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Dr. Rebecca Benson MD, PhD 

My scholarly work areas include pediatric palliative care and ethics. I am interested in how people make difficult healthcare decisions, and how we can best support them.
I also study how healthcare professionals are affected by the challenging work they do, and how to promote wellness and resilience.

I have started birding over the last few years, which is a great way to enjoy time outside, get some exercise, and develop new skills. Wherever I travel, I see what birds I can identify visually or by hearing bird calls and sounds.
It helps me focus on the present moment and use my senses, so it is a good mindfulness activity. I enjoy meeting new people on outings and adding birds to my life list that more expert birders can identify and teach me about.





Ellen Voigt, M4G

I study malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) which are rare and deadly sarcomas with few treatment options. I seek to understand how these alterations cooperate to form malignant tumors by modeling transformation of benign progenitor lesions into MPNSTs through CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing of tumor suppressor genes INK4a, ARF, and/or INK4b paired with overexpression of RABL6A and other oncogenic proteins of interest. The combination of cutting-edge technology and the tangible impact researchers and clinicians can make on patients’ lives inspires me to work towards my goal of becoming a physician-scientist in oncology.

Outside of the work I’m doing in school, I have spent many early mornings swimming. I swam for a decade on a club team, took a break during college, and returned during medical school (in complete transparency after a lecture discussing the benefits of exercise for cardiovascular health made me feel guilty). I initially joined the local Masters swim team which practices in indoor pools on campus and last year I started open water swimming too, competing in my first 5 km race (see picture of me with my friend and fellow swimmer Gage Liddiard). I think open water swimming in particular takes patience and grit—we swim long distances in often uncomfortable temperature—as well as a love of the outdoors because Lake McBride where we train is full of weeds and critters. I think the determination it takes to swim outside in unruly conditions is the same quality that allows me to overcome obstacles in the laboratory. And there are incredibly satisfying payoffs for both—it’s so beautiful to swim in the middle of a lake in the early morning, it’s like you’re inside the sunrise itself, and an interesting result in lab feels like you’ve been gifted a tiny secret from the natural world. In support of these similarities—there are a bunch of people in our program that swim open water!




Miranda Schene, M5G

One of the things that Miranda finds to be most exciting about research is being the first to identify a phenomenon. Her drive and determination prompted her to want to make discoveries pertaining to what is arguably the most important aspect of human physiology—the heart. Specifically, she is working to better understand the actions of ion channels in this organ. While small, these molecules can have huge effects on many aspects of human physiology. Miranda finds this importance and complexity to be a very rewarding aspect of her work.

Outside of the lab, Miranda volunteers for Miracles in Motion, a therapeutic horse-riding center in Swisher. Even in frigid temperatures, you can find Miranda caring for the horses each Saturday morning by feeding them and grooming them. During the warmer months, Miranda aids in riding lessons for adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities. She loves seeing the growth in the people she works with. Miranda’s patience, encouragement, and ability to teach helps people experience improvement in movement and social interactions. 

In her spare time, Miranda enjoys overcoming difficult routes on the Recreation and Wellness Center’s rock wall, crafting, and baking.




Faith Prochaska, M1G

 I am still in the preclinical/rotations phase of the MSTP so I have not settled on a research topic yet. I hope to stay in the realm of genetic, developmental neurological disorders as that  is what I currently see myself pursuing when I have a lab of my own. I am excited about this research area because we know so much yet so little about the brain, and research in this area has the potential to drastically improve the lives of so many people!

 Outside of classes for medical school I have been taking aerial silks classes! I got involved with this as a way to stay active without fixating on numerical improvement - just doing it for me. This has allowed me to develop myself artistically and has really pushed me creatively. It is also a great weekly break where I can and have to be both fully physically and mentally present in the moment.






Dr. Jen Streeter MD, PhD

I am interested in identifying molecular mechanisms responsible for regression of atherosclerotic disease. I am excited about this work because it can lead to discovering and engineering diagnostics and therapeutics. I hope to apply my discoveries in a clinical setting to help patients with cardiovascular disease.

One thing I've done that people probably wouldn't guess is that I was a kickboxing instructor. I started taking a kickboxing class to get in shape. I had never belonged to a gym before. My whole life people often noted how uncoordinated I was. I felt like a fish out of water when I first started. My movements for kicks and punches were very awkward. I could barely do a sit-up or a pushup. Ten weeks later I was super fit, could gracefully throw a punch or kick, and smashed my sit-up and pushup goals. I was asked to stay on as an instructor. I loved teaching, pushing people to their physical limits, and helping them improve their cardiovascular health. I think joining a kickboxing class is somewhat like how I approach research. I often start projects not realizing how difficult they are going to be, knowing that I'm going to flounder in the beginning, but if I keep at it and give my best effort, it will pay off with amazing results.


Michelle Chen, M2G

Through her research, Michelle aims to better understand the mechanism behind stress and how it affects the brain. This stems from her clinical interests in better understanding how people, particularly those identifying as belonging to a minority group, respond to stress. Stress is a ubiquitous feeling, but for some, the sensation is compounded by obstacles they experience due to aspects of their identity, such as their race or immigration status. By understanding how minority stress can impact a person and their mental health, not only can we call attention to this phenomenon, but we can also be better positioned to address it. Michelle’s efforts to support others does not stop there, however. Every day, she finds ways to support those around her. Whether it’s through helping her classmates understand the complex pathophysiology behind a disease or reminding her peers to treat themselves with kindness, Michelle is constantly encouraging others. Thus, it was no surprise that she started the Association of Inclusive Medical Scientists—also known as AIMS—with Guillermo Romano Ibarro, M5G. Through this group, Michelle wants to build a safe and supportive community for students from historically excluded groups in science and medicine. AIMS will allow these individuals to engage with and feel encouraged by peers with similar experiences and find mentors in faculty members. Through her research, new committee, and everyday actions, Michelle is consistently working to ensure that members of the MSTP and beyond have the tools and support needed to succeed. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023