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Genetic Counseling Graduate Program

 

Class of 2017

Kailyn Anderson

 

I moved around a few times while growing up, but spent the majority of my life in rural Milford, New Jersey. I attended the University of Delaware and graduated in 2015, earning a B.A. in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate I volunteered at ContactLifeline, where I worked on the crisis hotline as well as served as an advocate for victims of sexual assault. In my advocacy role, I accompanied victims to the hospital and provided support during medical exams and police interviews.  I also had the opportunity to work as a student research assistant in a virology lab, where we investigated the roles of specific microRNAs encoded by the virus that causes Marek’s disease. In the spring of my senior year, I completed an academic internship under supervision of the genetic counselors at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute. During this experience I observed genetic counseling appointments, learned how to draw patient pedigrees, and used cancer risk models to calculate patient risk. In my free time I love to hike, practice yoga, read, spend time with my dogs (a goldendoodle and mini dachshund) and travel. 


Hallie Andrew

 

I was born and raised in the Baltimore, Maryland area and graduated from Ursinus College in 2008 with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. After graduating from college I worked a variety of jobs including proofreader, administrative assistant, and veterinary nurse. I first learned about genetic counseling while visiting the Pacific Northwest Science Museum in 2013. Since discovering this exciting field, I fully dedicated myself to completing prerequisite courses and gaining exposure by volunteering with organizations such as Kennedy Krieger Institute, Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation, and Planned Parenthood. I was extremely fortunate to work as Genetic Counseling Assistant with GeneDx, where I learned something new from the amazing laboratory staff and genetic counselors every day. In my free time I love running with my dog, cooking weird vegan recipes, and—of course—watching Netflix!


Sarah Caldwell

 

I grew up in Georgetown, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. While attending EKU, I was an active member of Alpha Omicron Pi where I served as the Vice President of Academic Development. During my senior year at EKU I served as a genetics research assistant where I assisted Dr. Pat Calie with research projects involving plant phylogenetics of the carnivorous plant family Sarraceniaceae. I attended the Northwestern University Genetic Counseling Summer Internship Program where I was exposed to the many facets of genetic counseling and discovered my passion for the field. Throughout my last year at EKU, I shadowed genetic counselors at Baptist Health Lexington in a primarily cancer genetic counseling setting. Upon graduation in May 2014, I began working full time at the Advanced Genetic Technologies Center (AGTC) at the University of Kentucky as a research laboratory technician where I was responsible for all of the Sanger DNA Sequencing services. I am very excited to transition into a more people-based application of genetics and start my journey in genetic counseling in the UC graduate program! In my spare time I enjoy playing board games, spending time with family and friends, and watching my favorite reality television shows. 

 


Sarah Collier

 

I was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. I attended the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio and received my B.S. in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology in 2013. Throughout undergrad I worked as a Biology Lab Prep setting up experiments and taking care of the class pets. While at UD I participated in the Sustainability Club and was a member of Beta Beta Beta, a Biological Honors Fraternity. Through these organizations I volunteered by tutoring at the Dayton Early College Academy as well as planting trees and seed collection with the 5 River Metro Parks. During the summer following my sophomore year I worked at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a Research Experience for Undergrads looking at the modeling of male sexual imprinting. Toward the end of my college career I found the Victim/Witness Division with the Prosecutor's Office of Montgomery County and began offering medical advocacy to rape survivors in Dayton. I continued this work through the YWCA after moving back to Illinois after undergrad. I have also volunteered for a few hospice organizations either donating crochet lap blankets or visiting patients and providing caretaker relief. In my spare time I enjoy reading about genetics, playing cribbage, watching hockey, playing with my dog, Captain, and my hedgehog, Zoey, as well as crocheting with the constant hum of Netflix in the background


 

 

Michael Gurtler   

    

