Welcome to ASCB’s inaugural Emerging Researcher Talk Series. Speakers were selected from a review of high-ranking abstracts that were submitted but were not chosen for talks for the Cell Bio 2021 meeting. This is a virtual seminar series that will be broadcast live from February through November 2022.

Cells in Distress and Disease

Feb. 17, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EST

 Chen Yuan Kam - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Chen Yuan Kam – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: Department of Genetics, Yale School of Medicine

Biography: Chen received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. He then carried out his doctoral work in the lab of Kathleen Green at Northwestern University where he studied the role of desmosomes in the context of cardiocutaneous disease. Since 2018, he has been a postdoctoral associate in the lab of Valentina Greco at Yale University. In the Greco lab, Chen’s research has been focused on understanding the development and homeostatic maintenance of the skin vascular network via longitudinal intravital imaging approaches.

Cellular Dynamics

March 17, 2022 3:00-4:00 PM EDT

Maria Lastra Cagigas - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Maria Lastra Cagigas – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Sydney, Australia

Biography: Dr Maria Lastra Cagigas received training as a Biotechnologist in the University of Leon, Spain, before moving to Australia to pursue a PhD in cancer cell biology and microscopy. Her research, published in Nature Materials, has found that a protein from the cell’s cytoskeleton is responsible for cell adhesion and mechanosensing of surface stiffness. Maria uses cellular cryo-EM to understand how this protein works.

Mugdha Sathe - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Mugdha Sathe – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: University of Washington Seattle & Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Biography: Growing up in India, Mugdha lived in six states and went to eight schools. After finishing university, she moved to Bangalore to join the National Centre for Biological Sciences for her PhD. Here, she was co-advised by Prof. Satyajit (Jitu) Mayor and Prof. Mukund Thattai. For graduate work she looked at how curvature sensing protein shape plasma membrane to make endocytic vesicles. After her PhD, she ‘migrated’ to Seattle to join the lab of Prof. Julie Theriot at the University of Washington to study cell migration of immune cells in complex environment in the context of wound healing in the zebrafish model system.

Cellular Genome

April 21, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EDT

Liliana Lopes - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Liliana Lopes – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: NOVA Medical School;

Biography: Lilian is a PhD student in the Membrane traffic in disease lab under the supervision of Duarte Barral at the Chronic Diseases Research Center (CEDOC) in Lisbon, Portugal. She is interested in the mechanisms that regulate basal skin pigmentation, specially the turnover of the pigment melanin within skin keratinocytes.

Joanna Filipowska - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Joanna Filipowska – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: Arthur Riggs Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute

Biography: Joanna’s graduate training was in the areas of bone biology and mesenchymal stem cells. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Rupangi Vasavada, located in Arthur Riggs Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute, at City of Hope, in Duarte, California. Joanna’s postdoctoral training is in islet biology and diabetes, in 2019 she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship sponsored by the JDRF to study the role of LGR4 in type 1 diabetes.

Communal Cell

May 19, 2022 12:00-1:00 EDT

Peter Stuckey - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Peter Stuckey – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: University of Notre Dame; Eck Institute for Global Health

Biography: Pete is a 4th year graduate student in the Santiago-Tirado lab. He earned his B.S. in Biology from Hope College. His research interests include the mechanisms underlying the host-pathogen interactions of Cryptococcus neoformans. He hopes to continue his training in the fungal field in the future.

Ramya Varadarajan - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Ramya Varadarajan – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Biography: Ramya is a postdoc fellow at the Rusan lab, NHLBI-NIH. She is broadly interested in understanding the mechanisms of cellular function, especially the progression of cell cycle that links to cellular and animal development. She’s currently studying the dynamics of centrosome assembly and function in the Drosophila model system. She incorporates an interdisciplinary research approach using tools from genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. Her passion is to promote and channelize a support system for researchers to gain confidence and encouragement during their scientific journey. Sometimes all anyone needs is a pat on the shoulder!

Physical Cell

June 16, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EDT

Hongkang Zhu - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Hongkang Zhu – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: Columbia University; Chemical Engineering

Biography: Hongkang is a Ph.D. candidate focused on Computational Biophysics at Columbia University (advisor: Prof. Ben O’Shaughnessy). He uses mathematical modeling and quantitative methods to understand the physical mechanisms of tissue morphogenesis during early embryo development. He received his B.S. in Chemical Biology from Tsinghua University in China.

