Some other lab alumni

Some of the information here is now very out of date, so if you visit and see that your recent accomplishments and activities are not here, please email me and update me on what you are up to. We love to hear from our lab alumni!


Michelle Asplund was a Masters in Biology student in the lab from 1994-1995 and cloned and sequenced multiple copies of the Bmmar1 mariner from the silkmoth Bombyx mori. She moved on to medical school at the University of Illinois Medical School in Peoria. I don’t know where you are now, Michelle! The publication derived from her work with us is:
Robertson, H. M. and M. L. Asplund 1996. Bmmar1: a basal lineage of the mariner family of transposable elements in the silkworm moth, Bombyx mori. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 26, 945-954.

Rita Avancini was a visiting researcher in the lab in 1989-1990 and again in 1994 while she was a professor at the University of Campinas in Brazil. She initially worked on the ITS regions of the rRNA genes of the horn fly Haematobia irritans and later on the Tc1-mariner superfamily in some flies. After spending several years in Toronto, she and husband Jose and daughter Lina moved to Boston where she is working for a biotech company. Publications from her work with us are:
Avancini, R. M. P., K. K. O. Walden and H. M. Robertson 1996. The genomes of most animals have multiple members of the Tc1 family of transposable elements. Genetica 98, 131-140.
Robertson, H. M., F. N. Soto-Adames, K. K. O. Walden, R. M. P. Avancini, and D. J. Lampe. 1998. The mariner transposons of animals: horizontally jumping genes. In: Horizontal Gene Transfer. Ed. M. Syvanen and C. Kado. pp 268-284. Chapman and Hall, London.

Christina Brakebill was an undergraduate in the lab from 1998-1999 working on the Manduca sexta female antennal EST project. She followed it up by screening the male and female cDNA libraries with the various odorant binding protein clones we isolated. She graduated with high distinction. Christina worked for a year as a technician in Chicago, then moved to Portland working in the lab of Dr. Irene Smith at Oregon Health Sciences University. In June 2003 she began a 2-year stint in the Peace Core in Malawi. Christina, where are you now?

Angela Colbert was an undergraduate in the lab from 1990-1992 working with Scott O'Neill on Wolbachia infections of various insects. She graduated with distinction. She then worked in the Eric Lander lab at MIT for several years on their mouse genome physical mapping projects, but I've lost track of her since then. Angela, please let us know where you are these days! The publication from her work with us is:
O'Neill, S. L., R. Giordano, A. M. E. Colbert, T. L. Karr and H. M. Robertson 1992. 16S rRNA phylogenetic analysis of the bacterial endosymbionts associated with cytoplasmic incompatibility in insects. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89, 2699-2702.

Ellen Gelfand (Todres) was a Masters in Biology student in the lab from 1998-2000. She worked on the Manduca sexta and honey bee antennal EST projects, and then for her masters worked on four tetraspanin proteins revealed by these projects and the Drosophila family of these proteins. She then moved to Boston with her husband Eli and worked at Suntory Pharmaceutical Research Laboratories there. After taking a break with her baby daughter, Sophie, she returned to part-time work in the lab of Dr. Brian Seed with the Harvard Institute of Proteomics. In 2007 they welcomed a second daughter, Leah. Publications from her work with us are:
Robertson, H. M., R. Martos, C. R. Sears, E. Z. Todres, K. K. O. Walden, and J. B. Nardi. 1999. Diversity of odourant binding proteins revealed by an expressed sequence tag project on male Manduca sexta moth antennae. Insect Molecular Biology 8, 501-518.
Todres, E., J. B. Nardi, and H. M. Robertson. The tetraspanin superfamily in insects. Insect Molecular Biology 9, 581-590.

Tessi Grant was an undergraduate in the lab from 1995-1996 working with postdoc David Lampe studying the effects of various factors on the activity of our Himar1 mariner transposase in vitro. She graduated with high distinction. She moved on to the University of Illinois Medical School in Urbana. Tessie, I don’t know where you are now! The publication from her work with us is:
Lampe, D. J., T. E. Grant and H. M. Robertson 1998. Factors affecting transposition of the Himar1 mariner transposon in vitro. Genetics 149, 179-187.

