Meet Our Students!

GES Graduate Minor Fellows are Ph.D. and Masters students across multidisciplinary fields of study. Read more about our incoming 2024 cohort below.

Full Name
John BrittBrittjwbritt@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Balaji Rao of SciencesJohn Britt is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Genetics program after graduating from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Genetics. He currently is a member of the Rao lab, and works on understanding the roles of different signaling pathways and nutrients in trophoblast differentiation and preservation of the trophoblast stem cell niche, along with other research projects such as developing a macaque-based model of early embryonic development and understanding trophoblast stem cell plasticity. During his time as a Ph.D. student, John Britt has been awarded several different fellowships and grants including the Molecular Biotechnology Training Program (MBTP), the Young Research Scholars (YS) summer grant, and the Genetics and Genomics Academy Summer Teamwork mini-grant. He has also been an active member of several groups on campus, such as the Genetics and Genomic Academy (GGA), the Comparative Medicine Institute, and the GSA.
Emma DaviesDaviesedavies2@ncsu.eduMastersLiberal StudiesCollege of Humanities and Social SciencesEmma Davies has been a journalist with the Multimedia Group Limited’s business desk since 2020, specializing in agriculture reportage. She shares the ideology that agriculture is the backbone of any economy, provided the right investments are made. Emma hopes that Ghana’s agricultural sector will adapt to the growing digital economy, recognizing that science is the game changer for development. She is the 2022 GJA Business/Economics Reporter of the Year and 2022 Aquaculture Journalist of the Year. Emma is the lead host of FoodChain, a TV program on the JoyNews Channel focusing on agriculture. Through this program, she aims to highlight opportunities and challenges in the sector and connect farmers to value chain drivers. She is clear in her belief that the world we live in today has changed from what existed before, and that no plant breeder, entomologist, food technologist, or agricultural economist can single-handedly propound and deploy the kind of ideas that can solve the world’s food insecurity challenges. Hence, providing a platform for value chain actors to network. Before joining the Multimedia Group, she worked with the Daily Guide Network. Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies with a major in Journalism from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. sampleYouTubeCV | |
Iris HortonHortoniohorton@ncsu.eduMastersDr. John Godwin of SciencesIris Horton is currently obtaining her Masters in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution from NC State. She obtained her B.A. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation from NC State in 2023. She is advised by Dr. John Godwin and is doing her research and thesis on simulating a gene drive in wild house mice to control their invasive populations on islands. During her undergraduate career, she had two internships in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest doing field research at the Los Amigos Biological Station through Field Projects International. There she trapped, tagged, took biological samples from, and accumulated camera trap data of terrestrial mammals and birds for conservation purposes. She also had an internship in Florida through Coastal Marine Education and Research Academy, where she caught, tagged, and took biological samples from sharks and rays for conservation purposes.
Jane LondoñoLondoñojalondon@ncsu.eduMastersDr. Jonathan Allen ScienceCollege of Agriculture and Life SciencesJane will start her M.S. in Food Science program this fall semester. She graduated with a B.S. in Nutrition and a minor in Italian from Arizona State University in May 2022 and has spent the time since graduation working in pastry at local Raleigh bakery Boulted Bread. While at ASU, she chose to pursue a creative project for her undergraduate thesis, operating a bake sale fundraiser for a local nonprofit as a community-oriented entrepreneurial and marketing exercise. Jane has been a baker since she was 9 years old and has always had a passion for food and the community that forms around it. Food is one of the significant ways she connects with her Colombian heritage, so she is very excited to join the Food Science program and learn new skills to better understand how our food becomes the final product that we get to enjoy.
Bethany MostertMostertbhmoster@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Deyu Xie and Microbial BiologyCollege of Agriculture and Life SciencesBethany Mostert is a third-year Ph.D. student working under Dr. De-yu Xie in the Plant and Microbial Biology department on a medicinal plant project. The focus of her research is centered on characterising an enzyme believed to be implicated in the artemisinin biosynthetic pathway from the plant Artemisia annua. She is also passionate about mentorship and scientific communication. Bethany currently mentors two first-year undergraduates as a mentor for the Wicked Problems Wolfpack Solutions Tiered Mentoring Program and was recently awarded a mini-grant from the Genetics and Genomics Academy (GGA) to continue a summer research project with one of her students. Recent and upcoming scientific communication experiences include sharing her journey into science put on by Story Collider and the GGA and the production of a podcast on scientific patents/knowledge governance in association with the Longview Podcast Project. In her free time, Bethany enjoys playing the violin and traveling to new places (preferably where lots of hiking is involved). – Phyllosopher
