What the students are saying about their mentors:

The faculty and Professional Staff of the SUPERS@PENN program continue to serve as mentors to me long after I finished my summer in the program. Their support was a big reason behind my decision to apply to Penn for graduate school and set my sights on a research career.
Lumena Louis – SUPERS 2010 Pharmacology Graduate Group, Univ. of Pennsylvania

By example, my SUPERS mentor taught me what it means to be a professional scientist, particularly the importance of taking ownership of my research project. The experience was extremely rewarding and helped clarify my desire to pursue a dual career in medicine and research.
Dencel Garcia-Velez – SUPERS 2013 Undergraduate, Univ. of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras


Costas Koumenis, PhD:

Dr. Koumenis’ lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms that lead to adaptation of tumor cells to hypoxic and metabolic stress. Using targeted inhibition of the cells adaptive response to stress they hope to improve therapeutic outcomes in cancer patients. Dr. Koumenis lab was one of the first to demonstrate that hypoxia activates the integrated stress response (ISR), a coordinated cellular program that controls translation and ultimately cells survival.  Dr. Koumenis was one of the Co-PIs on the SUPERS@PENN program grant.

Former SUPERS Students: Deborah Opeyemi, Yale, 2010;  Jennifer Liu, UPenn, 2010; Shire Beach, Stanford, 2011, 2012; Dencel Garcia-Velez, U of Puerto Rico, 2013; Joel Encarnacion-Rosado, UPR Rio Padres, 2014, 2015; Brett Bell, UPenn, 2016, 2017; Sravya Koduri, Drexel, 2017; Carlo Salas Salinas, UPenn, 2018; Harris Avgousti, UPenn,2019; Victoria Wu, UPenn, 2019; Alejandra Cardenas, UPR, 2021; Moses Zeidan, UPenn, 2021; Yogesh Budhathoki, Berea College, 2021; Phoebe Loo, Stanford, 2022

Theresa Busch, PhD:

Dr. Busch is a Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Busch’s laboratory performs detailed investigations of tumor physiology and treatment response to photodynamic therapy (PDT). This includes both preclinical and clinical studies of the role of tumor microenvironment in PDT, with a focus on how therapy responsiveness is dictated by the interdependence of physiologic and photobiologic characteristics. Of particular interest are the distributions of hypoxia, blood flow, photosensitizer and irradiance in tumors. 

Former SUPERS Students: James Wang, UPenn, 2010; Erin Kennedy, Lehigh, 2011, 2012; Rensa Chen, Rutgers, 2013; Kaleish Ambris, Brooklyn College, 2014; Brooke D'Arcy, RIT, 2015; Cassandra Houser, Loyola, 2016; Emma Snyder, RIT, 2017, 2018; Taylor Avery, Rowan, 2019; Kingsolomon Ehinola, Lincoln Univ., 2021; Ruth Ikpe, Berea College, 2022

Keith Cengel, MD, PhD:

Photo of Keith CengelDr. Cengel is an Associate Professor and a clinician-scientist in the department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Cengel has a number of interests including, the role of epidermal growth factor receptor signaling in the cancer cell response to radiation therapy and/or PDT, mechanism(s) by which natural anti-oxidants such as Flaxseed or Curcumin can protect normal tissues while radiosensitizing cancer cells, and the impact of proton and particle beam radiation normal cells/tissues in animal models, this final project deals with modeling the types of damage that might result during interplanetary space flight.

Former SUPERS Students: Lumena Louis, Brooklyn College, 2010; Kiersten Frenchu, Cornell, 2011, 2012; Maximillian Schaettler, Illinois, 2013, 2014; Taylor Randell, Gettysburg, 2015; Jose Mendoza-Sierra, UPR Rio Padres, 2016; Cassidy Neider, Florida State, 2017; Cayetana Lazcano Etchebarne, Univ. of PR, 2018, 2019; Jacinta Arnold, UPenn, 2021, 2022

Jay Dorsey, MD, PhD:

Dr. Dorsey is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology.  Dorsey lab researched intracranial malignancies in the areas of signal transduction, molecular therapeutics, molecular imaging, brain tumor biology, and radiation biology. The lab is actively involved in basic mechanistic studies, the application of in vivo imaging methods and characterization of nano-therapeutics in preclinical and early phase clinical trials. Dr. Dorsey is one of the Co-PIs on the SUPERS@PENN program grant.

