AGEP Student Profiles

Doctoral Students

Sascha McKeon, Ph.D. Candidate (Fourth Year)


Sascha was born and raised on the island of Kauai, Hawaii to a teacher/nurse practitioner and a fire fighter. Early on in her life, medical science and service were driving forces that fueled her ambition. She graduated from high school as a junior and completed her bachelor’s in biomolecular science in three years. She took time off from school to evaluate her options and worked as a science educator in Hawaii for youths and young adults from a range of ages, including 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, as well as undergraduate students.

Currently she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases at the University at Albany, SUNY. During her first year in the Biomedical Science program, she participated in research involving the identification of the gene(s) responsible for tuberculosis latency, designed a multiplex PCR protocol for Staphyloccocus enterotoxins C, D and TSST and now conducts research for the Vector Biology and Population Genetics Laboratory at Wadsworth Center’s Griffin Laboratories. Her thesis research focuses on the delineation of hypothesized cryptic species in the Albitarsis complex, a close family of mosquito species, which are regionally important vectors of Malaria. Sascha is a member of the American Society of Microbiology and on the executive board for the Biomedical Science and Environmental Health Science Graduate Student Organization. She truly enjoys interacting with people, so she balances her research in the lab by volunteering as a Teaching Assistant for general biology laboratory sections and is currently organizing summer courses in Human Disease and Parasitology. After completion of her terminal degree, she hopes to teach at a small liberal arts college. When she is not studying or working in the lab, Sascha enjoys reading fictional stories and spending time with her husband and two dogs.

Mary Graham, Third Year Doctoral student

Mary Graham graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University at Albany, having received her B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science. Currently she is a third year Graduate Research Assistant at the University at Albany's College of NanoScale Science & Engineering, where she is actively pursuing her Ph.D. in the field of NanoBiotechnology. Her research focuses on the fabrication of antifouling nano-scaled topography for the prevention of bacterial adhesion on polymeric substrates.


Ph.D. Recipients

Dawit Demissie, Ph.D.

 Dawit Demissie received a Ph.D. in Informatics from the College of Computing & Information, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) in December 2011. He also earned a MS in Telecommunications & Network Management from Syracuse University and a BA in Computer/Information Science from State University of New York at Oswego.

He has served as a software test engineer and a system consultant at various organizations. He has been a lecturer at the University at Albany, SUNY, and recently received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.  Additionally, he had been an instructor at State University of New York at Oswego, Hudson Valley Community College, Syracuse University/SCSD and Bryant & Stratton College. 

 He has published and presented in major journals and conference proceedings, and his research interests include empirical testing of models/theories of information technology, user acceptance of information technology, human computer interaction, managing emerging technologies and e-Government index computations.

Keith Gonzales, Ph.D. Candidate

Keith Gonzales is a fifth year PhD student in Dr. Christine Wagner’s laboratory within the Psychology department. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree at University at Albany,  he met Dr. Wagner through the NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. After hearing about her work, he decided to continue his graduate training at UAlbany.

His research is aimed towards elucidating the mechanism by which estradiol exerts its effects through interactions with ERα and ERβ in the developing mammalian brain. His findings will contribute to the poorly understood actions of estradiol in the brain, which will support the advancement of reducing potentially harmful neural and behavioral side effects of hormonal drug treatments in women.

Throughout Keith’s graduate career at UAlbany, he has been invited to speak about his research at the Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society, won awards for excellence in research from the Endocrine Society, and recently has been appointed to the NIH funded Neuroscience Scholars Program from the Society for Neuroscience.

With the support of funding agencies, SUNY’s UAlbany AGEP, and his advisor, Keith achieve his goal of finishing his dissertation work in December 2010. He is now enrolled in a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University.

Dr. Nelson Sivers


Dr. Nelson Sivers received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University at Albany, SUNY in 2006. Currently he is a research fellow at the General Electric (GE) Global Research Center. He is part of an engineering team that is developing medical digital x-ray imagers, which are a replacement for x-ray film. In this picture, he is standing next to his mentor and doctoral advisor Dr. Susanne Lee.

Dr. Meranda D. Bradley


Dr. Meranda D. Bradley received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University at Albany, SUNY in 2007. Currently she is a guest research fellow in the Oakridge Research Institute for Science and Education program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

She is the second African American female to earn her Ph.D. in the Department of Biological Sciences’ Molecular Cellular Developmental and Neural Biology program at the University at Albany State University of New York, Albany, New York in August 2007. In 2007 she was awarded the teaching assistant of the year award by the Department of Biological Sciences at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her dissertation work with Dr. Robert Osuna involved using DNA microarray analysis to explore gene regulation throughout the Escherichia coli genome by the DNA binding protein Fis.  Her current research projects focus on the detection of Bacillus anthracis spores in soil and monochloramine and chlorine disinfection of Burkholderia pseudomallei.

Dr. Lydia G. Marquez-Bravo


Dr. Lydia G. Marquez-Bravo received her Ph.D. in Environmental Health and Toxicology from the University at Albany, SUNY in Spring 2008. Her research deals with Breast Cancer and Toxic substances. She is presently employed at the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Toxic Substance Assessment, located in Troy, NY.

Dissertation abstract

Dr. Eric Yaw Frimpong


Recieved his Ph.D. candidate in Epidemiology and Statistics department of the School of Public Health. His research concerned investigating the identifiability of bivariate mixtures and their applications to infant mortality models.