2022 – 2023 Cohort

We are excited to introduce the new 2022 – 2023 Cohort of Genetics & Genomics Scholars. These PhD students are from multidisciplinary fields and are participating in a first-year core curriculum that integrates foundational conceptual training in genetics and genome-scale techniques with big data analysis and professional development.

I love being a part of a cohort of students from different fields, building a network with my fellow GG scholars, and having class together to discuss our perspectives on different topics in genetics.

Nicole Choquette, 2020 GG Scholar (Crop Science)

I chose the GGS umbrella program, because the interdisciplinary graduate experience lets me rotate through different labs & graduate programs giving me the chance to find a project & labs that best fit my interests!

Megan Dillon, 2020 GG Scholar (Undeclared program)

The GGS program provides many more opportunities than any one program could, including exposure to several scientific disciplines & scientists outside of my field of study.

Madison Moore, 2020 GG Scholar (Functional Genomics)
Cole Butler
Taylor Ackley

Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology

I grew up in Mooresville, NC and attended UNC Asheville for my B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution. My undergraduate research focused on examining genetic relationships among nesting tree swallows, which sparked my interest in genetics. After graduating, I worked as a research technician in Duke University’s Functional Genomics Core Facility where I learned techniques in genome editing and high-throughput drug screening. I am excited to start my Ph.D. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, focusing on population and conservation genetics.

Jessica Martinez-Baird
Rachel Bernstein


I grew up in Rochester, New York and attended Binghamton University, where I earned my B.S. in Biology. As an undergraduate, I studied the phylogenetics of SARS-CoV-2 variants as well as population genetics and gene-environment interactions. My research interests are in human genetics and disease which I hope to explore using model organisms. I’ve been interested in genetics since high school, and am excited to join the program at NCSU and have this opportunity!

Nicole Choquette
Angel Castillo-Cordero


I grew up in Quebradillas, a small town in Puerto Rico. Earned my bachelor’s degree in biology with a focus on Genetics at the University of Puerto Rico – Aguadilla. I have research experience in coastal dunes and mangroves restoration and conservation and a summer research experience where I worked with the stability and affinity in a protein called SPOP. At NCSU, I intend to learn tools and techniques that will allow me to address unsolved questions on genetic disorders from a biochemistry background. I’m proud of where I am from, and I’m excited to represent my culture, my country and my family at NC State University and the Genetics and Genomics Scholars Program. ¡Borincano aunque naciera en la Luna!

Uche Chimeh
Lucas de Oliveira

Plant Pathology

I grew up in a military household, so have lived many places but have spent most of my life in Florida. I received my Associate’s degree from the University of West Florida and my Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Indian River State College. My research interests center on applying molecular and bioinformatics techniques for the development of therapeutics that can increase food security. Proper development of these therapeutics requires comprehensive understanding of interactions between pathogens, hosts and vectors. Outside of research, I  stay active and enjoy running on nature trails and powerlifting. I also devote time to my hobbies, including: cooking, tailoring clothes, coffee, tea, & building custom mechanical keyboards.

Ashley Connors
Grace Fuller


My name is Mary Gracen (Grace) Fuller and I am from Biloxi, MS. I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology. I graduated from Mississippi State University in 2021 with a Master of Science in Plant and Soil Sciences with an emphasis in Weed Science. I have spent the past year working as a Research Associate and lab manager at MSU in a plant breeding lab. I am interested in the genetic component of fungal disease resistance in loblol pines. I am excited to diversify my skillset and to discover new interests through the collaborative and interdisciplinary spirit of the program!

Megan Dillon
Emma Jager


I was born in Uppsala, Sweden, but I have spent most of my life in NC, including my undergraduate years at NC State University. I earned BS degrees in Mathematics and Microbiology with a minor in Biotechnology. After graduating, I moved to Madison, WI, to start working in the fermentation department of Promega Corporation. I have broad interests, but they center around microbial engineering and molecular biology. I am so excited to be back at NCSU for graduate school and to have the opportunity to participate in the GG Scholars Program!

Adam Greer
Caitlin Kestell

Plant Biology

I grew up in Northern Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my undergraduate degree where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Genomics, with an Environmental Studies Certificate. In my senior year at UW-Madison I studied abroad in Bristol, England. I am excited to come to NCSU as a GG Scholar and Plant Biology PhD student! My research interests are using genetic engineering for crop improvement. Given the increasing pressures of population growth and climate change, this will soon be more important than ever. I think genetic engineering has the potential to solve many of the agricultural and food supply problems we are facing today.

