Rebecca Keener

Biography

Dr. Rebecca Keener’s graduate work with Dr. Carol Greider has given her a foundation in molecular biology and genetics research. She will be combining her experience in genetics with computational approaches to study human genome variation as an ASPIRE fellow at Johns Hopkins University. Deciphering the consequence of variation is essential for understanding both fundamental biology and disease. Keener’s post-doctoral work with Dr. Alexis Battle and Dr. Rasika Mathias will give her the computational skills to address these questions and bring an interdisciplinary approach to her future lab.

During her graduate work, she sought out many different teaching experiences: She was a teaching assistant, a mentor to both graduate and undergraduate students in the lab, and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Preparing Future Faculty Teaching Academy. In addition, she designed and taught a course for non-majors, Science in Hollywood, which was a Pass/Fail, winter semester course with 27 students. As part of a team, Keener created and implemented the EVOLVE platform which is an innovative online platform for delivering course content to prepare students for an active learning environment. EVOLVE was implemented in a graduate level genetics course for two years ago and it is still engaging students today.

Faculty Mentor

Research:
Alexis Battle, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Clinical:
Rasika Mathias, ScD
Department of Medicine

Contact

rkeener@jhmi.edu


Elissa Leonard

Biography

Dr. Elissa Leonard attended Harvey Mudd College, where she received her B.S. in Biomolecular Systems and Design, and developed novel bioreactor designs for corneal tissue engineering with Dr. Elizabeth Orwin. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, where her research focus shifted to engineering therapeutically relevant autoimmune T cell receptors under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Maynard. Currently, Dr. Leonard is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where she has continued research in protein and immune engineering with Dr. Jamie Spangler. Currently, her work focuses on engineering antibody-cytokine fusion proteins that can shift the immune balance and promote anti-tumor or pathogen-clearing immune activity. She is also revisiting her regenerative engineering roots by engineering of growth hormones for applications in osteogenesis.

Faculty Mentors

Research:
Jamie Spangler, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Clinical:
Jonathan Schneck, PhD
Department of Oncology

Publications

Leonard, Elissa K., Michael I. Leff, and Jamie B. Spangler. “Weaponizing T-cell receptors through molecular engineering.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 294.15 (2019): 5805-5806.

Contact

eleonar8@jhmi.edu


Rachel Smith

Biography

Dr. Rachel Smith received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2014 and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in 2019 in Biomedical Engineering. Her doctoral work focused on scalp EEG signals processing to predict treatment outcome in a form of pediatric epilepsy called infantile spasms. She used both simple metrics, such as EEG amplitude and power spectrum, alongside more targeted metrics of brain function, such as functional connectivity and long-range temporal correlation strength, to identify patients that may be at greater risk of failing the administered antiepileptic drug. Smith’s current work in Sri Sarma’s lab uses dynamical systems theory to model cortical stimulation in the human brain, a procedure that may help clinicians delineate the seizure onset zone in surgical candidates with medically refractory epilepsy. She has had past research experience in ECG signals processing in her undergraduate lab; arterial blood pressure waveform processing through an internship at Edwards Lifesciences; and graph theoretical analysis through an appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Teaching: In addition to five quarters as a graduate TA, Smith pursued extensive pedagogical training during her time as a graduate student to prepare me for a career in higher education. She was one of two engineers selected for UCI’s Pedagogical Fellows Program, a year-long training program in evidence-based teaching practices, which culminated in leading the 1.5 day TA Professional Development Program for new graduate TAs. She gained certifications in Course Design, Teaching Excellence, and Mentoring Excellence, and she became a CIRTL Associate. Additionally, Smith sought opportunities to guest lecture, resulting in three undergraduate course lectures and one graduate course lecture. Her success in teaching was recognized by receiving the BME Graduate Student of the Year award two consecutive years, an award that is given solely through undergraduate nominations and votes. She also received the UCI Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation’s Most Promising Future Faculty Award, a one-quarter fellowship given to two graduate students from a campus-wide pool of nominees with exemplary research, teaching, and service to the university. During her last year at UCI, she served as the Henry Samueli School of Engineering’s Pedagogical Fellow, in which she led a journal club investigating evidence-based teaching practices.

Faculty Mentors

Research:
Sridevi Sarma, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Clinical:
Joon-Yi Kang, MD
Department of Neurology

Contact

rsmit249@jhu.edu


Allister Suarez

Biography

Dr. Allister Suarez’s research interests are interdisciplinary in the basic biomedical sciences. As a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Takanari Inoue’s lab in the Department of Cell Biology, his research was in synthetic cell biology. His thesis work focused on the interplay between biochemical signaling and membrane deformation in cell migration. Cell signaling could be modulated by rapidly perturbing cell morphology using a chemically inducible dimerization (CID) system with curvature-inducing proteins, as visualized by live cell imaging with fluorescence microscopy. To elucidate the novel role of plasma membrane deformation in the positive feedback loop that promotes PI(3,4,5)P3 production at the leading edge, his project employed synthetic biological techniques in concert with curvature-sensing and -inducing proteins of the Bin/Amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) superfamily. This new molecular toolbox allows for exploration of biochemical signaling downstream of rapidly-induced nanometer-scale membrane deformation in living cells. In the labs of Dr. Devin O’Brien-Coon and Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff, his current project is the biomolecular characterization of a “scar spheroid” in vitro cell culture model to study the role of sex hormones in fibrosis of skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Faculty Mentors

Research:
Jennifer Elisseeff, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Clinical:
Devin O’Brien-Coon, MD
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Contact

asuarez4@jhmi.edu