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.

 AlumniMentorGraduation   Thesis/Dissertation TitleCurrent Placement
Leslie Wyman, Ph.D.Darren Moore, Ph.D.2021Biochemical studies of LRRK2 dimerization and enzymatic activityResearch Associate
Moore Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Lakeside Analytical, Inc
Robert Vaughan, Ph.D.Scott Rothbart, Ph.D.2021Biochemical studies of the E3 ubiquitin ligases UHRF1 and UHRF2Postdoctoral Research Associate
MacKeigan Lab, Michigan State University
Lindsey Cunningham, Ph.D.Darren Moore, Ph.D.2020Exploring retromer deficiency as a mechanism of LRRK2-induced Parkinson’s disease 
Minge Du, Ph.D.Huilin Li, Ph.D.2020Structural studies of bacterial pili assembly by the usher and chaperonePostdoctoral Fellow
Li Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Guillermo Flores, Ph.D.Patrick Grohar,  M.D., Ph.D.2020Disrupting the EWS/FLI-RNAPII axis as a therapy for Ewing sarcomaPursuing an M.D. at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine as part of our M.D.-Ph.D. program
Jamie Grit, Ph.D.Matt Steensma,  M.D.2020Genetic and epigenetic regulation of cell signaling guides the clinical progression of NF1-related neurofibromasPostdoctoral Fellow
Steensma Laboratory, Van Andel Institute
Nicole Vander Schaaf, Ph.D.Peter Laird, Ph.D.2020The role of DNA methylation and Dnmt1 in intestinal tumorigenesisAssistant Professor
Olivet Nazarene University
Parker de Waal, Ph.D.Eric Xu, Ph.D.2019Structural dynamics of G protein coupled receptor signalingMember of the Technical Team
D.E. Shaw Research
Candace King, M.S.Matt Steensma, M.D., Ph.D.2019Investigtaing RAS and RTK signaling in MPNST progressionPursuing further education; Ph.D. program in science education (biological sciences), University of Southern Mississippi
Aditi Bagchi, M.D., Ph.D.Scott Jewell, Ph.D.2019Hypermutation in recurrent medulloblastoma

Clinical Instructor (St. Jude Faculty)
Division of Neuro-Oncology
Department of Oncology

Erin Williams, Ph.D.Darren Moore, Ph.D.2019The molecular mechanisms of VPS35-linked Parkinson’s diseaseResearch Associate
Moore Lab, Van Andel Research Institute
Alexis Bergsma, Ph.D.Cindy Miranti, Ph.D.2018Modulation of bone homeostasis by tetraspanin CD82Research Associate
Pospisilik Lab, Van Andel Research Institute
Jason Cooper, Ph.D.Jeremy Van Raamsdonk, Ph.D.2018Aging, stress, and pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease: Studies using C. elegansPostdoctoral Fellow
Driscoll Lab, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Emily Machiela, Ph.D.Jeremy Van Raamsdonk, Ph.D.2018The role of mitochondrial dynamics in stress resistance and neurodegenerationPostdoctoral Fellow
Southwell Lab, University of Central Florida
Abigail Solitro, Ph.D.Jeffrey MacKeigan, Ph.D.2018Autophagy inhibition in non-small cell lung cancerAssistant Professor
Liberty University
Kevin Maupin, Ph.D.Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2017Galectin-3 as a regulator of bone massPostdoctoral Fellow
Haab Lab, Van Andel Research Institute
Merrill, Ph.D.
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.2017The role of PI3K class IIa in autophagy

Postdoctoral Fellow
Merajver Lab, University of Michigan

Nick Duesbery, Ph.D.2017A role for MEK in arteriogenesisKnowledge Specialist
Motive Medical Intelligence
Eric Nollet, Ph.D.Cindy Miranti, Ph.D.2017Integrin α6 activity in castration-resistant prostate cancerInstructor
Grand Rapids Community College
Nikki Thellman, D.V.M., Ph.D.Steven Triezenberg, Ph.D.2017A human neuronal model for herpes simplex
virus latency and reactivation
Senior Scientist in Global Therapeutics Research
Casey Droscha, Ph.D.Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2016Characterizing mechanisms of gene transcription in models of bone developmentAssociate Director of Research and Development
NorthStar Cooperative
Marie Mooney, Ph.D.Matt Steensma, M.D.2016Precision medicine approaches to integrating genomics with cancer therapy: Applications in glioblastomaPostdoctoral Associate
Center for Human Disease Modeling, Duke University
Advanced Center for Translational and Genetic Medicine (ACT-GeM), Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Dani Burgenske, Ph.D.Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.2015Investigating the role of autophagy in prostate cancer chemoresistanceResearch Fellow Sarkaria Lab, Mayo Clinic
Donald Scholten, M.D., Ph.D.Matt Steensma, M.D.2015Characterizing tumor hypoxia and anoikis resistance in human osteosarcoma: Addressing critical aspects of disease progressionResident
Orthopedic Surgery
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Chiu Ying (Cynthia) Kuk, M.S.Nick Duesbery, Ph.D.2015Anthrax lethal toxin is a tumor hemorragic toxinMedical Student
Michigan State University
Ken Valkenburg, Ph.D.Bart
Williams, Ph.D.
2014Developing 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.2013Quantitation of mitochondrial dynamics reveals
critical roles for mitochondrial morphology
in cell cycle progression and apoptosis
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Calvin College
Jonathan Karnes,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.2012PI3K class IIα is required for autophagyBusiness Development Product Specialist
Agilent Technologies
Jeff Klomp, Ph.D.Kyle Furge, Ph.D.2012Exploring the molecular genetics of onococytic kidneyResearch Associate
Kim Lab, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina
Natalie Niemi,
Jeff MacKeigan, Ph.D.2012A characterization of MK-STYX, a catalytically iInactive phosphatase regulating mitochondrial apoptosisAssistant Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Washington University School of Medicine