I was born in Florida, but grew up in Lewis Center, Ohio, a small suburb twenty minutes from downtown Columbus. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2015 with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. At the start of my freshman year to the end of my undergraduate studies, I began volunteering with various organizations while maintaining a job with the Hilton Columbus/Polaris. As a volunteer I have been a little-league football coach for the Olentangy Youth Athletic Association, a Note Taker for students with disabilities, an Activity Leader for the elderly at Worthington Christian Village Senior Adult Living Home, and a certified on-call responder within the Sexual Assault Response Network (SARN) of HelpLine of Delaware and Morrow Counties. As a member of SARN, I was trained to aid the survivors of sexual assault and violence with face-to-face emotional support and advocacy. My interest in genetic counseling started when I was a young child and I had a family member diagnosed with breast cancer. We discovered that some of the women of my family carry the cancerous BRCA1 gene variant and since then I have always had a curiosity for genetics. When I have spare time I enjoy spending it with family and friends, watching Game of Thrones, getting lost in a good science fiction novel, and watching my favorite sports teams win. Go Bucks!

 

 

Jamie Garman

 

I grew up in Buffalo Grove, IL, a north suburb of Chicago where my family still lives.  While completing my bachelor’s degree at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, I had many experiences that contributed to my desire to become a genetic counselor.  One experience was working at Wisconsin Lions Camp, an over-night summer camp for special needs children.  Each week the non-profit camp sponsored a different group of special needs individuals including blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, diabetic, and cognitively impared campers.  After several cold Wisconsin winters, I decided to move to Southern California.  I combined my love for genetics and helping others by becoming a high school science teacher.  I settled in Long Beach, CA where I worked on my Master’s in Science for Science Education at California State University in Long Beach.  For my thesis I conducted novel research regarding the relationship between an individual’s science education background and the quality of their medical experiences.  My research developed from the idea that a deep understanding of biological concepts will enhance future medical experiences for my students.  While I have enjoyed helping students learn about the Nature of Science and understand their genetic health, Genetic Counseling has remained my true passion and I am very excited to follow my dreams.  In my spare time I enjoy doing yoga, running, biking, belly dancing, and snowboarding (and surfing when an ocean is available).  I like to try new things especially with friends and family.

 


Alyxis Giordullo

 

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I graduated from Auburn University in 2015 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. While attending Auburn, I worked as a research assistant in two labs: one concerned with suicide prevention and the other with the effects of stress hormone on brain development. During my breaks from school, I volunteered at the Talbert House as a crisis hotline operator. I spent a summer at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center as an undergraduate research fellow working with Dr. Lisa Martin on several projects and shadowing genetic counselors. At the end of the summer, I had the opportunity to present a capstone research project about the utility of multiple metrics in predicting obesity comorbidities in children. I have been interested in genetic counseling since my sophomore year of college and that interest has grown through my research, shadowing, and volunteer experiences. I am so excited to return to the city I love and finally become a bearcat! In my free time, I enjoy running, cheering on my Auburn Tigers football team, reading, spending time with family and friends, and all things Harry Potter.

 


Alana Kongkriangkai

 

I grew up in Whittier California, a diverse suburb just east of Los Angeles. As an undergrad I attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Biology. One of my best memories while attending the University occurred in the summer of 2011 when my professor first spoke of genetic counseling, unknowingly impacting the path of my future career. For me, genetic counseling exemplifies the ideal medium among my affection for biology coupled with my interest and scholastic background in psychology. After discovering my niche in genetic counseling I began working in a genetic based research laboratory with UCSB’s department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Since graduating from UCSB I have had the opportunity to interact with many incredible genetic counselors all thanks to the great teamat Integrated Genetics. I also became a volunteer crisis counselor for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center based out of Culver City. Aside from my passion for genetic counseling I also enjoy cooking, sleeping, cute animals and spending time outdoors having adventures with my boyfriend, Dj.

 


Margaret Matias

 

"I grew up in Libertyville, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago.  I attended The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned my B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology in December 2014.  While at UIUC, I worked in a lab researching the different effects certain compounds have on breast cancer growth and other reproductive functions, especially in menopausal women.  I also had some wonderful volunteering experiences throughout my undergraduate years, one of which was watching after children at Crisis Nursery, a 24-hour emergency-based childcare facility.  I participated in a student organization called Illini Medical Screening Society for three years in which I got to help run free health screenings for under-served members of the Champaign-Urbana community, and I was a crisis hotline volunteer for those having gone through sexual violence.  I also had the opportunity to shadow three different genetic counselors over summer breaks and was lucky enough to get exposure to prenatal, pediatric, adult, and cancer genetic counseling.  In my spare time I love to play the flute, make and/or try new foods, go skiing, and of course make good use of my Netflix account."


