Undergraduate Alumni

Our alumni pursue diverse careers from healthcare to agriculture to research. Read on to hear from a few recent graduates from Molecular Genetics...


Makenzie OwenMackenzie Owen: Makenzie graduated in 2019 with a BS in Molecular Genetics and a Spanish Minor. She completed undergraduate research in neuroscience, first in the lab of Christine Beattie and then at  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital over two summers through their Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), earning an Honorable Mention for her poster presentation at the SURF Capstone Presentation during my sophomore year. During her junior year, Makenzie was awarded OSU's Biological Sciences Alumni Society Scholarship, and she managed to squeeze in two study abroad opportunities as well!

What are your plans for after graduation?
I am very excited to be staying in Columbus after graduation and will be starting medical school at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in August!

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
I switched my major to Molecular Genetics after my freshman year and it was one of the best decisions I made during undergrad. MolGen provided me with a strong foundation in biological, cellular and disease processes as well as the mechanisms underlying each. It was challenging, allowed me to become a better critical thinker and taught me to apply learned concepts to new scenarios. MolGen also gave me the opportunity to get involved in research, which I hope to continue during medical school.

What was your favorite class/professor?
Dr. Cole was my favorite professor and I had the opportunity to take two classes with her (Molgen 4606 and Molgen 4703). Dr. Cole inspired me to become passionate about molecular genetics and its applications in the healthcare setting as well as everyday life. Her classes were engaging, funny and she truly cares about the success of her students.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you
I was lucky to have more memorable experiences at OSU than I can count, but some of my particularly great memories include: painting up with Block O to stand at the front of the student section during football games, being a Team Captain for BuckeyeThon, volunteering as an ambassador at the Wexner Medical Center and studying abroad in Madrid, Spain and Valparaíso, Chile. I am so excited to continue forming great memories with my Buckeye community over the next four years.


Aubrey RoseAubrey Rose: Aubrey graduated in 2019 with a major in Molecular Genetics and a minor in Clinical Psychology & Individual Differences. She began undergraduate research in her sophomore year, and completed an Honors Thesis in the lab of Dr. Noah Wiesleder. During her time at OSU, she was awarded the Mayers Summer Research Scholarship through OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry to support her undergraduate research during the summer. She presented her research at several venues, and won first place in the Innovations in Health Science category at the 2019 Denman Undergraduate Research Forum.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I will be attending the University of South Carolina to earn my Master’s in Genetic Counseling.

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
Molecular Genetics helped me explore careers in genetics to find the one that fit my interests. These classes were crucial in preparing me for a career in genetic counseling. The coursework gave me a strong background in genetics.  Because not many schools have a genetics major, I think this set me apart during the application process. This background also sets me up for success in the classes needed for my Master’s degree.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was definitely Human Genetics with Dr. Cole (MOLGEN 4703). Since I’m going into genetic counseling, learning about human genetic inheritance was relevant to me, and we even talked specifically about genetic counseling in class. I loved the material covered and the presentation style really helped me retain the information. Dr. Cole is one of my favorite professors here at OSU and she did an amazing job teaching the course.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
The two experiences that most stand out for me are my research and my involvement in the Undergraduate Genetic Counseling Club (UGCC). I’ve been working as an undergraduate researcher since my freshman year and completed an independent research project in Dr. Noah Weisleder’s lab. I presented a thesis on this project that allowed me to graduate with honors research distinction in molecular genetics. I was involved with the UGCC since the beginning of my junior year. This club taught me more about genetic counseling and connected me with other future genetic counselors who I know will be lifelong friends.


Leah AndersonLeah Anderson: Leah graduated from OSU in 2017 with degrees in Molecular Genetics and Music performance. She completed a senior thesis in the lab of Dr. Mark Seeger, and along the way picked up numerous undergraduate fellowships, as well as poster awards from the 2017 Midwest Drosophila Meeting and the 2018 National Drosophila meeting.

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
I'm still living in Columbus.  I am the lab manager in the Anderson lab in the Micro department.  I am currently studying the interaction of infectious yeast with mammalian macrophages.  My plan is to apply for Ph.D. programs in genetics next year!

