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PhD Students

Kerry Belton

Kerry BeltonKerry Belton received his MS in biology from Alcorn State University in 2011, where he studied the molecular mechanism of COB and COX1 fourth intron removal by Ccmp1 and b14 maturase under the direction of Drs. Jon Moreno and Matra Piva. Currently, he is working in Dr. Andrew Patterson's lab at Penn State. Belton is studying the modulation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) activity for establishing and maintaining gut immune function and overall intestinal health. He is a doctoral candidate in the Toxicology Graduate Program at Penn State, in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.

Kayla A. Echols

Kayla Echols -  Alcorn

Kayla A. Echols received her MS in biology at Alcorn State University in 2014 and is a PhD student in Nutrition at Penn State. She is a member of the Matam Vijay-Kumar lab. As a Bridges student, she conducted research in Dr. Claude dePamphilis’s lab and studied the evolutionary genomics of flowers, parasitic plants and chloroplast genomes. Her long-term goals include increasing the number of underrepresented students in science, decreasing the number of food deserts (i.e., areas with little or no access to groceries and fresh produce, which corresponds to an increase in obesity and diabetes), and improving food education.

Cherrelle Gee

Cherelle Gee - Alcorn

Cherrelle T.S. Gee received her MS in biology at Alcorn State University in 2014. While at Penn State as part of her Bridges work, she performed research in Dr. Joshua Lambert’s lab in the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health. The lab studies the potential health benefits, bioavailability, and hepatotoxicity of dietary phytochemicals. Cherrelle focused on the assembly of mitochondrial ribosomes in baker's yeast for her master's thesis. She has been working as a research assistant for an aerospace company and is applying to medical schools.

Melanie McReynolds

Melanie McReynoldsMelanie McReynolds received her BS in biochemistry in 2009, and her MS in biology from Alcorn State University in 2011. She currently is a doctoral candidate in the Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology Graduate Program at Penn State. McReynolds is a Bunton-Waller and Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. She works with Dr. Wendy Hanna-Rose's lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where she is researching how development is genetically programmed. She is now working on elucidating the developmental and physiological roles of NAD+ biosynthetic pathways.

Marisa Stanton

Marissa Stanton - Alcorn2

Marisa Stanton received her MS in biology at Alcorn State University in 2014 and is applying to the PhD program in Biomedical Sciences at The University of Tennessee. While at Penn State during her master's program, she studied in Dr. Andrea Mastro’s lab. She looked at how osteoblast, endothelial, and stromal cells are affected when exposed to breast cancer cell-conditioned media and the role that the bone microenvironment plays in facilitating cancer cell growth and migration. Marisa has been teaching high school Biology in Mississippi and will be applying to PhD/MD programs in 2016.