Jessica Shank

 

I can proudly say that I am a lifelong Ohioan!  I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2013 with a B.S. in Psychology.  During my undergraduate career, I worked with local high schools to raise money for BuckeyeThon, a dance marathon raising money for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  I also was heavily involved in Phi Sigma Pi, a national service fraternity, and greatly enjoyed working  with Teach for America.  Following my graduation, I have been volunteering with the Arc of Greater Cleveland as a Partners in Policymaking program coordinator, educating individuals and families about supports and resources available to them throughout Northeast Ohio.  Beginning in 2014, I have been working with the Cleveland Clinic as a research assistant and have been helping with multiple studies regarding the PTEN gene.  I spend my evenings serving coffee at the local Starbucks and have grown to love caffeine very much.  I also enjoy swimming, biking, Netflixing, and playing Minecraft on my computer.


Ayaka Suzuki

 

I was born in Japan, but I’ve also lived in Singapore, Malaysia, and England - I have actually been overseas longer than I’ve lived in my home country! I eventually settled in sunny California for about 13 years before coming to Cincinnati for graduate school.

Pursuing my interest in genetics, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology, emphasizing in Genetics, Genomics and Development.  Outside of school, I engaged in extracurricular activities related to working with people - for example, I worked in the university residence hall community for 2.5 years, mainly as a Resident Assistant.
Prior to my fateful encounter with the field in my last semester of undergrad, I did not know genetic counseling existed, so post-graduation, I reached out to various avenues of healthcare and advocacy work to get more exposure. Those included: interning at the UCSF Mammography Clinic as part of the Athena Breast Health Network, providing counseling on the Exhale post-abortion talkline, and, most recently, working at 2 physical therapy clinics.
In addition to shadowing in prenatal, pediatrics, and cancer settings in the Bay Area, I also had the opportunity to visit the GC graduate programs and observe meetings at medical genetics clinics in Japan - my trip ignited my dream to create a place for conversations related to genetic counseling on the international level, eventually creating the foundation to make genetic counseling a more globally-accessible healthcare service.


 Megan Tipsword

 

I spent part of my childhood in Texas and Louisiana before my family settled in Grand Blanc, Michigan (the former home of the Buick Open golf tournament, for anyone who follows golf).  I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2015 with a B.S. in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development and a Psychology minor.  While at the U of M, I worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant for an ecology course and as an undergraduate employee in the Microlab, a Chemistry department-run computer laboratory.  I volunteered as a ChemFoundations leader for organic chemistry and gained advocacy experience by volunteering on the crisis line and in the shelter at Sojourner Project, a domestic violence shelter for women and children.  I also volunteered at the Hope Lodge near campus and conducted undergraduate research, culminating in my honors thesis on genetic screening for suppression of a locomotion defect in C. elegans.  I completed my genetic counseling shadowing in oncology and had a phone interview with a genetic coordinator in pediatrics to explore the field further.  In my free time, I love reading just about anything I can find, watching college and NFL football (go Packers!), and spending time with friends and family.


 

 

Class of 2018

Stacey Aldrich

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, but these days all my family lives in Texas. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Upon graduation, I took a job as a reporter in Chicago. During my 10-year career covering health care news, I watched the genetic counseling field become more integrated into patient care, and this is what initially attracted me to the field. Shadowing several genetic counselors and volunteering at a suicide hotline, chemotherapy infusion room and visiting with terminal cancer patients in their homes further confirmed I was looking for a new career that allowed me to work more closely with patients. My hobbies include urban gardening, cooking, learning Spanish, travel, scuba diving, yoga and going on hikes.

