Skip to content

Graduate Students

We have supported graduate student research in evolutionary medicine at Duke, NC A&T, NCCU, NC State, and UNC-Chapel Hill through our Graduate Student Awards. Previously funded projects are listed below by semester of award.

Spring 2024

Ammara Aqeel (Duke University)
Impact of Deforestation on Dietary Resilience and Microbiome Health

Julia Slack (Duke University)
The Oral Microbiome and Fatigue in People with Breast Cancer Receiving Chemo

Samantha Phelps (Duke University)
Investigating the role of the microbiome in resistance to PAH exposure

Julian Liber (Duke University)
Enhancing pathogen biocontrol in the yeast Aureobasidium pullulans

Amanda Wilson (Duke University)
Elucidating the Cryptic Dispersal Mechanisms of Fungal Endophytes

Angela Jones (Duke University)
Evolutionary pressures on sex-biased genes and disease-associated variants

Taylor Gin (North Carolina State University)
Microbiome sharing between humans and their pet dogs

Tyler Barrett (Duke University)
Sickness Behavior and the Spread of Infectious Disease in Rural Village Networks

Lev Kolinski (Duke University)
Market Integration and Infectious Disease: A Disease Ecology Perspective

Fall 2023

Sara O’Malley (Duke University)
Malaria & Migration: Assessing Local Malaria Change near Migrant Communities in Panama

Rachel Loney (Duke University)
Salmonella enterica divergence in host-pathogen interactions

Caroline Shearer (Duke University)
Costs and benefits of lemur social structures: behavior, hormones, and health

Shane Killarney (Duke University)
Dissecting the therapeutic landscape of tumor evolution in drug-resistant cancer

Rebecca Wu (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)
Quantifying chronic and acute stress in infant fecal biomarkers and microbiome

Isabela Gyuricza (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)
Effects of civil unrest on the evolution of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Ethiopia

Bradley Scholten (North Carolina State University)
Evaluating Point Sources for Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Songbirds

Kimberly Mayes (North Carolina State University)
Exploring Variation in Salivary Cortisol Levels in Ring-Tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta): Implications for the Evolution of the Human Cortisol Stress Response

Spring 2023

Rachel Keener (Duke University)
Natural human genetic diversity reveals a putative plague receptor and expands known functions of a mammalian immune receptor protein family

Srishti Sadhir (Duke University)
Maternal metabolic limits during human pregnancy

Fall 2022

Bach Nguyen (Duke University)
Investigating the natural evolution of anti-Gram-negative peptide antibiotics

Tania P. Guerrero Altamirano (Duke University)
Combinatorial gene by environment interactions in the evolution of disease variance

Rebecca Cook (Duke University)
An evolutionary approach to pelvic implant shapes in patients with hip cancer

Trisha Dalapati (Duke University)
Genetic selection of a protective variant following pandemic pathogen infections

Spring 2022

Marissa Cole (North Carolina State University)
Evolutionary trends in the antimicrobial properties of wood-feeding insect feces

Maria Creighton (Duke University)
Impacts of baboon social traits on foraging in a variable environment

Micah Dailey (Duke University)
Evaluating cis/trans dynamics in human disease and evolution using a hybrid iPSC model

Megan Dillon (North Carolina State University)
Dogs of Chernobyl: Effects of exposure on the genome and disease vectors

Laura Givens (Duke University)
Role of breeding strategy and geographic history in Eastern oyster strains

Federica Mosti (Duke University)
Unraveling the human-specific role of enhancer HAR1984 in neurodevelopment

Alma Solis (Duke University)
Social determinants of disease susceptibility: measuring sleep and stress

Fall 2021

Dayvion Adams (North Carolina State University)
Ticks and disease: the consequence of a shifting ecological landscape

Ashley Blawas (Duke University)
Off the beating path: whale heart organoids as novel model for hypoxia tolerance

Rachel Keener (Duke University)
Evolution of a novel plague receptor discovered through natural human diversity

Yanting “Raven” Luo (Duke University)
The role of human unique insertions in neurodevelopmental evolution and disease

Jake Nash (Duke University)
Investigating a microbial rescue for trees under severe drought stress

April Sharp (North Carolina State University)
Does a medicinal pollen diet restore pollination services by parasitized bees?

