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The CSHL School of Biological Sciences’ class of 2024

image of the CSHL SBS convocation booklet
The convocation booklet from the CSHL School of Biological Sciences’ graduation ceremony.
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The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) School of Biological Sciences (SBS) takes an innovative approach to advanced science education. Graduates of the doctoral program go on to pursue diverse careers. This year, the SBS awarded 11 Ph.D. degrees. Here, members of the class of 2024 reflect on their time and experiences at CSHL.

Salomé Carcy

image of SBS 2024 graduate Salome Carcy

Paris Descartes University
École normale supérieure
Annette Kade Fellow
Entering Class of 2020
Thesis: “How human and murine T cells meet their fate: cross-species comparison of conventional and innate T cells”

A scientific journey is often filled with serendipity. The beauty of science is, for many of us, to end up in unforeseen places, may it be in our careers or scientific projects.Halfway through medical school training in France, I came to CSHL as a visiting student in Prof. Fearon’s laboratory. I was charmed by this small community where scientists felt unusually approachable, students and investigators alike. As a matter of fact, interacting with clinician-scientists Prof. Fearon and Dr. Janowitz inspired me to do a Ph.D. In addition, CSHL has a unique community where scientists and non-scientists get together, may it be for a little Sunday bike ride, or weekly frisbee games, creating an enjoyable working place. Hence, I later joined Dr. Hannah Meyer’s laboratory during my graduate studies to investigate the regulation of T cell development in the human thymus, a project that couldn’t align better to my scientific interests. Under her guidance, I acquired both wet and dry lab skills, extended my immunology knowledge, trained my critical thinking, and presented at international conferences. There is still much I have yet to learn, but I believe my experience in the Meyer lab and at CSHL taught me different aspects of how to be a scientist, from generating hypotheses to designing robust experiments and sharing your observations with the scientific community. Overall, my serendipitous passage through CSHL was an invaluable opportunity to meet inspiring scientists, from lab technicians to investigators, from whom I learned tremendously.

In retrospect, the most important lesson I will remember from CSHL is that “true science teaches, above all, to doubt and to be ignorant” (Miguel de Unamuno).

King Hei (Teri) Cheng

image of SBS 2024 graduate King Hei (Teri) Cheng

University of Edinburgh
Robert and Teresa Lindsay Fellow
Entering Class of 2018
Thesis: “Transcription-replication conflict resolution by nuclear RNAi”

I learned about Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and its contributions to molecular biology during my studies in Edinburgh. Upon arriving at Grace Auditorium on the eve of beginning my Ph.D. program, I was struck with awe by the DNA helix model illuminating from inside, a feeling that I can still recall vividly to this day. Though I was determined to pursue a Ph.D., I couldn’t have fathomed the profound impact CSHL would have on both my personal and scientific development. The unique environment of CSHL aside, it’s the brilliant scientists that I get to work and become friends with that I treasure the most.

I would like to thank my mentor, Rob Martienssen, for providing not only advice and support, but also the freedom to explore challenging scientific inquiries. Working with the wonderful people in the Martienssen lab has been a privilege beyond measure. The countless insightful scientific exchanges and casual conversations have enriched my academic pursuits and shaped my intellectual growth. I must also thank my family and friends who have been supportive throughout. I am grateful to CSHL for providing this experience, and as I transition to the next phase of my career, I will treasure the fond memories created during my time here.

Danielle Hunter Ciren

image of SBS 2024 graduate Danielle Hunter Ciren

Queen’s University
Robert and Teresa Lindsay Fellow
NSERC Scholar
Entering Class of 2018
Thesis: “Decoding cis-regulatory control and evolution of conserved and divergent phenotypes in plants”

I am grateful for the past five years of my life spent in New York. While Ph.D. research can be stressful at times, it is definitely never boring at Cold Spring Harbor. I had the opportunity to explore many different fields of biology, including those outside of my comfort zone, and grew as a scientist. I am very grateful to my thesis advisor, Zach Lippman, for his reliable mentorship and guidance, especially during the pandemic. I am grateful to the class of 2018, as well as past and present Lippman lab members, who made the lab a fun place to learn and work, and who I know will be good friends for the rest of my life. I will look back fondly on many experiences, including volleyball games, raft races, lab symposiums, conferences, and all of the time spent exploring New York with friends. I am excited to apply everything I’ve learned at CSHL in my future career as a biologist.

