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2022 Emerging Leaders Institute Participants

Michael Adoff, Ph.D.Michael Adoff, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke. He received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from Northwestern University where he developed new optical microscopy techniques to explore how activity patterns at the synaptic level contribute to the formation and storage of spatial memories. At Duke, he utilizes human neocortical and hippocampal tissue specimens derived from neurosurgical procedures to investigate epilepsy pathophysiology and develop novel cell-and gene-based therapies. When not in lab, you can find him walking his dogs around Durham. 

Joseph FrankJoseph Frank obtained a B.S. from Creighton University in 2021, where he developed a passion for regenerative biology. His research focused on identifying small molecules that can convert non-sensory cells to cochlear hair cells in an effort to restore hearing in adult mammals. Joseph arrived in Durham in the fall of 2021 and is currently a 1st-year Ph.D. student in the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology program, aiming to explore regeneration in various tissues. Outside of science, Joseph is a percussionist in Duke University Wind Symphony, enjoys outdoor activities, and takes care of his pet parrots. 

Anna Marie GannAnna Marie Gann is a second-year Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering. With the McIntyre laboratory, she researches computational methods to improve the deep brain stimulation (DBS) pipeline and improve patient outcomes. Anna is interested in machine learning applications for medical image processing and signal processing. She is a Georgia native and received her B.S. in Cognitive Science and Computer Science, B.A in Philosophy, and M.S. in Artificial Intelligence at The University of Georgia before coming to Duke. Anna aspires to be a research and teaching professor in Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering.

Eva GjorgievaEva Gjorgieva is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in psychology and neuroscience, working with Drs. Roberto Cabeza, Marty Woldorff, and Tobias Egner. Her research investigates the neural mechanisms underlying attention and memory interactions by distinguishing between externally- and internally-directed attention, as well as the cognitive control processes modulating these interactions. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2015 with a B.S. in psychology and minor in neuroscience. Outside of research, Eva offers pro-bono consulting services through DISI and the APD Consulting Club. In her spare time, she enjoys taking on complex baking projects. 

David Grass, Ph.D.Dr. David Grass is a postdoc at Duke in Professor Warren’s lab. He is currently working on early diagnosis of metastatic melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, with nonlinear light microscopy. David received his doctoral degree in the group of Markus Aspelmeyer for experimental research on fundamental quantum physics from the University of Vienna in 2018. He is recipient of a Walter-Benjamin Fellowship from the German Research Foundation for his work on melanoma. His general professional interests are light matter-interactions at the nano and microscale. In his free time, David enjoys being outdoors camping, hiking, climbing, and running.

Rupali Gupta, Ph.D.Rupali Gupta, Ph.D., is a senior postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences in Duke School of Medicine. She received her doctorate in Physiology from SOKENDAI Japan and a bachelor’s of engineering degree in Biotechnology in India. Her current research involves COVID-19 olfactory neurodegeneration studies. Apart from research, she has been working the past four years as a lead teaching assistant and summer instructor in neuroscience courses for Duke undergraduates. When not at work, she loves spending time with her husband, traveling, volunteering and enjoying food. She has over 20 years of volunteering experience in countries like India, Japan and the U.S.

Sinja KüppersSinja Küppers is a fifth-year Ph.D. Student in Classical Studies. Her research focuses on the social history of higher education in the late Roman Empire. Sinja is particularly interested in educational biographies and the impact of class on education. Over her Ph.D., she has developed digital projects for research and instruction. Sinja is co-founder of Duke F1RSTS, a Kenan Institute for Ethics fellow and Graduate Representative on the External Engagement Committee of the Duke Board of Trustees. In spring 2022, she is teaching a special topics course on Roman Education and supporting social entrepreneurs with bridging economic equity in Durham.

Rachael LauRachael Lau is a Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on geophysical disaster mitigation. She is a 2022 Rhodes Graduate Fellow in Interdisciplinary Research and a co-founder of the National Academy of Engineering’s Call to Action on the COVID-19 Crisis. In addition to her research, Rachael co-founded and co-manages a research cohort on earthquake risk and resiliency between Duke and the Institute of Engineering in Kathmandu, Nepal. Rachael is a May 2020 undergraduate from Duke who majored in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a focus on water resources engineering and a Certificate in Global Development Engineering.

Miko LiuMiko Liu is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CBB) program under the School of Medicine. She works in Dr. Simon Gregory’s lab, where her research focus is to develop computational tools to analyze gene expression data to understand the microenvironments of brain tumor and other diseases. She received her B.S. in Bioinformatics from UC San Diego in 2019. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and playing musical instruments. After graduating from Duke, she aspires to apply her science background and leadership skills to work in a biotech consulting firm.

Matt MartinMatt Martin is an M.A. student in the Bioethics & Science Policy program in the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. He is interested in the policy and ethical frameworks undergirding U.S. health innovation. Before Duke, he worked at Research!America, a medical and health research advocacy alliance based in Washington, D.C. During this time, he also participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals program. Matt graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from Furman University with a concentration in biochemistry. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing the clarinet.

Benjamin MukumbyaBenjamin Mukumbya is a first-year student pursuing a Master of Science in Global Health. His research focuses on using mobile neurosurgery and neurology Clinics to avail care for people in remote communities of Uganda. He has a B.S. degree in Biology from Northwest University, a small Christian University in Kirkland, Washington. Benjamin played chess for most his childhood and early adulthood. Benjamin’s hobbies include playing soccer, hiking, nature watching, fishing, traveling, history, writing, cooking and occasional baking.

Evan PebesmaEvan Pebesma is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Program in Literature. His research interests include political theory, American studies, and contemporary U.S. literature. Evan’s dissertation project explores how American comedy engages with the defining political issues of our time, with a focus on how this genre treats culture as a political force. Evan is also actively involved in graduate student government, where he works on issues related to doctoral education and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Anna Tupetz, P.T., D.P.T, M.Sc.Anna Tupetz, P.T., D.P.T., M.Sc. is a Postdoctoral Associate within the Division of Emergency Medicine and the Duke Global Emergency Medicine Innovation and Implementation (GEMINI) Research Center. Anna completed her Physical Therapy degree in the Netherlands and obtained her M.Sc. in Global Health at Duke Global Health Institute. Her research focuses on the challenges and factors impacting access to quality care from the patient as well as provider side, with special attention on mixed methods and implementation science designs. She also works clinically as an acute care Physical Therapist. During her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, hiking, cycling, and camping.

Hanna VargaHanna Varga is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering. As a member of the Wiesner lab, she studies physico-chemical interactions between particles and surfaces, with a particular focus on solar panel soiling. She holds a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Duke and a B.A. in Chemistry from Lewis & Clark College. At Duke, she is a member of a Bass Connections team, the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council and the DEVELPMNT 2022 cohort. She is an artist and an amateur photographer and spends most of her free time exploring the wild or drawing, writing, reading, and learning languages.