Celebrating GCB Graduates
Please join us in our celebration as we highlight our GCB graduates.
The profiles are sectioned by degree type:
Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Title: Identifying Complex Trait-Related Genes via Regulation-Informed Gene-Based Analyses
Research and Lab Description: My dissertation work focused on identifying complex disease-associated genes through machine learning and integration of various genomics data. I was very fortunate to be accepted as one of the graduate students of Marylyn (Dr. Marylyn Ritchie). Marylyn runs the lab in a way that provides strong support in personal and professional growth. Marylyn now shares her professional and mentoring wisdom on her podcast "CALM: Combining Academia and Life with Marylyn" (https://marylynritchie.com/podcast). I am still receiving mentorship from her via this podcast, including many topics that I could have asked but didn't think about during my PhD period.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral scholar in Stanford.
Mentor Comment: Binglan was an absolute joy to mentor and work with throughout her graduate career. She is creative, inquisitive, innovative, and dedicated to her work. In addition, Binglan is incredibly compassionate and kind to everyone she encounters. Throughout her PhD, Binglan took on challenging questions and always performed at the highest level. It was my honor and privilege to be her PhD mentor and I look forward to watching where she goes from here.
Thesis Title: Genomic Evolution of Breast Cancer Metastasis
Research and Lab Description: About thesis: The identification of novel genomic alterations that drive breast cancer metastasis and tumor recurrence. About lab: Integrative wet and dry lab that seeks to generate and validate novel hypotheses of breast cancer susceptibility, dormancy, recurrence, and metastasis.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral research fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Serena Nik-Zainal at the University of Cambridge. Will seek to implement novel methods to discover latent processes driving differential genomic and epigenetic dysregulation.
Mentor Comment: Having Matt in the lab has been one of the great pleasures of my career. He is everything that a mentor hopes to see in a graduate student, most importantly someone with intense curiosity and a passion for science, who has boundless energy for asking important questions. Best of all, Matt is a wonderful human being who epitomizes what it means to be a colleague. I have no doubt he is headed for great things!
Thesis Title: The Global Landscape of RNA-Protein Interactions in Physcomitrium Patens ABA Response and in a Model of Mammalian Erythropoesis
Research and Lab Description: For my thesis, I used PIP-seq to identify regions of RNA binding protein and RNA interactions in two eukaryotic model systems along with global changes in RNA secondary structure. While at Penn, I worked with Dr. Brian Gregory whose lab focuses on all things RNA related.
Post PhD Plans: After defending my thesis, I have joined the pharmaceutical industry and am currently working as a Scientist I in Remix Therapeutics in Boston, Massachusetts.
Mentor Comment: Lucy Shan is an extremely adventurous learner. She is daring and not afraid to tackle any and all scientific projects no matter what obstacles may be in her way. She is diligent and extremely hard-working and made major advances through her graduate students both in mammalian blood development and plant stress response. I am sure there are not many students that can boast they produced publishable results in both the plant and animal kingdoms during their graduate work! We were lucky to have Lucy in the lab during her time and UPenn and she will be sorely missed!
Thesis Title: Advancing Immunotherapy through Proteogenomics: Identification and Validation of DLK1 as a Target in Neuroblastoma
Research and Lab Description: My thesis focused on advancing immunotherapy through proteogenomics, identifying and validating DLK1 as a target in neuroblastoma and participating in pediatric cancer advocacy. The Diskin, Maris and Garcia labs have been a wonderful place to conduct translational research and develop as an interdisciplinary scientist.
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Fellowship at CHOP in Maris and Diskin labs.
