VAIGS Alumni

Van Andel Institute Graduate School Alumni Association

The mission of the Van Andel Institute Graduate School Alumni Association (VAIGSAA) is to provide support and connections for our alumni, mentoring for current students, and continued interest in the mission and impact of Van Andel Institute. Click here for more information and VAIGSAA guidelines.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s alumni have gone on to pursue excellent careers in academia, research and industry. Please see the table below for a list of alumni.

 Alumni Mentor Graduation    Thesis/Dissertation Title Current Placement
Jason Cooper, Ph.D. Jeremy Van Raamsdonk, Ph.D. 2018 Aging, stress, and pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease: Studies using C. elegans Postdoctoral Fellow 
Dr. Monica Driscoll 
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Emily Machiela, Ph.D. Jeremy Van Raamsdonk, Ph.D. 2018 The role of mitochondrial dynamics in stress resistance and neurodegeneration

Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Amber Southwell
University of Central Florida

Kevin Maupin, Ph.D. Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2017 Galectin-3 as a regulator of bone mass Postdoctoral Fellow
Indiana University School of Medicine
Merrill, Ph.D.
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2017 The role of PI3K class IIa in autophagy

Postdoctoral Fellow
Drs. Matthew Soellner and Sofia Merajver
University of Michigan

Nick Duesbery, Ph.D. 2017  A role for MEK in arteriogenesis Scientific Technical Writer
Mosaic Laboratories
Medical Writer and Editor
Eric Nollet, Ph.D. Cindy Miranti, Ph.D. 2017 Integrin α6 activity in castration-resistant prostate cancer  
Nikki Thellman, DVM, Ph.D. Steven Triezenberg, Ph.D. 2017  A human neuronal model for herpes simplex
virus latency and reactivation
Manager of Companion Animal Clinical Development
Casey Droscha, Ph.D. Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2016 Characterizing mechanisms of gene transcription in models of bone development Research Scientist
NorthStar Cooperative
Marie Mooney, Ph.D. Matt Steensma, M.D. 2016 Precision medicine approaches to integrating genomics with cancer therapy: Applications in glioblastoma

Postdoctoral Associate
Duke University
Center for Human Disease Modeling

Dani Burgenske, Ph.D. Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2015 Investigating the role of autophagy in prostate cancer chemoresistance Research Fellow in the Sarkaria Lab
Mayo Clinic
Donald Scholten, Ph.D. Matt Steensma, M.D. 2015 Characterizing tumor hypoxia and anoikis resistance in human osteosarcoma: Addressing critical aspects of disease progression Residency Program in Orthopedic Surgery
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Chiu Ying (Cynthia) Kuk, M.S. Nick Duesbery, Ph.D. 2015 Anthrax lethal toxin is a tumor hemorragic toxin Emergency Medical Scribe
Scribe American
Ken Valkenburg, Ph.D. Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2014 Developing pre-clinical mouse models of
prostate cancer: Deciphering the roles of tumor
suppressors adenomatous polyposis coli and Smad4

Associate Scientist
Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx)

Laura Westrate, Ph.D. Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2013 Quantitation of mitochondrial dynamics reveals
critical roles for mitochondrial morphology
in cell cycle progression and apoptosis
Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Gia Voeltz
University of Colorado-Boulder
Jonathan Karnes,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2012 PI3K class IIα is required for autophagy Vice President of Scientific Operations
Jeff Klomp, Ph.D. Kyle Furge, Ph.D. 2012 Exploring the molecular genetics of onococytic kidney

Research associate in the Kim Lab, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNC)

Natalie Niemi,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2012 A characterization of MK-STYX, a catalytically iInactive phosphatase regulating mitochondrial apoptosis Postdoctoral Research Associate
Morgridge Institute for Research