Graduate Student Directory

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Cody Black

Translational Science

Erika Carlson

Erika Carlson

Erika Carlson is a first year graduate student interested in the neuropharmacology of diseases such as alcohol use disorder.

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Ruizhuo (Rachel) Chen

I am a graduate student in Dr. Laura Fonken’s lab. I received a master’s degree in Pharmacology from the University of Michigan. Before that, I received my BS in Pharmacy from China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China. I am currently investigating the effects of early-life light at night exposure on susceptibility to immune challenges and mood disorders. Outside the lab, I like to see musicals and practice (and try out others’) cooking.

Mark Costello

Mark Costello

Research topic: Long-acting, biodegradable implants based on PLGA.

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Alexandra D'Amico

Alexandra D'Amico

I received my B.S. in Biotechnology from the University of Houston and am currently a graduate student in Karen Vasquez's lab studying mechanisms of alternative DNA structure-induced genetic instability. My project aims to fill in the fundamental gap in knowledge of how aging and the dysregulation of structure-specific nucleases impact the mutagenic processing of alternative DNA structure-forming sequences, thereby influencing genome stability. Outside of lab, I enjoy running and biking through Austin's numerous trails and conquering escape rooms.

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Stephanie Grant

Stephanie Grant

Mukhopadhyay Lab

I received a BS in Cellular Biology from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. My research project is focused on understanding how manganese homeostasis alters neurological function and induces manganese-induced parkinsonism. Outside of the lab, my hobbies include hiking with my dog and dance.

Emma Gugala

Emma Gugala

Emma completed her pharmacy prerequisites at the University of Mississippi and earned her PharmD from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy in 2019. Her research interests include women's health and health policy.

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Van Huynh

Van Huynh

I have a BS in Pharmacy from The University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I am a graduate student working in Dr. Vasquez’s lab. I study the mechanisms by which the cells respond and repair DNA interstrand crosslink, causing lethal damage to the cells, and how high mobility group box (HMGB) proteins play a role in these complicated processes. I feel fortunate to be a part of this lab where I have a great learning environment with a wonderful advisor, great mentors and friends. Outside the program, I am enjoying being a best friend with my 4 year old son. I am also interested in cooking and DIY activities.

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Alex Klattenhoff

Vasquez Lab

My name is Alex Klattenhoff, and I am a fifth-generation Texan from the Austin area. I spent my youth pursuing academics, high-fantasy-related activities, music as a band nerd and a piano teacher, and camping in the outdoors as an Eagle Scout. I carried most of that with me through my Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology from Texas A&M University and my Master’s degree in Gene Therapy and Vaccines from the University of Pennsylvania. Motivated by my productive experience as a lab manager within the laboratory of Dr. Dawit Kidane here at the University of Texas, I entered the Pharmacology and Toxicology Division to pursue my PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Vasquez. Although I still keep my young self alive by remaining social, playing the piano, and still playing D&D with my friends, I spend the majority of my effort in the lab working on my thesis topic regarding the aberrant DNA repair of oxidative lesions within non-B DNA structures in relationship to cancer mutagenesis.

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Nishamathi Kumaraswamy

Passionate about health, analytics and data.

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Hee Seung Lim

Hee Seung Lim

I earned my bachelor's degree in Biomedical Sciences from Texas A&M University in 2017, and PharmD from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy in 2021. I am interested in evaluating the policies and regulations that promote access to care, measuring the quality of healthcare services, and assessing how these factors affect the health outcomes of underserved populations.

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Tongzhou Liu

Tongzhou Liu

Graduate Research Assistant

Headshot photo of Gloria Odonkor

Gloria Odonkor

Research interests include: Chronic disease prevention, medication adherence, healthcare costs and utilization, and health disparities.

Qiujun Samantha Shao

Samantha (Qiujun) Shao

Research Interests: Healthcare utilization and costs; Treatment patterns; Opioid use; Primary headache disorders

Headshot photo of Rishi Thakkar

Rishi Thakkar

Graduate student researcher currently focusing on formulating poorly-water soluble drugs by means of developing amorphous solid dispersions, and pharmaceutical cocrystals using hot-melt extrusion and additive manufacturing.

Google Scholar

Shengyuan Zhao

Shengyuan (Tim) Zhao

I am in Dr. Kidane’s lab, and my research interest is to understand how base excision repair deficiency impacts on gastric cancer etiology. I received my BS in Pharmaceutical Science from Fudan University, Shanghai, China in 2016. Dealing with carcinogens and mice is quite hard, but determination and a lot, lot of coffee help me power through.