Congratulations to our Fall 2023 TriCEM Grad Student Award Recipients!

Rachel Loney (she/her) is a PhD student in the University Program in Genetics and Genomics at Duke University working in the lab of Dr. Dennis Ko. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Gettysburg College where she researched bacteriophage ecology and evolution. Rachel now studies Salmonella diversity and host-pathogen interactions.


Rebecca Wu is a first-year PhD student in the Human Biology Lab at UNC Chapel Hill. They completed an undergraduate degree in Biological Anthropology at Northwestern University and conducted an undergraduate thesis on the relationships between maternal psychosocial stress, the gut microbiota, and infant health. Her current research interests include maternal and child health, the microbiota, and human-environment interactions.


Isabela (she/her) is a PhD student in the Genetics and Molecular Biology program at UNC-Chapel Hill working in the lab of Dr. Jonathan Parr within the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Ecology Lab (IDEEL). She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and master’s in Genetics at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. There, Isabela studied how genetic variation impacts disease severity in a mouse model of Marfan Syndrome. Motivated by her interests in genetic diversity and computational biology, Isabela spent two years as a research data analyst at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. Currently, she’s leveraging her skills in molecular and computational biology to explore the genetic epidemiology of infectious diseases, focusing on malaria. In her project, she aims to use sequencing data to investigate how civil unrest and human migration affect the genetic diversity of malaria parasites, particularly in the context of drug- and diagnostic-resistance.


Sara is a PhD student in the Environment program at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. Working in the Pan Lab with Dr. Bill Pan, she studies malaria epidemiology and ecology particularly as related to environmental change, climate change, human mobility, and development. Sara graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology and received her M.S. in Global Health from Duke University where she explored fish production as a potential predictor of malaria incidence as related to sub-seasonal climatic variation.


Caroline Shearer is a PhD student in the University Program in Ecology at Duke University and is in Dr. Christine Drea’s lab in the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology. She received her BS in Ecology from the University of Georgia and is currently investigating female social dominance and co-dominance in lemurs. Her research broadly focuses on how differences in social structure and behavior link to hormones, parasites, and the microbiome.


Shane Killarney is an MD/PhD candidate in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Shane works in Dr. Kris Wood’s lab and is studying tumor evolution under the selective pressure of targeted therapy, with the goal of identifying evolutionary traps to eradicate residual tumor cell populations.


Bradley Scholten is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University and is advised by Roland Kays and Martha Burford Reiskind. He earned his BS in Biology at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bradley is currently studying the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in songbirds.


Kimberly Mayes is a dedicated Ph.D. student in Biology at NC State University, building on a solid foundation with both a Bachelor’s in Zoology and a Master’s in Biology from the same institution. Specializing in stress and welfare, enrichment practices, and husbandry, Kimberly’s research is making significant strides in understanding and improving the lives of lemurs and gambusia fish. Her work contributes to the scientific community and is vital to animal welfare and conservation efforts.