Bob Kirby

Bob Kirby


Melinda with her bearded dragon Tiberius

Melinda Licht
Program Coordinator

ICRU Research Ambassadors

The Research Ambassadors are a group of UI undergraduates who are involved in research and creative work on campus.  They assist with campus recruiting and outreach, event planning, and other ways to promote undergraduate involvement. Contact them if you have any questions about getting involved in research.  They know first-hand what it takes to be a successful undergraduate researcher at the University of Iowa.



Noelle Amiry

Major: BS Neuroscience

Minor: Psychology

Graduation: Spring 2022

Other: University Honors

Description of Research: My research involves testing spatial memory in rats and the effect optogenetics has on that.

Why I love research: I love research because it’s another opportunity to learn more about neuroscience and it’s a way to be a part of furthering science in that field. 

Favorite Research Memory: Getting to see someone do some brain slicing was pretty sweet.

Fun Stuff About Me: In my free time I like hanging out with friends and I love baking cookies. I also love exploring around downtown or wherever I am in general and I love to travel (I hope one day to go to Italy, RIP studying abroad last summer due to our common enemy and general bringer of doom: COVID-19).

Madison Anae

Madison Anae

Graduating: Fall 2020 (or Spring 2021)

Major: Geoscience Major, Math Minor

Mentor: Dr. Ingrid Ukstins

Department: Earth and Environmental Science Department

Auckland, New Zealand, is a large city, home to 1.5 million people and an active volcano. By using analytical geochemistry to determine the chemical composition of a mineral called olivine, I study the eruption speeds and internal processes of the Auckland Volcanic Field. Understanding the innerworkings of this volcano enables us to better predict warning times for the city of Auckland before this volcano’s next eruption.

Research has helped me develop the skills, confidence and knowledge base needed to pursue my goal of a Ph.D. in planetary geoscience. I fell in love with my work when I discovered how much a small mineral can tell you about the innerworkings of the Earth and other planetary bodies. My passion for research and outreach led me to be an ICRU Ambassador in hopes to enlist others into the amazing field of environmental and planetary sciences!

Maeve Bittle

Maeve Bittle

Major: BSE Environmental Engineering
Minor: Religious Studies, Environmental Sciences
Mentor: Rachel Marek (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Graduation: Spring 2021
Other: University Honors

My research deals with exploring the sources and effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a PCB contaminated waterway in East Chicago. We are trying to see if PCBs are volatilizing from the waterway to the air in local neighborhoods, as well as looking for new home sources.

Why research?  I like being involved in research as an undergrad because it has allowed me to explore areas of my major that I never would have in classwork. I also like having a lab mentor with whom I can discuss my career goals.

Why ICRU?  I got involved in ICRU after receiving a research fellowship in the summer of 2018. My favorite research memory has to be presenting at the Fall Undergraduate Research Festival.

About me:  I love coffee, dogs, salsa, and National Parks. I am also very involved in Lutheran Campus Ministries and exploring religion and its impact on society.

Oliver Chalkley

Major: BS Biochemistry
Minor: Chemistry
Mentor: John Colgan (Internal Medicine, Immunology)
Graduation: Spring 2021

Anj Droe

Anj Droe

Major: BS Environmental Anthropology
Minor: Religious Studies
Mentor: Scott Schnell (Anthropology)
Graduation: Spring 2021
Other: Pre-Law, University Honors 

Amy Gottschalk

Major: BS Neuroscience
Minor: Mathematics
Mentor: Marco Heft (Pathology)
Graduation: Spring 2022
Other: University Honors


Elizabeth Janey

Major: BS Psychology
Minor: Spanish, Anthropology
Mentor: Mark Blumberg (Psychological and Brain Sciences)
Graduation: Spring 2021
Other: Writing Certificate, University Honors 

For my research I work with both mice and rats that have a gene deletion that models one that is found within some autistic people. I record the mice and rats swimming behaviors while swimming and their twitching behaviors while sleeping. I analyze the data I collect using a computer learning program to determine whether there are any differences between a normal wildtype rat or mouse versus those with the gene deletion.

I want to assist others in finding their true interests in research so they can be set up for their future. I would love to help every undergraduate feel confident in themselves!

I love to rock climb, practice Spanish and bike. I am also the current president of the Iowa Neuroscience Club!