Nathan Houchens, son of our long-time head departmental secretary Dot Houchens, was an undergraduate in the lab from 2001-2002, working primarily on the first odorant receptor we found in honey bees. In 2006 he completed medical school in Chicago.

Barbara Linkhart was an undergraduate in the lab from 1995-1997 and conducted a search for mariner transposons in the genomes of diverse mammals, many obtained locally from roadkills, and discovered new mariners in whales and bats. This work contributed to our application for a new NIH grant to study the mariners of mammals, but has yet to be published. After working in business for a while, she returned to an academic environment in the developmental biology laboratory of Dr. Hans-Georg Simon at Northwestern University/Children's Memorial Hospital, and then obtained a MS from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She is currently teaching at the St. Scholastic Academy in Chicago.

Erin Lockard was an undergraduate in the lab from 1996-1998 working on the mariner portion of the novel fusion SETMAR gene in humans. She tested its encoded transposase for function in our various in vitro assays, however it appears not even to be capable of binding the consensus Hsmar1 ITRs. She graduated with distinction. Erin was a technician in Brian Livingston’s laboratory at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, working on sea urchin development for a couple of years, and then moved on to New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. Erin, are you still there?

Kim Ly was a CSB undergraduate in the lab from Fall 2001 to Summer 2003, although she spent her summers during this time and in 2001 working at the CDC in Atlanta. She worked on expression patterns of the various human genes derived from transposons, and stayed on for a year part-time while applying to graduate schools and helping with annotation of a few remaining nematode chemoreceptor families. In Fall 2004 she started graduate school at the University of Virginia, and graduated with a Masters in 2006. A publication from her work with us is:

Thomas, J. H., J. L. Kelley, H. M. Robertson, K. Ly, and W. J. Swanson. 2005. Adaptive evolution in the srz chemoreceptor families of Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 102, 4476-4481.

Reba Martos was a technician in the lab from 1996-1997 and worked on three projects. She assisted Chun-Liang Chen in examining the P elements of various flies, she sequenced many cDNAs derived in part from copies of Hsmar2 in the human genome, and she initiated our olfactory EST project on male Manduca sexta antennae. She was then a medical student at the University of Illinois Medical School in Chicago, and now is a resident in Grand rapids, Michigan. She is a mother now too, with a her daughter Sophie, with another alum, John Sherwood - congratulations Reba and John! Publications from her work with us are:
Robertson, H. M. and R. Martos 1997. Molecular evolution of the second ancient human mariner transposon, Hsmar2, illustrates patterns of neutral evolution in the human genome lineage. Gene 205, 219-228.
Robertson, H. M., R. Martos, C. R. Sears, E. Z. Todres, K. K. O. Walden, and J. B. Nardi. 1999. Diversity of odourant binding proteins revealed by an expressed sequence tag project on male Manduca sexta moth antennae. Insect Molecular Biology 8, 501-518.
Nardi, J. B., R. Martos, K. K. O. Walden, D. J. Lampe and H. M. Robertson. 1999. Expression of lacunin, a large multidomain extracellular matrix protein, accompanies morphogenesis of epithelial monolayers in Manduca sexta. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 29, 883-897.

Chris Michelsen was an undergraduate in the lab from 1999-2001. He helped with many aspects of the lab, towards the end with the complete sequencing of interesting cDNAs from a honey bee brain library. He left the lab to pursue his interests in chemistry and psychology. Chris graduated in December 2002 and after working Spring 2003, went off to Australia for the rest of the year for fun. Chris, where are you now?

Paneez Mostafavipour was an undergraduate in the lab from 1998-2000. She first helped with our EST project on honey bee antennae, and later worked on expressing labelled versions of the chimeric SETMAR protein in human cell culture. She moved on to medical school at the University of Illinois in Chicago, but we’ve lost track of her.

Julia Navik was a General Biology undergraduate in the lab from 2003-2004. She worked up a new family of arrestin-like proteins in animals genomes from insect and nematodes to mammals. She also survived my insect molecular genetics and comparative eukaryotic genomics courses! In summer 2004 she moved on to work at Baxter in Chicago, and then worked for a start-up sequencing lab, but I think has moved on from there, Julia?