Jessica Martinez-Baird
Noah Kirtley


My hometown is New Albany, Indiana, where I earned my BS in Biology, with minors in chemistry, microbiology, and plant science, from Indiana University Southeast. My research interests include plant genetics, biotechnology, and genetic engineering. I believe gene editing/modification in plants has incredible potential, especially in mitigating and reversing climate change. Outside of science, my hobbies include cooking, gardening, and playing tabletop role-playing games with my friends. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my education and pursue my passion for science at NCSU; I can’t wait to get started!

Nico Lara
Jade Lyons

GG Scholar Undeclared

I grew up in Wake Forest, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to earn a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in biotechnology and a minor in chemistry. As an undergraduate, I’ve worked on genetically engineering crops for trait improvement, such as stress resilience and nutritional quality. My research interests include understanding how genes are expressed through genetic engineering and gene editing techniques.

Madison Moore
Laura Montes

Comparative Biomedical Sciences 

I was born and raised in Calif, Colombia and moved to Houston, Texas to finish high school. After this, I attended Texas A&M University, where I earned a BS in Biochemistry in 2020. During my undergraduate career I studied Angelman syndrome at Dr. Scott Dindot’s Lab. After graduation, I worked at the Gene Therapy Center at UNC-CH under Dr. Haiyan Fu’s lab, where we researched the optimization of AAV vectors to treat MPS patients. My primary interest is translational research in neurogenetics, gene therapy, and pharmacology.

Jane Petzoldt
Quiana Mosley


I am receiving my Bachelors of Science Degree in Biology, with a concentration in neuroscience, and a psychology minor at Roanoke College in Salem, VA this spring of 2022. During my four years in undergrad I have done research in plant genetics, algae biodiversity and productivity, and neuroscience research related to alcohol consumption and its effect on cognitive functioning, response time, and eye movement. I am originally from Tallahassee, Fl, before moving to Asheville, NC, then finally moving to Spring Lake, NC this past year. I am interested in the intersectionality between the fields of neuroscience and genetics and interested in exploring biomedical, cellular and developmental genetics. I thrive on building connections between interdisciplinary fields, and improving communication and trust between the sciences and marginalized communities. I enjoy having a little friendly competition whether it’s sports or a good game of Uno. I am excited to meet everyone, let’s have a great year!

Madison Polera
Casey O’Brien


I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and have been interested in mathematics ever since elementary school. After graduating high school, I went to the University of Pittsburgh where I pursued my interest in math and developed interests in biology and computer science. I graduated in May 2021, double majoring in mathematical biology and computational biology. Since then, I have been working as a Bioinformatics Analyst analyzing mostly genomic data. My primary research interest is in modeling biological concepts using systems of differential equations. I am entering the GG Scholars program through Biomathematics and cannot wait to get started!

Bradley Scholten
Elizabeth Wiles


I grew up in Princeton, North Carolina. I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Campbell University, where I double majored in Biology and Environmental Science. Broadly, my research interests are in understanding the interactions between insects and their microbial symbionts. Throughout my undergraduate research, I developed a fascination with insect microbiomes and entomopathogens, and this led me to the pursuit of a PhD in Entomology. I have loved my time working as a lab technician at NC State and I am excited to transition to the GGS and Entomology programs.

Felicia Shepard
Lucia Ramirez

Functional Genomics

I grew up in Queen Creek, Arizona and currently attend Arizona State University where I will graduate with my BS in computational mathematical sciences with a certificate in evolutionary medicine. I always knew I wanted to apply mathematics and statistics to topics in biology and explored many areas of research. As a result, my research background includes topics in environmental health engineering and various topics in evolutionary biology. The majority of my experiences involved genetics and genomics to some extent and my experience working on a differential expression analysis of transposable elements in human tissues solidified my graduate school plans to pursue a PhD in the Functional Genomics program. I am broadly interested in evolutionary genetics & genomics and the application of statistical methods to analyze biological data as well as human genetics.

Destiny Tyson
Ariel Tarrand

Plant Biology

I grew up in Houston, Texas, and moved to Gainesville, Florida to attend the University of Florida. During my undergrad, I worked with Dr. Bill Gurley to examine the function of a transcription repressor protein in Arabidopsis. I graduated last year with a BS in Horticultural Sciences and a minor in Entomology. I have spent my gap year working at UF’s Plant Diagnostic Center and exploring my passions for scuba diving and traveling. I love baking, being outdoors, and critters of all kinds. I am interested in genome evolution, transcriptional regulation, and gene editing with a long-term focus toward sustainable agriculture. Working in plant diagnostics under Dr. Carrie Harmon has sparked my interest in host-pathogen interactions and pathology in general. I can’t wait to explore all these aspects of genetics as a GG Scholar.