Alumni Association

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.

Alumni Newsletter

Get all the latest Van Andel Institute Graduate School news in your inbox twice a year! The newsletter includes upcoming Institute events, recent publications, updates on current students and recent graduates, along with Alumni Association information.

To provide suggestions or information for the newsletter, contact the Director of Student Support Services Alli Roman at Alli.Roman@vai.edu or 616.234.5536.

Past Newsletters

May 2019
September 2018
February 2018
September 2017
February 2017 
September 2016
February 2016

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
Katie Hollis, M.S. Bart Williams, Ph.D. 2021 Untangling the specific functions of individual Wnt receptors Executive Director
Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan
Zachary DeBruine, Ph.D. Karsten Melcher, Ph.D. 2021 Structural mechanisms of Wnt-mediated Frizzled activation Postdoctoral Fellow
Triche Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Maggie Chassé, Ph.D. Patrick Grohar,  M.D., Ph.D. 2021 Therapeutically targeting SWI/SNF dysregulated pediatric solid tumors Postdoctoral Fellow
Harvard Medical School
Zon Laboratory, Boston Children’s Hospital
Wooyoung Choi, Ph.D. Wei Lü, Ph.D. 2021 Structural basis for molecular gating of two ion channels involved in cellular calcium homeostasis: CALHM2 and TRPC3 Postdoctoral Fellow
Cheng Laboratory, University of California, San Francisco
Leslie Wyman, Ph.D. Darren Moore, Ph.D. 2021 Biochemical studies of LRRK2 dimerization and enzymatic activity President and CEO, Lakeside Analytical Inc
Robert Vaughan, Ph.D. Scott Rothbart, Ph.D. 2021 Biochemical studies of the E3 ubiquitin ligases UHRF1 and UHRF2 Postdoctoral Research Associate
MacKeigan Lab, Michigan State University
Lindsey Cunningham, Ph.D. Darren Moore, Ph.D. 2020 Exploring retromer deficiency as a mechanism of LRRK2-induced Parkinson’s disease  
Minge Du, Ph.D. Huilin Li, Ph.D. 2020 Structural studies of bacterial pili assembly by the usher and chaperone Postdoctoral Fellow
Li Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Guillermo Flores, Ph.D. Patrick Grohar,  M.D., Ph.D. 2020 Disrupting the EWS/FLI-RNAPII axis as a therapy for Ewing sarcoma Completing MD-PhD at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Jamie Grit, Ph.D. Matt Steensma,  M.D. 2020 Genetic and epigenetic regulation of cell signaling guides the clinical progression of NF1-related neurofibromas Postdoctoral Fellow
Steensma Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Nicole Vander Schaaf, Ph.D. Peter Laird, Ph.D. 2020 The role of DNA methylation and Dnmt1 in intestinal tumorigenesis Assistant Professor, Biology
Olivet Nazarene University
Parker de Waal, Ph.D. Eric Xu, Ph.D. 2019 Structural dynamics of G protein coupled receptor signaling Member of the Technical Team
D.E. Shaw Research
Candace King, M.S. Matt Steensma, M.D., Ph.D. 2019 Investigtaing RAS and RTK signaling in MPNST progression Ph.D. Program in Science Education (Biological Sciences), University of Southern Mississippi
Aditi Bagchi, M.D., Ph.D. Scott Jewell, Ph.D. 2019 Hypermutation in recurrent medulloblastoma

Clinical Instructor
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Erin Williams, Ph.D. Darren Moore, Ph.D. 2019 The molecular mechanisms of VPS35-linked Parkinson’s disease Research Program Manager
West Michigan Neurodegenerative Diseases (MiND) Program
Van Andel Institute
Alexis Bergsma, Ph.D. Cindy Miranti, Ph.D. 2018 Modulation of bone homeostasis by tetraspanin CD82 Lab Manager, Moore Lab, Van Andel Institute
Jason Cooper, Ph.D. Jeremy Van Raamsdonk, Ph.D. 2018 Aging, stress, and pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease: Studies using C. elegans Postdoctoral Fellow
Driscoll Lab, 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 Managing Partner, Leestma Management
Abigail Solitro, Ph.D. Jeffrey MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2018 Autophagy inhibition in non-small cell lung cancer Assistant Professor
Liberty University
Kevin Maupin, Ph.D. Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2017 Galectin-3 as a regulator of bone mass Science Advisor
BAMF Health
Merrill, Ph.D.
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2017 The role of PI3K class IIa in autophagy

Research Investigator
Internal Medicine – Hematology/Oncology Medicine
University of Michigan

Nick Duesbery, Ph.D. 2017 A role for MEK in arteriogenesis Project Coordinator
Motive Practicing Wisely Solutions
Eric Nollet, Ph.D. Cindy Miranti, Ph.D. 2017 Integrin α6 activity in castration-resistant prostate cancer Instructor
Grand Rapids Community College
Nikki Thellman, D.V.M., Ph.D. Steven Triezenberg, Ph.D. 2017 A human neuronal model for herpes simplex
virus latency and reactivation
Principal Scientist, Global Therapeutics
Casey Droscha, Ph.D. Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2016 Characterizing mechanisms of gene transcription in models of bone development Associate Director of Research
CentralStar Cooperative, Inc.
Marie Mooney, Ph.D. Matt Steensma, M.D. 2016 Precision medicine approaches to integrating genomics with cancer therapy: Applications in glioblastoma Assistant Professor of Bioinformatics
University of North Florida
Dani Burgenske, Ph.D. Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2015 Investigating the role of autophagy in prostate cancer chemoresistance Senior Program Coordinator
Sarkaria Lab
Mayo Clinic
Donald Scholten, M.D., Ph.D. Matt Steensma, M.D. 2015 Characterizing tumor hypoxia and anoikis resistance in human osteosarcoma: Addressing critical aspects of disease progression Chief Resident
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 Medical Student
Michigan State University
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
Senior Manager
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
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Calvin University
Jonathan Karnes,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2012 PI3K class IIα is required for autophagy Business Development Product Specialist
Agilent Technologies
Jeff Klomp, Ph.D. Kyle Furge, Ph.D. 2012 Exploring the molecular genetics of onococytic kidney Research Assistant Professor
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Natalie Niemi,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D. 2012 A characterization of MK-STYX, a catalytically iInactive phosphatase regulating mitochondrial apoptosis Assistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Washington University School of Medicine