Featured Undergrad Alumni

Our alumni move on to exciting career and academic paths. Some are building careers in the workplace while others are continuing their education in graduate school. We’d love to hear what path YOU have taken. Please keep us posted and check back here for updates on fellow classmates and alumni. 

Zaid Safiullah

I majored in molecular biology with a concentration in biochemistry. After graduating in 2014, I spent two years doing research at the NIH before starting medical school at Pitt Med. After graduating from medical school I began my residency training at Johns Hopkins. I plan to become an academic cardiologist with focuses on research and medical education in addition to clinical care.

Zaid is a Resident physician in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Last updated: 6/22/20
Alexander Wong

After graduating from Pitt in 2016, I went on to earn my Master's degree in plant pathology at Virginia Tech. I am currently a PhD student at Oregon State University studying plant pathology of wine grapes. We research fungicide resistance and epidemiology of the devastating grape pathogens, powdery mildew and Botrytis with the goal of improving disease management practices. The experience I gained at Pitt was crucial in providing me a great knowledge and skills foundation to excel in the next stages of my career. Hail to Pitt!

Last updated: 6/22/20
Chris Bialas

The strength of Pitt Bio is the spirit of hands on undergraduate research. During my time here, I worked in the lab of Dr. Lewis Jacobson, where for the first time I experienced real science. Dr. Jacobon’s philosophy of immersion in real scientific problems made what I learned in class come alive, and is cornerstone of my technical and critical thinking skills. The department’s availability of fellowships and the opportunity to formalize my work in an honors thesis have been invaluable in my training as a scientist, and have helped me get grants and succeed in graduate school. 

Chris is an Associate Director of Business Development at Incyte

Last updated: 5/3/22
Rachel Botham

I had a wonderful experience in Pitt Biology and as a part of the Ashman lab.  I conducted independent research, presented and published said research, and had the chance to do field work in Spain. And my model species, the wild strawberry, was absolutely adorable

Rachel is a Senior Scientist at Codexis, Inc. in California.

Last updated: 5/3/22
Jenise Brown

At the National Aviary, I work as part of a team of trainers and educators working with a range of birds from owls to parrots to penguins.  In the fall I will be starting graduate school at USF researching pesticide toxicity and its effect on global amphibian decline.  Pitt inspired my excitement about biology, and gave me the opportunity to pursue original research with world-class faculty.

Jenise is a Museum Educator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in PIttsburgh.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Jennifer Carter

Pitt's Biology department helped to foster a lifelong passion for science and for education. I completed my DVM in 2005 and went on to do a small animal internship followed by a three year residency in Veterinary Anesthesiology at North Carolina State University. In 2009 I joined the faculty here at Ross University where I am able to put my love of teaching to work everyday as an assistant professor in anesthesiology and respiratory physiology. In 2010, I completed my board certification and became a Diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiology. I am always happy when I see Pitt graduates entering into our program here because I know what a great foundation they have! Keep up the great work!

Dr. Carter is a Senior Lecturer at University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science

Last updated: 10/14/20
Alexis Carulli

I am an MD/PhD student at the University of Michigan, currently working on my PhD investigating how stem cells in the gut are regulated.  It is my hope that this knowledge will someday be important for gastrointestinal cancer therapies and tissue regeneration technologies.  My time as an undergraduate at Pitt was essential for getting me to this stage.  Having an independent project in the lab as well as engaging and presenting at lab meetings and journal clubs was invaluable for creating a solid foundation for how to think about and carry out research.

Alexis is an Internal medicine resident at UPMC in Pittsburgh.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Amy Dale

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 with a B.S. in Bioinformatics.  During my time at Pitt, I was a research fellow in the biology department's Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) program, a Bioinformatics and Bioengineering Summer Institute (BBSI) research fellow, and an intern with the Department of Shells and Mollusks at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  But Pitt did not just teach me to be a researcher; I also took classes at Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology and was deeply involved in the environmental community.  As the 2010-2011 president of Engineers for a Sustainable World, I led a team that built a rain garden on campus, designed sustainable apartments for a nearby town, and educated our campus and community about sustainability.  In 2010, I was honored to receive the Udall national scholarship for environmental leadership.  All of these experiences, and many others, have prepared me for PhD studies at Carnegie Mellon, where I am investigating the environmental impacts of nanotechnology as a NEEP IGERT fellow and ARCS scholar with the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.

