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Student & Alumni Profiles

Class of 2017

Class of 2017

Haley Caldwell

Haley graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Biology. She completed her capstone in the Virology Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Kirsten St. George. Her project consisted of using two next-generation sequencing platforms, the Illumina MiSeq and the Ion Torrent S5, to generate whole genome sequences of the mumps virus. The goal of this project was two-fold: first, to increase the ability to discriminate between mumps outbreaks, and second, to determine whether genetic mutations within the mumps virus have resulted in a vaccine evasive phenotype.

Brooke Clemons

Brooke graduated with honors in 2015 from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) with a B.S. in Biotechnology and minors in Environmental Biology and Microscopy. Her undergraduate thesis focused on strain typing Mycobacterium marinum from outbreaks at zebrafish research facilities. During her summers, she worked as a chemistry aide for the Wadsworth Center in the Tissue Culture and Media Core. Through the MLS program Brooke completed her Capstone Project in the Parasitology Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Susan Madison-Antenucci, where she worked to validate a next-generation sequencing assay to identify drug resistance molecular markers from patient samples infected with malaria.

Kailee Cummings

Kailee received her B.S. from Union College in 2015 where she majored in Biology and minored in History. There she completed her thesis entitled ‘The ability of Anolis sagrei to detect the color blue at different saturations’. Kailee completed her Capstone Project in the Bacteriology Laboratory with mentor Dr. Lisa Mingle, and developed a multiplex real-time PCR assay to detect Bacillus cereus and Clostridium perfringens in stool and food, as well as a quantitative real-time PCR assay for Clostridium perfringens detection.

Class of 2016

Class of 2016

Lynn Leach

Lynn graduated from Elmira College with a B.S. in Biology in 2014. As part of the MLS program, she completed her Capstone Project in the Mycology Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Sudha Chaturvedi. The project involved the development and validation of a multiplex real-time PCR assay to detect Candida species from blood. The assay significantly reduces the turnaround time for Candida species identification, allowing physicians to make appropriate initial selection of antifungal treatments. Lynn currently works as an assistant research scientist in the Mycology Laboratory, and is involved in the development and validation of new assays.

Joshua Rose

Josh graduated from Union College with a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Classical Civilization in 2014. He completed his Capstone Project in the Arbovirology Laboratory under the mentorship of Drs. Alex Ciota and Laura Kramer. The Capstone Project involved the development of a unique flavivirus model incorporating Rabensburg virus and West Nile virus to understand genetic differences which relate to pathogenic emergence within vertebrate hosts. The project increased our understanding of flavivirus evolution.

Josh is currently enrolled in the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT. His research experiences at Wadsworth Center solidified his passion for biomedical research, and he hopes to make an impact in cancer treatment research.

Class of 2015

Class of 2015

Kaleigh Ahern

Kaleigh received her B.S. in Environmental Engineering and Technology from Union College in 2013. While at Union, she was impassioned by a personal experience with late stage Lyme disease to research tick-borne disease, and she completed two separate thesis projects on the topic.

She graduated from the MLS program in 2015. She completed her Capstone Project in the Virology Laboratory under the supervision of Drs. Kirsten St. George and Amy Dean, with a goal of developing and validating a droplet digital PCR duplex assay for the investigation of inherited chromosomally integrated human herpesvirus 6. Kaleigh is now a student in the accelerated Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing program at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Francesco Criscuolo

Francesco graduated from Mount Saint Mary College with a double major in Biology and Chemistry and worked as a laboratory analyst before entering the MLS Program in 2013. Francesco's MLS Capstone Project was hosted by the Bloodborne Viruses Laboratory where he developed a method for amplifying and analyzing the hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) for use in outbreak/transmission investigations. The project involved PCR optimization to ensure the reaction would effectively amplify all HCV genotypes, deep-sequencing using the Illumina MiSeq platform, as well as data and sequence analysis. He also collaborated with the Viral Hepatitis group at the CDC as they worked on developing their Global Hepatitis Outbreak Surveillance Technology (GHOST) system which would use the HVR1 PCR reaction as the system's input. The project was completed under the supervision of Drs. Monica Parker and Kathy Chou.

Francesco currently works as a research scientist in the Viral Hepatitis group at the CDC, conducting research on the HVR1 region of the HCV virus and sequencing the mitochondria of the HCV-infected patients as a potential biomarker for disease progression and prediction.

Joe Shea

Joe graduated from Siena College with a B.S. in Biology in 2011 and performed quality assurance work prior to entering the MLS Program in 2013. His MLS Capstone Project aimed to apply whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to M. tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics, and was completed in the Molecular Bacteriology Laboratory under the supervision of Drs. Kimberlee Musser and Vincent Escuyer. His work contributed to the first WGS assay for isolates of an infectious agent approved for clinical testing, and was implemented in March, 2016. Now used to type strains of TB from all patients in New York State, this comprehensive test has aided TB control efforts and improved the accuracy of molecular drug-resistance predictions reported to physicians, resulting in more effective patient management.

Joe currently works as a research scientist in the Molecular Bacteriology Laboratory, focusing on the routine WGS testing of M. tuberculosis and researching new ways to apply this technology directly to patient specimens.

