Sydney Ashton (SHE/HER/HERS), President
Bio: Sydney is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Program in Neuroscience where she works in Dr. Margaret McCarthy's lab. She studies sex differences in the early life development of the reward centers of the brain and how this impacts social play behavior at the juvenile age. This is Sydney’s third year of involvement with GSA and her second year on the executive board. She also holds a leadership position in UMB’s Neuroscience Outreach and Volunteer Association. Outside of grad school life, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, playing video games and watching sports.
Fun fact: Sydney plays seven instruments and performed in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her college marching band.
Rainer Butler (SHE/HER/HERS), Vice-President
Bio: Rainer is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Microbiology and Immunology program. She is a member of Dr. Joao Pedra's lab. Where she researches the biogenesis of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in tick salivary glands. She is particularly interested in the relationship between EVs and acquisition and transmission of intracellular, tick-borne bacteria such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Rainer has served as the MMI representative to GSA for two years. This is her first year on the GSA executive board. To take a break from lab work, Rainer enjoys reading, drawing, playing video games, and hiking.
Fun fact: I’ve been bitten by a camel!
Hadley Bryan (SHE/HER/HERS), Secretary
Bio: Hadley is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Human Genetics program working in the Rizzo lab. Her work focuses on ciliary calcium signaling within the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas and how changes in the primary cilia can alter glucose sensing and metabolism. This is her second year serving on GSA's executive board after two years as a HGEN program representative and she is looking forward to her new role.
Fun Fact: Outside of lab, Hadley enjoys singing in Old St. Paul's choir, collecting plants for her apartment, and cooking new meals with her fiancé under the constant supervision of their cat.
Gillian Mbambo (A.K.A. Gillian, Gill, or Gilly; SHE/HER/HERS), Treasurer
Bio: Gillian is a rising fifth-year PhD candidate in the Program in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. She is interested in using immunology and bioinformatics approaches to understand malaria host-pathogen and pathogen-pathogen interactions. She was born and raised in Malawi and moved to Maryland, USA at the age of 14. She attended University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps) and majored in Cell Biology and Genetics. She was a GSA rep for MMI for 2 years and this is her second year on the eboard. In her free time, Gillian enjoys working out, hiking, watching soccer and football (Go RAVENS), trying vegan food/restaurants, taking pictures, leisure walks, and dancing!
Fun Fact: Loves air popped popcorn and enjoys grocery shopping.
Jennifer Kirk (A.K.A. Jenn, SHE/HER/HERS), GSA Public Relations Officer
Bio: Jenn is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the gerontology doctoral program epidemiology track. Her research is focused on the helping older adults identify ways to live a meaningful life with a behavioral activation intervention. In her free time, Jenn enjoys playing video games, teaching yoga, working on mental health awareness, and disability advocacy.
Fun fact: Prior to college, Jenn spent several years dancing with Oklahoma City Ballet.
Nikita Aggarwal (A.K.A. Nikki, SHE/HER/HERS), Graduate Council Rep.
Bio: Nikita is a second year PhD candidate in the School of Social Work. Her research interest is in the are of gender and labor migration. She is interested in exploring the migration journeys of migrant women working in the informal service sector. Nikita is a student representative in the Graduate school Diversity, Equity and Commission meeting and Graduate School Strategic Planning Committee. Outside of grad school, Nikita enjoys attending dance workshops, yoga, exploring new places and staying on long distance calls with her dog. She irrevocably loves dogs and cats and can often be seen around the area snuggling other people’s pets.
Fun fact: Since the time Nikki has moved to the United States, she has taken up pet-sitting for her peers. (Have a pet, you know who to contact #notanAd) :)