MSS Speakers Collage

2020 Virtual Madison Scholars Symposium

The Madison Scholars Symposium showcases scholar’s research from several training programs on the UW – Madison campus. The goal of this symposium is to enhance the oral presentation skills in preparation for speaker and poster presentation engagements at national meetings and to promote scholar’s networking ability. Scholars prepared one of two format oral presentations and presented their work to an open invitation audience of students, staff, and faculty. Please find the below information regarding the presenters and their presentation.

Madison Scholars Symposium Program 2020

Scholar Tom LawlerThomas Lawler
Department: Nutritional Sciences
Mares Lab
Integrated Program in Nutritional Sciences (IGPNS)
“Mediterranean diet patterns and central retinal subfield thickness predict macular pigment optical density in the Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study”
Tom Lawler is a PhD student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, with a research interest in diet, macular pigment levels, and risk for age-related eye diseases including macular degeneration and glaucoma. Tom attended college at Kansas State University and trained as a Registered Dietitian at the Cleveland VA Medical Center.

Laura Swanson Selfie in laboratoryLaura Swanson, PhD
Department: Genetics
Wassarman Lab
Cellular and Molecular Biology training program
“Loss of the antimicrobial peptide Metchnikowin protects against traumatic brain injury outcomes in Drosophila melanogaster”
I am a student in the Medical Scientist Training Program completing my 4th year of graduate work as a member of David Wassarman’s laboratory in the Cellular and Molecular Biology training program. Our lab uses a Drosophila melanogaster model of traumatic brain injury (TBI) to identify key players involved in the cascade of secondary cellular changes that propagate injuries and negatively influence outcomes in the aftermath of TBI. Many of the pathways implicated in the secondary injury process are similarly altered during normal aging. I am interested in determining specific mechanisms through which TBI-induced inflammation either benefits or hinders recovery from TBI both in the acute post-injury period as well as over the lifespan.

Pre-Doc Trainee Taylor SchoenTaylor Schoen
Department: Medical Microbiology & Immunology
Huttenlocher & Keller Labs
Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
“Investigating longevity factors as targets of antifungal development”
Aspergillus fumigatus is the primary causative agent of invasive aspergillosis, a devastating fungal disease which primarily affects immunocompromised populations. Canonical regulators of eukaryote longevity such as NAD+ metabolism and sirtuins are conserved in A. fumigatus, however, the role of aging pathways in virulence of this human pathogen remains unknown. The goal of my work is to dissect how metabolic pathways important to longevity drive virulence of A. fumigatus and how those pathways can be targeted to improve antifungal therapies. This work will provide us with a better understanding of the role of aging and metabolism at the host-pathogen interface and allow identification of targetable fungal pathways to treat invasive aspergillosis.

Speaker Joseph BlumerJoseph Blumer
Department of Medicine
Davis Lab
Endocrinology & Reproductive Physiology Program
“Whole body Tcf19 knockout mouse islets have increased stress-related gene expression and reduced proliferative capacity”
The Davis lab studies diabetes with a focus on understanding the regulation of functional beta-cell mass. My research in particular is focused on understanding the role of the novel transcription factor, Tcf19, in beta-cell mass regulation using knockout mouse models.

Postdoc trainee Anne SchaarAnne Schaar, PhD
Department of Medicine
Anderson Lab
Metabolism as a Target for Age-related Muscle Mass and Functional Loss
My work primarily investigates the metabolic and functional changes in skeletal muscle due to aging, termed sarcopenia. Previous work by the Anderson lab in nonhuman primates show that age-related declines in mitochondrial energy metabolism, cellular redox, and lipid storage anticipate the onset of sarcopenia and occurs in advance of physical activity decline and frailty. Adiponectin is an adipokine known to influence skeletal muscle cellular metabolism by activating lipid utilization and mitochondrial oxidative pathways. My research utilizes an adiponectin receptor agonist to investigate whether altering the AMPK/PGC1a axis can improve muscle energy metabolism and subsequently offset the effects of sarcopenia in aged mice.

Pre-doc trainee Andrew SungAndrew Sung
Department: Biochemistry
Pagliarini Lab
Cellular and Molecular Biology training program
“Probing the mechanisms of respiratory complex I assembly factors through complexome profiling”
I am a graduate student in the UW Medical Scientist Training Program and am currently working in Dr. Dave Pagliarinis lab. Broadly, our lab is interested in understanding the biochemical underpinnings of mitochondrial dysfunction in the context of human disease. My research interest lies in elucidating the mechanisms underlying the assembly of respiratory complex I, beginning with the initial stages of assembly. A deeper understanding of this process will advance our knowledge of mitochondrial metabolism and its role as a key player in aging and age-related disease vulnerability.