Spring 2021

Katrina DeWitt (Duke University)
Climate-driven shifts in the prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes

Christopher Hayes (North Carolina State University)
Bed bugs interfere with malaria interventions: temporal changes of kdr mutations

Jennifer Kneas (North Carolina Central University)
Evaluation of carrier proteins upon binding to the HB-EGFR and its variants

Tinyiko Nicole Maswanganye (North Carolina A&T State University)
Determining evolutionary mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2: Water waste surveillance

Elise Paietta (Duke University)
Optimization of anthroponotic viral detection approaches in lemurs

Ourania Raftopoulou (North Carolina State University)
Impact of the growth history of a foodborne pathogen on its virulence

Jude Raj (Duke University)
Determinants of targeted therapy-induced immune evasion

Eleanor Semmes (Duke University)
Human cytomegalovirus and host B cell co-evolution across the lifespan

Jillian Wisse (Duke University)
Deep breaths: how whale stress can lead to hypoxia treatments for humans

Fall 2020

Allison Coomber (North Carolina State University)
Evolution of the effectome of Phytophthora infestans on tomato

Mizpha Fernander (North Carolina A&T State University)
Examining the co-adaptation of Streptococcus mutans to microgravity and silver

Clara Howell (Duke University)
Sickness communication in swamp sparrows (Melospiza georgiana)

Essence Jackson (North Carolina Central University)
Flies get buzzed: evolution of intoxicated behavior, neurogenesis, and the insulin pathway

Olusola Jeje (North Carolina A&T State University)
Experimental evolution of iron (III) and T7 phage in E. coli K-12 MG1655: Consequences on antimicrobial resistance and prospects for new antimicrobial substances

Riley J. Mangan (Duke University)
Neurodevelopmental innovation and disease in fast-evolving human genomic regions

De’Jana Parker (North Carolina Central University)
The role of prolonged cannabinoid exposure and cannabinoid receptor activation in pathogen associated pulmonary inflammation

Brianna Petrone (Duke University)
Phylogenetic signatures of food-microbe relationships in the human GI tract

Lauren Sapp (North Carolina State University)
Identifying genetic incompatibilities that reduce fitness in natural populations

Kelyah Spurgeon (North Carolina A&T State University)
Life in space: exploring the evolutionary co-adaptation of microbes on the ISS

Amr Waly (North Carolina Central University)
Defining the evolutionary roles of the cancer disparity CRYβ2P1 pseudogene

Spring 2020

Christopher Bassil (Duke University)
Evolutionary trade-offs in drug-resistant cancers

Jacob Griffin (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Inflammation and aging in a high activity and pathogenic burden environment

Jennifer Jenks (Duke University)
Targeting a neutralizing cytomegalovirus glycoprotein by B cell phylogenetics

Allie Schrock (Duke University)
Comparative study of neuroanatomy & neuroendocrinology in strepsirrhine primates

Fall 2019

Hanna L. Berman (North Carolina State University)
Exploring connections between ​Gardnerella vaginalis​ diversity and preterm birth

Katherine Malinski (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Thermal mismatch among hosts, parasitoids, and symbionts

Morgan Maly (North Carolina State University)
Investigating the link among diet, the gut microbiome, and gastrointestinal health in the endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Alexander McCumber (Duke University)
Environmental microbial exposure shapes the gut and lung microbiomes

Khristopher Nicholas (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Social and environmental determinants of metabolic dysregulation in the Galápagos

Thomas J. C. Sauters (Duke University)
Experimental evolution of Cryptococcus in response to anthropogenic environmental change

Kelsey Sumner (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Plasmodium falciparum bottlenecks to improve intervention effectiveness in Kenya

Chin Yee Tan (Duke University)
Clostridium immunis: An immunomodulatory human-derived, murine-adapted gut commensal

