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University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD candidates mark a milestone with new endeavors

Representing the Social and Administrative, and Pharmaceutical Sciences Divisions, several PhD candidates prepare to simultaneously defend their thesis and identify the next step in their education or career journey.

Ephrem Abebe Aboneh, PhD, accepted a postdoc at Johns Hopkins University. Aboneh worked under the guidance of Michelle Chui, Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Social and Administrative Sciences Division. His research interests involve applying systems engineering/human factors principles in studying system-related issues that influence safe medication use practices in hospital settings, with particular emphasis on high-risk environments such as emergency departments, intensive care units, and oncology centers.

Shan Jiang, working in the lab of Lingjun Li and Joe Gawdzik, Richard Peterson lab, will graduate with PhDs in Pharmaceutical Sciences. Shan defended her thesis, “Investigation of Neuropeptidomics and Proteomics by Multifaceted Approaches coupled to Mass Spectrometry,” in October. She has accepted a position as Senior Scientist in the Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics Department of Boehringer Ingelheim located in Ridgefield, Conn. Gawdzik is finishing his dissertation and will be presenting in January 2017.

Joe Gawdzik’s research has focused on the Sox9 gene which encodes a transcription that plays important roles in development. Previous researchers the Peterson lab have identified that the developmental malformations in the developing zebrafish heart and mouse prostate following dioxin exposure are caused, in part, by a reduction in Sox9 gene expression. His thesis identified specific tissue types within the zebrafish heart and mouse prostate that are sensitive to a specific loss of Sox9 expression and function. Gawdzik’s work provides and enhances our understanding of how the malformations associated with dioxin exposure arise. Following his thesis defense, Gawdzik will transition to a postdoctoral position in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Department of Urology to work on understanding the epigenetic mechanisms involved in prostate cancer.

Mary Jo Knobloch, working with Betty Chewning, Professor in the Social and Administrative Sciences Division, is a non-traditional student—not beginning until the age of 55, has four young granddaughters, and another on the way in March 2017, and worked full time during her entire PhD process. Knobloch is a Research Health Scientist with the Madison VA and also a researcher with the School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Medicine, Infectious Disease. She works closely with Dr. Nasia Safdar on research pertaining to healthcare-associated infections, antibiotic stewardship and patient engagement and will continue her current positions after attaining her PhD. Her thesis defense is scheduled for early January.