Ali Milani

Ali Milani

Major: BA Chemistry
Mentor: Elizabeth Stone (Chemistry)
Graduation: Fall 2020
Other: University Honors 

Hello! I am currently conducting research in Dr. Elizabeth Stone’s analytical/atmospheric chemistry group and have been since my sophomore year. My research is centered on the Lake Michigan Ozone Study. We investigate air quality in the Lake Michigan region by studying airborne particles and attributing them to different sources.

This allows us to determine which sources of air pollution are negatively impacting air quality and human health the most. The results from our study will give engineers and politicians the information needed to improve air quality around Lake Michigan and other coastal region.

About me: When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy hiking, knitting, cross stitching or any other sort of crafting! You’ll frequently find me getting coffee with friends or at home watching Netflix with my cat. After graduation, I hope to travel and work in industry for a year before deciding to pursue graduate school!


Jade Miller

Graduation: Class of 2021

Major: B.S. Biochemistry

Minors: Chemistry and German 

Mentor: Dr. Maria Spies (Department of Biochemistry)

I’m involved in ICRU because it’s important for research to be more than just an experiment— it’s about asking the right questions and sharing your answers with the rest of the world. My favorite part of research is being able to present at SURF and FURF to members of the community, because science is for everyone!

I have leadership positions in UIBIO (the biology club) and Alpha Chi Sigma (the chemistry fraternity) along with some of my closest friends. Outside of school, I love a good movie night, Freddy’s custard run, or game day at Kinnick. I also love road trips and traveling, but especially anything involving a national park or beach!


Dylan Mittauer

Senior – Class of 2021 Biomedical Sciences

Certificate in Clinical & Translational Sciences

Grumbach Lab | Department of Internal Medicine 
I study how diabetes alters mitochondrial calcium uptake and cell proliferation signaling in the vascular smooth muscle, and how this contributes to the development of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.  I joined ICRU because it allows me to make connections with the diverse community of undergraduate researchers at Iowa. Helping other students interested in research find a lab that aligns with their interests is my favorite part. Outside of the lab, I love cycling, fantasy football, watching the New England Patriots, playing Spikeball, and spending time with my dog, Gracie.

Devanshee Patel

Major: BS Neuroscience
Graduation: Spring 2022
Other: Pre-Med Track, University Honors


Madison Purvis

Graduation: Fall 2020

Major: BS Human Physiology

Minor: Aging and Longevity Studies 

Other: Pre-Med Track, University Honors

Mentor: Massimo Attanasio (Internal Medicine), Wen Liu (Center for Aging)

In Dr. Attanasio's Lab, we focus primarily on the mechanisms behind kidney disease. We use both mice models and human genetics to understand these mechanisms and identify genetic mutations that cause kidney disease.

In Dr. Liu's Lab, we focus on examining how resident, staff, and environmental factors influence eating performance, nutrition, and behavior in patients with dementia. After examination, we try to develop behavioral interventions that will improve outcomes for these patients.

Being in research has allowed me to meet a lot of people that are interested in the same things as me and has helped me gain an appreciation for medicine outside of the clinical world.

When I'm not in lab, I like to bake, read, wakeboard, or hike with my pup!



Hannah Shrader

Graduating May 2021

Biochemistry, Medical Anthropology, Certificate in Clinical and Translational Science

Dr. Carlos Chan (Surgery)

My research: I am a research assistant under Dr. Carlos Chan in the Department of Surgery. For my research, I am investigating the immunological link between intraoperative bacterial contamination that occurs during Whipple procedures (used to treat pancreatic cancer) and the peritoneal metastasis of pancreatic cancer in patients who receive these procedures. Currently, I am working on publishing my manuscript while beginning phase 2 of my project which involves exploring how bacteria present in bile changes the immune microenvironment in the liver and pancreas cancers.

Other research: Diabetes/Cancer clinical connection (Dr. Erin Talbert, Internal Medicine), Genetic Anthropology on Ebola/Marburg phylogenetic connection (Dr. Andrew Kitchen, Anthropology)

Why I love research: I love research because of the endless curiosity that it encourages. Every day is a new challenge and I am continually pushed to stretch further. I enjoy being able to utilize what I am learning in class in a hands-on setting; it makes my classes far more interesting and relatable. After graduation, I hope to pursue a PhD in a biochemical related field and work for an organization such as the CDC to control and prevent future infectious disease outbreaks.

Fun stuff: I am the co-chair for the University of Iowa Lecture Committee and also involved with the Immunity Campaign. When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my friends, baking, and drinking Dr. Pepper.