 
Fatima Amir

 

I’m originally from Pakistan, but was born in the United States and have lived in a tiny country in the Middle East called Qatar, where I went to high school and college. I went to Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (yes, they have a campus in the Middle East!) where I completed my degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology. I learned about genetic counseling in my sophomore year and immediately fell in love with it. I shadowed in Pittsburgh where I was exposed to large pedigrees from the Amish population. Later, in Qatar, I was exposed to large pedigrees again, but with plenty of consanguinity – which was very amusing for an aspiring genetic counselor like myself! In Qatar, I also worked on a genomics research project for over a year in which I gathered evidence for mutations (shortlisted from Whole Exome Sequencing data) to be causative in families displaying rare Mendelian disorders with complex phenotypes. As a rising senior, I became the first student on my campus to be trained as a member of the Survivor Support Network (SSN), which was a network developed as a supportive resource on campus for those affected by sexual assault, harassment and relationship violence. I was also a Peer Health Advocate on campus which allowed me to educate the community on a variety of health issues including mental health and sexual assault, both of which were very personal issues to me. I also directed and produced two original comedy plays on campus and acted in one as well. Apart from all that, I love hanging out with friends and anything Harry Potter or Disney.

 

=- Sarah Bucher

 

I currently live in Cincinnati, Ohio, but I spent the first 18 years of my life in Saint Louis, Missouri.  I came to the Queen City to attend Xavier University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2010.  While an undergraduate student, I interned as a research assistant in adherence psychology and as a classroom assistant for preschool children with autism.  Since graduation, I have been a research coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.  My first position was with the child advocacy center, coordinating research on childhood trauma and juvenile delinquency.  For the last two years, I have worked with the STAR Center (Support, Treatment, Advocacy and Research) in the division of Human Genetics.  I primarily coordinate trials in lysosomal storage diseases, but have also had my hand in metabolic, connective tissue, and skeletal dysplasia trials.  Through my research experiences, shadowing genetic counselors, and volunteering my time at patient meetings, my desire to be a genetic counselor grew and I am so excited to start the program at UC!  In my free time, I enjoy baking, singing in the young professionals choral collective, and watching Mad Men.

 

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Diana Brightman

 

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. I have always had a strong interest in biology and genetics, which led me to pursue a B.S. in Biology at University of Michigan (2007) and a Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology at Washington University in St. Louis (2015). My doctoral research focused on the role of epigenetic regulation in retinal development. While at WashU I also volunteered with the Young Scientist Program through which I tutored local high school students and visited students in the classroom to teach them about genetics and do demonstrations. In addition I had the opportunity to shadow genetic counselors in prenatal, pediatrics and cancer genetics clinics at Saint Louis University and CCHMC. I am so excited to combine my passion for genetics with my desire to help others by becoming a genetic counselor. In my free time I love to read, practice yoga, bike and spend time with friends and family.

 

 

Kristen Fishler

 

I was born and raised in Bel Air, Maryland. I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2014 with a B.S. in Biology. During my undergraduate career, I helped to found Beta Psi Omega (co-ed Professional Biology Fraternity) at the local and national levels, gained advocacy experience working with under served populations in Washington, DC through Health Leads, volunteered at the Genome exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and shadowed genetic counselors in prenatal, pediatric, lab, and specialty clinic settings in Baltimore. After graduation, I worked at the National Institutes of Health for two years as a genetic counseling research assistant with the ClinSeq® project to learn about social and behavioral research and improve my clinical skills. I discovered genetic counseling during my sophomore year of college and never looked back! I fell in love with the dynamic opportunities within the field and the unique ability to connect with patients and their families in a more specialized and personal way than what I had seen in other parts of the medical field. In my free time, I enjoy staying active through hiking and trying new fitness classes, going to hip-hop concerts, watching football (go Ravens!), and spending time with friends and family. I am so excited to begin this adventure in a new state with the team at UC!

