UB Biological Sciences PhD Alumni

We are very proud of our PhD alums.  On this page is a list of the PhDs awarded in the department since 2017.

Page updated May 16, 2023

2023 PhD Graduates

Chen Gong.

Chen Gong, PhD

Chen Gong, PhD
Defense: May 5, 2023
Advisor: Koudelka
Thesis title: “RNA Methylase in Stx-Phage: A Secret Weapon Regulates Spontaneous Induction and Virulence by Preventing Shiga Toxin Backfire”

Crystal Tomlin.

Crystal Tomlin, PhD

Crystal Tomlin, PhD
Defense: May 2, 2023
Advisor: Lindqvist
Thesis title: “Tracing Histories of Polyploidy, Admixture, and Diversification in Plant Radiations at the Genomic Scale”
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow, University at Buffalo, Dept. Biomedical Informatics

Ansuman Sahoo.

Ansuman Sahoo, PhD

Ansuman Sahoo, PhD
Defense: April 28, 2023
Advisor: Walker
Thesis title: “Dynamic Phosphorylation of RNA Helicase EIF4A Guides Molecular Responses to Cell Cycle Transitions and Glucose Removal”
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow, Merck

2022 PhD Graduates

Ying Liu.

Ying Liu, PhD

Ying Liu, PhD
Defense: December 16, 2022
Advisor: Koudelka
Thesis title: "“Carbohydrates of Lipopolysaccharide: Acanthamoeba castellanii Predation Determinant and Bacterial Defense Strategy”


Maggie Postolache.

Maggie Postolache, PhD

Maggie Postolache, PhD
Defense: November 3, 2022
Advisor: Xu-Friedman
Thesis title: "Effects of Aging on the Responses of Units in the Anteroventral Cochlear Nucleus of Mice In Vivo

Guolei Zhao, PhD.

Guolei Zhao, PhD

Guolei Zhao, PhD
Defense: August 2, 2022
Advisor: Rusche
Thesis title: “Characterization of two regulators with opposite effects on hyphal growth of Candida albicans"
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan with Teresa O'Meara


Matthew Vandermeulen.

Matthew Vandermeulen, PhD

Matthew Vandermeulen, PhD
Defense: March 1, 2022
Advisor: Cullen
Thesis title: "The examination of signaling pathway gene by environment interactions in the regulation of filamentous growth”
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow with Paul Cullen, UB


Thomas “TJ" Krzystek, PhD.

Thomas Krzystek, PhD

Thomas “TJ" Krzystek, PhD
Defense: February 18, 2022
Advisor: Gunawardena
Thesis title: "Elucidating neuronal functions of huntingtin-endomembrane transport complexes”
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital with Dr. Zhigang He

Nicole Wong, PhD.

Nicole Wong, PhD

Nicole Wong, PhD
Defense: January 11, 2022
Advisor: Xu-Friedman
Thesis title: "Signaling mechanisms of activity-dependent changes at auditory nerve synapses”
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow with Gina Turrigiano at Brandeis University

Pavan Patel, PhD.

Pavan Patel, PhD

Pavan Patel, PhD
Defense: January 4, 2022
Advisor: Stephan Free, PhD
Thesis title: "Characterization of the four major Neurospora crassa glycosyl hydrolase family enzymes involved in cell wall biogenesis”
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow at NIH


2021 PhD Graduates

Aditi Chaubey, PhD Program: PhD Lab: Ferkey UBIT: aditihem.

Aditi Chaubey, PhD  

Aditi Chaubey, PhD
Defense: October 25, 2021
Advisor: Ferkey
Thesis title: "Aversive circuits: Modes and means of modulation in Caenorhabditis elegans
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Michael Feigin, Roswell Park

Haniam Maria, PhD.

Haniam Maria, PhD

Haniam Maria, PhD
Defense: August 6, 2021
Advisor: Rusche
Thesis title: "Role of a non-duplicated DNA replication protein in origin specification and epigenetic gene silencing in budding yeast”
Placement: Scientist, QIAGEN

Alexander Bowitch.

Alexander Bowitch, PhD

Zander Bowitch, PhD
Defense: March 26, 2021
Advisor: Ferkey
Thesis title: "Examining the effect of protein arginine methylation on G protein-coupled receptor signaling and protein-protein interactions with modulators of D2 signaling”

Courtney Szyjka, PhD.

Courtney Szyjka, PhD

Courtney Szyjka, PhD
Defense: January 26, 2021
Advisor: Gollnick
Thesis Title: “Investigating additional roles of the trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP) in transcriptional regulation of the trp operon in Bacillus subtilis.
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow with Eric Strobel, UB

2020 PhD Graduates

Aditi Prabhakar, PhD.

Aditi Prabhakar, PhD
Defense: December 16, 2020
Advisor: Cullen
Thesis title: “Spatial and Temporal Regulation of MAP Kinase Pathways and the Impact on Intrinsic Polarity Establishment”
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow with William Mair, Harvard School of Public Health

Chris Rupert.

Chris Rupert, PhD
Defense: July 21, 2020
Advisor: Rusche
Thesis title: "A role for the deacetylase Hst1 in carbon source dependent filamentation in the pathogenic yeast C. parapsilosis
Placement: postdoctoral fellow, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Rupkatha Banerjee.

Rupkatha Banerjee, PhD
Defense: July 6, 2020
Advisor: Gunawardena
Thesis title: "Regulation of molecular motors by glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) and presenilin (PS) during axonal transport”
Placement: Postdoctoral associate in the lab of Ronald Davis at Scripps Research, Florida.

