UB Biological Sciences PhD Alumni

We are very proud of our PhD alums.  On this page we present annual lists of the PhDs awarded since 2017 by the Department of Biological Sciences.

On this page

2024 PhD Graduates

Flavio da Silva Coelho, PhD.

Flavio da Silva Coelho, PhD

Flavio da Silva Coelho, PhD
Defense: May 7, 2024
Advisor: Lindqvist
Thesis title: “Uncovering mammalian evolution in Alexander Archipelago, southeast Alaska, through paleogenomics
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow at Trent University

2023 PhD Graduates

Kelsey Swinter, PhD.

Kelsey Swinter, PhD

Kelsey Swinter, PhD
Defense: December 15, 2023
Advisor: Gunawardena
Thesis title: "The effect of Huntington's disease on mitochondria morphology and function”
Current position: Daemen University

Nathan Backenstose.

Nathan Backenstose, PhD

Nathan Backenstose, PhD
Defense: September 22, 2023
Advisor: Krabbenhoft
Thesis title: "Evolutionary history and genomic architecture of species radiations: An examination of polyploid Coregonus species (Salmonidae) in the Laurentian Great Lakes”
Current position: Postdoctoral fellow with Drs. Mark Christie and Catherine Searle, Purdue University

Indu Raghavan, PhD.

Indu Raghavan, PhD

Indu Raghavan, PhD
Defense: July 10, 2023
Advisor: Z. Wang
Thesis title: "Bioengineering Escherichia coli to produce plant terpenes"

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

Minakshi Mukherjee.

Minakshi Mukherjee, PhD

Minakshi Mukherjee, PhD
Defense: February 16, 2023
Advisor: Zhen Wang
Thesis title: ““Bio-engineering Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the production of terpenoids"
Current position: Developmental Specialist, Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, University of Rochester




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