The University of Iowa Graduate College
Three Minute Thesis Showcase
Fall 2017 Finalists
The University of Iowa Graduate College
Fall 2017 Finalists
The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges graduate students to communicate their research in three minutes or less in non-specialist language. Contestants represent a diverse array of disciplines and areas of study, and reflect the passion and thirst for discovery common among all of Iowa's graduate students.
Sharon Idiga is a third-year graduate student in the Molecular Medicine Program under the mentorship of Matthew Potthoff. She completed her bachelor’s degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on the central mechanisms of FGF21’s suppression of sugar intake and sweet-taste preference.
Katie Perschbacher is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Molecular Medicine Program under the mentorship of Justin Grobe. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2013 at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Her research is focused on identifying the early molecular mechanisms that lead to preeclampsia, a cardiovascular disorder of pregnancy.
Rawa Alammari is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Oral Sciences. She completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree and Master of Health Informatics at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She completed her certificate in Operative Dentistry and Master of Oral Science from the University of Iowa. Her research area is dental biomaterials with the focus on the effects of tooth whitening on dental hard tissue and the prevention of potential side effects.
Emily is a sixth-year graduate student under the mentorship of Professor Brandon Davies in the Department of Biochemistry. Originally from Arkansas, Emily completed her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology at the University of Central Arkansas before obtaining her Master of Science degree in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. At the University of Iowa, her research focuses on fat metabolism – how the fat we eat is processed and reaches our tissues – with an eye towards treating diseases related to fat metabolism. Outside of the lab, Emily enjoys making soap and crocheting afghans to keep warm in Iowa winters.
Lucas Bon Durant is a Ph.D. student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department. He chose to attend the University of Iowa for his doctoral training because of their tradition of great mentorship and scientific training. He is a Sloan Scholar, which is also a vital component in helping his scientific development. His future goals consist of applying to scientific discovery positions within pharmaceutical companies where he hopes to play an important role in developing future therapeutics for patients. When he is not working in the lab, Lucas enjoys reading (particularly spy novels) and has recently got back into playing video games.
Anh-Vu Do is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in chemical and biochemical engineering. He has dual bachelor degrees in science (majoring in psychology and biology) and biochemical engineering (majoring in biochemical engineering) from the University of Georgia. Under the guidance of Professor Aliasger Salem, his research focuses on designing novel methods of controlled drug delivery to enhance cancer treatments and tissue regeneration. Outside the laboratory, Anh-Vu spends his time volunteering in the Pediatrics Unit at UIHC and playing volleyball.
Caitlin A. Marley is a seventh-year Ph.D. student in the Classics Department. After being introduced to Latin in high school, Caitlin continued her passion for the language and completed her bachelor's degree in classical studies at Wake Forest University in 2011. In 2014, she earned her master's degree from the University of Iowa. Her research mixes the ancient with the new by analyzing Latin literature with digital text mining techniques. She is currently working on a sentiment analysis of Cicero's orations and a network analysis of a collection of his letters.
Jessica Gregson is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in microbiology. She received a B.A. in evolutionary biology from Mount Holyoke College and a M.S. in molecular biology from New Mexico State University. Currently, she is studying respiratory viruses and chronic lung disease under Dr. Paul McCray. She credits her parents for their constant support of her academic aspirations. In the lab, she enjoys florescent microscopy and pipetting precise amounts of liquid. Outside the lab, she enjoys painting her nails, trying new baked goods, and spending time with her dog Myrna.
Ernane Souza is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Kerns. He earned a combined bachelor`s degree in pharmacy from Brazil and Spain. His research focuses on design, synthesis, and evaluation of new molecules for inhibition of thrombin, an important enzyme involved in blood coagulation.
Lalita Oonthonpan is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biochemistry under the mentorship of Eric Taylor. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Central Arkansas. Her research focuses on elucidating how mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism influences cellular health using mouse, primary cell, and cell culture models.
Eric Emmons is a fifth-year student in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience in the lab of Nandakumar Narayanan. He completed his bachelor’s degree in biology and neuroscience at St. Olaf College. His thesis examines the way basic cognition is processed in the brain by recording the electrical activity of neurons during tasks that require attention. The long-term goal of his work is to help guide treatment approaches for cognitive dysfunction in diseases like schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.
Brandon MacDougall is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences under the guidance of Heather Sander. His research utilizes trail cameras and field surveys to record wildlife presence along an urban-rural gradient in Johnson County, Iowa. This data will be used in correlation with landscape and demographic variables to determine how humans influence the presence of wildlife in urban areas, and best practices for future conservation of species of concern.
Behnoush Khorsand received her M.Sc. in polymer chemistry at Concordia University (Canada) in 2013. Her work focused on the development of stimuli-responsive degradable block copolymer micelles as smart drug delivery nanocarriers. In 2014, she joined the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics Ph.D. Program under the supervision of Pr. Aliasger Salem at the College of Pharmacy. Her research at Iowa is focused on tissue engineering using biodegradable scaffolds and novel drug carrier formulations.
Ali Al-Jumaili is a Ph.D. candidate in the Pharmacy Practice and Science Department. He earned his bachelor and master degrees in pharmacy from the University of Baghdad's College of Pharmacy in Iraq. His research focuses on adverse drug events and improving work system in nursing homes. His work helps enhance medication safety and quality of life of nursing homes residents. Ali plans to pursue a career in academia. His graduate experience taught him how the integration of health-related research and pharmacy practice can enhance patient health. At Iowa, Ali recommends graduate student resources, including the Hardin Library, the Writing Center, and the Speaking Center. Outside the college, he is a father of three children and enjoys swimming and watching comedies.