ASO Authors

TheScope

The Athens Science Observer writing staff is composed of a dedicated group of volunteers from Athens, Georgia and abroad. Most of us are doctorate, masters, and undergraduate students at the University of Georgia and though we have backgrounds in a variety of scientific fields we all share a vision to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.

Current Leadership & Writers:

29890_15 Amanda Shaver is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Dept. of Genetics at the University of Georgia studying metabolomics in C. elegans. She enjoys dancing, photography, and playing with her dog Mr. Peabody. Amanda currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the Athens Science Observer and is on the Athens Science Café Programming Board. You can email her at Amanda.shaver@uga.edu or follow her on Twitter @AOShaver. More from Amanda Shaver.
IMG_20170331_092841507 Greg Evans is a grad student at UGA, finishing up a Master’s in Plant Biology and beginning a Master’s in Ag Business. He enjoys boxing, board games, and gardening. Greg currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer, as well as the Athens Science Alliance Liaison. He can be reached at gevans@uga.edu or follow him on Twitter @WeedyInvasive. More from Greg Evans.
mz_aboutauthor Michelle Ziadie is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Genetics at UGA working on the evolution of maternal effects and undergraduate evolution education. A native of Miami, Florida with Caribbean roots, Michelle never turns down an opportunity to engage with spicy food or spicy music. When she’s not dancing the night away with friends or getting lost in the Georgia wilderness, Michelle can be found sipping a café Cubano and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with her kitten, Thomas. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer. More from Michelle Ziadie..
Rosemary Willis Rosemary Wills serves as a current Associate Editor for Athens Sciece Observer and is an undergraduate at UGA majoring in Plant Biology and Science Education. When she’s not writing, coding, or spending time with family, she enjoys growing plants in her windowsill and crocheting science-related things. You can e-mail her at rwills25@uga.edu. More from Rosemary Wills.
anderson Lydia Anderson is a Dual DVM-Ph.D. graduate student at the University of Georgia and currently serves as an Assistant Editor for Athens Science Observer. Since completing her Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases, she has been working on her DVM at the College of Veterinary Medicine with an emphasis in public health and translational medicine. She plans to use her training to help address the questions and challenges facing One Health due to emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases. When she is not busy learning how to save all things furry and playing with test tubes, Lydia can be found either freestyle cooking for her friends and family or binge watching Netflix with her rescue pup, Luna. More from Lydia Anderson.
505833 Mackenzie Carter currently serves as an Assistant Editor for Athens Science Observer and recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a master’s degree in Comparative Biomedical Sciences. With her background in biomedical and tissue engineering, she is fascinated by bioinspired design and photobiology. Mackenzie is currently looking for a position as a research/science communicator at a public research institution. In her free time, she explores her passions: cephalopods, ceramics, tea, and west coast swing dancing. You can connect with Mackenzie via email at mackenziecarter@uga.edu.
Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 1.51.09 PM Madelaine Wendzik currently serves as an Associate Editor for the News and Policy Team at Athens Science Observer and is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience Program at the University of Georgia studying neuroinflammation and immune response in pediatric traumatic brain injury. She enjoys board games, downloading one too many podcasts, and anything to do with white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. You can email her at MWendzik@uga.edu or follow her on twitter @SciPolicyGirl. More from Madelaine Wendzik.
IMG_0452 (6) Michelle Dookwah currently serves as an Assistant Editor for Athens Science Observer and is a graduate student at the University of Georgia Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, where she studies rare neurological disorders using patient stem cells. She’s pretty passionate about science and science communication. However, she also enjoys numerous activities in her free time, including reading, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, hiking, baking, and obsessing over her labradoodle named Goose! More from Michelle Dookwah.
Stephanie Halmo Stephanie M. Halmo is a former middle school science teacher turned graduate student, actively pursuing her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Georgia. Stephanie currently serves as an Assistant Editor for Athens Science Observer. In her spare time she likes to dance, volunteer at local schools and tie-dye anything she can get her hands on. She is currently ASO’s News Editor. You can connect with Stephanie on Twitter and Instagram @shalmo or by email: shalmo27@uga. More from Stephanie M. Halmo.