Amy is a Senior Project Manager at Gradient in Massachusetts

Last updated: 5/3/22
Brandon Fields

I am currently a PhD student in Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. I am working in Scott Kennedy's lab studying mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance using C. elegans as a model system. The most valuable experience I had at Pitt was the opportunity to conduct original research during my undergraduate studies. I started working with Dr. Lewis Jacobson the summer after my freshmen year through an HHMI summer research fellowship, and continued working in his lab year round throughout the remaining 3 years of my undergraduate career. Over these 3 years I learned the appropriate skills, techniques, and work ethic required for pursuing graduate studies in science. Pitt's philosophy of training undergraduate researchers helped position me for a career in science.

Brandon is Postdoctoral Researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Last updated: 10/14/20
Scott Gabriel

I was a member of the Arndt lab for over a year as an undergraduate and partnered with a graduate student to research how a transcription factor in yeast helped initiate transcription. That year of research sparked my confidence that I not only was capable of being a scientist but that I actually really enjoyed the process of doing science. I found that doing research was a lot different than performing labs as part of my undergraduate classes and I enjoyed that challenge. After my years at Pitt, I eventually continued on to earn my PhD at Cornell University under the direction of John Helmann studying transcription control in bacteria. I chose this area in large part because of how much I enjoyed the research I did as an undergraduate with Dr. Arndt.  I am currently an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI where I, now as a professor, invite the next generation of undergraduates to study, understand and question how DNA transcription is controlled through my teaching and research.

Scott is an Associate Professor of Biology, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience at Viterbo University

Last updated: 5/3/22
Nick Homa

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010, and the following fall began graduate school in a PhD program at Duke University.  The ease of my  transition between my undergraduate and graduate careers was enormously facilitated by the opportunities and experiences I took advantage of while at Pitt.  I spent over two years performing research with Dr. Andrew VanDemark and participated in the HHMI Undergraduate Research Fellowship multiple times.  These and other great experiences are why I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without Pitt.

Nick is an Associate Director, Program Management at Nuventra Pharma Sciences in North Carolina.

Last updated: 5/3/22
James Endres Howell

I was lucky to get incredibly solid training in Jeff Brodsky's lab at Pitt. My experience there fueled a passion for science as well as for education and mentoring. I completed my doctorate at Berkeley and made a quick turn to a career in teaching. I taught for a year at Lock Haven University in central Pennsylvania before settling at Penn State in 2006. As Director of Undergraduate Studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, I do a lot of academic advising and teaching. I derive a ton of reward being in the classroom and helping students one on one.

Dr. Howell is an Associate Teaching Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State.

Last updated: 5/3/22
Andrew J Hryckowian

I earned my PhD in Rodney Welch's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied the roles and regulation of RpoS in Escherichia coli and Shigella. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in Justin Sonnenburg's lab at Stanford University. Here, I am elucidating mechanisms of pathogen-microbiota-host interaction.  The depth and breadth of what I learned from everyone at Pitt provided me with a strong foundation that continues to benefit me. I look back fondly on my experience as an undergraduate in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Andrew is an Assistant Professor of Medicine & Medical Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Wisconsin.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Sara Kalla

Pittsburgh has a great set of resources for those interested in biology, in addition to leading hospitals, there is a great zoo, aviary, conservatory and museum.  At Pitt, the professors are committed to both teaching and research, and they encourage interaction.  Going to Pitt gave me the opportunity to pursue research as an undergrad and the foundations to continue research on a wide variety of topics in biology.  No matter what your interests are, it's easy to find someone with the same interests.  As a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University, I'm identifying the genetic basis of size in dogs.  My time at Pitt was key for developing my interests and skills in biology.

Sara is a Sr. Bioinformatics Programmer at Baylor College of Medicine

Last updated: 10/14/20
Andrew King

I am currently a graduate student in Pitt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics. My undergrad was also at Pitt where I was one of the first students to graduate with a Bioinformatics degree. The diversity of research I was a part of as an undergraduate helped me to decide what I wanted to pursue as a career and was an incredible advantage when I applied to graduate programs. Currently my research is seeking to decrease the number of medical errors by reducing the cognitive load on physicians when using the electronic medical records.

Andrew is a Research Assistant Professor of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

Last updated: 3/27/22
Robert Lee

After graduating from Pitt in 2003, I went on to obtain a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.  After briefly working as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology at Penn and as a consultant for a medical communications company in Philadelphia, I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Penn, where I study epithelial physiology in the upper airway.  The classes and research experience I received in the Department of Biological Sciences made me far better prepared graduate school than many of my peers, and the knowledge I gained at Pitt has helped me in all aspects of my scientific career.

