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TSRI Graduate Program - Class of 2017

The 20 graduate students who received doctoral degrees at The Scripps Research Institute’s 25th commencement ceremony on May 19, 2017 join the ranks of more than 600 alumni of TSRI’s Graduate Program. Read below to learn more about their accomplishments as students and where they're headed next. 

Megan Blewett

Megan M. Blewett, Ph.D.

Advisor: Benjamin F. Cravatt, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Chemoproteomic Mapping of Electrophile-Sensitive Cysteine Residues in Human Health and Disease
Undergraduate Institution: Harvard University
Noteworthy Publications: Chemical Proteomic Map of Dimethyl Fumarate-Sensitive Cysteines in Primary Human T Cells, Science Signaling (2016)
Honors & Awards: National Science Foundation fellowship; Hertz Foundation fellowship
Next Steps: Blewett is now working as a healthcare intern at Venrock, a life sciences/biotech venture capital firm in Palo Alto, California.

Michael Bollong, Ph.D.

Michael Bollong, Ph.D.

Advisor: Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Chemical Modulation of Cell Fate
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, San Diego
Noteworthy Publications: Small Molecule-Mediated Inhibition of Myofibroblast Transdifferentiation for the Treatment of Fibrosis, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017); A Small Molecule Inhibits Deregulated NRF2 Transcriptional Activity in Cancer, ACS Chemical Biology (2015)
Next Steps: In March 2017, Michael started as the first Scripps faculty fellow. His fledgling research group discovers new bioactive small molecules in an attempt to elucidate mechanisms governing cell identity and survival. In the future, he hopes to continue making scientific discoveries as a professor at a major research institute.

Paul Bremer

Paul T. Bremer, Ph.D.

Advisor: Kim D. Janda, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Heroin Vaccines and Botulinum Neurotoxin Small-Molecule Inhibitors: Therapeutic Strategies for Mitigating Some of World’s Most Damaging Substances to Human Health
Undergraduate Institution: Colgate University
Noteworthy Publications: Development of a Clinically-Viable Heroin Vaccine, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2017); Metal Ions Effectively Ablate the Action of Botulinum Neurotoxin A, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2017); Newly Designed Quinolinol Inhibitors Mitigate the Effects of Botulinum Neurotoxin A in Enzymatic, Cell-Based, and ex Vivo Assays, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry (2017); Combatting Synthetic Designer Opioids: A Conjugate Vaccine Ablates Lethal Doses of Fentanyl Class Drugs, Angewandte Chemie (2016);
Honors & Awards: NIH F31 Award (Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award); NIH UH2/3 Award (Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement Award)
Next Steps: Bremer is now extending his training as a postdoctoral researcher at TSRI, and hopes to eventually secure a position working in industry as a medicinal chemist.

Artiom Cernijenko

Artiom Cernijenko, Ph.D.

Advisor: Phil S. Baran, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Journey toward (–)-Maoecrystal V
Undergraduate Institution: University of Oxford (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees)
Noteworthy Publications: 11-Step Total Synthesis of (-)-Maoecrystal, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2016)
Honors & Awards: Lesly Starr Shelton Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies
Next Steps: Cernijenko is now working as an Investigator at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jian He, Ph.D.

Jian He, Ph.D.

Advisor: Jin Quan Yu, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Ligand-Promoted C(sp3)−H Activation using Pd Catalysts
Undergraduate Institution: Zhejiang University
Noteworthy Publications: Pd(II)-Catalyzed Enantioselective C(sp3)–H Borylation, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2017); Ligand-Promoted Borylation of C(sp3)[BOND]H Bonds with Palladium(II) Catalysts, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2015); Ligand-Controlled C(sp3)–H Arylation and Olefination in Synthesis of Unnatural Chiral a–Amino Acids, Science (2014)
Honors & Awards: Dean's Fellowship
Next Steps: He is now working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Jonas Peters group at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Eric Koesema, Ph.D.

Eric Koesema, Ph.D.

Advisor: Thomas Kodadek, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Gene Expression Mediated by Orexin Receptor 1 Activation and Inhibition of GPCR Function via Light-Based Protein Inactivation Methods
Undergraduate Institution: University of Central Florida
Next Steps: Koesema plans to pursue an industry career in research and development, with a focus on novel biologics.

