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Ellie De Leon

Master's Student, 2016-2018 

Ellie graduated with a B.A. in Biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College, where she studied the aggregation of small heat shock proteins with Dr. Kathryn A McMenimen. During this time Ellie was exposed to aging research, and became interested in the disproportionate risk of diabetes in the elderly. Understanding the mechanism of insulin secretion and its relation to aging is what drew Ellie to the Merrins lab, where she was funded by the Biotechnology Training Program. Ellie received her Masters degree from the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) at UW-Madison in 2018, having published a first-author paper in Scientific Reports and a collaborative publication in Endocrinology. Ellie is currently a middle school teacher in rural Pennsylvania.


Sophia M. Sdao

Graduate Student (IPiB), 2016-2021 

Sophie Sdao graduate with a PhD from in the Integrated Program in Biochemistry, having published 10 papers and counting.  As an undergraduate at Michigan State University, she earned a B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in computer science. Sophie enjoyed applying her computer science background to islet biology and her thesis examined non-canonical roles of cell cycle regulators in metabolism and insulin secretion. In her free time Sophie enjoys climbing, critically watching horror movies and playing classical piano.

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Dr. Trillian Gregg

Graduate student in Biophysics, 2014-2017

Trilly received her B.A. from Bard college in Cellular Biophysics working under Professor Sandy Simon and Professor Michael Tibbetts, before joining the Program in Biophysics at UW-Madison. Working in the Merrins lab, Trilly received her Ph.D. in Biophysics in 2017, and did a short postdoc in the Merrins lab before moving to Amsterdam to take a position at Lumicks, where she designs instrumentation for dynamic single-molecule analyses. During her PhD research, Trilly published 2 first-author papers, in Diabetes and the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and contributed 5 additional collaborative publications. 


Jamie Larmie

Undergraduate Researcher, 2015-2018 

Jamie first became interested in diabetes/metabolism research after learning of a family member being diagnosed with the type 2 diabetes. In the Merrins Lab, Jamie was awarded a fellowship from the American Diabetes Association for his work on cyclin-dependent kinases. Jamie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Spring 2018 with a B.S. degree in Biology from the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. In his free time, Jamie like playing basketball, football, and golf. He is currently attending the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.


Dr. Halena VanDeusen

Postdoctoral researcher, 2015-2017

Halena received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Western Washington University in 2007, and her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from UW-Madison in 2015. During her Ph.D., Halena published two two-author papers in the Journal of Virology - both the subject of Spotlight articles. Halena did a brief postdoc in the Merrins lab where she got the pyruvate kinase project off the ground, was awarded an ADA postdoctoral fellowship, and contributed two middle-author publications. Halena now lives in Minnesota with her fiance and is working in the cancer biology lab of Dr. Justin Drake.  


Brian Schmidt

Research Technician, 2014-2017

Brian graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and worked for 5 years as a research technician at the University of Minnesota. Brian helped start the Merrins Lab, and published three co-author papers in Diabetes, Cell Reports, and J. Physiology. Brian fell in love with the graduate student next door (yes, really!), and moved to sunny southern California. He is now working with Dr. Smita Iyer at UC Davis, and has moved from mice to primate research.


Chetan Poudel

Research Technician, 2014-2016

Che received his B.A. in Physics from Oberlin College. He then joined the Merrins lab as an associate research specialist for two years and worked primarily on patch-clamp electrophysiology and fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) in pancreatic islets. Currently, he is attending graduate school at the University of Cambridge, UK and is part of the Laser Analytics Group building fast, automated FLIM microscopes and using them to study neurodegeneration in C. elegans. Che is from Nepal and loves traveling around Europe in his spare time.


Kara Mortensen

Undergraduate Researcher, 2016-2019

Now at Epic, Kara Mortensen worked in the Merrins lab since her freshman year at UW-Madison. Her childhood dream of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes originated from her twin sister’s development of the disease at the age of nine. During her time in the Merrins laboratory, she was awarded the UW-Madison Sophomore Fellowship to fund her research. In her free time, Kara likes to run, read, and spend time outdoors. 

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