Hanxi Tang

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2021

Biology Major, Psychology and Chemistry Minor (Pre-medicine track)

Mentor(s): Dr. Toshihiro Kitamoto, Dr. Jodie Plumert

Department(s): Carver College of Medicine Department of Anesthesia, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Brief description of research:  In the Kitamoto Neurogenetics lab, my project investigates the neural structure and nociception of a fly mutant model. In the Plumert Cognitive Psychology lab, my project aims at understanding difference in parent-child communication modes between mothers and fathers.

Other research groups that you are involved with: N/A

Why you love research, how you are involved in ICRU.  Include a favorite research memory, if you have one!

I love undergraduate research because it challenges me to ask good questions and understand the world from a rational perspective. I first came into contact with ICRU when I was selected to receive an ICRU research fellowship. The support from ICRU allowed me to conduct research and receive mentoring from top-notch professors and scientists.

Fun stuff or what we should know about you: what you like or what you do in your free time (other than research). 

I enjoy traveling and meeting people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.


Noah Gilkes

Class of 2023

Major: Neuroscience

Minors: Philosophy, Psychology

Dr. Alexander Bassuk, Pediatric Neurology

Department of Pediatrics

Research area: investigating visual and neurological outcomes associated with traumatic brain injury.

In my free time, I love to bike and golf


Guowei Qi

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2021

Major(s): Biochemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science

Minor(s): Chemistry

Mentor(s): Dr. Michael Schnieders

Department(s): Biochemistry

I work with Dr. Michael Schnieders in the Department of Biochemistry on methods in computational biophysics. My research focuses on modeling and simulating proteins using computer software and algorithms in order to make initial predictions before moving onto wet lab experiments. My most recent project uses machine learning to predict protein structure from amino acid sequence, which allows us to gain structural insights into proteins that cannot be modeled via experimental methods. After graduation, I hope to complete a Ph.D. and conduct research in computational drug discovery.


Hope Fury

Class of 2023.

Major: Biomedical Sciences and minoring in psychology and Spanish.

I work in the Lin lab in the department of Anatomy & Cell Biology.

We study the genetic basis of both normal and abnormal development of various structures in zebrafish. We use green fluorescent protein (GFP) and other markers to visualize how these structures form and how they compare from generation to generation, with regards to the alleles present in particular genes of interest.

I am on the executive board for UIBIO as well, and in my free time, I like to draw in my anatomy coloring book, and play with my dogs. 


Radha Velamuri

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022

Major(s) and Minor(s): Biomedical Sciences Major, Music Minor

Mentor(s): Dr. Rainbo Hultman

Department(s): Iowa Neuroscience Institute: Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Brief description of research: I have worked in the Hultman Lab since Fall of 2019 and I became came involved with ICRU during this past summer. My ICRU project was to study genetic markers in the amygdala to identify possible cell types that exacerbate MDD phenotypes in stress-susceptible mice. In general, the Hultman Lab researches networks of electrical activity in the brain to identify the cellular and molecular factors that promote healthy electrical activity.

I enjoy research because it pushes me outside of my comfort zone. There is often a time when I feel uneasy or challenged, but regardless of the outcome there is always learning involved. It has also provided a platform to make meaningful connections and build a network for the future. I think one of my favorite memories so far has been my interview before I joined the lab itself. My mentor and I talked for an hour and a half and the conversations continued with other people in the lab even after the interview. I immediately felt comfortable in the Hultman Lab because of this experience! Other than research, I sing and am the music director in Iowa Agni Acapella and I volunteer for the Pen Pal program with Iowa City 4th graders. I enjoy arts and crafts and reading a good book any day!


Saul Ocampo Landa

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022

Major(s) and Minor(s): Biomedical Sciences, pre-med track

Mentor: Dr. Kevin Campbell

Department: Molecular Physiology and Biophysics

Description of research: Dr. Campbell’s lab focuses on investigating the causes and mechanisms behind muscular dystrophies.  More recently, the Campbell lab has also been focusing on new treatments/therapies and their effects on the various systems affected by these muscle diseases.

While I initially joined the lab just to put something on my resume and make some money, research has pushed me beyond what I could’ve ever imagined.  Through mistakes, successes, and everything else, research has helped me to find my own motivation and appreciate my natural curiosity.  One of the big draws of ICRU is the ability to share this experience with others and encourage them to find their own paths.

