  • Psychological & Brain Sciences
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Neuroscience & Pharmacology
Research in the Abel lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms of memory storage and the molecular basis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. We use mouse models to examine the role of molecular signaling pathways as well as transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of gene expression in defining how neural circuits mediate behavior.

Hassan Ahamed
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Gage Liddiard
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Ferhaan Ahmad, MD, PhD

  • Internal Medicine - Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
  • Radiology
Dr. Ahmad directs a laboratory conducting basic and translational research into the genetic and genomic mechanisms underlying inherited cardiovascular disorders, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, glycogen storage cardiomyopathy, inherited arrhythmias, and pulmonary hypertension. Lucas Barrett
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
Christopher Ahern, PhD
  • Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
Function and pharmacology voltage-gated sodium channels that drive the rapid upstroke of the action-potential throughout the body.

Miranda Schene
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

James Ankrum, PhD
  • Biomedical Engineering
My lab utilizes biomaterials and drug delivery strategies to influence the fate and function of cells both in vitro and in vivo. My long-term goal is to engineer enhanced cell-based and -inspired therapeutics to restore function to diseased and damaged tissues.

Riley Behan
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Kelly Baker, PhD
  • Epidemiology
  • Occupational & Environmental Health

Global maternal and child health, Water, sanitation, and hygiene,
Ecology and evolution of enteric disease transmission: the human-environment-microbial system interface, Environmental microbiology and exposure assessment, Evaluation of global health and development interventions

Sahaana Arumugam
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
Congenital defects of the nervous system, especially neural tube defects, familial epilepsy, neurogenetics, neural stem cell biology Our laboratory is interested in understanding the basic mechanisms underlying both normal and disordered development of the nervous system. Our approach to these issues includes investigating the genetics of human neural tube defects (NTDs) and familial epilepsies, and elucidating the biology regulating neural stem cell development.

Maddie Mix
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Brittany Todd
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Aaron Boes, MD, PhD
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Our laboratory is interested in the link between brain structure and function across the lifespan, particularly network-based localization of neurological and psychiatric symptoms. We approach this topic using multi-modal neuroimaging methods that include lesion mapping, resting state functional connectivity MRI, and structural MRI.

Hassan Ahamed
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Gordon Buchanan, MD, PhD

  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Research efforts in the Buchanan laboratory are focused on understanding basic mechanisms of epilepsy and sleep-wake regulation. We are particularly interested in the effects of seizures and vigilance state on cardio-respiratory control and how these may interact to lead to death following a seizure, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Our goal is to understand factors that render a given seizure fatal in an effort to help prevent SUDEP.

Ben Kreitlow
(Fall 2020 Rotation)

Mary Charlton, PhD
  • Epidemiology
  • Cancer Biology
Health services epidemiology, Cancer surveillance and epidemiology, Assessment of differences in access and health services use between rural and urban populations related to the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer

Madi Wahlen
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Kris DeMali, PhD
  • Biochemistry
  • Dermatology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cell & Developmental Biology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
A major focus of the work in my lab is to understand cellular mechanisms involved in assembly and maintenance of cell-cell adhesions by examining the function and regulation of proteins recruited to the cytoplasmic face of cadherins.

Miranda Schene
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

David Gordon, MD, PhD

  • Pediatrics
Our laboratory is focused on developing innovative approaches to creating genetically defined, as well as biologically relevant, models of cancer in human cells by combining genomic data from the sequencing of cancer genomes with the pluripotent nature of human embryonic stem cells. Using this approach, we have generated a genetically defined model of Ewing sarcoma, a common pediatric tumor, from human stem cells differentiating through an embryoid body intermediate. The goal of our work is to now use these model cells to study the pathophysiology of Ewing sarcoma tumors, as well as develop additional human tumor models through more advanced stem cell differentiation methodologies. Ellen Voigt
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
John Harty, PhD
  • Pathology
  • Cancer Biology
Current projects in the lab: Basic immunology and imaging of CD8 T cell immunity to liver-stage malaria; CD4 T cell and antibody mediated immunity to blood-stage malaria; Basic immunology and imaging of cerebral malaria; Tissue resident memory CD8 T cell dynamics and protection from influenza virus infection of the lung; Impact of repetitive influenza exposure on generation and persistence of protective CD8 T cells; Regulating memory CD8 T cell differentiation through inflammatory cytokines.

