October 18, 2019

2019 Graduate Student Research Presentation Day winners announced

The stellar research projects of close to 70 graduate students from Wayne State University were the stars of the School of Medicine’s annual Chuan-Pu Lee, Ph.D., Endowed Graduate Student Research Presentation Day, held Oct. 4 throughout Scott Hall and the Margherio Family Conference Center.

Ruta Jog
Ruta Jog explains her project to a judge at the annual research presentation day for graduate students.

The student-organized event is in its 23nd year of showcasing the diverse biomedical research of graduate students at the School of Medicine and from other schools and colleges at WSU.

The event provides a platform for graduate students to present their work to WSU research faculty and students, encourages interdepartmental collaborations and gives financial support for students to present their work at national and international conferences and in turn showcase the outstanding research being conducted at the university. This year, students presented 15 oral presentations and 54 poster presentations.

The event is supported by a generous gift from Dr. Lee, who died in 2016. The endowed funds provide awards and prizes. Dr. Lee retired in 2011 after 36 years on the School of Medicine faculty. She was a strong advocate for WSU graduate students, offering pre- and post-doctoral travel awards to help offset the cost of national and international conferences.

More than 80 faculty members from both the medical and main campus volunteered to judge the student presentations.

The 2019 organizing committee included Shreya Banerjee, Nathan Kelley, Madison Peterson, Marissa Petitpas and Jordan Zhou, as well as day-of volunteers Stephanie Gladyck, Hasini Kalpage, Ashley Kramer, Taylor Vensko, Kendall Muzzarelli, Jonathan Greenberg, Vanessa Kamdoum, Bhavita Bhaya and Jillian Green.

The event included a keynote address from Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, Ph.D., a scientific director and investigator at Stowers Institute for Medical Research and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Sanchez Alvarado’s lab studies processes of animal regeneration and is particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms by which organisms maintain the integrity of different tissues during the process of regeneration and growth.

A graduate student discusses her research with presentation attendees.


An awards ceremony followed his presentation. The student winners were:


First place: James Block, Cancer Biology Graduate Program, “RBMS3 promotes the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer via direct regulation of the transcription factor PRRX1.” Mentor: Guojun Wu, Ph.D.
Second place (tie): Rayanne Burl, “Identifying cell types contributing to brown adipose tissue neogenesis in vivo using single cell RNA sequencing.” Mentor: James Granneman, Ph.D.; and Eric Morris, “Cardiac substructure segmentation with deep learning for improved cardiac sparing.” Mentor: Carri Glide-Hurst, Ph.D.


First place: Niko Moses, Cancer Biology Graduate Program, “HDAC6 regulates Chk1 stability in response to radiation-induced DNA damage.” Mentor: Xiaohong (Mary) Zhang, Ph.D.
Second place: Yi Tian Yap, “Cross-talk between intraflagellar transport and intramanchette transport, two cargo transport systems essential for mammalian sperm flagella formation.” Mentor: Zhibing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.


Brooke Feeley

Shashwat Mishra

Hasini Kalpage

Wafaa Sweidan

Justin Hackett

Gabriel Mpilla

Kendall Muzzarelli

Ali-Rida Beydoun