Beyond research, I like architecture, cars (no, not the movie), playing video games, and anything else I can do besides studying.


Charlotte Lenkaitis

Graduating May 2021

Major: Global Health Studies, Spanish

Minor: Environmental Policy and Planning

Mentor: Carly Nichols

Department: Geography

My research: I am currently working with Dr. Carly Nichols in the Department of Geography to investigate the relationship between agricultural production practices, occupational hardiness, and farmer stress among women farms operators in Iowa. In addition, I am working to develop my own project on institutional responses to address food security issues among college students.

Why I love research: I am passionate about research because it encourages me to think more critically about the world around me. Research has provided a platform for my personal and professional growth and has helped me to better understand the areas of academia I find most interesting.

Fun stuff: In my free time, I love to propagate succulents, make homemade granola, and participate in blading and biking expeditions.


Emily Silich

Graduation: Spring 2021

Majors: Astronomy, Physics    Minor: Math

Mentor: Dr. Philip Kaaret

Department: Physics and Astronomy

My research: I perform research with HaloSat, a CubeSat that observes in the soft X-ray band. Last year, I used data from HaloSat to perform an investigation into the global X-ray properties of the Vela and Puppis A supernova remnants. Currently, I am using HaloSat data to investigate an X-ray anomaly that could be a secondary product of a decaying dark matter particle. This project was also the basis of my work this past summer as a (virtual) intern in the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory at NASA/GSFC. 

Fun stuff: In my free time, I enjoy traveling, playing flute, hiking, and stress-baking very colorful cakes.


Wesley Hanson

Graduation: Spring 2022

Major: Microbiology

Mentors: Drs. Ryan Boudreau and Jared McLendon

Department of Internal Medicine

The Boudreau lab investigates the role of microRNAs and RNA binding proteins in diseased and developing hearts. Characterizing the targets of these molecules and the role these targeted genes play in cardiovascular disease provides insight into potential new paths for clinical treatment of these diseases.

I love research because it provides an opportunity to cement the skills and knowledge you gain in class in a real-world setting.

Outside of the lab I enjoy biking, golf, and wearing Hawaiian shirts.


Anvay Pradhan

Graduation Date: May 2022

Majors: Mechanical Engineering & Computer Science

Minor: Math

Mentors: David Miles, Phil Deierling

Departments: Physics, Mechanical Engineering

I used to work in Dr. Miles’s lab on engineering applications in space physics. I now work in the Controls, Automation, and Robotics Lab under Dr. Deierling on applications related to robotics.

I enjoy research because it stretches you beyond what you learn in the classroom and often times, you’re guiding your own work. There are so many questions you can explore and it’s entirely up to you how/what you want to pursue. ICRU has supported me in finding labs and getting opportunities to present my work.

Other than research, I am a big chocolate milk enthusiast. I also enjoy working with student orgs on campus and watching various TV shows and movies.


Hadley Mosby

Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2023

Major: Chemical Engineering

Mentor: Dr. Ruth Chimenti

Department: Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences

Brief description of research: In the Chimenti Lab, we are currently studying how different education programs combined with physical therapy impact achilles tendon pain. We use a 3D motion capture system to collect biomechanical data to evaluate treatment outcomes.

Other: Outside the lab I volunteer with WRAC, and enjoy cooking and having movie marathons with my roommates. 


Oliver Chalkley

Anticipated Graduation Date: Spring 2021

Major(s) and Minor(s): Biochemistry

Mentor(s): John Colgan

Department(s): Internal Medicine

Brief description of research: I study how the protein, GON4L, is involved in B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I came into college only knowing I loved science, and once I got in a lab I quickly I found that research is the passion of my life.

I have also done a summer research internship at Vanderbilt. I worked for John York, studying how PAPST affects chondrotinin-4-sulfate and subsequently long bone growth.

On a personal note, you can see me in the picture with my first child. Her name is Luna, I call usually call her Luna Bear or my big baby.


Brandon Lajiness

Anticipated Graduation: May 2022

Major: Biomedical Engineering(Cellular engineering tract) and Pre-Med

Mentor: Dr. Kevin Legge PhD

Departments: Immunology and Pathology

Antigen tracking in nanoparticle-based flu vaccines

I love research because I love to learn. Doing research allows me to be at the forefront of what humanity is learning and take part of it!

My hobbies outside of research: Fishing, hiking, videogames, movies, and trivia!