Morgan OlmsteadOlmsteadmolmste@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Marcé Lorenzen of Agriculture and Life SciencesMorgan Olmstead is at NC State pursuing her Ph.D. in Entomology with a focus on Genetic Pest Management. She holds a bachelor's degree in Biology from Ohio University and a master's degree in Biology from the University of New Hampshire, where she researched the microbiome of burying beetles and their parental care behavior. After graduation, she worked for Vanderbilt University at the sequencing core facility and then for the USDA-ARS in the Center for Grain and Animal Health Research working on Stored Product Pests and using Insects as Food and Feed. She joined the Lorenzen lab in 2023 in hopes of working on the genetic engineering of insects for feed as well as studying naturally occurring gene drives in flour beetles. |
Susana MateosMateosscmateos@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Madhusudan Katti Jennifer Richmond-Bryant and Environmental ResourcesCollege of Natural ResourcesSusana Mateos is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Forestry and Environmental Resources department. Her academic focus lies at the nexus of socio-political dynamics and ecological challenges, particularly within refugee/immigrant communities. Through her research, Susana endeavors to learn from the intricate relationship between displaced populations and their natural environments, emphasizing community engagement and environmental justice. Benefiting from diverse professional experiences in ornithological research, community engagement, and environmental education, Susana brings a multifaceted expertise to her doctoral work. Her leadership roles within the North American Bird Conservation Initiative showcase her commitment to linking academia with practical environmental efforts. She is dedicated to place-based education and grassroots empowerment, reflecting a holistic approach to environmental stewardship. With a background spanning marine science, vertebrate zoology, and avian field research across international landscapes, Susana's journey exemplifies a comprehensive dedication to environmental science. In her PhD research pursuit to learn from socio-ecological dynamics within refugee communities in Costa Rica, Susana cultivates an academic vision centered in empathy, collaboration, and environmental justice. and
Casey O'BrienO'Briencpobrie6@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Alun Lloyd of SciencesCasey O'Brien is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomathematics. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 with a BS in Mathematical Biology and Computational Biology and spent the following year working as a Bioinformatics Analyst at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Since starting his PhD in August of 2023, Casey’s research has focused on modeling genetic control measures for vector-borne diseases using systems of differential equations. He is specifically looking at the development of gene drive, a powerful but controversial genetic tool to control these diseases. Their development will require active communication between stakeholders, scientists, and policymakers. In addition to conducting his research, Casey has also spent time designing and teaching an undergraduate course about his research titled, “Taming Selfish DNA.”
Taynara PossebomPossebomtposseb@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Dominic Reisig of Agriculture and Life SciencesTaynara grew up on a farm, which aroused her interest in agriculture, but that interest further developed when she finished a BS degree in Agronomy from the University of Passo Fundo in Brazil. That led her to an internship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she learned about Midwest US agriculture and improved her English. After that, she moved to NC State to pursue a Master’s degree in Entomology focused on Helicoverpa zea within-plant egg and neonate distribution and influence on yield in soybeans with determinate and indeterminate growth habits. During her Master’s program, she increased the perception of essential aspects of integrated pest management, engaged with growers, attended meetings, conferences, professional development programs and published scientific/extension papers. Immediately after completing her Master's degree, she was determined to expand her research scope and accepted a PhD position at NC State to study “Thresholds based on AI monitoring tools to effectively manage to stink bugs population in soybeans”. Her research goals are to determine the best monitoring trap for stink bugs in soybeans and determine if different traps catch different species of stink bugs in soybeans. For her GES minor, she aims to understand the landscape complexity of stink bugs and their plant-host interaction using molecular techniques or isotope analyses. Having the GES minor would assist her with this piece of her PhD journey. |
Aleksander TakoTakoatako@ncsu.eduPh.D.Dr. Sara Villani Peter Ojiambo PathologyCollege of Agriculture and Life SciencesAlexander holds an integrated Master's degree in Crop Science from the Agricultural University of Athens (A.U.A), with a specialization in Biotechnology of Plants and Microbes. His academic career began at the A.U.A. Plant Pathology Lab, where he worked on biological control of Esca disease of grapevines under the supervision of Dr. Sotiris Tjamos. Later, through the European Union’s Erasmus+ mobility program, he explored plant physiology aspects of tomatoes in hydroponic systems at the Group of Functional Plant Biology at IGZ under Dr. Dietmar Schwarz's guidance in Germany. Subsequently, as a Research Scholar at UC Davis, he gained experience in mycology and molecular fungicide resistance over 1.5 years. In 2020, he pursued a M.Sc. in Systems Biology at A.U.A, focusing on gene expression patterns of grape berries and employed Next Generation Sequencing as well as cloning techniques in the Molecular Biology Laboratory under Dr. Anastasios Alantzas's supervision. Currently, Alexander is working to complete his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in the Villani-Ojiambo Labs at NC State University, where he is evaluating the use of plant defense activators and microbial biocontrol agents against Erwinia amylovora – the causal agent of Fire Blight in Apples (USDA-NIFA grant). His current work also includes developing molecular detection tools against this devastating pathogen. Scholar and |

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