Anne Kornahrens, Ph.D.

Anne Kornahrens, Ph.D.

Advisor: Dale L. Boger, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Methodology Development and Synthesis of a Biologically-Relevant Natural Product and Targeted Scaffold Discovery for Serine Hydrolase Inhibition
Undergraduate Institution: Boston College
Noteworthy Publications: Design of Benzoxathiazin-3-one 1,1-Dioxides as a New Class of Irreversible Serine Hydrolase Inhibitors: Discovery of a Uniquely Selective PNPLA4 Inhibitor, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2017)
Honors & Awards: Skaggs-Oxford Fellowship; National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship; Association for Women in Science (AWIS), San Diego Chapter Volunteer Awards (2015 & 2016)
Next Steps: Kornahrens will be completing an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, VA, focused on broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in mathematics and physical sciences.

Alexander Krois, Ph.D.

Alexander S. Krois, Ph.D.

Advisor: Peter E. Wright, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Versatility through Flexibility – p53 and Intrinsic Disorder
Undergraduate Institution: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Noteworthy Publications: Recognition of the Disordered p53 Transactivation Domain by the Transcriptional Adapter Zinc Finger Domains of CREB-Binding Protein, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016)
Next Steps: Krois is extending his studies at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law with the goal of pursuing a career in intellectual property law.

Chris Lee, Ph.D.

Taehyung (Chris) Lee, Ph.D.

Advisor: Ashok Deniz, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Expanding the Scope of Single-Molecule Fluorescence Tools for Studies of Protein Complexity
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Noteworthy Publications: Dual Unnatural Amino Acid Incorporation and Click-Chemistry Labeling to Enable Single-Molecule FRET Studies of p97 Folding, Chembiochem (2016); Probing Protein Disorder and Complexity at Single-Molecule ResolutionSeminars in Cell & Developmental Biology (2015)
Honors & Awards: Kwanjeong Educational Foundation Fellowship
Next Steps: Lee is now working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.

Julian C. Lo, Ph.D.

Julian C. Lo, Ph.D.

Advisor: Phil S. Baran, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: The Iron-Catalyzed Conversion of Olefins to Radicals: Applications to C–C and C–N Bond Construction
Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota
Noteworthy Publications: Fe-Catalyzed C–C Bond Construction from Olefins via RadicalsJournal of the American Chemical Society (2017); Functionalized Olefin Cross-Coupling to Construct Carbon-Carbon Bonds, Nature (2014); A Practical and Catalytic Reductive Olefin Coupling, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2014)
Honors & Awards: National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship; Abrams Charitable Fellowship; Top Oral Presentation at the TSRI Graduate Student Symposium; Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation Fellowship
Next Steps: Lo is now working as a Research Investigator at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey.

Andrew MacConnell, Ph.D.

Andrew B. MacConnell, Ph.D.

Advisor: Brian M. Paegel, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Miniaturization in Pursuit of Decentralized HTS: Integrated Microfluidic Screening Circuit Engineering and DNA-Encoded Solid-Phase Combinatorial Library Synthesis
Undergraduate Institution: Furman University
Noteworthy Publications: An Integrated Microfluidic Processor for DNA-Encoded Combinatorial Library Functional Screening, ACS Combinatorial Science (2017); DNA-Encoded Solid-Phase Synthesis: Encoding Language Design and Complex Oligomer Library Synthesis, ACS Combinatorial Science (2015)
Honors & Awards: Tony B. Travel Award, Society for Lab Automation and Screening (SLAS)
Next Steps: MacConnell is looking forward to joining a biotechnology startup company in the San Diego area based on advancements and discoveries made while he was a graduate student.

Ruben Martinez, Ph.D.

Luisruben (Ruben) P. Martinez, Ph.D.

Advisor: Phil S. Baran, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Total Synthesis of Pallambins C and D
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, Riverside
Noteworthy Publications: 11-Step Total Synthesis of Pallambins C and D, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2016)
Honors & Awards: Dean’s Fellowship, National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship
Next Steps: Martinez is now a senior research scientist at IDEAYA Biosciences, an oncology-focused biotechnology company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mahdi Moosa, Ph.D.

Mahdi Moosa, Ph.D.