Spring 2019

Zane Swanson (Duke University)
The effect of lifestyle change on health and life history in the Daasanach

Axel Berky (Duke University)
Intergenerational response to chronic trace metal exposure by altering protein expression

Fall 2018

Tess Leuthner (Duke University)
Exploring the role of evolution and the environment on mitochondrial DNA mutagenesis

Sally Bornbusch (Duke University)
Antibiotic resistance as a pollutant and threat to wildlife health

Casey Lindberg (Duke University)
Adaptation-driven alterations in transcriptional responses to multiple stressors

Alejandro Antonia (Duke University)
Leishmania Virulence Factor GP63: Positive selection drives differential disease outcome

Laura Childers (Duke University)
Exploring the adaptation of gut microbial communities to genetic mouse models of
Parkinson’s disease

Alyssa Grube (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Lessons from the environmental resistome in Galápagos: A One Health perspective

Yue Hao (North Carolina State University)
Comparative genomics tools for inferring genes involved in mammalian pregnancy and applications to metastatic cancers

Fall 2017

Joseph McGirr (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Editing naturally occurring genetic variants affecting craniofacial development

Spring 2017

Jordan Anderson (Duke University)
The Effects of Early Adversity on t-cell Receptor Diversity in Wild Baboons

Jeremy Ash (North Carolina State University)
Using Molecular Modeling and Machine Learning to Study Dynamic ERK-ligand Interactions

Katie Barrett (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
The Developmental Roles of Leptin and Ghrelin: Mammalian Comparisons

Nicholas Brazeau (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
The Evolutionary Origins and Global Dispersal of Plasmodium vivax

Temini Ajayi (Duke University)
Investigating a Modern Era Role for IRGM in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Quantil Melendez (North Carolina Central University)
Epigenetic Regulation of PCSK9 and the Onset of Metabolic Diseases in Diverse Ethnic Groups

Kristen Hopperstad (North Carolina State University)
A Population Genetic and Genomic Approach to Estimate the Evolutionary Potential of Aedes aegypti

Fall 2016

Achsah Dorsey (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
An Exploration of Iron Deficiency and Morbidity in Peru

Spring 2016

Matthew T. Biegler (Duke University)
Clarifying Promoter and Cell-Type Homologies Across Avian and Mammalian Taxa

Joshua K. Hughey (North Carolina Central University)
Yersinia Pseudotuberculosis to Yersinia pestis – Evolution of the Deadliest Pathogen in History

Kayleigh O’Keeffe (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
How Microbial Interactions Affect Infection & Gene Expression of a Plant Pathogen

Cody S. Nelson (Duke University)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Evolution to Evade Vaccine-Elicited Antibody Responses

Kendra Smyth (Duke University)
Reversing Evolutionary Mismatch Using Biome Enrichment: The Next Step

Fall 2015

Mercy Akinyi (Duke University)
Co-Infections in Wild Primate Populations

Caroline Amoroso (Duke University)
Are Humans Exceptionally Parasitized?

Yuantong Ding (Duke University)
Cancer Evolutionary Model Shedding Light on Clinical Tumor Sampling Strategies

Amanda Lea (Duke University)
Social Effects on the Baboon Epigenome: Critical Periods or Lifelong Plasticity?

Yuxiang Liu (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Parallel Evolution of Gene Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Evolution of Hippocampal Function

Sasha Makohon-Moore (Duke University)
Investigation of Genetic and Epigenetic Modifications in Human Adipocytes

Jennifer Niemuth (North Carolina State University)
An Evolutionary Model of Physiologic Adaptations to Hypothermia and Reperfusion

Jaymin Patel (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Understanding the Genetic Diversity and Identification of Pathogenic Variants of Malaria in Pregnancy

Laura Sligar (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Evolution of Mitochondrial Heteroplasmy in Drosophila

Dustin Wcisel (North Carolina State University)
Transcriptional Response of Immunoglobulin Domain-Containing Innate Immune Receptors

Qinglong Zeng (Duke University)
Ecological and Evolutionary Models of Short Term Microbiome Dynamics