Mentor Comment: Amber was a pleasure to advise, as she worked extremely hard to integrate all areas of her different labs together into a coherent project. Her ability to connect large data sets to identify specific targets and following up functionally is a trait that is more like a seasoned postdoc than a graduate student. - Ben Garcia
Amber is the definition of FOCUS. She knew exactly what she wanted to do well before matriculating at Penn, and somehow had the perseverance to get three busy PIs to mentor her to assure broad training but a singular focus on improving the lives of children with cancer. Very lucky to have her stay for a post-doc, and she has amazing potential to be a highly impactful scientist. - John Maris
Thesis Title: Discovering Pleiotropy Across Circulatory Sytem Diseases and Nervous System Disorders
Research and Lab Description: I worked with the application of statistical methods in large-scale biobank cohorts in identifying disease related genetics. Ritchie lab is a great place to learn methodologies and innovative tools for genetic discovery, especially given the increasing amount of electronic health record linked biobanks. Marylyn Ritchie is a great mentor and I enjoyed my PhD time in the lab very much.
Post PhD Plans: Senior Statistical Geneticist at Regeneron.
Mentor Comment: It was an absolute delight to have Blair as a member of the lab. Her enthusiasm for life and her passion for science are contagious. Blair is always full of creative ideas to tackle challenging problems and throughout her graduate career, she worked extremely hard to produce very high-quality research. I am very proud of the scientist she has grown into and I look forward to watching her career soar from here.
Combined Degree, MD-PhD
Thesis Title: Uncovering the Origins of Rare-Cell Phenomena
Research and Lab Description: For my thesis I created a cellular time machine and used it to investigate the non-genetic origins of drug resistance in cancer. Something unique about the Raj lab is the lab's willingness to tackle questions across varied domains of biology and interest in working out both big-picture models and cellular mechanisms.
Post PhD Plans: I am finishing up my last 2 years of medical school and then plan to pursue post-doc training.
Thesis Title: Insights into Functional Noncoding RNA Elements through the Analysis of Human Genetic Variation
Research and Lab Description: Yoseph Barash's lab is an incredible training environment - I learned new things every day and ended up working on projects that I never thought I would when I started graduate school!
Post PhD Plans: Finishing med school and then conquering the world!
Thesis Title: Gene Regulation Displays an Enrichment of Both Additive and Multiplicative Outcomes when Combining the Effect of Two Cell Signals
Research and Lab Description: I characterized how cells combine the transcriptional effects of multiple signals, finding an enrichment for both additive and multiplicative outcomes. The Raj lab is an eclectic group of scientists that like to use systems biology approaches to study cancer, cellular adaptation, gene regulation, and RNA imaging.
Post PhD Plans: I’m returning to medical school to complete my MD/PhD degree, after which I will apply for residency in psychiatry!
Thesis Title: Sculpting 3D Chromatin Folding via Genome Editing
Research and Lab Description: Using genome editing tools to engineer three-dimensional genome folding. The Blobel lab has two foci: globin gene regulation with potential translational work on sickle cell disease; chromatin looping, higher-order structure and function.
Post PhD Plans: Finishing the MD portion of my MD-PhD training.
Mentor Comment: Di has been one of the most independent and creative graduate students I have known since coming to Penn. He thinks in very broad and conceptual terms, outside the box, and at a level not often found in students or even postdocs. Di has brilliantly worked out his own project and brought it to completion by learning everything that was involved from bench techniques to computational analyses. He has been a wonderful colleague to everyone in the lab, and I was tempted to never ever let him graduate. I look forward to following his amazing career.
Thesis Title: The 3D Genome as a New Dimension in Understanding Pathologic Short Tandem Repeat Instability
Research and Lab Description: My thesis is on how Fragile X Syndrome results in megabase scale disruptions to 3D genome folding and epigenetics across the genome! The Cremins lab is full of high energy and fun people! The lab studies neurological development and disease through the lens of 3D genome folding and epigenetics!
Post PhD Plans: Back to medical school and onwards to residency!
Mentor Comment: Linda is a tour de force in the lab – writing code, reading the literature, critically analyzing results, conducting experiments, engaging in energetic debates in group meeting – she is a truly rare talent. However, beyond these qualities, what sets Linda apart is the manner in which she approaches her work. She works with a passion for science and intense curiosity about the world around her, while remaining grounded, respectful, and a delight to have in the lab. It is rare to find an individual who is both a leader and a team player, but Linda is such a person. I look forward to watching her shine!