Marie Dussauze

image of SBS 2024 graduate Marie Dussauze

University of Versailles Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines
École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay
Florence Gould Fellow
Annette Kade Fellow
Entering Class of 2018
Thesis: “Sensorimotor neural representations in the olfactory cortex”

My passion for science was the driving force behind my decision to join the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory graduate program. I could think of no better way to satisfy my scientific curiosity than to join a community devoted to science that prides itself on its collaborative and multidisciplinary identity. Like many starting graduate students, I had a limited view of what my time at CSHL would bring. Above learning what it means to be an accomplished scientist, I have developed my own independent and inquisitive mind. More importantly, I have had the chance to be part of a cohort full of bright and colorful characters whom I am proud to call my friends. It comes as no surprise when I say that my Ph.D. experience was not “a long and quiet river.” There was some turbulence along the way, often coming at the least expected of times. My thesis work focused on how expectations shape one’s reality and how violating these expectations creates opportunities for flexible responses and learning. This principle could be equally well applied to my experience as a trainee.

I am grateful for all the scientific and personal support I have received throughout my Ph.D. I would like to thank my lab mentors, Florin Albeanu and Priyanka Gupta, for allowing me to work on a challenging project and for our many discussions over the years. I also want to thank my colleagues for sharing their knowledge and dedication. Finally, I want to thank my family and friends (“my family away from home”) for their steady support and encouragement throughout this journey.

Yuzhao Hu

image of SBS 2024 graduate Yuzhao Hu

Tsinghua University
George A. and Marjorie H. Anderson Fellow
Entering Class of 2017
Thesis: “Role of cryptochromes in chromatin remodeling and DNA damage repair”

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory School of Biological Sciences for granting me the invaluable opportunity to pursue my Ph.D. degree. Over the span of six enriching years at CSHL, I have not only expanded my academic knowledge, but also matured significantly in my personal and professional life. Foremost, I am immensely grateful for the profound lessons I have learned in scientific research during my graduate studies. These transformative years have empowered me to evolve from a novice daunted by experimental setbacks to a confident scientist capable of overcoming any scientific challenges in pursuit of answers. I extend my deepest appreciation to my Ph.D. mentor, Professor Ullas Pedmale, whose unwavering guidance and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping my research journey. Additionally, I am indebted to the vibrant CSHL community, particularly my colleagues at the Delbruck building, whose camaraderie and generosity have been a constant source of encouragement.

As I reflect on my time at CSHL, I am filled with gratitude for the indelible impact it has had on my life. The memories forged and the experiences gained will forever hold a special place in my heart. I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this esteemed institution and for the lifelong friendships and mentorships that have enriched my journey.

Dennis Mann Singh Maharjan

image of SBS 2024 graduate Dennis Mann Singh Maharjan

Caldwell University
Brandeis University
John and Amy Phelan Scholar
Entering Class of 2017
Thesis: “Cell-type specific regulation of auditory decision-making”

Pursuing my graduate education at the School of Biological Sciences was motivated by my eagerness to be part of a vibrant community filled with talented and inspiring individuals. My experience at CSHL has indeed exceeded my expectations. I have had the privilege of interacting with remarkable scholars from various fields, creating lifelong friendships that have greatly enriched my journey here.

I was fortunate to conduct my Ph.D. research in the lab of Tony Zador, investigating the role of striatal neurons in auditory decision-making behavior. I am profoundly grateful for his mentorship and the autonomy he granted me in shaping my experiments. In his lab, and throughout the Marks building, I encountered exceptionally bright and generous scientists who have expanded my intellectual perspectives and significantly influenced my career trajectory. Tony’s open approach to science, along with the school’s supportive and flexible framework, have empowered me to carve out my own scientific path. This experience has instilled in me the values of creativity, thoroughness, and perseverance in scientific inquiry, contributing immensely to my development as a scientist and academic.

Outside of academia, I have felt embraced by the warm and welcoming CSHL community and the broader Huntington community. As I near the completion of my time at this institution, I look back with deep appreciation and fond memories of playing beach volleyball in the pouring rain, enjoying jam sessions in Blackford Bar, assembling microscopes in the middle of the night, and so much more. To everyone I have crossed paths with during my time at CSHL, I extend my heartfelt gratitude.

Ziyi Mo

image of SBS 2024 graduate Ziyi Mo

New York University Abu Dhabi
Gladys and Roland Harriman Foundation Fellow
Entering Class of 2018
Thesis: “Scalable and robust deep-learning methods power evolutionary-genetic studies of biobank-scale population genomic data”

At the outset of my Ph.D. at CSHL, I had a broad interest in computational research in the biomedical sciences. The graduate program provided ample opportunities and great support for me to explore a wide range of topics. Reflecting on my time at CSHL, I’m grateful for the professional growth it has fostered. I have been fortunate to collaborate with brilliant minds from across and beyond the Lab. I would like to thank my advisor Adam Siepel, my mentors, and colleagues for their guidance and support, as well as my family and friends for their unwavering encouragement.