Mike Piacentino - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Mike Piacentino – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: California Institute of Technology; Division of Biology and Biological Engineering

Biography: Dr. Mike Piacentino received his PhD from the laboratory of Dr. Cynthia Bradham at Boston University, after which he began his postdoctoral research with Dr. Marianne Bronner at the California Institute of Technology. Dr. Piacentino is fascinated by plasma membrane organized and function during cell migration. To investigate these questions, his research intersects classical mechanisms of cell invasion with changes in lipid metabolism and membrane biophysics during avian neural crest migration.

Signaling and Metabolism

September 15, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EDT

Tamara Moretti - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Tamara Moretti – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: Iowa State University

Biography: Tamara’s research is focused on deciphering the mechanism on how Kelch-like proteins affect the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) signaling and how their defects cause human diseases. She utilizes conditional knockdown or overexpression strategies in cultured cells in addition to generating Zebrafish (Danio rerio) knockout lines. Her goal is to identify targets for novel therapies to improve human health.

Yumi (Ida) Konagaya - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Yumi (Ida) Konagaya – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: Weill Cornell

Biography: A postdoc in the lab of Tobias Meyer at Weill Cornell, Yumi Konagaya (Ida) studies cell fate determination using live-cell imaging and single-cell analysis. She received her PhD from Kyoto University, where she developed a mouse line expressing a novel FRET reporter for AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity. She used this mouse line to study tissue- and cell-type specific effects of exercise and metformin treatment. Her current focus is to understand how cells decide to enter the cell cycle using live-cell reporters for cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and E2F. She is passionate about developing tools to investigate how signaling dynamics encode biological information.

Specialized Cell and Evolution

October 20, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EDT 

Kristin Dahl - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Kristin Dahl – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Biography: Kristin received her undergraduate degree from the Ohio State University. After graduating, she worked with Dr. Atom Sarkar; and used atomic force microscopy to study the biophysical properties of proteins associated with brain pathology. She then moved to Colorado to work with Dr. Chad Pearson to study centriole biogenesis. She started graduate school in 2016 at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the Molecular Biology program. She is currently working with Dr. Wendy Macklin to understand how the myelin-producing glial cell, oligodendrocyte, regulates changes in the actin cytoskeleton network during differentiation to generate myelin. Her broader interest is in studying how the extracellular environment interacts with intracellular signaling pathways that result in different cellular outcomes.

Juliet Girard - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Juliet Girard – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: University of California Los Angeles, Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology

Biography: Juliet Girard received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences, cum laude from Harvard University in 2007 and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California San Francisco in 2015. She is currently a postdoc in the Banerjee lab at the University of California Los Angeles and will soon be starting her own lab as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research addresses how intercellular signaling and the gene expression it triggers affect the development of blood cells (hematopoiesis). In particular, she investigates how undifferentiated progenitor cells differentiate into a variety of specialized blood cell types. Insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie blood formation are necessary to understand the causes of blood diseases such as leukemia and may aid in the development of new therapies.

Cellular Dynamics

November 17, 2022 12:00-1:00 PM EST

Taylor Medwig Kinney - Graduate Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Taylor Medwig Kinney – Graduate Student Speaker

Affiliation: Stony Brook University

Biography: Taylor is a graduate research fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David Matus at Stony Brook University. Her dissertation research is focused on investigating transcriptional regulation of the switch between invasive and proliferative cellular fates using the model of C. elegans somatic gonad development. Aside from her research, Taylor is very passionate about teaching, mentoring, and outreach, especially advocating for women and mothers in STEM.

Daniel Cortes - Postdoctoral Speaker - Emerging Researcher Talks

Daniel Cortes – Postdoctoral Speaker

Affiliation: UNC Chapel Hill

Biography: Daniel Cortes got his Ph.D. at UC Davis, where he studied the segregation of unpaired X chromosome homologs during anaphase of female meiosis using a combination of live and fixed fluorescence microscopy. Since 2016, Daniel has been working as a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Dr. Amy Maddox at UNC Chapel Hill. At UNC Daniel has focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms that give rise to contractile ring constriction during cell division. Daniel has combined his expertise in microscopy with newly acquired skills in agent-based modeling to develop predictive models of contractile ring constriction. Later this year, Daniel will be joining faculty at Virginia Tech, where he will start a lab to study how chromosome segregation and cell division communicate to ensure proper timing of both.