College of Medicine highlights outstanding scholars during National Postdoc Appreciation Week
Penn State College of Medicine celebrates the contributions that our scholars have made to research, innovation and discovery during National Postdoc Appreciation Week, which runs from Monday, Sept. 18 through Friday, Sept. 22.
“I am delighted to express my gratitude for the work performed by postdoctoral fellows at Penn State College of Medicine in research laboratories or clinical settings,” said Daniela Zarnescu, PhD, associate dean of graduate education and postdoctoral training and professor of cellular and molecular physiology. “While they represent diverse cultures from around the world, they all share a passion for bench-to-bedside research and pushing the boundaries of basic discoveries to developing treatments for human disease.”
This week, we recognize four postdoctoral scholars who received the Bond and Bradley Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar and Finkelstein Memorial Trainee Research Awards in 2023.
“The four postdoctoral fellows highlighted exemplify the values of research excellence, mentoring and service that we all share and strive for in the College of Medicine,” Zarnescu said. “Their talent, dedication and commitment are reflected in their high-impact publications, grants and awards.”
Read more about our outstanding scholars:
- Navaneetha Bharathan, PhD: Dr. Bharathan joined the lab of Andrew Kowalczyk, PhD, professor of dermatology and cellular and molecular physiology, in 2018. His research is focused on spatial organization and function of the ER-desmosome complex. He developed a new approach utilizing cutting-edge imaging and microscopy techniques to assess the structure-function relationship between the ER and desmosomal cell-cell junctions. He has recently published a manuscript as the first author in the highly prestigious journal Nature Cell Biology. He serves the community as a member of the Penn State Hershey Postdoctoral Society and the Diversity, Equity and Belonging Committee. Dr. Bharathan has received the Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Award (2023).
- Marina Chulkina, PhD: Dr. Chulkina joined the lab of Iryna Pinchuk, PhD, associate professor of medicine, in 2020. Her research is focused on the role of mesenchymal cells in their interaction with innate immune cells in maintaining mucosal homeostasis during chronic and tumor-promoting inflammation and fibrosis in the gastrointestinal tract. She has published one research paper and a review as the first author and contributed to two more articles as a co-author. Dr. Chulkina has also published meeting abstracts and presented her work at a number of scientific conferences. She is an active member of the Penn State Hershey Postdoctoral Society, serving on the awards committee, and is a member of the National Postdoctoral Association. Dr. Chulkina has received the Bond and Bradley Travel Award (2022) and Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Award (2023).
- Stephanie Schell, PhD: Dr. Schell joined the lab of Amanda Nelson, MD, assistant professor of dermatology, in 2019. Her research projects are focused on understanding the pathogenesis of inflammatory skin diseases, predominantly hidradenitis suppurativa. She is a phenomenal scientist at the lab bench, an excellent scientific communicator, and the ultimate team player. She is also an excellent role model and mentor to the younger members of the Nelson lab and the Department of Dermatology. Dr. Schell has three first-author publications and she has received the Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Award (2023).
- Siddharth Sunilkumar, PhD: Dr. Sunilkumar joined the lab of Michael Dennis, PhD, associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology and ophthalmology, in 2019. His research is focused on the role of the stress response protein REDD1 in diabetes pathophysiology. During his postdoctoral training, Dr. Sunilkumar has already published four articles as first author, contributed to four manuscripts as a co-author and presented his work at various scientific conferences. He has received the Bond and Bradley Travel Award (2022), Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Award (2022) and Finkelstein Memorial Trainee Research Award (2023).
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