TRACT TL1 Scholar Bios

Rebecca Brown Headshot

Rebecca Brown, RN

Rebecca is a Ph.D. student in the School of Nursing. She has worked in peripheral artery disease (PAD) research for over ten years and her research focuses on early detection of PAD by expanding our understanding of symptom presentation in patients once thought to have atypical symptoms. Specifically, Ms. Brown matches patient-reported symptoms to calf muscle ischemia to determine their relatedness to PAD or other chronic conditions affecting mobility. Furthermore, she measures differences in reporting at rest, during, and immediately post exercise to help identify factors that influence symptom reporting.


Max Herzberg Headshot

Max Herzberg

Max is a Ph.D. student on the developmental science track in the Institute for Child Development. His research primarily focuses on how stress affects brain development in adolescence and adulthood. Specifically, he uses structural and functional MRI to investigate large-scale functional brain network development following early life stress, to identify the neural correlates of decision-making and risk taking in adolescents, and to evaluate patterns of brain connectivity associated with psychopathology.

Shannen Kizilski Headshot

Shannen Kizilski

Shannen is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on developing a new aortic stent-graft design that could therapeutically increase aortic compliance in patients with high arterial stiffness. In collaboration with a vascular surgeon and faculty in the Biomedical and Aerospace Engineering Departments, she is investigating a novel double-walled stent-graft design which introduces fluid capacitance without relying on distensibility of the native aortic wall.

Michelle Korir Headshot

Michelle Korir, PhD

Michelle is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Her research examines biofilms and antibiotic resistance in Enterococcus faecalis. Currently, she is studying how cell envelope stress induces alterations in biofilm architectural arrangement and its involvement in biofilm-associated antibiotic resistance. Additionally, Michelle is using a high-throughput compound library screen to identify compounds that either inhibit biofilm formation or potentiate the effect of antibiotics on biofilms.

Ethan Leng Headshot

Ethan Leng

Ethan is an MSTP student obtaining a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. The goal of Ethan’s research is to develop a fully-automated machine learning (ML)-based predictive model that will assess both PCa presence and grade using quantitative mpMRI. The resulting model can in turn be used to aid clinical decision making.

Warren McKinney Headshot

Warren McKinney, PhD

Warren McKinney is a postdoctoral researcher in the Nephrology Division of Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute. His research explores how patients in need of kidney transplantation make decisions about their healthcare needs. The research utilizes qualitative methods from the social sciences to examine how patients identify, evaluate, and select transplant centers. The research informs the development of information resources and decision aids that enable patients and their families to make better informed decisions about treatment options for their kidney disease.

Kate Miley Headshot

Kate Miley, CNP, PMHNP-BC

Kate is a PhD student in the School of Nursing. Her research interests focus on improving functional recovery in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. The goal of Kate’s current research is to use structural and functional neuroimaging to identify brain-based treatment targets for social functioning in the early course of psychotic disorders, and to evaluate how neuroscience-informed cognitive training interventions may protect against deterioration in these brain regions. She aims to inform the development of novel treatments effective at promoting social functioning for individuals experiencing psychosis and other mental health disorders. Additionally, Kate is a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), specializing in the treatment of adolescents and young adults with recently diagnosed psychotic and mood disorders.

Zachary Rivers Headshot

Zachary Rivers, PharmD

Zachary T. Rivers is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social and Administrative Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy, where he previously earned his PharmD. His current research interests include economic evaluations of personalized/precision medicine, and integration of personalized/precision medicine into clinical practice. In addition to his academic and research pursuits, he works at the M Health Clinics and Surgery Center Masonic Cancer Clinic as an Oncology Clinical Pharmacist.

Megan Schmit Headshot

Megan Schmit

Megan is an MSTP student obtaining a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics. Her current research involves investigating the role of DNA replication factors in natural killer cell deficiency and development. Natural killer cells are part of the innate immune system functioning predominantly to remove viralling infected and cancerous cells. Natural killer cell deficiency is a rare primary immunodeficiency that affects only natural killer cells, resulting in loss of late developmental stage natural killer cells. Surprisingly this disease can be caused by germline mutations of several different DNA replication factors. Megan hypothesizes that the preferential effect on natural killer cells in individuals with defective DNA replication is driven by inherent differences in telomere stability of natural killer cells compared to other cells. Her thesis work will shed light on the etiology of natural killer cell deficiency as well as elucidate why efficient DNA replication appears to play such a critical role natural killer cell development.

Josh Shirley Headshot

Josh Shirley

Josh is pursuing a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy. His current research involves the study of penicillin-binding proteins and their role in bacterial cell wall biosynthesis. Through a chemical biology approach, he is using organic synthesis, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology to develop new tools to specifically target individual penicillin-binding proteins to promote their study. He is also working to utilize these tools in the development of novel diagnostic assays to detect pathogenic bacteria in patient samples. His overall research interests are in antibiotic resistance and new antibiotic and diagnostic assay development.

Rebekah Summers Headshot

Rebekah Summers, PT, DPT, PhD

Rebekah is a post-doctoral researcher in the Movement Disorders Laboratory, Department of Neurology. She is a Physical Therapist and Scientist focused on understanding how atypical brain activity and neuroplasticity contribute to the development of movement disorders such as Parkinson's Disease, Dystonia and tremor. She is passionate about applying neuromodulation in combination with traditional neurorehabilitaion therapies in an effort to develop novel and effective treatment options for people with movement disorders.