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
MolGen gave me both the knowledge and research experience I need for my future as a Ph.D student.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was Genes and Development (Molgen 5608).  We learned about the coolest genetic pathways in that class!  I also loved the Trondbuss study abroad program (Molgen 5797).  I learned so much about the intersection between genomics, ethics, and genetic counseling, while also getting to experience Norway!

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
The research I did as an undergrad was a very critical part of my education.  My thesis research focused on the genetics of neural development in Drosophila.  I also studied music while at OSU, and I was a part of the OSU Symphony Orchestra and a string quartet.  In my free time, I was a member of the Swing Dance Club, the Bike Club, and Urban Gaming Club, and I also enjoyed climbing at the OSU rock wall!


Advait DesgmukhAdvait Deshmukh: Advait graduated with honors in 2018 with a major in Molecular Genetics and a minor in Microbiology. He completed independent research in the lab of Dr. Guramrit Singh. He says “Choosing Molecular Genetics as my major was by far one of the best choices I made in college. It provided the framework I needed to become successful. Whether it’s getting a PhD, getting a medical degree, or any other career path, Molecular Genetics will improve the way you think and approach problems. Highly recommend it as a focus of study!”

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
I am currently attending medical school at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. I’ll be starting my medical career here for 4 years and then will move onto residency after that. The length of my residency will depend on which specialty I choose!

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
Molecular Genetics gave me a very good foundation for the sciences and how the contribute to disease. Every disease can be traced back to its cellular level and is determined by the molecular defect that is happening. Molecular Genetics gave me a good look at how much of the basic science is conducted in making scientific breakthroughs that can lead to understanding disease pathophysiology.

What was your favorite class (or who was your favorite professor) and why?
My Human Genetics class (Molgen 4703) taught by Dr. Cole was my favorite class. It really cemented my desire to go into the medical field. Learning about how defects at the molecular level can cause disease on the organismal level was really fascinating.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
My time in my fraternity was a very defining time period for me. It helped me grow both as a student and as a person outside of academics. Being surrounded by a 100 different fraternity brothers who always have the best in mind for me really showed me that I am well supported. This has improved my confidence in myself for both school related and non-academic activities.


Sophie FriesenSophie Friesen: Sophie graduated in 2017 with a BS in Molecular Genetics with Research Distinction and Honors. She completed an undergraduate Honors Thesis in the lab of Dr. Susan Cole, where she received support from a Mayers Scholarship in the summer after her junior year, and a URO Academic Year scholarship during her senior year. Her research resulted in an authorship on a published manuscript, and she graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Where are you now and what are your plans?
I’m a second-year graduate student in the Molecular and Cell Biology program at Berkeley. In Dr. Iswar Hariharan’s lab, I study how sheets of cells signal to each other to coordinate organ growth, using fruit flies as a model organism. I’ve also started teaching as a graduate student instructor. My post-grad school career plans are still up in the air; I can see myself being happy in either academia or biotech. I’ve still got a couple years to figure that out, though!

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
I feel like my classes gave me a solid background in the scientific tools that are available to uncover the genetics behind biological processes, and started teaching me how to read scientific papers (which I sure do a lot of now!). However, the most valuable preparation I got for grad school was working in a lab and writing an undergraduate thesis. I studied microRNA regulation of skeletal development in Dr. Susan Cole’s lab. There, I became familiar with the nuts and bolts of developmental research: not just how to run a gel and do in situ RNA hybridization, but how to organize data, find and analyze scientific literature, and communicate my science effectively, which skills continue to be critically useful. My undergraduate research also taught me that science involves a great deal of failure: negative results, unexpected complications, and sometimes simple mistakes. That’s just part of the research process- after all, if every experiment gave the expected result, there’d be no reason to do experiments.

What experiences at OSU stood out for you?
I’d like to give a shout out to Allies for Diversity, a dialog group that focuses on topics of diversity and acceptance. I only started attending this group in my junior year, and I wish I’d found them as a freshman. There are a lot of subtle- and not so subtle- ways that our society is stacked against people of color, queer and trans* people, immigrants, people in minority religions… the list goes on, but step one in trying to change things to make a more equitable society is to raise awareness, and Allies does a great job of that. Also, the community is really fantastic. I met folks through Allies that I truly consider to be family.