Ahmed_Bio Alaa Ahmed is a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology at the University of Georgia studying laboratory evolution of new functions in bacteria. He loves reading science fiction, traveling, and is a huge tennis fan. Alaa is originally from Egypt and enjoys learning about different cultures and languages. You can connect with Alaa on Twitter at @TheMicrobio or by email: alaa.ahmed@uga.edu. More from Alaa Ahmed.
image3 Angela Hsiung is a PhD student in Warnell School of Forestry and Natural resources at UGA. She enjoys studying wildlife and fish ecology and conservation. Aspiring to be a master of none, when Angela is not at school, she can be found lagging behind a group of runners while gasping for breath, misidentifying a bird, or failing spectacularly at playing “Sweet Home Alabama” on the guitar. You can contact her at solitaire.hsiung@gmail.com. More from Angela Hsiung
unnamed-3-2 Ankita Roy is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia working with bean roots. She plays mommy to two kittens and can whip up a curry to fire your taste buds in no time. True to her cooking skills, she enjoys trying out new cuisines to satisfy her passion for everything flavorful. She is an executive member of the Indian Student Association. You can reach her at ankita.roy@uga.edu. More from Ankita Roy
arnab Arnab Mondal is a PhD candidate in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia with a research focus on biomaterials. He is committed to developing antimicrobial materials to tackle antibiotic resistance and infection. Outside of lab, he curates an art page on a social media platform, miserably fails at self-teaching guitar, contrives a couple of words and calls it a poem and as a clichéd man from the City of Joy (Kolkata, India) takes special interest in gormandizing various cuisines, voraciously watching movies, and having tea at any time of the day. You can contact him at arnab.mondal@uga.edu. More from Arnab Mondal
chaitanya Chaitanya Tondepu is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Integrated Life Sciences program at the University of Georgia. Other than science, her favorite pastimes are dancing, hanging out with friends and family, exploring, crafting, and eating delicious food. You can email her at chaitanya.tondepu@uga.edu. More from Chaitanya Tondepu
12072538_761608300651268_5451224968368009958_n Chelsea Himsl is a master’s student in Geography researching food security, urban agriculture, and political ecology. Chelsea is from the Athens area, and when she is not studying or working on her thesis you can find her reading, hiking with her sweet giant dog, or cooking with her awesome husband. To reach Chelsea send her an email at clhimsl@uga.edu. More from Chelsea Himsl.
Debkanta-Chakraborty-570x570 Debkanta Chakraborty is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Institute of Bioinformatics at the University of Georgia studying plant genetics and evolution. He has an interesting career arc, having pursued undergraduate studies in Electronics and Communication Engineering, a Masters in Biochemistry, and is now focusing on Genomics and Bioinformatics. Other than Biosciences, he is deeply passionate about Number Theory and Computational Geometry. In the leisure time which is a rarity in a graduate student’s life, he loves singing, playing an instrument called harmonium, participating in HQ trivia and watching movies. He hails from Durgapur, India and has an avid interest in traveling and watching tennis. He calls himself the biggest fan of Roger Federer. You can email him at debkanta@uga.edu. More from Debkanta Chakraborty.
Jennifer Kuraz Jennifer Kurasz is a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology at UGA, where she studies the regulation of RNA repair mechanisms in Salmonella. When not in the lab, she prefers to be mediocre at many hobbies rather than settle on one. She greatly enjoys her women’s weightlifting group, cooking, painting, meditation, craft beer, and any activity that gets her outdoors. She can be contacted at jennifer.kurasz25@uga.edu. More from Jennifer Kurasz.
image1 Jeremy Duke is a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD student at UGA, focusing on glycoconjugate vaccine development. He has a wonderfully eclectic music taste and likes to make costumes and read when there isn’t a pipette in hand. He can be contacted at jad71457@uga.edu. More from Jeremy Duke.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kara Wyatt is a PhD student in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia currently studying the immune response to influenza within the lung epithelium. In her spare time she enjoys playing video games, hiking with her husband, or watching Kind of the Hill on repeat. You can connect with Kara by email at kara.wyatt@uga.edu. More from Kara Wyatt.
Karen Bobier Karen Bobier is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Genetics studying populations of freshwater fishes in North Georgia and the evolution of DNA methylation genes. In her spare time she enjoys reading, hanging out with her dog, and is a member of the Red and Black Archery Club. You can email her at Karen.bobier25@uga.edu. More from Karen Bobier.
klr Katie Reagin is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Cellular Biology at the University of Georgia, where she studies the immune response to influenza and other respiratory infections. When she is not in lab you can find her reading, painting, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and pretending to be a food network chef in her kitchen. More from Katie Reagin.
Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 10.59.37 PM Kush Bhatia is a PhD student in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. In his spare time, he loves reading, drinking coffee, cooking, and gaming of all kinds. He also enjoys working with some high school STEM student organizations, such as the Technology Student Association. More from Kush Bhatia.
 image04 Lauren Sgro is a PhD student in the Physics department at the University of Georgia. Her research focus is in astronomy, specifically debris disks around young stars that may tell us more about planetary formation. Despite the all-consuming nature of graduate school, she enjoys doing yoga and occasionally hiking up a mountain. You can’t reach her on Twitter, but you can email her at lauren.sgro25@uga.edu. More from Lauren Sgro.
 kristin-mason-details-115 Mason McNair is studying speciation, hybridization, and evolution of pitcher plants in the Leebens-Mack lab. He enjoys teaching, most nerdy thing (video games, anime, board games), and brewing beer and cider. More from Mason McNair.
 Photo Jul 07, 3 16 12 PM Megan Buland is a graduate student in the Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources at UGA, where she studies forest health and microbial community ecology. When not visiting field sites or working under the flow hood, Megan is passionate about environmental communication and education, and exploring in nature. She enjoys rock climbing and hiking and loves her dog, Madra. You can reach Megan at megan.buland@uga.edu. More from Megan Buland.
image01 Megan Prescott is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia. She dedicates her time outside the lab to serving as President of UGA’s Women in Science (WiSci) organization, volunteering with the Junior League of Athens, and continuously watching The Office on Netflix. She counts each day she leaves the lab without giving herself TB as a success. More from Megan Prescott.
13220826_1307652565916236_939053157207835834_n Mike Choromanski is currently President of UGA’s Cellular Biology Graduate Student Association and a Ph.D. Student studying Neuroscience and Cellular Biology. He attended Armstrong State University where he obtained a B.S. in Cell Biology with minors in Neuroscience and Philosophy while serving as an editor for his college newspaper, The Inkwell. Before teaching at UGA, he organized STEM tracks and taught environmental science for Philmont Scout Ranch. In his spare time, he loves to hike, cook and play video games, and competes on UGA’s fencing team. More from Mike Choromanski.
savannah Savanah Jackle is an undergraduate student studying Biological Engineering with an emphasis in biomedical engineering at the University of Georgia. In addition to her studies, Savanah loves working with elementary school children to teach them about STEM concepts. With her education and training, she would like to go into either medical machine design or the prosthetics industry, and also continue her work in encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering. If she’s not hanging out in Driftmier Engineering Center, you can find Savanah hiking outside or trying hopelessly to keep up with her crazy beagle, Olive. And no, that’s not a typo. She really spells her name with one “n.” You can e-mail her at savanah.jackle25@uga.edu or connect with her on Twitter. More from Savanah Jackle.
DSC_1220-001 Sudeepti Kuppa is a Ph.D. candidate in the College of Pharmacy and studies how to develop miRNAs into early detection biomarkers for clinically challenging gynecological cancers such as ovarian or metastatic breast cancer. She also got her undergraduate degree at UGA, so she’s a Double-Dawg and hasn’t regretted staying in Athens for a moment! When she’s not in the lab discovering cool new things about cancer, Sudeepti likes to meditate, go to the gym and make sure she gets a healthy dose of TV and spends time with her pet rabbit Fessy (who’s basically a dog)! To hear more from Sudeepti you can connect with her on over on Twitter . More from Sudeepti Kuppa.
Trevor3 Trevor Adams is a Ph.D. Student in the Integrated Life Sciences program at the University of Georgia. He is interested in how the molecular bits of life shape our world. His hobbies include hiking, reading, and hanging out with his cat Bustelo. More from Trevor Adams.
Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 12.11.27 PM Zaka Asif is a first year doctoral student rotation through different labs in the ILS program. When I am not working in my lab, I can be found driving around, watching/playing soccer or cricket, playing pool, cooking or just lazying around in bed. More from Zaka Asif.

Past Leadership & Writers:

image00 Hilde Oliver is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, where she studies polar marine ecosystems. While not doing research, Hilde enjoys Korean food, yoga, and learning languages. Hilde was an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer and currently serves as the Programming Director for Athens Science Café . Follow her on Twitter @polar_plankton or shoot her an email at hildeoliver@uga.edu. More from Hilde Oliver.
jeffery b cannon Jeffery B. Cannon is a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Georgia. He is currently a Research Associate at the Colorado Forest Research Institute. Jeff is a Co-Founder and served as the first Editor-in-Chief for the Athens Science Observer. He loves science, the outdoors, and enjoys running and brewing beer. You can connect with Jeff on Twitter @JefferyBCannon or by email: jbc165@gmail.com.
