Who We Are

Meet the PSN volunteers! 

 


Leadership Team

Neha Nataraj

Neha Nataraj

Matric year: 2017
Program: Immunology Graduate Group (IGG)
Pronouns: she/her
Languages: English, Kannada, Spanish, Hindi

Short Bio: I am a co-mentored by Igor Brodsky and Sunny Shin. I study human cell death signaling in innate immune cells. I am originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, but I dream of living in New York one day. I semi-regularly perform Indian music and am a trained Indian classical dancer. I am also an avid birdwatcher and nature lover!

Zeenat Diwan

Zeenat Diwan

Matriculation Year: 2017
Program: Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) - DSRB
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Role in PSN: BGSA Representative
Languages: English, Hindi, Marathi
Short Bio: I am a grad student in Arndt Siekmann's lab, where I study vascular development in zebrafish. Specifically, my project aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate blood vessel sizes during early vertebrate development. I'm originally from India and moved to Germany to start my PhD in Arndt's lab at the Max Planck Institute in Muenster. Eight months later, we moved the lab to UPenn and I joined the DSRB graduate group. It's been an exciting roller-coaster ride and has given me the opportunity to explore graduate education in two different countries. At Penn, I'm also a part of BGSA and a mentor for the DRSB Peer Mentor Program. When I'm not doing science, I like exploring new towns, inventing food recipes, reading novels and photographing nature!

Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy

Matric Year: 2019
Program: Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG)
Pronouns: he/him/his
Languages: English
Additional info: I attended UCLA for my undergrad and am originally from the Los Angeles area/west coast if anyone is having trouble adjusting to Penn. I was a peer anxiety/depression counselor at UCLA in collaboration with our CAPS and am comfortable talking through difficult situations with others. 
Short Bio: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, where I graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. Here at Penn, I am a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Graduate Group pursuing my research in the Heller lab. My research interests involve characterizing the chronic-stress induced epigenetic modifications that potentiate maladaptive reward-circuitry and neuropsychiatric disorders such as binging, compulsive disorders, and addiction. Outside the lab, you can find me lifting weights, attending house music shows, and traversing the outdoors.

Aradhana Kasimsetty

Aradhana Kasimsetty

Matric Year: 2020
Program: Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB)- GTV
Pronouns: She/her/hers
Languages: English, Kannada, Hindi (basic)
Short Bio: While I was born in India, I am from Phoenix, Arizona and went to Arizona State University (ASU) for my combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program in Medical Microbiology/Biology where I worked on various medical cancer virology related projects. At Penn, I am a PhD student in the Gene Therapy and Vaccines program.  I currently work in Dr. Jim Wilson’s lab studying Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) gene therapy for infectious diseases. I am interested in ways we can use natural aspects of virology to improve viral delivery of therapeutic transgenes. Outside of the lab I like to write poetry, am involved in a local Philly Photography group and love to explore new parts of the city. Even during the pandemic, I enjoy encouraging people to find ways to keep engaging with the local community and with each other because that is what will get us through these hard times.  


General Volunteers

Kara McGaughey

Kara McGaughey

Matric year: 2018
Program: Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG)
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Languages: English, Spanish
Additional info: grief, loss/bereavement, mindfulness & meditation
Short Bio: I’m a Neuroscience graduate student in the Gold Lab, which studies decision-making. Specifically, I’m interested in how the brain optimizes its information processing to handle rapidly changing evidence in uncertain environments. I’m also investigating the influence of stress/arousal on this decision-making process. I was born in Richmond, Virginia and lived in both Emerald Isle and Durham, North Carolina before moving to Philadelphia. In my free time, I enjoy doing yoga, hiking with friends, and spending time at the dog park with my puppy, Moe. I am happiest and most relaxed when watching sunlight seep through the trees. 

Eric L. Waite

Eric L. Waite

Matric year: 2018
Program: Pharmacology Graduate Group (PGG)
Pronouns: He/him
Languages: English

Short Bio: I am a Pharmacology student in the Kaestner Lab investigating the role of β-cell senescence in the pathology of type 2 diabetes mellitus. I was born in Baltimore, MD and did my undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park. I then worked as a lab tech for two and a half years in a genetics lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine before starting graduate school here at UPenn. I believe strongly in the power of communication to make our lives and society healthier and happier, but for communication to be effective, we need to really listen to each other. When I’m not doing science, I enjoy working out at Pottruck, reading (mainly fantasy and non-fiction), painting and crafting, building things, playing sports or video games with my friends, and spending time with my girlfriend (and our two cats).

 

Aishwarya Pawar

Aishwarya Pawar

Matric year: 2018
Program: Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) - CB
Pronouns: she/her
Languages: English, Hindi, Marathi
Additional info: International student

Short Bio: I work in the Paralkar lab where I study epigenetics and transcription factors in leukemia. I was born in India and grew up in multiples cities across the country. I came to the United States for my higher education. I love reading, dogs, cakes and pretty shoes.

Kimberly Edwards

Kimberly Edwards

Matric year: 2018
Program: Pharmacology Graduate Group (PGG)
Pronouns: she/her, they/them/their
Languages: English, Jamaican Patois
Additional info: International student, Non-traditional student
Short Bio: I grew up in rural Jamaica, West Indies, before migrating to the United States to pursue an undergraduate education in General Chemistry. I’m currently working in the Sellmyer Lab, in the Department of Radiology, on developing PET and Optical Imaging probes and reporters to directly and indirectly assess immune cell function. Aside from the science, I like going for long walks on cool summer nights, drawing, painting, singing, traveling (pre-/post-pandemic), and meeting new friends. I’m looking forward to encouraging others, especially during these hard times, and helping them to recognize their value, strength and the beauty that lies within their most authentic self.

Jessica Chotiner

Jessica Chotiner

Matric Year: 2017
Program: Cell and Molecular Biology (CAMB) - CPM
Pronouns: she/her
Languages: English

Short Bio: I am a Cell Biology, Physiology, and Metabolism student in the Wang Lab. I am interested in the transition from maternal to zygotic control of embryonic development, and in female meiosis. I have a long-standing passion in reproductive biology, but my past research experiences include community ecology and electric fish. I grew up in Western North Carolina. In my free time, I like to cook, watercolor, and talk to my mom.

Julie Merchant

Julie Merchant

Caela Long

Caela Long

Kelly Fagan

Kelly Fagan

Julie Merchant

Patricia Colosi

Hannah Loo

Hannah Loo