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:

Yogesh Budhathoki in the lab
Yogesh Budhathoki working in the lab

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; Emilio Ocampo, UCLA, 2023

Theresa Busch, PhD:

Ruth Ikpe in the lab
Ruth Ikpe, 2022 Alum

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; Jessie Lin, Haverford College, 2023

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; Tiffany Lee, UPenn, 2023

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; Gina Ngo, Villanova, 2023

Crystal S. Conn, PhD:

Dr. Conn and Students
Dr. Conn and students

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, Lucy Kamlewechi, Alabama State,  2023

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;  Co-Mentored by Dr. Michele Kim: Jordan Thomas, Franklin College, 2019; Madelyn Seibel, Gettysburg, 2021; Najah Curtis, UPenn, 2022; Markus Murphy, Purdue, 2023

Michele Kim, PhD:

Dr. Michele Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology medical physics division. Her research interests include Proton FLASH radiation dosimetry and instrumentation, small animal radiobiological studies, and photodynamic therapy dosimetry. Her clinical responsibilities include proton and photon radiotherapy, quality assurance, and machine/treatment planning support.

Former SUPERS Students: Co-Mentored by Dr. Eric Diffenderfer: Jordan Thomas, Franklin College, 2019; Madelyn Seibel, Gettysburg, 2021; Najah Curtis, UPenn, 2022; Markus Murphy, Purdue, 2023

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; Shereen Aissi, UC Berkley, 2023

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; Alanice Agostso-Reyes, UPR, 2023

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; Ether Dharmesh, St. Louis Univ., 2023

Nicholas Josselyn, Sankirth Madabhushi, Cayetana Etchebarne (and sibling) 2018 alums 

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; Mukund Viswanadha, Univ of MO, 2023

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; Nathaniel O, St. Joseph's Univ., 2023

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, 2023

Rafe McBeth, PhD:

Dr. McBeth is an Assistant Professor and Director of Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Radiation Oncology.  Dr. McBeth focuses on computational methods in radiation oncology including artificial intelligence, Monte Carlo simulation, and automation.

Former SUPERS Students: Kuancheng Wang, Georgia IT, 2023

Joel S. Karp, PhD:

Joel Karp is a Professor of Radiologic Physics in Radiology and Director of The Nuclear Medicine Physics and Instrumentation Research Group. This group strives to encourage the development of new technology and the collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians to evaluate new instruments and optimize their use for new applications in both clinical and pre-clinical (animal) imaging situations.

Former SUPERS Students: Jasper Chen, Brown, 2023

Edward (Jim) Delikatny, PhD:

Dr. Delikatny is a Research Professor of Radiology whose lab focuses on development of fluorescence and Cerenkov optical imaging methods for detection of tumor metabolism and microenvironment in lung and breast cancer models. We concentrate on the synthesis and validation of near-infrared and radiolabeled contrast agents sensitive to alterations in lipid metabolism, tumor pH, and redox that occur during tumor development and in response to therapy.

Former SUPERS Students: Grace Dudek, UPenn, 2023

Ali Nabavizadeh, MD:

Dr. Nabavizadeh is an Assistant Professor of Radiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on multimodality imaging using structural and physiologic MRI imaging with additional PET probes and molecular imaging techniques to better understand the complex nature of brain tumor microenvironment. The ultimate goal of his research is to use imaging and liquid biopsy biomarkers in prognostication, tumor response evaluation, and differentiation of tumor progression from treatment effect.

Former SUPERS Students: Anurag Gottipati, Hofstra, 2023

Daniel A. Pryma, MD:

Dr. Pryma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Clinical Director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging at the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on the use of targeted radiopharmaceuticals for the imaging and therapy of neuroendocrine cancers. 

Former SUPERS Students: John Mkitsh, Temple, 2011; Ezra Margolin, UPenn, 2012; Geoffrey Matthes, Vassar, 2013, 2014; Sam Sanders-Effron, Brown, 2015, 2016; Paige Burrell, Harrisburg Univ. of Science and Technology, 2018; Dalia Mitchell, Univ. of Rochester, 2019; Anushri Gupta, Texas A&M, 2023

Ioannis Verginadis, PhD:

Dr. Verginadis is a Research Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology whose research interests include: tumor microenvironment, Integrated Stress Response pathway, single-cell transcriptomics, cancer-associated fibroblasts, angiogenesis, radiation-induced gastrointestinal toxicity, radiation-induced heart disease, screening for small molecules as novel radiosensitizers/radioprotectors, FLASH radiotherapy, fibrosis, biomarkers of radiation-induced toxicity, radiation-induced inflammation.

Former SUPERS Students: Nyima Bhuti, Wheaton, 2023