Undergraduate Research Ambassadors

Thomas Joyce

Thomas JoyceThomas Joyce is a senior Biology and Psychology major, and Neuroscience minor. Thomas is a research assistant in the Stewart Lab where he is currently researching the relative rates of evolution of the CCR# primate family with respect to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). In the year ahead he is expanding this research to other members of the protein family. He has attended the National Collegiate Emergency Medicine Foundation Conference, the Student National Medical Association’s Annual Medical Education Conference, and has presented at 2017 Life Science’s Undergraduate Research Symposium and University at Albany Undergraduate Research Conference. With the goal of attending Medical School to become a physician and researcher, Thomas finds time to be involved in research, Students of Albany Against Cancer, Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service, and the Minority Association of Pre-Health/Pre-Medical Students.

Michelle Raissa Kobou Wafo

Michelle Raissa Kobou Wafo Michelle Raissa Kobou Wafo is a junior in the Honors College majoring in Economics and a minor in Biology. Michelle participated in the CSTEP 2016 Summer Research Program where she worked with Dr. Martin Tenniswood in the Cancer Research Center on the potential effects of pomegranate ellagitannins on breast cancer cells. She also was a participant in the McNair Research Conference at Buffalo in July 2016. Michelle will be continuing her research as she works towards her MD-MBA with the goal of becoming an oncologist and bringing changes to the health care system in her native country Cameron.

Molly MacIsaac

Molly MacIsaac Molly MacIsaac is a senior pursuing a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology degree within the Honors College, as well as a Mathematics minor. Molly spent the summer of 2017 at Harvard Medical School’s Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Summer Scholars Program. She worked with the Wyss Institute in Wesely Wong’s Lab on single-molecule force measurements using the DNA Nanoswitch in conjuction with the Centrifuge Force Microscope (CFM). Her summer experience concluded with presenting her research at the Harvard Medical School Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Summer Seminar. Molly’s research experience at UAlbany began in the summer of 2015 in Ken Halvorsen’s Lab within the RNA Institute. She works with programmable DNA Nanoswitches that are designed for the detection of specific microRNAs with a focus on disease pathology. Molly has presented her research several times since 2016, including at the Life Science’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (2016 and 2017), the University at Albany Undergraduate Research Conference (2016 and 2017), and the RNA Symposium (2017) where she won the poster contest. Additionally, Molly has two pending publications of her research. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a career as a surgeon to work in third world countries and impoverished areas.

Maksim Papenkov

Maksim PapenkovMaksim Papenkov is a junior pursuing a dual major in Mathematics and Economics. He is currently a Research Assistant in the School of Public Health where he is working on the comparison of health care systems for patients with dementia in Canada and the USA, as well as the development of wearable technology for home health aides to monitor improper posture to reduce work-related injuries. Maksim completed a Research Assistantship within the Economics Department where he worked on the analysis of national HMDA mortgage data. From this research he presented at the SUNY Undergraduate Research Conference and the University at Albany Undergraduate Research Conference in April 2017. Maksim will begin work on his Honors Thesis for the Honors College on the analysis of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy following the 2008 recession and hopes to receive his PhD in Economics.

Hayley Peterson

Hayley Peterson is a sophomore pursuing a dual major in Human Biology and Homeland Security. Hayley was previously a research assistant volunteer for Research Group Halamek and worked over the summer of 2016 as part of an opportunity from her local high school. She assisted in Forensic Chemistry research which focused on using the areas of bionanotechnoloy and bioelectronics to help determine the ethnicity, gender, and age found from biological evidence present at a crime scene. The particular goal during her time of study was to find a more reliable and faster way to identify persons of interest by creating a device to be used by law enforcement to narrow the suspect pool by identifying age and gender from blood of fingerprints. This involved testing and researching specific biological markers using biocatalytic assays. In the coming year, Hayley hopes to expand her research to subjects within neuroscience and psychology. Her goal is to attend Medical School and pursue a career as a Forensic Pathologist working for the FBI. Outside of school, Hayley enjoys coaching high school cheerleading at her local high school and is a volunteer at Albany Medical.

Peri Sosensky

Peri SosenkyPeri Sosensky is a sophomore pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Neuroscience. During the summer of 2017, Peri participated in a research project at Yale University’s School of Nursing where she was a member of an NIH-funded research study examining the biological associations between sleep, stress, and health among toddlers living in socioeconomically disadvantaged homes. During the Fall of 2017, Peri is working in a lab on campus that has developed a novel approach enabling thermal melting experiments using electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. This approach provides a unique perspective on melting, as it measures absolute dimerization of nucleic acid samples. This contrasts with UV melting, which measures the increase in absorbance of nucleic acids as bases become unstacked. We explore the differences in Tm measured by both methods, using a set of duplexes of differing lengths and sequence composition. This project will compare and assess the merits of MS melting as a novel tool to study the stability of nucleic acid interactions. Peri has previously spent time as a volunteer at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in the Smilow Cancer Center, General Medicine floors, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery unit, and the Primary Care Pediatric specialty clinic. Her passion for the field of medicine and helping others brought her to her role as attendant with the University at Albany Five Quad Volunteer Ambulance Service. All of Peri’s experiences have put her on a path towards attending Medical School after she graduates from the University at Albany.

Natasha Permaul

Natasha Permaul working in the labNatasha Permaul is a junior pursuing a major in Human Biology within the Honors College. She has a strong passion for research which prompted her to volunteer at Massachusetts General Hospital, a renowned teaching and biomedical research facility, during summer 2017. She shadowed doctors treating patients in outpatient care and learned about their clinical research for pediatric asthma and cystic fibrosis. Natasha devotes her time during the academic year in Dr. Gabriele Fuchs’ laboratory located in the RNA Institute since spring of 2017. She is utilizing CRISPR-mediated genome editing to deplete ribosomal proteins within cells to better understand their importance during viral infection. Aside from research, Natasha spends her time as a member of the Pre-Medical Club and takes part in community service on campus. Additionally, she volunteers for a mission team and spent part of summer 2017 travelling to give back to the global community. Natasha’s aim is to attend medical school after graduating from the University at Albany when she intends to pursue a career integrating her interest in laboratory and clinical research.