John J. Spiekerman is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia. John’s research focuses on pearl millet, a vital crop grown predominantly in Africa and India. He is a co-founding member of Athens Science Observer, where he served as Editor-in-Chief in 2017, and also served on the programming board for the Athens Science Café. He loves pizza, coffee, playing music, reading, and running…exactly in that order. More from John Spiekerman.
rishi Rishi R. Masalia is a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Georgia. Rishi is a founding member of the Athens Science Café and Athens Science Observer. He is an ambassador and science communicator with the American Society of Plant Biologists. For his commitment to science outreach, Rishi was named the 2018 University of Georgia Pillar of the Community, and a 2018 National K. Patricia Cross Scholar. He is a former University of Arizona Wildcat, Coca-Cola addict, smooth dance machine, science fiction savant, and all around nerd. Rishi can be reached at rishimasalia@gmail.com, or followed on Twitter @RishiMasalia. More from Rishi Masalia.
Tara Bracken is a Ph.D. graduate from the University of Georgia Department of Infectious Diseases. She is currently a communications associate at Sabin Vaccine Institute. Tara was an Associate Editor for the Athens Science Observer. If you’re a nerd and like fun, be sure to check out her blog, Of Microbes and Men or you can connect with her on Twitter at @microbesandmen!
amara Amara Katabarwa is a Ph.D. candidate in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Georgia studying His research focus is understanding Decoherence in Quantum Circuits and near-term application of first-generation Quantum Computers. In his free time, he likes to read or guiltlessly laze about. He can be contacted at akataba@uga.edu
image06 Amanda Piehler is an undergraduate at UGA double-majoring in Biology and Science Education. When she’s not adventuring in academia, you can find her dancing, running, cooking, SCUBA diving, or hiding out in a local theatre. Connect with her on Facebook or email her at apiehler@uga.edu! More from Amanda Piehler.!
image02 Ana Mandujano is an undergraduate student in the School of Public and International Affairs studying International Relations and pre-medicine. When she’s not studying for organic chemistry and strategic intelligence, she’s a Spanish interpreter for Mercy Clinic and ruining movies for everyone by pointing out historical inaccuracies. More from Ana Mandujano
media-20170719 Caitlin Mertzlufft is an Athens native and a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Conservation & Geography program at UGA. Caitlin’s research combines geospatial analysis and public health, and she is currently using satellite imagery to estimate Chagas disease transmission in central Panama. When she’s not looking at palm trees from space, she enjoys running, nerdy board games, and all things coffee. Follow her on twitter @CaitlinMertz or send her an email at cmertz2@uga.edu. More from Caitlin Mertzlufft.
10659344_10200100310786746_7394532827731756991_n Caitlin Reeves is a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology department studying attachment of the human respiratory pathogen Mycoplasma pneumoniae to its human host. Outside of the lab, she can be found planning events for UGA’s Women in Science (WiSci) organization, snuggling with her labradoodle Sherlock, or playing video games despite being a 26-year-old “adult”. More from Caitlin Reeves.
Ellen Krall Ellen Krall is an undergraduate at UGA studying Plant Biology. When she’s not in classes or at the lab, she enjoys long walks in the State Botanical Garden, being kind of good at several instruments (violin, ukulele, banjo), and naming her Beta fish after famous scientists. More from Ellen Krall.
GazalArora (scicafe) Gazal Arora is an undergraduate at UGA majoring in Cellular Biology. When she’s not studying at the Science Library, she can be found running, reading, or Snellibrating. For more information, you can email her at ga25144@uga.edu. More from Gazal Arora.
Graham1 Graham Grable is an undergraduate student in the College of Engineering. Between playing with Arudinos and hanging out with friends, he can be found saving Jebediah in Kerbal Space Program. Graham also serves on the programming board of the Athens Science Café. You can find him online at grahamgrable.com or email him at ggrable@uga.edu. More from Graham Grable.
aso-pic Harrison Brock is an undergraduate biology and ecology major at UGA. You can find him running around in swamps, hunting invasive pigs, and cooking said pork with his friends. Social media doesn’t agree well with his stomach, but you can connect with him at hkb4@uga.edu or via the Environmental Change Lab. More from Harrison Brock.
image00 Hayley Schroeder is an undergraduate at UGA studying Ecology and Entomology. She is an enthusiastic foodie, advocating for food that nourishes not just the people eating it, but communities, farmers and the earth as well. She is also a friend to all insects and can be easily spotted on campus by her butterfly net. Contact her at hayleyadair37@uga.edu. More from Hayley Schroeder.