Advisor: Ashok Deniz, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Modulation of the Folding Landscape of a Disordered Protein via Chemical and Biological Chaperones
Undergraduate Institution: University of Dhaka Ramna
Noteworthy Publications: Reentrant Phase Transition Drives Dynamic Substructure Formation in Ribonucleoprotein Droplets, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2017); Two-Dimensional Crowding Uncovers a Hidden Conformation of α-Synuclein, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2016); Forced folding of a disordered protein accesses an alternative folding landscapeChemPhysChem (2015)
Next Steps: Now a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology at Baylor College of Medicine, Moosa is interested in understanding the molecular mechanism of protein liquid-liquid phase separation and liquid-solid phase transition.

Stephanie Papp, Ph.D.

Stephanie Papp, Ph.D.

Advisor: Katja A. Lamia, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Mechanisms of Circadian Protection Against Cancer
Undergraduate Institution: University of San Diego
Noteworthy Publications: DNA Damage Shifts Circadian Clock Time Via Hausp-Dependent Cry1 Stabilization, eLife (2015)
Honors & Awards: American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship; Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) Research Merit Award (2014 & 2016)
Next Steps: Papp is currently applying for an industry research position in the San Diego area.

Song Qu, Ph.D.

Song Qu, Ph.D.

Advisor: R. Luke Wiseman, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Adapting the Extracellular Protein Homeostasis Network through the Unfolded Protein Response
Undergraduate Institution: The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Noteworthy Publications: Unfolded Protein Response-Induced ERdj3 Secretion Links ER Stress to Extracellular Proteostasis, The EMBO Journal (2015);
Next Steps: Qu is now working as a licensing associate in the Technology Transfer Office at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Christopher Reiher, Ph.D.

Christopher A. Reiher, Ph.D.

Advisor: Ryan A. Shenvi, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Solutions to Longstanding Problems of Chemoselectivity and Stereocontrol in Kalihinol Synthesis
Undergraduate Institution: The Pennsylvania State University
Noteworthy Publications: Stereocontrolled Synthesis of Kalihinol C, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2016)
Honors & Awards: Dean’s Fellowship, National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship
Next Steps: Reiher accepted a position as a process chemist with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Darina Spasova, Ph.D.

Darina Svilenova Spasova, Ph.D.

Advisor: Charles Surh, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Factors That Control Memory T Cell Generation
Undergraduate Institution: Davidson College
Noteworthy Publications: Blowing on Embers: Commensal Microbiota and our Immune System, Frontiers in Immunology (2014)
Honors & Awards: Young Investigator Award, American Association of Immunologists
Next Steps: Spasova is now working as a postdoctoral fellow at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

Ryan Stowe, Ph.D.

Ryan Stowe, Ph.D.

Advisor: William R. Roush, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: I. Synthesis of the C5-C15 Fragment of Leiodermatolide; II. The Design and Synthesis of Inhibitors of Class I Histone Deacetylases; III. The Use of in silico Screening in Secondary School Classrooms
Undergraduate Institution: Albion College
Honors & Awards: Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship; Abrams Charitable Trust Fellowship
Next Steps: Stowe is now working as a Research Associate in Chemistry Education at Michigan State University.

Matthew Villaume, Ph.D.

Matthew Villaume, Ph.D.

Advisor: Phil S. Baran, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Total Synthesis of Isoprenoid Quinone Natural Products and their Biological Examination
Undergraduate Institution: Boston College
Noteworthy Publications: Antroquinonol A: Scalable Synthesis and Preclinical Biology of a Phase 2 Drug Candidate, ACS Central Science (2016); Organic chemistry: Reactivity Tamed One Bond at a Time, Nature (2014)
Honors & Awards: Dean’s Fellowship, National Science Foundation GRFP Fellowship
Next Steps: Villaume has entered medical school at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

George Voren, Ph.D.

George Voren, Ph.D.

Advisor: Paul J. Kenny, Ph.D.
Doctoral Thesis: Septo-habenular Regulation of Nicotine Intake
Undergraduate Institution: University of Florida
Next Steps: Voren is now working as an associate at Flagship Pioneering in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he works as part of a team of entrepreneurial scientists to conceive, create, resource and develop the next generation of Flagship’s first-in-category ventures, as well as to fund promising early-stage companies.