Robert is an Assistant Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Last updated: 10/14/20
David Mauger

I am currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill conducting research for the American Cancer Society into the Hepatitis C Virus.  After graduating from Pitt, I went on to earn a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Duke University.  While at Pitt, the exciting genetics research that I did as an undergrad in the biology department allowed me to present my research at a scientific conference, secure an internship a large pharmaceutical company, and even gave me the opportunity to become an author of a research article in a prestigious journal.  The experience and knowledge that I gained from my undergraduate research prepared me to succeed at doing cutting-edge biotechnology research.

David is a Director and Head of Data Science at Arrakis Therapeutics

Last updated: 5/3/22
Tracy Meehan

I just finished my first year of graduate school in cellular and molecular biology at Boston University. I'm studying cell death and autophagy using Drosophila melanogaster ovaries. Pitt had great research opportunities and all the teachers helped me reach my goal of entering grad school!

Tracy is a Legal Assistant/Researcher at Haggerty & Silverman P.C.

Last updated: 5/3/22
Kylie Morris

My name is Kylie Morris and the opportunity to study at the University of Pittsburgh was an incredible factor for my success in my first year of medical school. I am a medical student at Des Moines University with a scholarship in osteopathic medicine. When talking to my colleagues I have come to realize that very few schools offer as many opportunities as Pitt in both variety of classes and research opportunities. As a general Biology major I was able to take the advanced biology courses like cell biology, honors genetics, and intro to neuroscience that prepared me for medical school, as well as to take the courses I needed to get a Classics minor. The research opportunities were amazing, as well. I joined Dr. Jacobson's lab in my sophomore year. I was also an HHMI scholar for two summers. I am very grateful to have gotten such a great education at Pitt.

Kylie is a Family Medicine Physician at UPMC Hamot in Erie, PA.

Last updated: 10/7/20
Daniel Oberdick

I received my j.d. From Temple's Beasley School of Law in 2010. I am currently an attorney at the law firm Post and Schell. I work in the transportation and casualty department. I would say that my undergrad experience at Pitt, and in particular within the sciences, helped me to think critically about intangible problems. By dealing with objects smaller than the naked eye could see, it trained my thinking patterns to be able to address ethereal legal issues.  Also, my bio background set me apart from my classmates in law school as virtually no one had that type of degree. This set me up for legal work in areas like intellectual property, medical malpractice and the like. People are impressed that I could handle the sciences so it's a bit of a wow factor where I am now.

Daniel is Senior Counsel - Litigation at Brenntag North America, Inc.

Last updated: 5/3/22
Evan OBrien

My most valuable experience at Pitt, in addition to the Biochemistry program, was the opportunity to conduct my own research project in the Jacobson lab.  After starting in my freshman year, the more than 3 years of research were full of learning - everything from the basics to critical thinking, experiment planning, and evaluation of outside research.  I am currently using the experience gained in the Jacobson lab to pursue questions about fundamental macromolecular interactions in Dr. Josh Wand's lab in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics program at the University of Pennsylvania PhD program.  I found that the undergraduate research opportunities at Pitt allow students to be much more involved in real research than at most institutions, and this involvement has certainly swayed my career path to its current direction.

Evan is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Beth Oczypok

Pitt's Biology department stands out because of its extraordinary focus on undergraduate research, numerous opportunities for students to explore future careers in the biological sciences, and faculty members who are passionate about teaching.  I received research fellowships that allowed me to participate in a NASA study, travel to England for a summer research rotation, and attend a conference in France.  I also spent a summer participating in Pitt's HHMI program, which gave me the chance to mentor new undergraduate researchers, create a poster of my work, and formally present my research to the department.  Through these opportunities, I developed the basic skills that I will use for the rest of my career in science. By the end of college, I had been so inspired by the experiences I had in the Biology department that I am currently enrolled in an M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine so that I may continue my training and research in molecular biology.

Beth obtained a MD/PhD at UPMC, and is a practicing Internal Medicine Doctor in Pittsburgh.

Last updated: 5/2/22
Kostadin Petrov

Pitt's biology department successfully combines the resources of a major research university with the attention to undergraduate education of a small college to produce both a nurturing and challenging environment. The wide expertise of the faculty provide the department with a depth and breadth spanning all major fields in the biological sciences, allowing the curious and motivated student the opportunity for unbridled exploration. However, the greatest assets that the bio department has to offer are the opportunities for mentorship and hands-on-research available to students in the laboratories of the department's faculty.

Kostadin is an Associate Director at GO Therapeutics in Boston.