13920977_10207230819192514_5418483258826327273_n Jenn Cyr is an MS student in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia, where she studies immune trade-offs in tissue-regenerating rodent species. Jenn loves to dance, draw, hike, and demolish large quantities of food in her spare time. She’s also in love with dogs and spends plenty of time with her pampered pooch, Ziggy. Feel free to check out a few of her ASC poster designs, personal research website, or to contact her at jennifer.cyr25@uga.edu or on Twitter at @jennlcyr
DSC_0699 (2)-1 Jonathan Waring is an Athens native and recent graduate from the University of Georgia where he studied Computer Science. When he’s not watching Netflix in his room, he can be found watching Netflix in his friends’ rooms. He aspires to pursue an advanced degree in Medical Informatics and to one day work on disease tracking software at the CDC. As a reminder he is just one person: not statistically significant nor representative. You can email him at jwaring8@uga.edu or follow him on Twitter @waringclothes. More from Jonathan Waring.
kruckow Katherine Kruckow is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. She is looking for a PhD program to further her passion of studying microbes. When not in the lab she loves hiking, cooking, going to all the concerts she can afford, and reading a good book in her hammock. She also plans on visiting every national park at some point in time during her life. Contact her at kkruckow@uga.edu. More from Katherine Kruckow.
katiepieper Katie Pieper is a Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Genetics at the UGA. She studied the molecular evolution of sex chromosomes in fruit flies. In her free time, she enjoys baking delicious desserts and winning trivia contests. She was also our past head tweeter for the Athens Science Café official Twitter account @AthSciAlli. Get in touch with Katie at @kpeeps111 or kpieper@uga.edu. More from Katie Pieper.
kerr-k Kelly Kerr is a research assistant in the Plant Biology department at UGA investigating stress physiology in sunflowers. Her research interests include forest ecophysiology, and she is passionate about maintaining resilient forest ecosystems under climate change. She enjoys nearly all forms of outdoor recreation, so you’ll probably find her around town trail running, mountain biking or at the climbing gym. Get in touch with Kelly at klkerr86@gmail.com. More from Kelly Kerr.
rishi6 Liana Mosley received a B.S. in Nutrition Science from the University of Georgia in 2018. During her time at UGA, she was an undergraduate research assistant in the Burke lab, sang with the Hodgson Singers, and was a campus tour guide for the UGA Visitors Center. Though she’ll miss UGA (and especially calling the dawgs from the student section), she is excited to attend the Medical College of Georgia in the Fall! For more information, contact her at mosleylia@gmail.com. More from Liana Mosley.
Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 5.12.39 PM Natalie Eldredge is an undergraduate student studying Public Health at the University of Georgia. In addition to studying public health, Natalie is an intern for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, a nonprofit organization that supports wind energy development in the southeast. In her free time, you can find Natalie at Taco Stand or watching documentaries with her roommates. Connect with her on Facebook or via email at natalie.eldredge@uga.edu.
NickBatora Nick Batora is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia. He is also a plant biologist, enjoys hiking, and once received a gold ribbon in a hip-hop dance competition in Detroit, Michigan. Nick served on the programming board for Athens Science Café. For more information, you can contact him at batorani@gmail.com. More from Nick Batora.
paige Paige Copenhaver is an undergraduate studying Physics and Astronomy at the University of Georgia. When she is not building satellites, she can be found playing ukulele or reading Lord of the Rings. Paige also serves on the programming board of Athens Science Café. You can email her at pac25136@uga.edu or follow her on twitter: @p_copenhaver. More from Paige Copenhaver.
Ruby Harrison is a Ph.D. graduate student in the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia. Ruby studies endocrinology and reproduction of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti – the same species that spreads Zika virus. In her free time she enjoys backpacking, camping, swing dancing, and cooking dumplings. Contact her at reh21923@uga.edu.. More from Ruby Harrison.
Sonny Sunishka “Suni” Thakur is an undergraduate at the University of Georgia majoring in Genetics, currently just trying to make the most of her freshman year. She loves to read, dance, work with student organizations like First Book and World Ambassadors, and gets very excited about science. More from Sunishka Thakur.
image03 Tina Ethridge is an undergraduate studying Applied Biotechnology with a minor in Genetics at the University of Georgia. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cycling, and going on adventures with her retired racing Greyhound. Her favorite place to enjoy nature is at the top of Yonah Mountain in Helen, GA. More from Tina Ethridge.