To learn more about our students, we invite you to view the student profiles. Each student shares their research areas of focus, hobbies, and more, including their views of Augusta, Georgia.

photo of Ammar Abdelrahman

Ammar Abdelrahman

  • Hometown: Giza, Egypt
  • Undergraduate: Cairo University (Egypt)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2016
  • Mentor: Dr. Pamela M. Martin

What sparked your interest in science?

When you have great teachers who really understand the value and impact of science on the communities and nations all over the world, their contagious passion would inspire you to pursue a career in the intriguing field of scientific research.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

I'm interested in studying vascular diseases especially in the retina. Vascular functions in the retina impact its visual functions and these diseases are the most common cause of blindness especially in adults.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

The retina is a great subject of research in vascular biology and because of its accessibility it helped to advance our understanding of the vascular development and the impact of different treatments on blood vessel formation and functions. Discoveries from retinal blood vessels were extrapolatable to blood vessels that help solid tumors to grow. Understanding the properties of blood vessels in tumors helped the development of tumor targeting strategies to improve chemotherapeutic outcomes and decrease treatment toxicity.

 

Previous completed graduate school:

Cairo University (Egypt) - Master in Clinical Pharmacy

 

Hobbies

Soccer, tennis, and biking are the sports I play weekly. I also enjoy woodworking and other simple crafts.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

Augusta is a beautiful city with peaceful environment and kind people. Savannah River is a great place for sightseeing. The city also provides a great array of fun activities.

 

photo of Nada Aboelella

Nada Aboelella

  • Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
  • Undergraduate: Cairo University (Egypt)
  • Graduate Program: Molecular Medicine
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Mentor: Dr. Gang Zhou

What sparked your interest in science?

As a student and even more as a health care professional (pharmacist), the immune system has been a constant source of fascination for me. I'm always amazed by how fine is our immune system in distinguishing self from non-self cells and how regulated the immune decisions in each scenario. I became curious to discover how our immune system function, the mechanisms of disease and treatment.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

I'm interested in understanding the interplay between immune cells and tumor cells in the tumor microenvironment. My current research is focusing on developing new strategies to enhance the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy, specifically CD19CAR T cell therapy.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My current work will allow us to have new insights in the critical mechanisms involved in tumor eradication by immunotherapy. Furthermore, it will provide new recommendations for combinatorial treatment to boost the efficacy of currently available immunotherapies.

 

Previous completed graduate school:

University of Leicester (United Kingdom) - Master of Chronic Disease and Immunity

 

Hobbies

Reading, traveling, visiting museums, and photography

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

It's a quiet place with a nice, friendly community.

photo of Caryn Bird

Caryn Bird

  • Hometown: Lakeville, MN
  • Undergraduate: Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, GA)
  • Graduate Program: Molecular Medicine
  • Start Year: 2016
  • Mentor: Dr. Theodore Johnson

What sparked your interest in science?

I had cousins and friends that had cancer as children and that made an impact on me. I had always had an interest in the human body and how it works. Then in high school, I started to develop an interest in science. It wasn't until the end of college that I connected those interests and wanted to pursue a career in pediatric cancer research.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Cancer immunology- blocking immune suppressive pathways.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My research is posed to shift the focus of cancer immunotherapy that will eventually affect patient care as it hasn't been looked at for cancer therapy.

 

Hobbies

Painting, adult coloring books, puzzles, arts and crafts, cooking, baking, sewing and quilting occasionally. No pets right now, but I would like to get a dog when I am a post-doc.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

The smaller town feel with the shopping and activities of a bigger city.

photo of Dakota Booth

Dakota Booth

  • Hometown: Ringgold, GA
  • Undergraduate: Mercer University (Macon, GA)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2020
  • Mentor: Dr. Kebin Liu

What sparked your interest in science?

I have had a passion for science as long as I can remember-when I was young, I loved learning about space and how the universe works. Now, my focus has shifted to a much smaller "universe", but the curiosity is the same.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

My current research area is going to be the role of IRF-8 in osteoporosis.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My dream is to be a physician scientist, practicing "bedside to bench"-where what I learn from my patients informs my research, and my research informs patient care.

 

Hobbies

Baking, painting, running

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

I enjoy the beautiful outdoor areas by the river and all of the fantastic restaurants.

photo of Hesamoldin Khodadadi Chamgodani

Hesamoldin Khodadadi Chamgodani

  • Hometown: Isfahan, Iran
  • Undergraduate: Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (Iran) (Medical Doctorate)
  • Graduate Program: Molecular Medicine
  • Start Year: 2019
  • Mentor: Dr. Babak Baban

What sparked your interest in science?

