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Highlighting Mentee/Mentor Collaborations for Undergrad Research Programs 2022

By July 13, 2022No Comments

In collaboration with the U01 project at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, undergraduate-level students collaborated with their near-peer mentors in the lab to create explainer videos about the research they’re working on.

NRMN is thrilled to highlight the hard work of these creators and share their projects with our network.


Ansley Fiorito is a junior studying Biology and Global Public Health at NYU, mentored by Ben Brissette. Ansley is a Texan that has participated in C. elegan research at the University of Texas at Austin and NYU Langone. In the future, she hopes to focus on elder care in America and attend medical school. Ben Brissette is a fifth year PhD student in Neuroscience and Physiology at New York University advised by Dr. Niels Ringstad. He is studying how complex features of the environment are broken down into parts by the sensory nervous system and then put back together elsewhere in the nervous system to instruct behavior. The smell of bacteria, food for the microscopic worm C. elegans, is a complex bouquet of many molecules. A short snippet of their research is: To figure out how these animals identify specific bacteria based on these blends and adjust their behavior accordingly, we generated mutants that affect groups of neurons important for the animal’s ability to smell. By testing these mutants alone and in combination, we can figure out which neurons are sensing the bacteria and how they’re working together to represent it.

Lab PI: Niels Ringstad

Check out this video explaining more of their research Here!



Sophia is a senior student at Pennsylvania State University studying Biology, mentored by Lilly. Sophia joined the Hermann Lab in the summer of 2021 as a research assistant working on Lilly’s project about monarch butterfly conservation, and started her own independent research the following fall. Sophia is interested in continuing her research career to support native insects. Lilly is a Master’s student in the Ecology Interdisciplinary Graduate Degree Program at Penn State studying monarch conservation through the lens of predator prey interactions. She has a background in botany and ecology and is passionate about developing recommendations that consider the conservation practitioner and the community to be conserved. Their current research is still focused on monarch butterfly conservation; specifically, how other herbivores present on milkweed, like aphids, impact monarchs. This summer, they will conduct experiments to see how varying degrees of aphids and their honeydew — which is a sugary secretion that aphids leave behind — affect both monarch caterpillars and butterflies. These results will be applied to planting recommendations for gardeners that want to help conserve monarchs. 

Lab PI: Sara Hermann

Check out this video explaining more of their research Here!



 Jared Kupersmith (he/him/his) is a junior at Emory University studying chemistry and global health, and is mentored by Julia Tanquary (she/her). Jared is an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Christine Dunham’s lab. His research focuses on the effects of toxin-antitoxin deletions in E. coli, and potential phenotypes associated with such deletions. One fun fact about Jared is that he learned to walk by chasing an iguana on a family vacation. Julia Tanquary (she/her) obtained a B.S. in Biology and Spanish from Eckerd College and is now a PhD candidate in the Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology program at Emory University. Her research in the Dunham lab focuses on toxin-antitoxin systems in bacterial survival and stress responses. One fun lab fact about Julia is that since she broke her dominant wrist, she can accurately pipette with both hands. A short summary of their research is:investigating the role of ribosome dependent type II toxins on bacterial survival and stress responses. The toxins we study bind the ribosome and cleave mRNA that is being actively translated, halting cell growth. Although scientists have known about bacterial toxin-antitoxin systems for years, there are still many outstanding questions in the field including – how are toxins activated and what dictates the specificity of their mRNA targets?

Lab PI: Christine Dunham

Check out this video explaining more of their research Here!

We are so proud of these mentors and mentees for this incredible research! We look forward to hearing more on these topics. 


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