November 23, 2022

Drs. Raj Deora and Dan Wozniak in the Department of Microbial Infection & Immunity announced earlier this year that their NIH T32 training grant entitled “Interdisciplinary Program in Microbe-Host Biology” was awarded.

This grant will support three graduate students and two postdoctoral fellows as well as provide opportunities for interdisciplinary training and excellent mentorship. In addition to these five slots, IDI will fund an additional graduate student slot, and the College of Medicine will fund an additional postdoctoral fellow slot as part of the training program. 

We are pleased to introduce you to Erin Boulanger, Michelle Chamblee, Audra Crouch, and Jasmine Tuazon as our graduate fellows as well as Drs. Jesse Hall, Adam Kenney, and Srijana Pokhrel as our postdoctoral fellows. 

Graduate Students-

Erin Boulanger

Erin is in her 5th year in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Her PI is Brian Ahmer. Her thesis project focuses on an unique aspect of bacterial physiology, sugar-phosphate toxicity, that can be leveraged as a novel, druggable target for selectively treating infections caused by clinically relevant pathogens.

Erin received her B.A in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in 2018 from Drew University in Madison, NJ. As an undergraduate, she worked in the labs of Dr. Vince Gullo and Dr. Marvin Bayne, both members of the University’s Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE). Her research focused on synthesizing novel antibacterial compounds and optimizing the pharmacologic properties of a natural product. She was recognized for her undergraduate research by Drew University being awarded the Sydney Udenfriend Prize for excellence in research in 2017 and by the NJ Tech Council being identified as a STEM Innovator to watch in 2018. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she began graduate school at The Ohio State University pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences and joined Dr. Brian Ahmer’s lab, where she currently studies sugar-phosphate toxicity as a novel therapeutic modality using Salmonella as her model organism. While in graduate school, she has been awarded a T32 in Systems and Integrative Biology (SIB) and in addition to the Interdisciplinary Program in Microbe-Host Biology. She has enjoyed being involved in community engagement and leadership, serving as the Biomedical Sciences Organization President (BSGO) her first year and currently serving as the President of the Infectious Diseases Institute Trainee Association (IDI-TA). Following her graduation in May 2023, she will be heading to the University of Pennsylvania where she will be completing a clinical fellowship in medical microbiology.

Fun Fact: Erin played division III soccer as an undergraduate, continues to play soccer recreationally through graduate school, and has recently begun playing futsal as a member of the Columbus Futsal women’s team.

Michelle Chamblee

Michelle is in her 3rd year in Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Her lab is the Jianrong Li Lab. Her project focuses on developing a multivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. This will be done by inserting the prefusion stabilized spike protein Hexapro designed for different variants of concern into the genomes of measles and mumps JL-1 and JL-2 strains to generate broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

Fun Fact: She likes to crochet stuffed animals and play her ukelele. 

Audra Crouch 

Audra is a 5th year in the Microbiology Program. Her PI is Matt Anderson. Her research project focuses on investigating commensal gut microbial eukaryotes contributions to rheumatoid arthritis in Native Americans

Audra graduated from University of Lynchburg (VA) in 2007 with a degree in Biomedical Science and a music minor. She was first employed at American Type Culture Collection where she primarily focused on archaea and environmental microbiology. In 2014, Audra joined the Air Force Research Laboratory where she studied abiotic-biotic interactions in aircraft and ground fuel systems. She joined Ohio State University in 2018 and then the Anderson lab in the Spring of 2019. Audra's future plans include a postdoctoral with a focus on metazoan associated microbiomes and after her postdoctoral work, she would like to become a research PI in an academic setting.  

Fun Fact: She really likes to take road trips and explore new places. She has been to 12 different countries and has visited 43 out of 50 states in the United States. She wants to explore many more.

Jasmine Tuazon

Jasmine is a 5th year in the Medical Scientist Training Program and a BSGP – G3. Her lab is the Oestreich Lab. Her research focuses on investigating novel molecular mechanisms by which the Ikaros zinc finger transcription factor Eos acts as a regulator of TH1 and TFH differentiation and function during immune responses to influenza infection.

After graduating in 2017 with her B.S. in Biochemistry from Baylor University, where she first learned about global health disparities and infectious disease, she worked with the Kenyan nonprofit Straw to Bread. Here, she accompanied physicians caring for patients with diseases like malaria, schistosomiasis, and HIV/AIDS. She was shocked at how much of the morbidity and mortality in the community could be attributed to scarce resources or inadequate scientific solutions. This led her to pursue a physician-scientist career aimed at infectious disease prevention in the world’s most resource-poor communities, specifically via my interests in host-pathogen interactions and immunology.

Since then, she has worked on a range of immunological and infectious disease research projects at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University, leading up to her current PhD work in the lab of Dr. Ken Oestreich studying transcriptional networks guiding TH1 and TFH differentiation in influenza infection. The skills she has gained from this IDI T32 project will allow her to closely study the infections she sees in clinic and posit novel questions about immunoregulatory and epigenetic factors at play in pathogenesis and disease resolution. Ultimately, she aspires to become a trusted, compassionate physician-scientist who can design new immunologic and genetic approaches to fight against zoonotic disease outbreaks or tropical diseases that have long gone without a vaccine or treatment.

If Jasmine could have dinner with any scientist, she would like to have dinner with Özlem Türeci, a physician-scientist and co-founder of BioNTech. She'd love to talk to her about the process of developing the first approved mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, as well as the story of how she dedicated her career to translational science initiatives on a global health scale. 


Postdoctoral Fellows-

Jesse Hall

Jesse is a 2nd year postdoc in Microbial Infection and Immunity. His lab is the Dubey Lab. His research focuses on investigating novel strategies to improve immune responses against respiratory pathogens.  

He received his PhD in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at West Virginia University in 2021. Following his post-doctoral training, he would like to continue in the field of vaccinology and further investigate strategies to improve vaccine efficacy against numerous pathogens. 

Fun Fact: Jesse likes to spend time with his family and hunt.

Adam Kenney 

Adam is a second-year postdoctoral scholar in Jacob Yount’s laboratory. His work aims to understand mechanisms of cardiac infection and pathology of influenza viruses. By studying both host and viral features that contribute to disease progression, he hopes to uncover core principles which will ultimately aid in development of targeted therapeutic and prevention strategies. At the conclusion of his postdoc, he wants to continue he career in academia as an independent researcher.

In his free time, he enjoys exploring parks and trails with his wife and son, reading, and watching sports.

Srijana Pokhrel

Srijana is a 3rd year Post-Doctoral Scholar in the laboratory of Dr. Kenneth J Oestreich at the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity. Her research project focuses on understanding the role of Aiolos, a member of the Ikaros Zinc finger family of transcription factors, in regulating the differentiation and survival of CD8+ memory T cells generated in response to an influenza infection. 

She enjoys listening to music and playing board games with friends and family. 


Congratulations to all of our T32 trainees!







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