Maddie Mix
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Dominique Limoli, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
Interactions between microbial species can have profound influences on health and disease. We seek to understand the cellular mechanisms driving these interactions in order to modulate polymicrobial community behavior and improve patient outcomes. Xavier Tijerina
(Summer 2019 Rotation)

Ashutosh Mangalam, MD, PhD

  • Pathology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
The major goal of my research is to develop better treatment options to cure multiple sclerosis (MS). Jessie Knobbe
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Catherine Marcinkiewicz, PhD

  • Neuroscience & Pharmacology
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
In light of its complex role in human psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, the lab is currently investigating how environmental factors like stress, alcohol, and the use of antidepressant drugs can alter serotonin neurons in the dorsal raphe and their efferent projections to stress and reward processing centers in the brain. Gage Liddiard
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
Wendy Maury, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
The goal of our research is to understand interactions between enveloped viruses and the host. We currently focus on two main areas of research: enveloped virus entry and innate host immune responses to virus infection. Using filoviruses and flaviviruses, we have identified a novel set of cell surface receptors and continue to explore the cellular biology of these interactions as well as the pathological consequences.

Hannah Van Ert
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Elizabeth Newell, MD

  • Pediatrics
Our laboratory studies how neuorinflammation contributes to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) so that novel targeted therapies may be developed. Brittany Todd
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
Peg Nopoulos, MD
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Pediatrics
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Our lab studies the structure and function of the brain using imaging tools such as MRI and cognitive / behavioral assessment. In the healthy brain we study topics such as brain development over the lifespan, gender differences and social cognition. Disease populations that we work with include patients with schizophrenia, Huntington's Disease, and children with clefts of the lip/palate.

Gabby Bierlein-De La Rosa
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD
  • Microbiology & Immunology
  • Pediatrics
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Microbiology Graduate Program
  • Immunology Graduate Program
  • Cancer Biology
My laboratory has been interested in the pathogenesis of murine coronavirus infections for several years. Now, we also study three respiratory human coronavirus infections: SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)-coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS)-coronavirus, human coronavirus-OC43 and human coronavirus-NL63.

Daniel Sands
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Dawn Quelle, PhD

  • Neuroscience & Pharmacology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
Our goal is to define the critical regulators of ARF signaling and determine their significance to tumor suppression using molecular approaches and in vivo models of cancer. In so doing, we will advance our fundamental understanding of ARF-mediated tumor suppression and also identify novel regulators of growth (both positive and negative) whose characterization will likely contribute to new paradigms of carcinogenesis. Akshaya Warrier
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
Hanna Stevens, MD, PhD
  • Psychiatry
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Human Toxicology
Her research seeks to understand molecular and cellular aspects of early brain development and their relevance to psychiatric disorders. Her work is particularly focused on understanding how prenatal stress, environmental exposures and genes that play a role in early development have an impact on childhood behavior and act as risk factors for multiple psychiatric disorders. Hannah Van Ert
(Summer 2019 Rotation)
Edwin Stone, MD, PhD
  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Genetics Graduate Program
  • Informatics
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Dr. Stone is interested in finding and characterizing genes that are involved in three classes of human eye disease: macular degeneration, glaucoma, and heritable photoreceptor degeneration. Lola Lozano (co-mentor)
(Summer 2020 Rotation)
James Torner, PhD
  • Epidemiology
  • Informatics
Dr. Torner has conducted research in clinical trials, women’s health and disability related to injuries. He has been teaching, designing and conducting clinical trials for four decades. He has directed the Iowa Trauma Registry and has evaluated effective triage and critical care.

Madi Wahlen (co-mentor)
Summer 2020 Rotation

Budd Tucker, PhD

  • Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Neuroscience Graduate Program
Dr. Tucker’s Laboratory is focused on combining state-of-the-art patient-specific stem cell, gene therapeutic and human retinal engineering technologies to study and treat inherited retinal degenerative blindness.

Lola Lozano (co-mentor)
(Summer 2020 Rotation)

Mary Weber, PhD

  • Microbiology & Immunology
Our laboratory studies how obligate intracellular pathogens, such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Orientia tsutsugamushi, co-opt host processes and subvert host defense mechanisms to establish their unique intracellular niches. To address these questions, we employ a multi-faceted approach using cell biology, microbial genetics, and immunology. Xavier Tijerina
(Summer 2020 Rotation)