I’ve always been fascinated by scientists who devoted their lives to dissect and find the underlying mechanism and causes of diseases to save other people lives and make the world a better place to live.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

As a trained physician, I have been always interested in molecular interactions between inflammatory diseases and the immune system. Therefore, the focus of my research is to study the role of immunoinflammatory responses in underlying pathogenesis of chronic neurodegenerative diseases, specifically Alzheimer's.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

Alzheimer's Disease is a growing global health concern and has huge impact on society and a person's quality of life. Understanding the underlying pathogenesis mechanisms, can lead us to find the right target to treat and reduce the impact of that on health.

 

Hobbies

I love nature, swimming, playing piano, reading about computer sciences and new gadgets!

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

Although Augusta doesn't have the shininess of big cities, but I really like the quietness and fresh nature around the city as well as good people and working environment.

photo of Leidy Caraballo Galva

Leidy Caraballo Galva

  • Hometown: San Juan, Dominican Republic
  • Undergraduate: Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
  • Graduate Program: Molecular Medicine
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Mentor: Dr. Yukai He

What sparked your interest in science?

The possibility to make a significant contribution to humanity.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Genetic Engineering, T cell engineering, immunology, cancer research

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My career could open the way to new treatments for diseases such as cancer.

 

Previous completed graduate school:

National Institute of Applied Sciences (France) - Master in Biochemical Engineering

 

Hobbies

I am a devoted Christian, thus I spent most of my free time in church-related activities, such as working on the youth department to help young people in different areas of their life.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

Augusta is a calm place where I feel connected to nature.

photo of Mohamed Hussein

Mohamed Hussein

  • Hometown: Port Said, Egypt
  • Undergraduate: Cairo University (Egypt)
  • Graduate Program: Molecular Medicine
  • Start Year: 2016
  • Mentor: Dr. Yukai He

What sparked your interest in science?

I always wanted to help patients and improve their quality of life. Scientific research gives me the opportunity to achieve my goal by investigating major health problems especially cancer.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

The role of T cell receptor engineered human T (TCR-T) cells to treat human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

Finding new therapies for HCC are of great importance for patient care and survival as liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in adult men due to lack of therapies.

 

Previous completed graduate schools:

Rutgers University (New Jersey) - Master of Clinical and Translational Science

Cairo University (Egypt) - Master of Clinical and Chemical Pathology

 

Hobbies

I enjoy playing soccer, tennis, watching sports and movies.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

Augusta is a wonderful place to live with a gorgeous lake and river for recreation.

photo of Sarrah Lahorewala

Sarrah Lahorewala

  • Hometown: Mumbai, India
  • Undergraduate: Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (India) (Dental Surgery)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2016
  • Mentor: Dr. Vinata Lokeshwar

What sparked your interest in science?

I was diagnosed with a rare spinal tumor at the age of 13, and that sparked my interest in science, and specifically, cancer.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

My research focuses on discovering novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in bladder cancer.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My research is very translational because it centers around validating biomarkers in bladder cancer that can not only diagnose the disease, but also predict clinical outcome. Invasive bladder cancer has a poor prognosis and there is currently no approved prognostic marker for this disease. Successful clinical implementation of my research could help guide therapy and improve patient survival in bladder cancer.

 

Hobbies

I love cooking and baking, experimenting in the kitchen is my favorite hobby. I also enjoy reading classic literature.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

I love that there are so many things one can do outdoors here, from hiking to kayaking. I also love that Augusta is only a few short hours away from the mountains and beaches!

photo of Nicole H. Lopez

Nicole H. Lopez

  • Hometown: Miami, FL
  • Undergraduate: Barry University (Miami Shores, FL)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2014
  • Mentor: Dr. Betty Pace

What sparked your interest in science?

I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 2, which sparked my interest in science, how diseases affect the body and drug development.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Sickle Cell Disease with a focus on fetal hemoglobin induction through small molecules.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

Developing a new drug alternative to treat Sickle Cell patients will greatly benefit their quality of life, as there are limited approved FDA drug options.

 

Hobbies

I love to dance and my husband and I love to try new restaurants and foods. We have a Chowski named Ruby and we recently welcomed our baby boy.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

My family and I love the slower paced and outdoor lifestyle. I also love that Augusta feels like a small city, but you have everything you need and everyone is very friendly.

photo of Bhaumik Pandya

Bhaumik Pandya

  • Hometown: Ahmedabad, India
  • Undergraduate: Gujarat Technological University (India)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2016
  • Mentor: Dr. Nahid Mivechi

What sparked your interest in science?

