The Presidential Membership Initiative was launched in 2020 as a way for the Genetics Society of America to invite talented and creative individuals from diverse backgrounds into our community. We are pleased to introduce the inaugural cohort of Presidential Members. Throughout 2021, they will network with one another and with other Society and Board members, participate in GSA Conferences, and be valued additions to our community. Welcome, Presidential Members!

We will be introducing Presidential Members all week, so be sure to check back and meet your new colleagues.



Wendy Aquino-Nunez
Graduate Student, Ackley Lab, University of Kansas

Tauopathies are a group of neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by the improper accumulation of the microtubule-associated protein tau. By using the nematode C. elegans, I aim to understand the role of tau isoforms in the formation of tau aggregates and neurodegeneration in vivo



Ernest John Monahan-Vargas
Graduate Student, Song Lab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

My thesis work involves a multidisciplinary approach to neural tissue regeneration in various models. The research project combines genetics and regenerative biology to understand molecular mechanisms of injury and repair. Specifically, I am interested in the role of cytoskeletal factors and organelles in neuronal health and disease.



Jenny Paredes
Postdoc, van den Brink Laboratory, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

I investigate the role of the microbiome and metabolism in graft vs. host disease. 



Nisha Patel
Undergraduate Student, Drexel University

I am interested in conducting neuroscience-focused medical research. I would specifically like to investigate the molecular basis of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to contribute to the development of potential treatments. 



Farah Qaiser
Research Analyst, Epilepsy Genetics Clinic, University Health Network

I carry out whole-genome sequencing to better understand how changes in human DNA, such as single nucleotide variants and tandem repeat expansions, can lead to different neurological disorders.



Yinjie Qiu
Postdoc, Hirsch Lab, University of Minnesota

I focus on pan-genome research in maize, including gene content variation, structural variation, transposable elements, and more.



Gabriela E. Rios-Sotelo
Lab Technologist, Biotech Start Up

I’m interested in the genomics of host-pathogen interactions for infectious disease epidemics, especially zoonosis related to bats.



Lucero Rogel-Hernandez
Graduate Student, Goodman Lab, Stanford University

I study the ability of the small nematode C. elegans to chemotax towards plant-derived compounds, with the goal of identifying their molecular targets and assessing their potential therapeutic properties for mental health.



Jehoshua Sharma
Graduate Student, Shapiro Lab, University of Guelph

My current research focus is on the discovery of compounds that can disarm pathogens of the virulence mechanisms that make them harmful to the human host. I also develop novel CRISPR-Cas variants to expand the current genetic manipulation toolbox for fungal pathogens to study the functional genomics of drug resistant isolates.



Nicholas Sookhoo
Undergraduate Researcher, Petrie Lab, Drexel University

I am currently exploring the mechanistic changes that drive cell migration in diverse settings  using the SEPT7 protein as a marker of migratory plasticity. Long-term implications of understanding these pathways will help us control cancer cell migration in vivo and provide therapeutic benefits. 



Danielle Talbot
Graduate Student, Tootle Lab, University of Iowa

My current research interest involves investigating the role of nuclear actin in cellular homeostasis and development. To study these questions, our lab uses the process of Drosophila oogenesis as a model system.



Sharif Tusuubira
Graduate Student, Kelly Lab, University of Kansas

My research focuses on the evolution of selfing in Mimulus guttatus.

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