Former SUPERS Students: Joe Benci, Cornell, 2010, 2011; Callie Shubin, Cornell, 2014; Gabriela Fenollal, UPR Rio Padres, 2015; Demond Williams, Morehouse, 2015; Sophia Williams-Perez, Wartburg, 2016; Bruna Bittencourt, UFCSPA, 2016; Amberly Mendes, Suffolk University, 2017; Kevin Liu, Wesleyan Univ., 2018; Sujay Ratna, Rutgers, 2019; Nancy Ashour, Wellesley, 2021; Jessie Lin, Haverford College, 2022

Yi Fan, MD, PhD:

Dr. Fan is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. His lab focus is on Glioblastoma (GBM, grade IV glioma). This is the most common and most aggressive primary brain tumor in humans. GBM is among the most lethal of human malignancies with a median survival of approximately 14 months, largely due to its high resistance to standard radio- and chemotherapy. The ultimate objective of our research is to develop new, efficient therapies against GBM and other malignant tumors by targeting the cancer microenvironment. 

Former SUPERS Students: Jennifer Shah, Lehigh University, 2014; Timothy Zaki, UCLA, 2015; Justin Zhu, Cornell, 2016, 2017; Janet Wu, Oberlin College, 2018, 2019; Kun Xing, UPenn, 2019; Akshey Suresh, Wake Forest, 2021; Julia Ting, Temple Univ., 2022

Andrea Facciabene, PhD:

Dr. Facciabene is a Research Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. His laboratory is focused on immunotherapy and investigation of the network of immune responses to tumors, combining basic research and clinical investigation. Goals are to advance understanding of tumor immunology and to use new findings to develop efficacious new therapies. Basic research includes the development of two new vaccination strategies: one uses mitochondria isolated from tumors, the other utilizes new tumor vasculature antigen. We also study regulation of immune surveillance and the tumor microenvironment by the gut microbiome. Clinic research includes the development of new preclinical immunotherapies.

Former SUPERS Students: Bruna Bittencourt, UFCSPA, 2017; Isabella Amaniera, Juniata College, 2018; Eniola Otukoya, Texas Southern, 2018, 2019; Isaac Diaz Becdach, Univ. South Florida, 2021; Paolo Elguera, NJIT, 2022

Crystal S. Conn, PhD:

Dr. Conn is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology. Research in the Conn lab is focused on understanding how mRNA translation is distinctly orchestrated for dynamic responses driving oncogenesis, response to nutrients, and effects for drug resistance, cell differentiation, and metastasis. We use a combination of cellular & molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and translational research techniques to investigate mRNA regulation in disease.

Former SUPERS Students: Caleb Lines, Wartburg College, 2021; Mariaassumpta Ezedimma, Fisk Univ., 2022

Andrew Maidment, PhD, FAAPM:

Dr. Maidment is an Associate Professor of Radiology. He is the director of the X-ray Physics Research Lab at Penn Radiology. Today, the central focus of the XPL is the development of advanced methods for breast cancer imaging, including digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and functional breast imaging. Research efforts include the modeling and development of novel imaging systems, methods for characterizing image system performance and observer performance, and the development of novel image-based biomarkers for breast cancer risk assessment and prognosis. 

Former SUPERS Students: Jeongin Choi, Penn State, 2017; Jeff Eben, Case Western Reserve University, 2017; Brianna Lepore, Bucknell Univ., 2018; Brian-Tinh Vu, Univ. of Houston, 2019; Khushi Kadakia, Rutgers, 2021; Zaha Shahdad, Delaware State Univ., 2022

Eric Diffenderfer, PhD:

Dr. Diffenderfer is an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology, Medical Physics. Dr. Diffenderfer’s research interests center on proton SARRP development, proton and neutron microdosimetry, and machine learning applications in radiation oncology.  His clinical responsibilities include proton and X-ray therapy physics and dosimetry. 

Former SUPERS Students: Paul Xhori, Villanova, 2014;  David Ostrowski, Wake Forest University, 2016, 2017; Mary Mahoney, SUNY Binghamton, 2018; Jordan Thomas, Franklin College, 2019; Madelyn Seibel, Gettysburg, 2021; Najah Curtis, UPenn, 2022

Tim Zhu, PhD:

Dr. Zhu is a Professor in the physics division of the department of Radiation Oncology. His lab is centered in three broad areas: photodynamic therapy physics, radiation therapy physics, and image-guided treatment intervention. Within photodynamic therapy physics, his work emphasizes determination of explicit PDT dosimetry, including modeling of light, optical properties, photosensitizer concentration, tissue oxygenation, and singlet oxygen generation. 

Former SUPERS Students: Jacky Leone, St. Johns, 2010; Michael Goodwin, St. Josephs, 2011; Dayton McMillan, Colorado State U., 2012, 2013; Dallin Francom, BYU, 2016; Shweta Majumder, Brown, 2019; Mario Gallardo, College of NJ, 2021; Dvij Sharma, Davidson College, 2022

Despina Kontos, PhD:

Dr. Kontos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and the Director of the Computational Breast Imaging Group. Dr. Kontos' research expertise includes: Biomedical image analysis; Quantitative imaging biomarkers; Pattern recognition; Identification, characterization and validation of imaging biomarkers; Evaluation of genotype to phenotype associations via imaging; Integrated diagnostics; Risk prediction; Personalized screening, prognostication and treatment of breast cancer. The Kontos lab goal is to act as a translational catalyst between the worlds of computation imaging science and clinical cancer research by integrating image analysis, artificial intelligence, and pattern recognition in clinically relevant breast imaging applications.