Publications:

Lapierre P, Halse TA, Shea J, Escuyer VE, Musser KA. Draft Genome Sequence of Branchiibius sp. NY16-3462-2, Isolated from a Mixed Clinical Sample. Genome Announc. 2016;4(3). Read more

Shea J, Halse TA, Lapierre P, Shudt M, Kohlerschmidt D, Van Roey P, Limberger R, Taylor J, Escuyer V, Musser KA.Comprehensive Whole-Genome Sequencing and Reporting of Drug Resistance Profiles on Clinical Cases of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in New York State. J Clin Microbiol. 2017 Jun;55(6):1871-1882. Read more

Greicy Zayas

Prior to joining the MLS Program at Wadsworth Center, Greicy completed her B.S. at Stony Brook University and obtained her NYS licensure for Clinical Laboratory Technology. At Wadsworth Center, she completed a Capstone Project under the tutelage of Dr. Susan Madison-Antenucci, which entailed developing a multiplex real-time PCR assay to detect three kinetoplastid blood parasites. Greicy is currently employed by the New York City Department of Health as an associate laboratory microbiologist working on Neisseria meningitidis.

Class of 2014

Class of 2014

Dominick Centurioni

Dominick graduated from Union College with a B.S. in Biochemistry in 2010. As part of the MLS program, he completed his Capstone Project in the Biodefense Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Christina Egan. His project focused on the validation of a CDC-developed MALDI-TOF/MS assay for the detection of active botulinum neurotoxin in clinical specimens, eliminating the need for animal testing to diagnose botulism. Dominick currently works as a research scientist in the Biodefense Laboratory and is sequencing the genomes of potential bioterrorism agents.

Publications:

Perry M, Centurioni D, Davis S, Hannett G, Musser K, Egan C. Implementing the Bruker MALDI Biotyper in the Public Health Laboratory for C. botulinum Neurotoxin Detection. Toxins (Basel). 2017;9(3):94. Read more

Erin Hughes

Erin graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in Biology in 2009. She worked at the Wadsworth Center conducting research on M. tuberculosis using model organism M. smegmatis before beginning the MLS program in 2012. As part of the program, she completed her Capstone Project in the Newborn Screening Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Denise Kay. The project involved evaluation of two Illumina MiSeqDx next-generation sequencing (NGS) assays for screening newborns for cystic fibrosis (CF) and determining the utility and feasibility of integrating these systems into the existing CF screening algorithm in New York State.

Erin currently works as a research scientist in the Newborn Screening DNA Laboratory, formerly responsible for performing second tier testing to screen for Pompe disease, and presently involved with the implementation of next-generation sequencing as a third-tier newborn screen for CF.

Publications:

Hughes EE, Stevens CF, Saavedra-Matiz CA, Tavakoli NP, Krein LM, Parker A, Zhang Z, Maloney B, Vogel B, DeCelie-Germana J, et al. Clinical sensitivity of cystic fibrosis mutation panels in a diverse population. Hum Mutat. 2016;37(2):201–208. Read more

Lin N, Huang J, Violante S, Orsini JJ, Caggana M, Hughes EE, Stevens C, DiAntonio L, Liao HC, Hong X, et al. Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry Assay of Leukocyte Acid α-Glucosidase for Post-Newborn Screening Evaluation of Pompe Disease. Clin Chem. 2017:clinchem.2016.259036. Read more

Jana McGinnis

Jana graduated from the College of Saint Rose in 2012 and earned a B.A. in Biology. During her time in the MLS program, she completed a capstone research project in the Bacteriology Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. William Wolfgang. This project focused on describing a new bacterial species and involved both classical methodologies, as well as advanced molecular methodologies including whole genome sequencing. The bacterial species, which was isolated from multiple clinical specimens, was validly named and published as Paracoccus sanguinis.

Following graduation from the MLS program, Jana joined the Laboratory of Viral Diseases as an Advanced Molecular Diagnostics fellow, where she worked on developing a PCR method for whole genome sequencing of influenza viruses from primary specimens and cultured isolates.

Jana is currently the supervisor of the molecular biology laboratory at Berkshire Medical Center. She oversees and conducts molecular testing for infectious diseases, genetic markers for disease, and cancer. She is also responsible for reporting the testing volumes and results to various committees within the hospital as well as bringing on new testing methodologies.

Publications:

McGinnis J, Laplante J, Shudt M, George K St. Next generation sequencing for whole genome analysis and surveillance of influenza A viruses. J Clin Virol. 2016;79:44-50. Read more

McGinnis J, Cole J, Dickinson M, Mingle L, LapierreP, Musser K, Wolfgang W. Paracoccus sanguinis sp. nov., isolated from clinical specimens of New York State patients. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2015;65(6):1877-1882. Read more

Krizova L, McGinnis J, Maixnerova M, et al. Acinetobacter variabilis sp. nov. (formerly DNA group 15 sensu Tjernberg & Ursing), isolated from humans and animals. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2015;65(Pt 3):857-863. Read more

YanChun Zhu

Yan received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University at Albany, SUNY in 2012. During the MLS program, Yan completed her Capstone Project in the Mycobacteriology/Bacteriology Laboratory under the supervision of Drs. Kimberlee Musser and Vincent Escuyer. Her Capstone Project focused on the development and validation of new diagnostics for Mycobacterium abscessus and validation of a conventional drug susceptibility assay for antibiotics currently used to treat M. abscessus. Upon graduation, Yan continued her training as an Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) fellow, sponsored by the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yan currently works as a research scientist in the Mycology Laboratory at Wadsworth Center, and is involved in routine clinical testing and assay development to improve fungal testing.

Publications:

Zhu YC, Mitchell KK, Nazarian EJ, Escuyer VE, Musser KA. Rapid prediction of inducible clarithromycin resistance in Mycobacterium abscessus. Mol Cell Probes. 2015;29(6):514-516. Read more