Reproductive and Developmental
Sciences Training Program


Reproductive and Developmental

Sciences Training Program

Ashley Severance, Doctoral Candidate

Ashley Severance

Ashley Severance Research Description

Ms. Severance received her Bachelors degree from Albion College in 2010, and her Masters degree from Central Michigan University (CMU), where she studied germ cells in C. elegans. In her current studies, she examines oocyte spindle biology. Although the meiotic spindle is similar in some ways to the mitotic spindle, it has many meiosis-specific mechanisms controlling spindle formation and meiotic progression. She is interested in factors affecting spindle structure and function, which can result in aneuploidy if perturbed. My PhD research has involved in vitro maturation of mouse oocytes in a variety of conditions to determine the downstream affect on MI and MII spindle structure.

Recent conference presentations:

Severance AL, Latham, KE. 2016. “4E-BP1 Serine 65 phosphorylation at the meiotic spindle is responsive to Plk1” Michigan Alliance for Reproductive Technologies and Sciences, Ann Arbor, MI

red thing

Ashley Severance Outreach Project Description

Ms. Severance began her Girl Scouts outreach program with the hope inspiring young women in science. Previously a Girl Scout, she understood the value of Girl Scouts and thought it would be the perfect medium to teach girls about being in STEM fields. During the activity, they perform DNA isolation, run a crime DNA gel, and make a DNA model. It is a new and fun experience for the girls. They talk about doing experiments, and about what it’s like to be a scientist.

Meghan Ruebel, Postdoctoral Fellow

Meghan RuebelMeghan Ruebel Research Description

Dr. Ruebel received her B.S. from University of Missouri, Columbia in 2008, a MAEd in Exercise Science from the University of Nebraska in 2010 and her PhD Clinical and Translational Sciences from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2016.  Her project will use RNA-Seq to identify gene expression profiles changes that vary with differences in egg quality. Cumulus and granulosa cells associated with oocytes will be collected from a variety of species (bovine, porcine, and human) from various models of decreased oocyte quality, to identify genes, pathways, and processes that contribute to fertility.

Meghan Ruebel Outreach Project Description

University that promote STEM within children and young adults including MSU Science Festival and Science Olympaid.

Peter Schall, Doctoral Student

Peter Schall

Peter Schall Research Description

Peter Schall received an undergraduate degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Michigan State University.  He continued his education in the Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology at MSU where his studies transitioned to the application of bioinformatics on next-generation sequencing, recently completing his master's degree.  Studies continue to explore programmatic and statistical solutions to complex biological problems. His research project utilizes a number of publically available data and in-house produced RNA sequencing projects of developmental tissues.  Each data set will be analyzed individually and then subjected to a meta-analysis, combing all studies.  This will allow for the identification of common factors contributing to egg quality across species.


Peter Schall Outreach Project Description

Mr. Schall will be volunteering as a participant in the Michigan Statewide Science Olympiad Competition. 

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal, Doctoral Student

Maria Ariadna

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal Research Description

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal received her B.S. in Biology and B.S. in Biochemistry from University of the Basque country UPV-EHU (Spain) and her Masters in Human Assisted Reproduction from Instituto Valenciano de Infertlidad-IVI & University of Valencia (Spain).   < /span>Her research project is focused on the potential role of miRNAs inducing the development of stromal fibrosis and inflammation which is associated with the pathophysiology of endometriosis. It is also focused on understanding the mechanisms that regulate and initiate the development and the progression of endometriotic lesions.

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal Outreach Project Description

She was a community liaison reaching out to the Hispanic communities of Western Michigan.  Her role was to inform women about the importance of getting mammograms and pap smears.

Arianna Smith, Postdoctoral Fellow

Arianna Smith

Arianna Smith Research Description

Dr. Smith received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from North Carolina State University and her Ph.D. in Genetics from Michigan State University. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Karen Racicot’s Lab at Michigan State University.  Her studies are aimed at elucidating the mechanisms by which maternal stress during pregnancy alters offspring asthma susceptibility. Using an experimental mouse model, the effect of maternal stress on immune cells in the progeny lung is being investigated.

Recent conference presentations:

Smith, A., Witte, E., Harkema, J., Jackson-Humbles, D., Knott, J., Racicot, K. 2016. Chronic maternal stress during pregnancy alters the microenvironment of the developing fetal lung and causes sex- specific changes in offspring allergic asthma response.  Michigan Alliance for Reproductive Technologies and Sciences Meeting

Smith, A., Witte, E., Harkema, J., Jackson-Humbles, D., Knott, J., Racicot, K. 2016. Stress hormone suppresses GM-CSF in the placenta via an epigenetic mechanism and affects the allergen response of female offspring. Annual Society for Studies of Reproduction Meeting

Arianna Smith Outreach Project Description

For the past six years, Dr. Smith has been a regular volunteer at the Michigan State Science Olympiad held at Michigan State University.  At the Science Olympiad, middle and high school students compete in STEM based activities.  She has volunteered for activities like Write It, Build It, an engineering focused competition or All in the Genes, a competition where students display an impressive body of knowledge on genetics.  Science Olympiad’s purpose is to inspire future scientists.