The desire of investigating novel biochemical and molecular therapeutic regulatory pathways that may in turn helps in novel drug discovery for various diseased conditions.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Primary focus of my research is tumor immunology. I am working with a folding protein named HSF1 and the impacts that it has on immune cell soldiers of our body.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

Aim of our research is to make the immune cells of our body healthier and long lived (preventing them from early exhaustion) so that they can fight off cancer attacks in a better way. If I succeed in my research, it will have a huge breakthrough in the field of immunotherapy and cancer research.

 

Previous completed graduate school:

Gujarat Technological University (India) - Master of Pharmacy

 

Hobbies

Dancing is my fondest hobby outside graduate studies. I have been doing choreography for years now. I have choreographed and performed at annual India day functions as well as at the international festivals like Arts in the Heart of Augusta. Apart from dancing, I enjoy singing, socializing and traveling to beautiful places.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

The best part of Augusta is very warm and inclusive community. Despite being an international student, I have found very nice people around and in the community with whom I can hang out and have a great time.

photo of Mahrima Parvin

Mahrima Parvin

  • Hometown: Joypurhat, Rajshahi, Bangladesh
  • Undergraduate: University of Dhaka (Bangladesh)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2019
  • Mentor: Dr. Ali S. Arbab

What sparked your interest in science?

When I started to learn about different discoveries in science field kind of got attracted in science.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Glioblastoma and Breast Cancer

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

Because I am working on drug delivery for cancer, I am not sure yet but hopeful that my small work would implemented in cancer treatment.

 

Hobbies

Reading the newspaper, traveling

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

I enjoyed living in Augusta because it is very calm and it is not a crowded place.

photo of Michaela Quintero

Michaela Quintero

  • Hometown: Chattanooga, TN
  • Undergraduate: Mercer University (Macon, GA)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Mentor: Dr. Honglin Li

What sparked your interest in science?

Science connects my love of nature, healthy living, and experimentation. Biochemistry delves into the basic functions of life and that knowledge tangibly advances healthcare.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

My research is focused on the Ufmylation pathway and its role in secretory cells such as Paneth cells that maintain our intestinal microbiota.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

My research will elucidate some of the biochemical mechanisms responsible for protection against Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer which should help improve the treatment of these diseases.

 

Hobbies

I enjoy gardening, cooking, hiking, and playing the French horn. I have two dogs, Iggy and Zuzu.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

The scenery in Augusta is beautiful and there are great local health food markets.

photo of Alyssa Smith

Alyssa Smith

  • Hometown: Morganton, NC
  • Undergraduate: University of South Carolina Aiken (Aiken, SC)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2018
  • Mentor: Dr. Kebin Liu

What sparked your interest in science?

I originally wanted to go to veterinary school but then I joined a research lab in undergrad and fell in love with research science.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

In Dr. Liu's lab, we study cancer immunology specifically looking at colon cancer.

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

I hope that with research in cancer immunotherapy progressive we can make cancer treatments strong while being less strenuous on the patients.

 

Hobbies

My fiancé and I have two dogs and two cats, so we enjoy taking the dogs to the parks or river walks around Augusta.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

The outdoor activities in Augusta are definitely a highlight.

photo of Jiaojiao Wang

Jiaojiao Wang

  • Hometown: Anhui, China
  • Undergraduate: Anhui University of Chinese Medicine (China)
  • Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Mentor: Dr. Vinata Lokeshwar

What sparked your interest in science?

I enjoyed doing experiments when I was an undergraduate student. I was always very excited to see the results from my experiments. At that time, all the students followed the exact same protocol, but still different results were observed. This made me ask myself, "how is this possible?" So then after graduation, I went to graduate school to study the field I was interested for another 3 years.

 

What are your research areas of expertise or focus?

Drug combination, tumor suppressor, biomarker, renal cell carcinoma

 

How do you see your research impacting cancer discoveries, patient care, or public health in the future?

I always feel that my research is very meaningful. Cancer research is extremely complicated - why it happens, how it spreads. Although a single researcher or lab may only focus on a very small area, even a small finding can meaningfully benefit patients.

 

Previous completed graduate school:

Sun Yat-sen University (China) - Master of Pharmacology

 

Hobbies

I love playing ping-pong and badminton. I also like jogging.

 

What do you enjoy most about living in Augusta?

Augusta is a small peaceful town. The traffic is not bad most of the time. Living in Augusta is a good experience.