Scholar Karly CodyKarly Cody
Department of Medicine
Johnson Lab, Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
Neuroscience Training Program
“Associations of lifestyle risk, β-amyloid, and cognition: a longitudinal study from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention”
My research interests are centered on understanding the role of factors that contribute to healthy or pathological brain aging. In particular, I’m focused on applying neuroimaging tools to investigate the interplay between modifiable risk factors and the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Scholar Katie BeverlyKatie Beverley
Department: Pediatrics
Pattnaik Lab
Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology
“Kir7.1 Disease Mutation Demonstrates Dynamics of Inner Channel Pore”
Katie Beverley is a fourth year PhD student in the Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology program who is conducting her thesis work on Kir7.1 channel biology in the context of pediatric blindness in the laboratory of Dr. Bikash Pattnaik in the Department of Pediatrics. In addition, Katie is a certificate candidate in the Delta Program in teaching and learning at UW Madison. In the future, she would like to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship to expand her research skills and knowledge in the areas of ion channel biology and pharmacology. Katie’s long term is to build a career that focuses on both research and teaching.

Post-Doc Trainee Jeremy KratzJeremy Kratz, MD
Department of Medicine
Deming Laboratory
“Dose Escalation Strategies in Cancer Organoids for Clinical Translation”
I am a third year fellow in Medical Oncology at the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Internal Medicine. My research investigates techniques for developing translational tools to advance the practice of precision oncology in patients with gastrointestinal cancers. The goal of my work is to develop techniques as a correlative biomarker to predict response for an individual patient. This includes prospective investigations of cancer spheroids assessed by change in growth and metabolism from the University of Wisconsin’s Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board.

Scholar Kayla KaepplerKayla Kaeppler
Department of Nutritional Sciences
Tanumihardjo Lab
Nutritional Sciences Training Program
“Anthocyanin and Lycopene Content Do Not Affect Beta-Carotene Bioefficacy From Multicolored Carrots in Male Mongolian Gerbils”
I am a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in human nutrition. Our lab has two main foci: Vitamin A assessment methodology and carotenoid bioavailability. My projects aim to assess the impact of simultaneous ingestion of various bioactive phytonutrients, specifically anthocyanins and other carotenoids, on the bioefficacy of the provitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene.

Pre-doc trainee MaeghanMaeghan Murie-Mazariegos
Department of Medicine
Puglielli Lab
Neuroscience Training Program
“AT-1/SLC33A1 in aging and age-associated disease vulnerability”
Maeghan Murie-Mazariegos is a fourth-year graduate student in the Neuroscience Training Program at UW-Madison. She works in Dr. Luigi Puglielli’s laboratory where she studies the acetylation machinery of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and their role in proteostasis and aging. Maeghan is an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and is also a mother to an energetic almost-four-year old.

Scholar Chris EmfingerChris Emfinger, PhD
Department of Medicine
Attie Lab
“Zfp148 regulates a transcriptional network suppressing insulin secretion”
Christopher Emfinger, a postdoctoral fellow in the Attie laboratory, has a long-standing interest in understanding metabolism. Following his undergraduate degree, he worked for over four years in the Stafford lab at Vanderbilt, studying whole-body lipid homeostasis and the role of sex hormones and lipoproteins on liver function and cardiovascular risk. He then pursued a doctoral degree at Washington University in St. Louis. Working in the labs of Drs. Colin Nichols and Maria Remedi, he focused on the factors regulating whole-body responses to islet ion channel mutations using mouse and zebrafish models. In his current projects in the Attie lab, he focuses on understanding genetic regulation of metabolism and islet function by studying a poorly-understood transcription factor, Zfp148, and its role in islets and other tissues.

Postdoc Trainee Hannah FosterHannah Foster, PhD
Department of Medicine
Merrins Lab
Neuroscience Training Program
Examining the impact of aging on islet α-cells
Type II Diabetes (T2D) is a growing health crisis worldwide, disproportionately impacting the elderly, with 25% of the U.S. population over 65 developing the disease. In spite of this, most T2D research has ignored the effects of age on islet health, and the little research performed on aging and T2D has focused exclusively on insulin-secreting β-cells, overlooking the other islet cell types. In particular, α-cells, which secrete glucagon and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1), are known to strongly impact insulin secretion and likely contribute to disease development. My research is focused on determining the impact of aging on α-cells and α- to β-cell communication by measuring insulin and glucagon secretion in response to fuels and incretins, as well as through the use of live cell imaging techniques, which allow us to measure biochemical reactions in islets in real time.