3 MCDB PhD Students Awarded Fellowships

These prestigious, campus-wide Fellowships recognize our students' outstanding progress in research and scholarship.

May 15, 2020
Shane Nourizadeh, Xiaoran Guo and Chee Kiang (Ethan) Ewe.

Recently, three MCDB PhD students have received Fellowships to support their dissertation work. Shane Nourizadeh was recognized with a Broida Hirschfelder Dissertation Award, sponsored by the UCSB Shoreliners, and Xiaoran Guo and Chee Kiang (Ethan) Ewe each received Graduate Dissertation Fellowships from the UCSB Graduate Division. These prestigious, campus-wide Fellowships recognize these students' outstanding progress in research and scholarship.

Shane is finishing his dissertation in Professor Tony De Tomaso's laboratory. His work focuses on injury-induced regeneration in two marine invertebrates, Botryllus schlosseri and Botrylloides diagensis. He has found that these closely related tunicate species have disparate mechanisms for injury recovery: one depends on ectopic tissue development and the other on blood borne stem cells. In addition, Shane has discovered that the stem-cell mediated process uses conserved molecular pathways, including Wnt and Notch, to initiate the healing response. The overall aim of his work is to understand how cell-to-cell signaling is used to coordinate early regeneration niche formation.

Xiaoran works with Professor Denise Montell to decipher how cells move through the body. This research has implications for understanding the molecular mechanisms of immune system function and cancer metastasis as well as normal development. Xiaoran is particularly interested in how cells integrate physical and chemical cues from the environment to select a path and is uncovering the molecular responses within cells that promote their migratory behavior.

Ethan studies the genetic regulators that govern robust embryonic development, and how different pathways are tuned and rewired during evolution. Using the nematode C. elegans, he recently found that stressful experiences can be inherited by multiple generations, affecting early embryonic development. Ethan and his adviser, Professor Joel Rothman, propose that this heritable epigenetic effect may influence the animals' evolutionary trajectory.

Congratulations to these three outstanding graduate students. We look forward to learning more about their findings and celebrating their continued successes as they complete their PhDs!