Maya GosztylaMaya Gosztyla: Maya graduated from OSU in 2017 with degrees in Molecular Genetics and Neuroscience. She completed a senior thesis in the lab of Dr. Mark Seeger, and along the way picked up numerous undergraduate fellowships from OSU. She also was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship and the Astronaut Scholarship, and received a fellowship from the U.S. Embassy of Switzerland that funded her summer research internship in Switzerland. In Autumn of 2019, Maya will join the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program at UC San Diego.

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
I am currently working as a post-bac researcher at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (part of the NIH). I plan to start a PhD program in neuroscience next year and study the molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases.

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
I double-majored in neuroscience and molecular genetics. For me, this combination made perfect sense because I wanted to understand the function of the brain all the way down to its molecular intricacies. I think understanding the fundamentals of how genes and cells work makes it much easier to understand larger organ systems.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was probably Cell Biology (Molgen 5607). I really enjoyed learning the nitty-gritty of cellular function and understanding how different levels of complexity could layer on top of each other.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
I participated in research for all four years of undergrad and ended up writing an Honors Thesis. It was probably the most important factor that shaped my overall education and current career goals. I also became the Editor-in-Chief for an international undergrad research journal called the Journal of Young Investigators, which taught me a lot about academic publishing and how to write for interdisciplinary audiences.

 


Yannis HadjiyannisYannis Hadjiyannis: Yannis graduated in 2017 with a degree in Molecular Genetics and research distinction. During his time in the department he was awarded a prestigious Pelotonia Fellowship to support his research in the Leone lab, and was selected into the 110th class of the SPHINX senior class honorary.

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
Currently, I am a second-year medical student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSUCOM). My current fields of interest are pathology, anesthesiology, and med-peds. However, our rotations during our third and fourth year will help with making that decision. In the meantime, I am planning to take a research year after our national exam in may and have been assessing different research opportunities throughout the country.

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
Molecular genetics was a challenging, research-based major that more than prepared me for the rigors of the OSUCOM curriculum. The fundamentals of molecular genetics I learned in the major have been continuously a part of our education throughout the organ-system based approach at the OSOCUM. Additionally, the major offered the opportunity for numerous research experiences and laboratory opportunities. Through these experiences and the excellent staff in the department, I was able to develop my passion for scientific inquiry that has guided me throughout my education and current path into medicine.

Who was your favorite professor and why?
This is a tough question as I was fortunate to receive instruction from several great professors throughout my time in the major. However, Dr. Susan Cole and Dr. Gustavo Leone stand out in my mind as some of my favorite professors. Most notably, Dr. Cole was able to inspire me in a way no other professor was able to at the beginning of my education in my first molecular genetics class. In her classroom, she routinely tied in real-world examples of experiments and scientific breakthroughs that served to bolster our understanding and garner our fascination. Moreover, Dr. Cole went above and beyond in the classroom and outside of it to provide students with the utmost opportunity to learn the material and generate community within the major. Indeed, her dedication and passion for Molecular Genetics was contagious.

In regards to my time with Dr. Leone, I was able to witness the practical benefits of molecular genetics in medicine and challenged to conduct groundbreaking research at an early point in my education. Dr. Leone, now the director of the Hollings Cancer Center, was a prominent PI at the Comprehensive Cancer Center that inspired me to join him in solving some of the profound mysteries in molecular genetics through his research lab and effort. Through this multi-year experience, I was pushed to master my education and I was constantly inspired by witnessing the results of our experiments and his passion. In line with this, I was able to take independent study classes on the E2F family of transcription factors and pursue a research thesis through his lab and the molecular genetics department.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
When I reminisce about my undergraduate education several experiences, that I will forever cherish, come to mind such as the joy of the BuckeyeTHON dance marathon, crossing the finish line during the 180-mile bike ride in Pelotonia, or singing Carmen Ohio with friends and family. However, the one thing that I will never forget about my experience at OSU is the passion, joy, and opportunity provided by The Ohio State University and the even larger community it has built.  The enthusiasm and opportunity I witnessed on campus, during my undergraduate education, for a diverse number of fields was electrifying and something I will always remember. Indeed, every Buckeye on campus is provided the opportunity to explore an endless amount of experiences with constant encouragement and support.