 

Michaela Idleburg

 

I was born and raised in Saint Louis City, MO and graduated from Truman State University in May 2016 with a BS in Biology and minors in Spanish for the Medical Professions and Psychology. During my undergraduate studies I joined, and eventually ran a service sorority called Tau Lambda Sigma and was a member of the honors fraternity, Beta Beta Beta. Through the organization Students Supporting the Exceptional Community I volunteered at a local facility for those with special needs, and assisted in planning and putting on the Special Olympics each year. Outside of organizations, I have volunteered for 2 years as a crisis hotline worker for Victim Support Services in Adair County, where I handled intervention phone calls, and provided services to clients on an as-needed basis. In my final undergraduate semester I conducted literary research on Prader-Willi Syndrome, examining the cognitive factors and maladaptive behaviors associated with the syndrome and possible treatments. My interest in genetic counseling has grown over the past 8 years with the experience of shadowing several genetic counselors in Saint Louis. My interest stems from the love of genetics, the appreciation for those with special needs, and the family orientation I grew up with -because of which I aspire to ensure familial relationships are maintained with guidance through genetic counseling. I have a lot of admiration for the growing field and am excited to be joining the Cincinnati community! In my spare time I like to watch movies and hangout with friends and family, craft, bake, hike, and listen to some great music.

 

 

Farrah Mahan

 

 Although I call Kentucky home, I attended school in Montgomery, Alabama at Huntingdon College, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2016. While earning a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Biology and Chemistry, I volunteered and worked at various places. In Kentucky, I worked as a Resident Assistant at the University of Kentucky's Area Health Education Center and as a Summer Camp Group Leader at the YMCA of Central Kentucky. I also volunteered as a Mental Health Aide at Eastern State Hospital. In Montgomery, I assisted the Sports Information Department with stats, photographs, and game day activities. I was actively involved in Alpha Omicron Pi Fraternity as Treasurer and President, where we volunteered for the Arthritis Foundation community and raised over $25,000 in the past four years at the Montgomery Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5k. I also had the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom while interning and volunteering for the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, where we served the homeless community of Montgomery and its surrounding counties. While at Huntingdon College, I was honored to be a part of nine different honor societies, some of which include: Order of Omega, Who's Who, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Psi Chi. I was selected to attend the Tri-Beta/ASB 2015 conference, where I presented research on the annotation of Drosophila biarmipes compared to Drosophila melanogaster. I had the opportunity to shadow at both Good Samaritan Hospital and the University of Kentucky hospital in pre-natal, pediatrics, and metabolic conditions. I cannot wait to attend the University of Cincinnati and become one step closer to becoming a genetic counselor! In my spare time, you might find me traveling, programming lighting shows for my church, watching college sports, or playing computer games.

 

Tyler Meyer

 

I was born and raised in Batesville, Indiana, which is nestled in between the Kentucky and Ohio borders.  I graduated from Indiana University in 2016 with my B.A. in Biology and a minor in Psychology.  As an undergraduate student, I volunteered at Bell Trace Health and Living Center.  I was also engaged in service-learning where I served as a mentor to a local middle school boy’s group where our goal was to become a role model to adolescents while allowing them to discuss and cope with difficult developmental adjustments including bullying, family relationships, and aggression.  I became enthralled with genetic counseling upon speaking to a relative who had been in regular contact with genetic counselors for years in efforts to aid her children affected by Pompe’s disease.  I also had the opportunity to shadow a genetic counselor in the Epilepsy Center of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.  In my free time I enjoy the outdoors, fitness, sports, music, and spending time with my friends and family.

 

Elizabeth Owens-Thomas

 

I grew up in the small rural town of Grundy, Virginia. In 2015, I earned my B.S. in Biology from King University in Bristol, Tennessee, where I also received minors in Psychology and English. During undergrad, I volunteered with the Bristol Crisis Center, worked with King’s Human Subject Research Review Committee, tutored and assisted in the laboratory for General Chemistry, and was active in the Student Government Association as Secretary my senior year. I was also heavily involved with the King Institute for Faith and Culture and a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega.  To learn more about the field of genetic counseling, I interviewed several genetic counselors in person and over the phone. In the summer of 2013, I completed an internship with the Northwestern University Genetic Counseling Summer Internship Program and observed genetic counselors in cancer and pre-natal genetics at Prentice Women’s Hospital. After graduating from King, I joined student affairs as a Student Success Specialist, working primarily with students at risk in the classroom to develop strategies to help them succeed. In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking, traveling, trying new foods, and binge watching Netflix with my husband.