Gregory New was an undergraduate in the lab from 2002-2003 and graduated with distinction from Biology General with a paper describing his work on the DmOr83b ortholog chemoreceptors in insects. He found it in moths, wasps, lacewings, beetles, crickets, and bugs. He spent the summer of 2003 in the lab then moved on to study for a doctor of optometry degree at the New England College of Optometry in Boston. Where are you now, Greg?

Harland Patch was a PhD student in the lab from 1998-2005 working on candidate pheromone and other receptors of moths. He is currently a postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh working with Trudy Mackay.

Purvi Patel was an undergraduate in the lab from 1995-1997 working with Rosanna Giordano on the Wolbachia infections of tephritid flies. She graduated with distinction and returned to Chicago, but we’ve lost track of her.

Karlene Ramsdell was a PhD student in the lab from 1999-2004, co-advised with Stewart Berlocher. After helping with work on moth OBPs, she worked on the OBPs of the true fruit fly Rhagoletis suavis and the corn rootworm Diabrotica virgifera. She currently lives with her husband near Chicago. A publication from her work with us is:

Nardi, J. B., L. A. Miller, K. K. O. Walden, S. Rovelstad, K. Ramsdell, L. Wang, J. C. Frye, L. S. Deem, and H. M. Robertson. 2003. Expression patterns of odorant binding proteins in the antennae of Manduca sexta moths. Cell and Tissue Research 313, 321-333.

Susan Ratcliffe was a Masters in Entomology student in the lab from 1993-1995 working on using the rRNA ITS regions for PCR-RFLP analysis to identify fly larvae found in forensic specimens to species without having to rear the larvae to adults. She completed her PhD in the department working with Rick Weinzerl and again using the rRNA ITS regions for PCR-RFLP analysis to identify fly pupae parasitized by hymenopteran parasitoids. Susan is now an Extension Specialist in the Department of Crop Sciences in the College of ACES and we continue to work together, this time on a corn rootworm EST and microarray project. She got both projects published:
Ratcliffe, S. T., H. M. Robertson, C. J. Jones, G. A. Bollero, and R. A. Weinzierl. 2002. Assessment of parasitism of house fly and stable fly (Diptera: Muscidae) pupae by pteromalid (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) parasitoids using a polymerase chain reaction assay. Journal of Medical Entomology 39, 52-60.
Ratcliffe, S. T., D. W. Webb, R. A. Weinzierl, and H. M. Robertson. 2003. PCR-RFLP identification of Diptera (Calliphoridae, Muscidae and Sarcophagidae); a generally applicable method. Journal of Forensic Science 48, 783-785.

Susan Rovelstad spent a year in the lab after graduating, from 1998-1999. She expressed most of the odorant binding proteins and some of the sensory appendage proteins we obtained from the Manduca sexta antennal EST projects, and also sequenced many honey bee antennal ESTs. Susan moved on to medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, but we’ve lost track of her.

Michael Rountree was the first undergraduate in the lab from 1988-1990 working first on the delta2-3(99B) P element and derived versions in Drosophila melanogaster and then on rRNA ITS regions of ischnuran damselflies. He graduated with distinction. Mike then completed a PhD in Biology at the University of Oregon in Eugene working on DNA methylation systems in Neurospora, followed by a postdoctoral stint at Johns Hopkins Medical School working on the involvement of DNA methylation in human cancers. He then moved to the Department of Molecular Pharmacology at St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital in Cordova (Memphis), Tennessee, as an assistant professor. After the tragic death of his wife, Cynthia, in childbirth, he moved on to start a company, Mind Over Data, in Cordova, Tennessee.

Colin Sauer was a CSB undergraduate in the lab from 2003-2004. He work on pteropsin, a novel lineage of vertebrate-like opsin in insects that is missing from Drosophila. He graduated with distinction and is in medical school at Univ. Missouri in Columbia. The publication from his work with us is:

Velarde, R., K. K. O. Walden, C. Sauer, S. E. Fahrbach, and H. M. Robertson. 2005. Pteropsin: a vertebrate-like lineage of opsin expressed in the brain of honey bees.  Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology  35, 1367-1377.