Last updated: 5/2/22
Dan Sheidy

Currently, I am a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, in the department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. The most valuable experiences that I had at the University of Pittsburgh came from the intimate, yet vibrant, undergraduate research community. In addition to excellent technical training, I had ample opportunities to present my research to faculty and peers, and this forced me to think critically about my own work, as well as the work of my classmates. Learning how to communicate my research to others has proven invaluable in graduate school.

Dan is a Senior Manager at AbbVie

Last updated: 5/2/22
Gabriel Simon

I'm currently a post-doc in Jeffrey Gordon's lab at Washington University in St. Louis.  Our lab studies the thousands of species of bacteria that inhabit the intestine, and seeks to understand the mechanisms by which they modulate our metabolism and physiology.  I'm using quantitative mass spectrometry to study lysine acetylation dynamics in the large intestine, and its response to the microbiota. When I was at Pitt I was fortunate to work in Karen Arndt's lab and "get my feet wet" studying chromatin dynamics in yeast.  It was a fantastic environment for learning molecular biology and experimental design, and those skills proved instrumental for my work in graduate school.

Gabriel is Senior Director at Vividion Therapeutics in California.

Last updated: 5/2/22
Neil Umbreit

As an aspiring scientist, the Biology Department at Pitt was a great place to start because it provided ample opportunities for undergraduate research.  Everyone I knew in my degree program participated actively in independent scientific research.  These opportunities were made further accessible by the great availability of funding support; I received research scholarships from the Samuel D. Colella Award and from the HHMI undergraduate research program.  I also received training as a scientist not only in research, but also in teaching.  I took part in a summer high school outreach program.  In this program, I instructed high school students and teachers as they developed the skills and thought processes of the scientific method.  I also worked with teachers, graduate students, and faculty to develop materials for future use in the high school classroom.  Therefore, Pitt Biology provided me a solid base for starting out a career in science, particularly because of the program’s strong focus on both research and educational experience.

Neil is a Senior Scientist, Oncology Bioscience at AstraZeneca.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Nicole Vanacek

I graduated in 1999 with a B.S. in Biology. I never would have dreamed where life would have taken me after Pitt but thanks to all of the opportunities, the Internships and mentors along the way, I have had the most amazing career as a forensic DNA analyst. My career has taken me around the globe from working on human rights and humanitarian investigations in Latin America and Asia, to working with Iraq scientists in Jordan, and serving overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. My journey that started at Pitt has been nothing short of extraordinary!

Nicole is a Forensic DNA Analyst, Consultant in North Carolina.

Last updated: 10/14/20
Robert Ward

I now reside in Houston, TX where I attend law school at the University of Houston.  My goal is to work in intellectual property law.  My road to this point truly began in Karen Arndt’s laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh.  While I was getting my degree, Karen gave me an undergraduate research project that honed my abilities to think creatively while working both independently and as part of a team.  I feel that this opportunity was the catalyst for my interest in science and allowed me to acquire the skills necessary to succeed at the next level as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. I feel that my science background will be an invaluable asset as I move into the field of intellectual property law.

Dr. Ward is a patent lawyer for Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP

Last updated: 4/1/14
Kurt Weiberth

I graduated from Pitt in 2012 with a BS in Biological Sciences. Because I majored in general biology, I was able to take a variety of classes, from Neuroscience to Human Physiology to Developmental Biology. In addition to coursework, I also worked in the Brodsky lab researching protein degradation using yeast as a model system. Throughout my time in the lab, I was funded through HHMI fellowships and the Beckman Scholars Fellowship. I believe that Pitt did a good job of providing opportunities and fellowships for undergraduates looking to experience research. I enjoyed the scientific process during my time doing research, and I decided to continue on to a PhD program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. If you are interested in Biology and Medicine, I believe Pitt offers many opportunities and a great foundation for your future endeavors, especially graduate school and medical school.

Kurt is an Engineering Manager at Linktree

Last updated: 5/2/22
Christopher Weiss

In addition to the benefits of writing the thesis, the Departmental Honors Program was a great opportunity for me to take charge in my research endeavors and propose my own project within my undergraduate lab. Together, these aspects provided an invaluable experience that undoubtedly helped prepare me for graduate study this fall. Overall, I enjoyed having the opportunity to expand that boundary between my classroom work and my research experiences here at Pitt and I would highly recommend this program for anyone seriously interested in a career in scientific research. I really enjoyed the Honors Program and the molecular biology major and am truly indebted to the fantastic faculty and staff at Pitt and particularly the Department of Biological Sciences for making that experience what it was for me. I am beginning graduate study in the fall here at Pitt in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program.

Christopher is a graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh

Last updated: 4/2/14