 

Josie Pervola

 

I am from Danville, Pennsylvania, a small rural town in Central PA. I graduated in 2015 from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Health Sciences. As an undergrad, I was an active member in the biology club, Tri Beta Biological Honors Fraternity, and Phi Sigma Sigma Fraternity. I was first exposed to genetic counseling my senior year when I had the opportunity to complete an internship with the Cancer Genetics Risk Assessment Clinic at Geisinger Health System. During my internship, I was able to shadow genetic counselors, learn how to construct pedigrees, and complete a semester long research project on genetic discrimination. I loved the field so much that I decided to forgo my applications to OT school and instead pursue genetic counseling. Post-graduation I continued to gain experience in genetics as a research consenter for the MyCode Community Health Initiative, a precision medicine biobank project where I explained to patients the importance and benefits of genetic research. I also continued working with the Cancer Genetics Team as a Genomic Medicine Assistant where I learned more about analyzing family history to assess individual risks and how to collect family history information. I am tremendously excited to continue my educational journey here at UC/CCHMC! In my free time I enjoy journaling, listening to podcasts, being outside, browsing Pinterest, and partaking in America’s newest pastime, Netflix.

 

 

Megan Quinlan

 

 I grew up south of Pittsburgh, PA. I graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BS in Biochemistry in December 2015. While completing my degree, I volunteered at the ARC of Greater Cleveland, helping adults with disabilities and families of children with disabilities learn about self advocacy and the resources available for them. I also volunteered at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and supported the hospital through Dance Marathon as Campus Relations Chair. After graduation, I worked for the Girl Scouts as a Leadership and STEM Facilitator for grant funded programs. The combination of shadowing genetic counselors and my volunteer experiences led me to pursue a degree in genetic counseling. In my free time, I love cooking, reading, exploring new places, and spending time with friends and family!

 

Rachel Sullivan

 

I was born and raised in Plymouth MI (between Ann Arbor and Detroit). I graduated from Michigan State University in 2016 where I earned my B.S. in Genomics and Molecular Genetics with a minor in German. During my time at MSU, I worked for four years doing research on the coevolution of phage Lambda and their host Escherichia coli. I presented at several conferences and we are currently preparing that work for publication. I also worked as an undergrad TA with an honors cell biology class, were I was able to help teach students one on one. As someone who has a passion for those in need, I have enjoyed spending my time volunteering consistently at the Listening Ear Crisis Intervention Center and at a local soup kitchen, were I can offer help to community members who are struggling. At the Listening Ear in particular, I have found it so fulfilling to simply listen to those in crisis and help validate what they are experiencing. I also spent a summer during my undergrad living on a Lakota Reservation in South Dakota, where I ran a soup kitchen and formed intentional relationships with my clients, listening to their stories and learning about their culture. This inspired my desire to follow a career focused on directly working with and helping others, so I left research and redirected my path to pursue genetic counseling. When I’m not doing science or volunteering, I also enjoy working with my church, singing, thrift shopping, camping, playing Nancy Drew computer games, and spending time with the people I love.

 

 

Kayleigh Swaggart

 

I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and earned a B.S. in biology, minor in psychology, in 2008 from Truman State University. There, I began my research career in a lab studying the genetic diversity of maize. I went on to earn a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from The University of Chicago in 2013, where I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Elizabeth McNally. My dissertation focused on understanding the role of genetic modifiers in altering the severity of disease in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy. As a graduate student, I volunteered in the playroom at Comer Children’s Hospital and also served as a baby cuddler in the NICU. I continued performing basic research as a Research Fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Mihaela Pavlicev and Dr. Louis Muglia. My postdoctoral work focused on understanding human birth timing by examining gene expression in the placenta. I have had an interest in learning about genetics and sharing what I know for as long as I can remember, and began to pursue a career in genetic counseling as a postdoc. Working at CCHMC gave me access to several wonderful genetic counselors to meet with and shadow, which was key in my decision to transition away from academic research. I am so excited to be a part of the Genetic Counseling Program, and am looking forward to using my knowledge of human genetics in a much more practical and personal way to help individuals and families through the process of genetic counseling. In my free time I like to read, craft, travel, talk to family and friends, go on drives, and -- of course -- Netflix.