 


Shannon HalloranShannon Halloran: Shannon graduated from OSU in 2017 with honors in Molecular Genetics. Her research in the lab of Dr. Michael Ostrowski resulted in an authorship on a published paper examining cell signaling in pancreatic cancer.

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
I am currently a second year student in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy.  I will graduate with my PharmD in May 2021. I have not yet narrowed down to what kind of pharmacy setting I would like to practice in, but I am excited about a lot of different possibilities!

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
One area of pharmacy in which I am interested is pharmacogenomics, a rapidly expanding field.  Molecular genetics gave me a great foundation to understand the complex ways in which genetics can affect drug response.  Many things I learned about in my molecular genetics classes have reappeared in my pharmacy classes as possible drug targets or genes that influence a patient’s response to a medication.

What was your favorite class and why?
Two of my favorite classes at OSU were in the molecular genetics department.  One class I really enjoyed was MOLGEN 4703 Human Genetics taught by Dr. Cole. We looked at various genetic disorders and used them as examples of different types of genetic inheritance or expression.  I also really enjoyed a MOLGEN 4591S, which is a service learning class.  In this glass we would go to high schools in the Columbus area and teach students about DNA and run a “crime scene investigation” that involved running gel electrophoresis with the students.  I enjoyed that class so much I actually took it twice!

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
I was in the honors program, and I took advantage of the embedded honors classes offered in the molecular genetics department.  I took both MOGLEN 5607E and 5608E, and they each included an additional recitation. The extra recitations only had a handful of students and we got a lot of practice with primary literature.  We also got to know our professors better in these smaller sessions.

I also did research for 2 years at OSU.  I worked in a lab that studied the tumor microenvironments in both breast and pancreatic cancers. I learned a lot during my time doing research, and I was even able to earn class credit.  I also was an author on a paper titled “Genetic Ablation of Smoothened in Pancreatic Fibroblasts Increases Acinar-Ductal Metaplasia,” that was published in the journal Genes & Development in September 2016.
 


Benjamin SchottBenjamin Schott: Benjamin graduated from OSU in 2017 with a degree in Molecular Genetics with research distinction. He completed a senior honors thesis in the lab of Dr. Susan Cole, where he was awarded two consecutive OSU Summer Research Fellowships. Ben was also a National Buckeye Scholar, a Provost Scholar, and a Keith and Linda Monda International Experience Scholar.

Where are you now, and what are your plans?
Currently, I am a second-year PhD student in the University Program in Genetics and Genomics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. I am studying how human genetic variation confers differential susceptibility to infectious disease and disease outcomes in Dennis Ko’s lab. Upon completion of my PhD, I hope to remain active in the genetics research community whether in an academic or industrial setting.

How did Molecular Genetics prepare you for your current path?
The Molecular Genetics Department at Ohio State bolstered my interest in molecular biology and gave me the tools to succeed as a researcher in molecular genetics. The skills and knowledge I acquired as a molecular genetics student and as an undergraduate researcher in the department gave me a strong foundation to build a career in the field.

What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite course at Ohio State was MolGen 5607, a cell biology course led by Paul Herman. The course material was extremely interesting – it provided a deep dive into the inner workings and structure of cells and their organelles with an emphasis on key signaling pathways and the genetic approaches used to unravel those pathways.

What experiences at OSU stand out for you?
My undergraduate research in Dr. Susan Cole’s lab was a beneficial and formative experience for me. I worked on a project investigating glycosylation of Notch ligands and its functional relevance in signaling. I also engaged in a short study abroad program, Biological Roots in England (now titled Scientific Roots in Europe), which included a spring break trip through London, Lyme Regis, and Cambridge University. My favorite experiences were the tour of Charles Darwin’s estate outside of London and The Eagle Pub in Cambridge where Watson and Crick proclaimed they had “discovered the secret of life” during lunch in 1953.
 

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