Chapter Officers

President: Amanda Contreras


I am a fourth year PhD student in the Cellular and Molecular Pathology program working under the direction of Dr. Suresh in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences. Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern the establishment and maintenance of memory CD8 T cells in viral and cancer settings. My research is focused on investigating the immunotherapeutic strategy of utilizing a combination of effector and memory CD8 T cells for inhibiting melanoma tumor growth and elucidating the role of the FoxO1/p16INK4a pathway in promoting the in vivo persistence of T cells. Outside of lab, I enjoy kayaking, reading, Netflix, video games, and exploring Madison.

Vice-President: Megan Dowdle

MeganI am a fourth year PhD student in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry working in the laboratory of Prof. Michael Sheets. We are interested in a translational repressor called Bicaudal-C, which helps to establish cell identity in early development by regulating the expression of mRNAs. I am currently working to determine how Bicaudal-C recognizes its mRNA targets and identifying the proteins that Bicaudal-C interacts with to conduct its repression activity. When I am not in lab, I like going to concerts, reading comic books, and watching The CW.

Secretary: Emily Garnett

emilygarnettI am a fifth-year Ph.D. student working under the supervision of Prof. Ron Raines. Currently, I study the biology of ribonucleases – a family of small proteins that are generally good at degrading RNA. While these proteins (ribonuclease 1 especially) are very well biochemically characterized, their actual role in a biological system is still sort of mysterious! When I’m not in lab, I like to cook, do arts-and-crafts-oriented things, exercise, and play games – board games, paper-and-pencil RPGS, video games, UNO – I’m always open to something new.

Treasurer: Maria Sardi

mariasardiI am a fifth year PhD student in the Microbiology Department working under the mentorship of Professor Audrey Gasch. My lab is interested in understanding yeast stress tolerance and exploring signal transduction networks that allow organisms to survive changing environments. Currently, I am using natural genetic variation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae to find new alleles and mechanisms of tolerance to stresses found in the bio-fuel industry. I hope to generate a genetic toolbox that can be used to engineer a more tolerant and efficient alcohol producing yeast. Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring the city with my bike.

Seminar Coordinator: Caitlin Warwick-Short

Fellowship Coordinator: Geetika Nehra

GWIS photo - GeetikaI am a second-year PhD student in the Pharmaceutical Science PhD Program, working in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Thorne. We study the pathways and mechanisms allowing substances to enter the CNS following intranasal administration, a promising alternative route for CNS drug delivery. At present, my work is aimed at understanding the role of Fc receptors in the distributions of antibodies inside an adult healthy versus pathogenic central nervous system. When not in the lab, I enjoy cooking, meeting new people, catching up on Netflix, exploring new stuff around campus and planning my next travel.

Social Coordinators: Gurnimrat Sidhu and Cassie Jarvis


Gurnimrat (Nimu) is a second-year graduate student in the Program in Biophysics working in the laboratory of Prof. Sam Butcher. We study spliceosome complex assembly. While the critical snRNP components are known, the precise role and step-wise function of each component is not. The goal of my research is to map human di-snRNP assembly at the level of atomic resolution using complementary biophysical methods. When not in lab, I enjoy backpacking, trail running, cooking spicy foods, and traveling (…with just a backpack, of course).

Outreach Coordinators: Taylor Fields and Kaarin Evans


Taylor is a second year PhD student in the Neuroscience Training Program working in Dr. Ruth Litovsky’s Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab. The lab studies how the auditory system determines the location and content of sounds in complex auditory environments in people with normal hearing and those who are deaf and use cochlear implants. My current project is investigating the feasibility of different stimulation strategies to improve cochlear implant users’ spatial hearing abilities. Outside of lab, I like graphic design, playing guitar, hiking, cards and board games.

National Liaison: Hannah Bowman

hannahlunchboxlabHannah Bowman is a PhD candidate in the Chemical Biology program through the Chemistry Department. She works in Prof. Judith Burstyn’s lab studying the role of heme in the allosteric mechanisms of gas-regulated transcription factors.  Hannah graduated from Purdue University with a degree in chemistry and was mentored by Profs. Gabriella Weaver (Chemistry Education) and Jean Chmielewski (Chemistry).