Lindsey Schmidt was an undergraduate in the lab from 1998-1999. She worked on the Manduca sexta female antennal EST project, and then screened the libraries with the various sensory appendage protein clones we obtained. She graduated with distinction. Lindsey then spent two years teaching English in a Japanese school near Hiroshima, returned home and worked part-time as a technician in the lab till summer 2002. She moved on to a position at IIT Research Institute in Chicago, but I don’t know where you are now Lindsey?

Chad Sears was an undergraduate in the lab from 1996-1999. He worked on the Manduca sexta male antennae EST project, and then with Jim Nardi on in situ hybridization and iummunolocalization of several of the novel odorant binding proteins we encountered. He graduated with high distinction. Chad completed dental school at Harvard specializing in oral surgery, and moved on to a postdoc at the University of California in San Francisco. The publication from his work with us is:
Robertson, H. M., R. Martos, C. R. Sears, E. Z. Todres, K. K. O. Walden, and J. B. Nardi. 1999. Diversity of odorant binding proteins revealed by an expressed sequence tag project on male Manduca sexta moth antennae. Insect Molecular Biology 8, 501-518.

Shelli Seebruch was an undergraduate in the lab from 1991-1993 and sequenced the 26S rRNA gene from Wolbachia pipientis. Unfortunately we never finished the sequence completely and did not publish it, therefore will not get credit for recognizing that Rickettsia and their relatives are the closest living relatives of plant, and therefore all, mitochondria (something shown unequivocally with the completion of a Rickettsia genome). She graduated with distinction. Shelli attended the University of Illinois Medical School at Chicago, and is a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital (http://www.childrensmemorial.org/findadoc/doctor.asp?ID=949).

Colin Stoetzner was an undergraduate in the lab from the Biochemistry department from summer 2001 to Fall 2002. He worked up the annotations of several nematode chemoreceptor gene families (srb and srg), and determined the expression patterns of the five nematode gur genes that belong phylogenetically to the insect chemoreceptor superfamily, using promoter::GFP transgenes. After a semester of Study Abroad in France doing painting, Colin returned for a year in the lab carrying on this work, while applying to graduate school, and began graduate school in neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Fall 2004.

John Sherwood was a Masters in Entomology student in the lab and worked with David Lampe to show that the autonomous Himar1 element is active in Drosophila melanogaster. John moved on to medical school at the University of Chicago, and is now a resident in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the proud father of a daughter Sophie, with another alum, Reba Martos. His work with us was published as part of a book chapter:
Lampe, D. J., K. K. O. Walden, J. M. Sherwood, and H. M. Robertson 2000. Genetic engineering of insects with mariner transposons. In: Insect Transgenesis: Methods and Applications. Ed. A. Handler and T. James. CRC Press.

Jaclyn Wegner was an undergraduate in the lab from 2004-2005 working on the newly-discovered non-visual opsin we call pteropsin and circadian rhythms in beetles. She is currently working for Experiencia in Chicago.

Paul White was an undergraduate in the lab from 1993-1994 doing miscellaneous tasks for us, including many DNA extractions from various non-insect invertebrates. He subsequently rode his bicycle to Montana where he obtained a Masters in Environmental Biology (?) from Montana State University in Missoula. After spending a year in South Africa he worked for a NGO (which one Paul?) in Washington DC.

Melinda Wilson (Snep) was an undergraduate in the lab from 1990-1991 working on sequencing of rRNA ITS regions from ischnuran damselflies. She graduated with distinction. Melinda became a graduate student in molecular biology at Loyola University in Chicago, then moved on to the University of Kentucky for a five-year postdoc in neurobiology and in 2002 became an assistant professor there with her own lab studying neuroprotective mechanisms of estrogen. Along the way she married, changed her name to Wilson, and has a daughter, Julia, and son, Trevor.

Karen Zumpano was an undergraduate in the lab from 1992-1995 and worked on the Hsmar1 element in the human and other primate genomes. In 1993 she challenged me to search harder for mariners in the human genome and so we found Hsmar1. She then sequenced many PCR clones from representatives of all major lineages of primates. She graduated with distinction. Karen worked for Abbott Laboratories in Chicago and then moved to Denver, Colorado in 1999 to join Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals. The publication from her work with us is:
Robertson, H. M. and K. L. Zumpano 1997. Molecular evolution of an ancient mariner transposon, Hsmar1, in the human genome. Gene 205, 203-217.


Last updated March 2007

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