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Jennifer Watts graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2016 with a Bachelor Science in Biology where her undergraduate thesis focused on photodynamic therapies on invasive cancers. As a Ph.D. candidate, Jennifer Watts switched gears to study embryology. Her research focuses on the effects of Zika virus on early embryogenesis. Jennifer utilized both mouse embryos and stem cells to understand infection and development. Her studies will inform epidemiologist the potential health risk of early ZIKV infection in embryos, which has not yet been studied.


Jennifer has been and will continue to be a graduate mentor and facilitator of the Michigan State University Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) where she mentors 8-12 undergraduate students across the country across multiple disciplines. As a mentor, she assists students in research writing and presenting (long and short form) as well as prepare students for graduate school application process. In addition to being a SROP Graduate Mentor, Jennifer participates in the Annual Girls Math and Science Day at Michigan State University. She has been a part of the planning committee and hosted interacting activities for middle school girls interested in scientific topics.

Ryan Marquardt

Research Description:

Ryan Marquardt received his B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Cedarville University. His research centers on infertility and endometriosis, a female reproductive tract disease that impacts about 10% of reproductive-aged women. His project primarily utilizes a pre-clinical mouse model and human clinical samples to examine dysregulated molecular factors involved in hormone signaling.

Outreach Project Description:

Ryan is volunteering with the Grand Rapids Public Museum to develop displays and hands-on activities targeted to school-aged children to complement an upcoming science-related exhibit.

Robert Vanderkamp

Robert Vanderkamp previously received his B.S. in Physiology from Michigan State University, where his undergraduate research focused on the modulation of neuroimmune interactions in the inflammatory bowel diseases. Robert is a now a Physiology Ph.D. student in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology. His research project focuses on the discovery of novel genes regulating extravillous trophoblast invasion in normal or preeclamptic pregnancy. He hopes that his findings will translate to the identification of predictive biomarkers that can be correlated to pregnancy outcome.

Planned Outreach:

Robert plans to volunteer his time at the Michigan Statewide Science Olympiad competition.

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Research Description:

Jeremy received his B.S. in Animal Science from Michigan State University. His research project focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that result in placental cells intercellular communication and fusion defects. To address these questions, he will use a model of in vivo gestational chemical exposure and in vitro techniques, including primary cell culture, gap junction intercellular communication assays, and RNA sequencing.

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. 

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