Heather Williams.

Heather Williams, PhD
Defense: April 14, 2020
Advisor: Dittmar
Thesis title: "From microbiota to macroecology: Three levels of purple martin ecology"
Placement: Clinical Assistant Professor, UB

Shaunna Phipps.

Shaunna Phipps, PhD
Defense: February 27, 2020
Advisor: Bisson
Thesis title: The role of sodium transport in salt tolerance in two species of Chara.
Position: Lecturer, UB Department of Biological Sciences

Skyler Resendez, PhD.

Skyler Resendez, PhD
Defense: January 8, 2020
Advisor: Gokcumen
Thesis title: "Identifying and Analyzing Human Genetic Variation through a Key Example in the Growth Hormone Receptor Gene”



2019 PhD Graduates

Debarghya Dutta Banik, Phd.

Debarghya Dutta Banik, PhD
Defense: December 3, 2019
Advisor: Medler
Thesis title: “Function of TRPM4 and PLCbeta3 in Taste Cell Signaling”
Position: Postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University


Ozgur Taskent, PhD
Defense: July 26, 2019
Advisor: Gokcumen
Thesis title: “A Genetic Record of Admixture Between Humans and Ancient Hominins”

Richoo Bijoo Davis.

Richoo Bijoo Davis, PhD
Defense: May 13, 2019
Advisor: Yu
Thesis title: "Protein Arginine Methylation Facilitates Environmental Adaptation in Budding Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae"
Placement: Postdoctoral Fellow at the UB Department of Physics with Dr. Priya Banerjee

Jacky Chow, PhD.

Jacky Chow, PhD
Defense date: January 20, 2019
Advisor: Cullen
Thesis title: "Exploring the role of signaling networks in regulating fungal foraging responses"
Placement: Scientist 2, Agenus; Postdoctoral Fellow, Roswell Park Cancer Center with Dr. Jason Muhitch

Yen-Lung Onta Lin, PhD.

Yen-Lung Onta Lin, PhD
Defense date: January 9, 2019
Advisor: Gokcumen
Thesis title: "In search of the adaptive roles of genomic structural variants in the human genome"
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow at University of Chicago with Luis Barreiro



2018 PhD Graduates

Rachel Bowman, PhD.

Rachel Bowman, PhD
Defense date: November 1, 2018
Advisor: Gollnick
Thesis title: "The Role of the Triphosphatase Domain of the Vaccinia Capping Enzyme During Early Gene Transcription Termination."
Placement: Senior scientist at Frontier Science and Technology, Amherst, NY

Dianxiong Zou, PhD.

Dianxiong Zou, PhD
Defense date: October 30, 2018
Advisor: Hennessey
Thesis title: "Characterization of a Seven-transmembrane Protein and a Putative Ligand with Respect to Behavior and Iron Uptake in Tetrahymena thermophila"
Placement: Postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M

Sukanya Basu, PhD
Defense: August 17, 2018
Advisor: Paul Cullen
Thesis: "The role of polarity proteins in regulating MAP kinase pathways in Saccharomyces cerevisiae."
Position: Scientist, Curia; Postdoc with Drs. Erik Knudsen and Agnieszka Witkiewicz at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
Kimberly Farr, PhD
Defense: July 27, 2018
Thesis: "The Influence of Genomic Organization on the Diversity of Angiosperms"
Advisor: Bisson
Position: Research scientist, 22nd Century Group
Xiaowen Zhuang, PhD
Defense: July 16, 2018
Thesis: "Activity-dependent changes at the auditory nerve synapse"
Advisor: Xu-Friedman
Position: Postdoctoral fellow at UCSF with Dr. Alexandra Nelson; Postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University

Duo (Erica) Xu, PhD
Defense: April 19, 2018
Thesis: "Evolution of a salivary mucin, MUC7"|
Advisor: Gokcumen
Position: Postdoc with Dr. Ekta Khurana at Weill Cornell Medicine

Joe White, PhD
Defense: February 1, 2018
Thesis: "Identification of Potential HTT-Rab Axonal Transport Complexes"
Advisor: Gunawardena
Position: Scientist, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Grand Island, NY
Yankun Gao, PhD
Defense: January 8, 2018
Thesis: "The Role of WT1 and BASP1 in the Development and Maintenance of the Posterior Tase Field"
Advisor: Medler, Roberts
Position: Enrolled in data science program at University of Rochester

Fall 2017 PhD Graduates

  Bhavana Muddukrishna, PhD
Defense: November 17, 2017
Thesis: “Dissecting a Role for Protein Arginine Methylation in pre-mRNA Splicing”
Advisor: YuPosition: Scientist at Cepheid, San Jose CA


  Ashleigh Hanner, PhD
Defense: August 4, 2017
Thesis: “The Yeast Heterochromatin Protein Sir3 Evolved in the AAA+ Base Subdomain after Subfunctionalization”
Advisor: Rusche
Position: Lab manager, NIDCR, NIH: Postdoc with Dr. Myung Hee Park, NIH, Inst Dental & Craniofacial Medicine

Christopher Mure, PhD

Defense: July 24, 2017
Thesis: “The rbcL mRNA binding protein RLSB is a bundle-sheath-specific, positive regulator of rbcL gene expression in C4 Plants”
Advisor: Berry
Position: Instructor of Biology, SUNY Erie


Kristen Humphrey, PhD

Defense: June 19, 2017
Thesis: “Sirtuin deacetylases couple nutrient availability to gene expression”
Advisor: Rusche
Position: Senior staff scientist, ThermoFisher;
Postdoc, Roswell Park Cancer Institute