Former SUPERS Students: Ruvini Navaratna, Carnegie Mellon, 2018; Gillian Spayd, Ursinus, 2021; Lauren Davidson, UPenn, 2022

Shannon O'Reilly, PhD

Dr. O'Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology and is the Faculty Director of the Medical Physics Graduate Programs. Her research interests include 4DCT ventilation, Monte Carlo dosimetry, and reducing radiation-induced toxicities. Her clinical responsibilities include proton and photon radiotherapy, quality assurance, and HDR brachytherapy.

Former SUPERS Students: Taylor Johnson, Univ. of Notre Dame, 2019; Hannah McFarland, Brown, 2021; Stephanie Robles, TX Southern Univ., 2022

Rodney D. Wiersma, PhD:

Dr. Wiersma is a Research Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, and the Director of Research Physics Division. The Wiersma lab is primarily interested in finding solutions to problems in the field of radiation therapy. The main areas of investigation are in the use of robotics for patient positioning, hybrid MV+kV inverse optimization algorithms for image guided radiation therapy planning, and real-time organ motion tracking using combined MV+kV imaging.

Former SUPERS Students: Purity Bundi, Carthage, 2021; Ethan Cramer, Davidson College, 2022

Andrew Tsourkas, PhD:

Dr. Tsourkas is a Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is focused on the synthesis of nanoparticles for molecular imaging and drug delivery applications. Specifically his lab develops strategies to specifically target nanoparticle delivery to tumor tissues. These studies focus on new targeting ligands as well as the development of new bioconjugation strategies for the efficient and site-specific attachment of ligands onto the nanoparticle surface.

Former SUPERS Students: Roxanne Glazier, Washington U. of St Louis, 2012, 2013; Phillip Dang, UMBC, 2014;  Hadyn Daughterty, Tennessee, 2015; Alex Chan, PSU, 2016; Yonathan Daniel, Maryland, 2017; Matthew Case, Clemson, 2017; Cathy Meng, UC Berkeley, 2018; Cindy Song, Rutgers, 2019; Natalie Labbe, RIT, 2022

Walter R. Witschey, PhD:

Dr. Witschey is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Radiology. He is the Director of the Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging Lab. The Witschey lab is working on a project to investigate the magnetic properties of hemorrhage and develop MRI techniques with improved specificity to hemorrhage. New MRI techniques permit noninvasive assessment of the magnetic susceptibility of tissues and can target tissue iron. 

Former SUPERS Students: Nicholas Josselyn, Wheaton College, 2018; Jacob Smothers, West Virginia Univ., 2022

Sean D. Carlin, PhD:

Dr. Carlin is a Research Associate Professor of Radiology and is part of the Radiopharmaceutical Therapy and Companion Diagnostics Group which studies the development and clinical translation of radiopharmaceutical therapeutics for applications in oncology. The Carlin lab is working on developing companion diagnostics for radiotherapeutics and antibody drug conjugates. 

Former SUPERS Students: Carina Easton, CO State Univ, 2021

David Peter Cormode, DPhil:

Dr. Cormode is an Associate Professor of Radiology and directs the Nanomedicine and Molecular Imaging Laboratory (NAMIL).  Research focuses on the development of novel and multifunctional nanoparticle contrast agents for medical imaging applications. Currently, the lab’s main focus is the development of gold and bismuth nanoparticles as contrast agents for computed tomography (CT).

Former SUPERS Students: Portia Maidment, Case Western,  2021; Alexander Tward, WashU in St. Louis, 2021

Peter B. Noël, MS, PhD:

Dr. Noël is an Assistant Professor of Radiology and is the director of The Laboratory for Advanced Computed Tomography Imaging which is dedicated to developing next generation x-ray and computed tomography solutions to provide clinicians with information that exceeds present clinical standards.

Former SUPERS Students: Angela Li, Amherst College, 2021; Martin Rybertt, Univ. of Notre Dame, 2022

Nduka M. Amankulor, MD:

Dr. Amankulor serves as Chief of Neurosurgical Oncology and Director of the Penn Brain Tumor Center. He is a leading cancer immunobiologist whose laboratory has performed groundbreaking studies on mechanisms of immune dysfunction in glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Former SUPERS Student: Amitha Halthore, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2022

Jennifer Wei Zou, PhD:

Dr. Zou is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Physics Division.

Former SUPERS Student: Yuhan Liu, Univ. of Illinois at U-C, 2022