meet the fellows

2019

Krista Armbruster earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from The Pennsylvania State University. As a graduate student, she studied how bacteria build lipoproteins, which are involved in a range of biological processes. In the lab of Nicole Koropatkin, Ph.D., at the U-M Medical School, Armbruster will further develop the understanding of lipoproteins’ activities in Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, an important member of the human gut microbiota, and their effects on human health.

Jacob Berv, Ph.D., comes to U-M from Cornell University, where he studied the connection between molecular evolution and macroevolutionary patterns. He now plans to use U-M’s vast genomic, fossil and anatomical collections to investigate evolutionary patterns, working across the labs of Matt Friedman, Ph.D.; Daniel Rabosky, Ph.D.; Stephen Smith, Ph.D.; and Ben Winger, Ph.D., in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. One of Berv’s research topics will focus on the degree to which rates of avian genome evolution reflect species’ life histories.

Laura Kirby, Ph.D., working in the lab of Jeff Kidd, Ph.D., at the Medical School, will investigate how non-coding genes called SINEs (for short-interspersed elements) interact and impact the genomes of different canines as well as how these SINEs impact diseases like cancer. Before to coming to U-M, Kirby completed her Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State University.

Alexander Knights, Ph.D., studied how gene expression regulates immune cells in fat tissue and during inflammation during his graduate research at the University of New South Wales. Now, in the lab of Jun Wu, Ph.D., at the Life Sciences Institute, he will probe the molecular mechanisms and signaling pathways that activate energy-burning in fat tissue in search of potential therapeutic targets to combat metabolic conditions such as obesity.

Yilai Li, Ph.D., plans to harness machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the power of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) in the lab of Michael Cianfrocco, Ph.D., at the Life Sciences Institute. Li will develop machine learning algorithms and workflows to automate some of the time-consuming data processing steps of cryo-EM projects. Prior to joining Cianfrocco’s lab, Li earned a master’s degree in statistics and a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Michigan.

Mo Siddiq, Ph.D., completed his doctoral studies in evolutionary genetics at the University of Chicago. In his past research, he combined ancestral sequence reconstruction, biochemistry, and transgenic engineering of animals carrying ancient genes to experimentally study historical genetic adaptation. At U-M, he will work in the lab of Patricia Wittkopp, Ph.D., in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to shed light on how genetic mutational processes shape and are shaped by evolutionary divergence.

2018

Farzan Beroz received a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University, where he developed theories to explain how disordered cellular assemblies can perform complex architectural functions. His research at U-M will build on his graduate work to establish a unified understanding of the principles that govern the form and structure of living architectures. To complete this research, he works with David Lubensky, Ph.D. and Xiaoming Mao, Ph.D., in the Physics Department at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Before attending Princeton, Beroz received a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in Russian language and culture from Duke University.

Joshua MacCready, Ph.D., comes to U-M from the Microbiology & Molecular Genetics graduate program at Michigan State University. At U-M, he plans to use his background in protein self-organization to establish a new, multidisciplinary field of study in bacterial organelle trafficking. Bacterial organelles are of great ecological, evolutionary, biotechnological and medical interest; yet questions remain as to how their subcellular organization occurs. MacCready works with Anthony Vecchiarelli, Ph.D., in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the LSA to address these questions. He completed his undergraduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a B.S. in biology.

Brittany Morgan received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University and a B.S. in biochemistry at Western Kentucky University. Her graduate research aimed to develop RNA-focused small molecule libraries that can be screened for their ability to therapeutically target RNA in diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancer. In the lab of Anna Mapp, Ph.D., at the U-M Life Sciences Institute, Morgan investigates specific signaling biology in triple negative breast cancer, with the goal of opening new therapeutic avenues for cancers that are resistant to first-line treatments.

Aaron Morris completed his graduate studies at Yale University, where he earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, after earning a B.S. in biomedical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a graduate student, Morris used genetic engineering approaches, as well as controlled drug delivery, to help overcome some of the limitations that currently hinder natural biomaterials’ medical utility. Morris’ postdoctoral research investigates the systemic effects of immune-modifying particles in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, working with Lonnie Shea, Ph.D., in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department in the U-M College of Engineering and the Medical School.

Jennifer Yeung received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the U-M Medical School. She also holds a master’s degree in cell and developmental biology from Thomas Jefferson University and a B.S. in biology from Drexel University. Through her graduate research, Yeung elucidated the role of the enzyme 12-lipoxygenase in the regulation of immune-mediated platelet activation. She joined the lab of Greg Tall, Ph.D., in the Department of Pharmacology at the Medical School, where she investigates novel mechanisms of activation of a class of protein receptors called adhesion G protein-coupled receptors.