Poster Session Features Graduate Students’ Research

2016 graduate student poster session
Members of the Dartmouth community learn about research conducted by graduate students. (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

The annual Graduate Poster Session provided an opportunity to learn about research conducted by 59 Dartmouth graduate students. This year’s session, on April 12, was part of the annual Graduate Student Appreciation Week, held April 10-16.

Attendees included faculty members, students, and others in the Dartmouth community, and poster topics ranged from neutron stars to soil microbes to knee replacement.

“We want to thank everyone—presenters and attendees alike—for making the graduate student poster session a great success. All the judges were truly impressed with the quality of the posters, the presentations and the level of the scholarship,” said F. Jon Kull ’88, dean of Graduate Studies.

Awards were presented to six graduate students for their posters. The award winners are:

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Tamer Shabaneh (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Tamer Shabaneh, Microbiology and Immunology

Hometown: Hebron, Palestine

Poster Title: Elucidating the Oncogene-Driven Regulatory T cell Responses During Melanoma Tumorigenesis

Research: “I study the interface between cancer and the immune system. Here in the Turk Laboratory, we investigate how immune cells respond to poorly immunogenic tumors. My dissertation research addresses the question of why immune cells often rush to protect the tumor instead of killing it. To that end, we focus on the role oncogenes play in mediating the recruitment of immune suppressive cells into the tumor microenvironment. We aim to interfere with this recruitment and, ultimately, teach the immune system how to better fight cancer.”

Why Dartmouth: “Dartmouth is exceptional. For one, very few institutions can boast a tradition of close student-faculty ties. Dartmouth has a tumor immunology group that is an active, dedicated core of scientists with a track record of collaborations and an unparalleled passion for research and education. Also, the graduate students who train in Dartmouth’s Molecular and Cellular Biology Program comprise a collegial community supported by excellent resources and facilities. The academic research environment at Dartmouth is supportive and intellectually stimulating; this environment fosters innovative thinking and collaborative problem solving. Here at Dartmouth, I feel privileged to be part of a community that nurtures my intellectual and professional growth, and provides avenues to communicate my research.”

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Kathryn Weil (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Kathryn Weil, Physics and Astronomy

Hometown: Port Washington, N.Y.

Poster Title: STIS Spectra of the Remnant of SN 1885 in M31

Research: “My research with Professor Robert Fesen involves the study of supernova and supernova remnants. For this project, I studied a particular supernova remnant located in the Andromeda galaxy (M31). The light from this supernova was first observed in 1885, but then was not observed again for nearly 100 years. Utilizing the absorption properties of the debris from the supernova, Professor Fesen was able to detect the remnant in 1989. Further imaging of the object using the Hubble Space Telescope has been done over the past 25 years to create a detailed picture of the internal structure of this supernova. The goal of my project was to create a 3D map of this supernova, by means of spectroscopy using the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). Understanding the internal structure of a supernova is extremely important for understanding the physics of how a star actually explodes. Because our observations do not match the structure predicted by current supernova models, our results give us powerful new insights for developing new models of supernova explosions.”

Why Dartmouth: “When I came to Dartmouth on my visit day, the current graduate students instantly made me feel like a member of the Astronomy Group. The availability of observational astronomy research to graduate students on Dartmouth’s two large telescopes drew me toward the Physics and Astronomy Department. I found Dartmouth’s focus on teaching and helping graduate students become better teachers to be quite unique, and valued this environment in my graduate studies.”

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Ryan Chapman (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Ryan Chapman, Thayer School of Engineering

Hometown: Belle Plaine, Minn.

Poster Title: Validation of Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA) Tibial Component Placement via Gyroscopes

Research: “My research revolves around utilizing novel technologies in order to understand how humans move during their daily lives. Currently, we are interested in using wireless, portable inertial measurement units (IMUs, composed of accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers) to measure the biomechanics of healthy individuals and patient populations before and after orthopedic surgical interventions. The ultimate goal is to wholly understand how humans move outside of staged laboratory and clinical environments. This will allow us to more effectively guide clinicians in determining who is recovering well post-operatively and who is in need of further rehabilitative assistance. Ultimately, the information we glean from my research will facilitate more efficient use of health care dollars on the surgical techniques, medical devices, and post-operative physical therapy practices that are most effective.”

Why Dartmouth: “In today’s dynamic engineering environments, no problem can be solved in isolation. In order to achieve the best possible result, solving these complex systems requires input from clinicians, patients, business men and women, and engineers. For me, the focus on interdisciplinary problem solving here at Thayer is fundamental to creating and implementing the highest quality engineering solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s medical problems.”

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Adam Crego (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Adam Crego, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Hometown: Hibbing, Minn.

Poster Title: Exploring the Temporal Structure of Habits Using Optogenetics

Research: “My graduate research seeks to investigate the brain systems and circuitry of reward learning and voluntary actions that arise into habits. My ongoing projects seek to understand how behavior repertoires are learned and how these goal-directed behaviors become habits after repetition. My aim is to uncover and resolve the balance between flexibility and fixity on habit action sequences. Currently to do this, we use a technique called optogenetics, which allows us to manipulate brain areas by turning them on and off in real time during a habit with use of lasers. My long-term goal is to use my research and findings as reference points for neural interventions to mimic or correct dysfunctions of abnormal behavior, like that in addiction, Parkinson’s disease, or even obsessive compulsion disorder (OCD).”

Why Dartmouth: “First and foremost, I chose to come to Dartmouth because I wanted to work with my principaI investigator, Dr. Kyle Smith, and solve habits. He not only exemplifies what I envision to be as a neuroscientist (his rarity and impact on the field), but also his passion and enthusiasm for the brain were all reasons why I chose to be mentored by him. Secondly, I come from a small town in northern Minnesota, and Dartmouth was the perfect fit for me both in size and community; it felt like home. The mountains and scenery are huge bonuses and the New Hampshire winters are much milder than in Minnesota.”

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Yike Jiang (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Yike Jiang, Microbiology and Immunology

Hometown: Beijing, China

Poster Title: Antibodies in the Nervous System During Latent HSV-1 Infection

Research: “HSV-1 (the cold sore virus) establishes lifelong infections in the nervous system. I study how this ubiquitous virus changes neuroimmunology. In the Leib Lab, we have discovered that antibodies accumulate and persist for months in the nervous system during HSV-1 infection. These antibodies can be produced locally and combat HSV-1 reactivation. This work illustrates the idea that common pathogens living in the nervous system (the neurobiome) can shape neuroimmunology and might, therefore, modify the risk of neurological diseases.”  

Why Dartmouth: “Easy choice. The MD-PhD program drew me to Dartmouth—a program with vibrant research and great medical training surrounded by amazing people and breathtaking natural beauty.”

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Kevin Johnson (Photo by Joshua Renaud ’17)

Kevin Johnson, Experimental and Molecular Medicine

Hometown: Springfield, Mass.

Poster Title: 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine Localizes to Enhancer Elements and Is Associated With Patient Survival in Glioblastoma

Research: “My research focuses on the characterization of epigenetic cell states to better understand cancer development and progression. The epigenome brings the genome to life and it is maladaptive in cancer. In both breast and brain cancer, I am interested in pinpointing where these epigenetic defects occur so that we can make improvements in cancer prevention and treatment.”

Why Dartmouth: “Dartmouth distinguishes itself from other graduate programs by its tight-knit scientific community and its proximity to gorgeous scenery. I love it here.”

Joseph Blumberg