Ziqi Amber Tang

image of SBS 2024 graduate Ziqi Amber Tang

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elisabeth Sloan Livingston Fellow
Entering Class of 2019
Thesis: “Exploring the representational power of genomic deep learning models”

When I first arrived at Cold Spring Harbor, I had many uncertainties about the path ahead, from research topics to life as a graduate student. However, my time at CSHL has been most valuable. The graduate program’s unique opportunities allowed me to delve into a research area I had not previously explored. Through all the conferences and courses on campus, I met friends and collaborators who enriched my scientific perspective. And among people in my lab, I made friends that shared countless joyful moments with me. It’s all these experiences combined that provided me with a Ph.D. journey that benefits me beyond research and into all aspects of life.

I would like to thank my mentor, Peter Koo, for not just the scientific mentorship, but also the consistent support throughout my graduate study. He has inspired me to grow as a scientist, as well as a person. My thanks also to the faculty and staff members of the School of Biological Sciences, for always caring and helping when I needed it most. To the great people that I met here, for making my experience special. And lastly, special thanks to my friends and family for always being by my side, offering support and advice.

Shushan Toneyan

image of SBS 2024 graduate Shushan Toneyan

University of Oxford
Robert and Teresa Lindsay Fellow
Crick-Clay Fellow
Entering Class of 2019
Thesis: “Evaluating and interpreting genomic insights from sequence-based deep learning for regulatory genomics”

I would like to thank my classmates and friends at CSHL for saving me from failing the program countless times, listening to all of my rants about life, the universe, and everything, and never letting me walk for longer than 2 minutes (at least not without a fight). I would also like to thank my Ph.D. advisor for being one of those friends, in addition to being an amazing mentor and sharing his well measured excitement about deep learning and its applications in genomics.One of the reasons why I chose to join the graduate program at CSHL was the warmth and genuine dedication to seeing students succeed that I felt at the dean’s office (despite Alex Gann’s strange way about expressing it). I believe this is a unique place to do science for many reasons, including the personal touch that the smaller community of students gets from the school, so I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to the School for giving me the chance to join the program.

I would like to thank my family for encouraging me to travel great distances for better education while making it their absolute priority to get me to travel home as soon and for as long as possible. Finally, I would like to thank my Cedric for being my anchor, traveling across the ocean many times to see me and supporting me through the pain (sometimes through shipments of chocolate), and sharing the happy moments throughout this degree.

Jonathan M. Werner

image of SBS 2024 graduate Jonathan Werner

University of Maryland Baltimore County
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Entering Class of 2018
Thesis: “Transcriptomic approaches for investigating developmental lineage”

It is an immense privilege to have been given the opportunity for graduate study at CSHL; one that I do not take lightly and view as arising largely from the efforts of those who, for whichever reason, decided I was worth a moment of their time and invested into my future. I stand where I am today due to the actions of a large collection of friends, family, and colleagues, to all of whom I sincerely say thank you.I would like to thank my research advisor, Jesse Gillis, for his time and thoughts over the years; one of the most rewarding aspects of my time at CSHL has been the continual intellectual challenges I’ve faced working in your lab, not just in my own research, but in thinking about many areas of science. My experience in the Gillis lab was greatly enhanced thanks to my fellow lab members, whom I thank for all the conversations over the years. I’d particularly like to acknowledge Sara Ballouz, Maggie Crow, and Stephan Fischer for their patience in being bothered with questions and their willingness to help me get started in the lab.

To the staff of the CSHL School of Biological Sciences, the support we receive from the School is unparalleled in my opinion, and I am very grateful to have benefited from the care and dedication you all bring to CSHL. And to the Class of 2018, you inspire me as friends and colleagues, and I look forward to seeing all of your future successes.

Cole Gregory Wunderlich

image of SBS 2024 graduate Cole Gregory Wunderlich

Purdue University
National Institutes of Health Trainee
Entering Class of 2017
Thesis: “Quantifying transposable element expression in single-cell RNA sequencing data”

It has truly been a privilege to study at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. A particular highlight of my time here was the free access to CSHL’s Meetings & Courses. Having unfettered access to a revolving door of the world’s top scientists was an incredible learning experience not to be found anywhere else. I will miss the beautiful campus, the intellectually stimulating environment, its collaborative and interdisciplinary spirit, and, above all else, the people.

I would like to thank my advisor, Molly Gale Hammell, for her tireless support and the opportunity to work in her lab. I would also like to thank Adam Siepel, Saket Navlakha, and Dan Levy for the additional support and guidance they provided.

Written by: Communications Department | | 516-367-8455

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