PEOPLE2019-02-27T20:09:10+00:00

People

Gerald (Gerry) Downes

Principle Investigator

Gerry Downes is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at UMass Amherst. Originally from Kingston Mass., he obtained a B.S. in Biology from Johnson C Smith University in Charlotte North Carolina and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis. At Wash U., Gerry worked on heterotrimeric G proteins in the lab of Narasimhan Gautam. He conducted his postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania working in the lab of Michael Granato, which is where he first began working with zebrafish. In 2005, Gerry came back to his home state and joined the faculty of UMass Amherst.

Fun fact: Gerry was a breakdancer- a long time ago.
E-mail: gbdownes_bio.umass.edu

Hanna Dorman

Lab Manager

Originally from Oxford, Mississippi, Hanna Dorman obtained her B.S. and M.S. in Biology from Mississippi State University in Starkville Mississippi. There, Hanna studied under Dr. Lisa and investigated the symbiotic relationship between rhizobia and legumes. Upon graduation, Hanna accepted an internship at the University of Pennsylvania, working with the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Morris Arboretum. In 2015, Hanna moved to western Massachusetts and joined the Downes Lab.

Fun fact: Hanna drove from Alaska to Mississippi.
E-mail: hdorman_bio.umass.edu

Gregory Teicher

Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Student

Originally from Newton, MA, Gregory Teicher received his B.S. with an emphasis in Biology from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He received his M.S. in Medical Science from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he completed his master’s thesis on the roles of purinergic signaling in regulating cytoskeletal rearrangements during wound healing in the cornea. Now a Ph.D. Student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, his research in the Downes Laboratory currently focuses on amino acid metabolism and mTOR signaling in nervous system development and epilepsy. Gregory maintains an active interest in the application of computational methods toward understanding biological systems and processes. He also has a strong interest in educational theory and reform.

Fun fact: Gregory has at various points played guitar, piano, and violin, and has recently started making electronic music.
E-mail: gteicher_mcb.umass.edu

Wayne Barnaby

Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Student

Wayne Barnaby is a Neuroscience and Behavior student at UMass Amherst. Born in Boston and raised in Stoughton Ma., Wayne went on to earn his B.S. in Biology at Westfield State University. There, he became involved both in his field of study and with various volunteer organizations around his community. This included working at the local homeless shelter, becoming a Student Ambassador, leading the Black Student Union and more. He previously worked in the Downes Lab as summer student, investigating the role of the GABAA receptor subunits in Zebrafish. In September 2017, Wayne returned to the Downes Lab as an Neuroscience and Behavior Ph.D. student. For his project, he is examining how GABAA receptor diversity controls swimming behavior.

Fun fact: At one point, Wayne was able to run a mile in 4:35 minutes
E-mail: wbarnaby_umass.edu

Sarah Danforth

Undergraduate Student, Biology and Spanish Major

Fun fact: One of Sarah’s ancestors was hung as a witch in the Salem Witch Trials.
Originally from Westwood, MA
E-mail: sdanforth_umass.edu

Ana Dolan

Undergraduate Student, Psychology Major (Neuroscience Track)

Fun fact: Ana climbed Rainbow Mountain in Peru, which is 16,300 feet above sea level.
Originally from Lexington, MA
E-mail: acdolan_umass.edu

Sophia Gutierrez

Undergraduate Student, Biology Major

Fun fact: Sophia’s hair was naturally blond until she was about 4 years old, then it turned dark brown.
Originally from Natick, MA
E-mail: smgutierrez_umass.edu

Gabi Martin

Undergraduate Student, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major

Fun fact: Gabi just returned from a semester abroad in the U.K.
Originally from Sterling, MA
E-mail: gemartin_umass.edu

Akanksha Nagarkar

Undergraduate Student, Biology and Anthropology Major

Fun fact:  Akanksha has family on every continent except for Antartica.
Originally from Leominster, MA
E-mail: anagarkar_umass.edu

Chinemerem Nwokemodo-Ihejirika

Undergraduate Student, Biology Major

Fun fact:
Originally from Lagos, Nigeria
E-mail: cnwokemodoih_umass.edu

Lab Alumni

Bahati Nkera Bahati was an undergraduate in the lab in 2018. He is currently enjoying a gap year while applying to graduate programs.
Sean Doherty Sean was an undergraduate in the lab from 2015-2017. He is currently enjoying a gap year while applying to medical schools.
Abby Case Abby was an undergraduate in the lab from 2016-2017. She is currently working as a lab technician at Dana Farber while applying to medical schools.
Yuval Biran Yuval was a Biotechnology Master’s intern in the lab from 2015-2016. She is currently a research associate at Quanterix in Lexington, MA.
Marie Abate Marie was an undergraduate in the lab from 2015-2017. She is currently taking a gap year before applying to physician assistant programs.
Courtney Poon Courtney was a Biotechnology Master’s intern in the lab from 2015-2016. She is currently an Associate Scientist at AbbVie in Worcester, MA.
Christopher Huenneke Chris was an undergraduate in the lab from 2015-2016. He is currently enjoying a gap year while applying to medical schools.
Meghann Zapcic Meghann was an undergraduate in the lab from 2013-2016. She is currently a medical student at Temple University Medical School.
Elena Drews Elena was an undergraduate in the lab from 2013-2016. She is current a medical student at Duke University Medical School.
Pelagia Candelas Pelagia was an undergraduate in the lab from 2014-2016. After working as a lab technician, she is currently an M.S. student at Boston University.
Schyla Wante Schyla was an undergraduate in the lab from 2013-2015. She is currently a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Dr. Steven Omansky Steve was an undergraduate in the lab from 2013-2014. He is earned his M.D. from the University of Connecticut Medical School and is now in an internal medicine residency program at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY.
Dr. Adam McSherry Adam was an undergraduate in the lab from 2013-2014. He earned his D.O. from the University of New England and is now in a family medicine residency program at Samaritan Medical Center, NY.
Laura Stapler Laura was an undergraduate in the lab from 2010-2013. After participating in AmeriCorps she became a Chemistry and Engineering Teacher at Sizer School.
Dr. Sruthi Satishchandran Sruthi was an undergraduate in the lab from 2009-2012. She earned her DDS from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and is currently an intern at Emory University School of Medicine, GA.
Alexandra Nowlan Ally was an undergraduate in the lab from 2009-2010. She is currently a Ph.D. student at Cold Spring Harbor Labs.
Erin Parker Erin was an undergraduate in the lab from 2008-2009. After participating in Teach for America, she became a Chemistry Teacher at Revere High School.
Dr. Bryan Monesson-Olson Bryan was an NSB graduate student in the lab from 2007-2013. He performed at Postdoctoral Fellowship at Amherst College. He is currently an Instructor in the Biochemistry Dept. at UMass.
Dr. Timo Friedrich Timo was an MCB graduate student in the lab from 2007-2012. He performed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Monash University, Australia and is currently a technical support engineer for Bauer Kompressoren, in Germany.
Dr. Elizabeth Oler Liz was an undergraduate in the lab from 2006-2008. She earned her M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine and she is currently in the OB/GYN Residency Program at Johns Hopkins U.
Dr. Kelly Anne McKeown Kelly Anne was an MCB graduate student in the lab from 2006-2011. She is currently an Associate Professor of Biology at Westfield State U.