Contact ICRU

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​If you are looking for a specific person to contact, scroll through the biographies below to find contact information.  Not sure who to direct your question to?  Click on the link above to submit a general inquiry to ICRU.

 Bob Kirby - Director
       Blank Honors Center

 Bob has a PhD in biopsychology from the University of Virginia. His interests feature neural control, human behavior, the effects of drugs, and their mechanisms of action.  As a member of the psychology department, his research focused on cardiovascular responses to stress during early development and his teaching concentrated on the science and regulation of drugs. 

Bob's primary roll at UI is serving as the Associate Director of the University of Iowa Honors Program.  He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in Psychology. 

 Beyond the University of Iowa, Bob loves to spend his time in the outdoors.

Melinda Licht - Program Coordinator
       401 Blank Honor Center

Melinda obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Religion Studies from the U of Iowa in 2007 and a Master’s in Theological Studies in 2010, focusing her thesis work on the religious and philosophical background that shaped the western world’s attitudes toward non-human animals.  She then returned to the University of Iowa to earn a Bachelor’s in Science in biology.  As an undergraduate, Melinda began her science research career under Michael Wright in the Physiology Department. She continued working in the Wright lab before eventually moving to the Ophthalmology Department. 

Melinda is excited to join ICRU as the Program Director.  She believes strongly that a research built on ethics, communication, collaboration, and intellectual practices are crucial for a positive future in society.  She is excited to combine her love of research with her broad experiences across both the sciences and humanities to help students use research to discover themselves, find their passions, and build critical leadership skills. 

Former Staff (Who ICRU Still Depends On)
     Lindsay Marshall - Former Associate Director

Once an undergraduate researcher herself at James Madison University in Virginia, Lindsay has a Master's degree in Applied Medical Anthropology from Oregon State University. Lindsay is a bold advocate for the undergraduate research experience (across all disciplines and majors) and believes in the personal and academic growth that is so often a result of this type of scholarly engagement.  Particularly, she is committed to familiarizing undergraduates with various aspects of scholarly communication, especially in the development of skills that make research accessible and exciting to general audiences.  

Lindsay also serves as a Program Facilitator for the University of Iowa Honors Program and has been certified by the National Research Mentoring Network as a Mentor/Mentee Training Facilitator.

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.


Mik Mallin

     Class of 2019
     Biomedical Science and Dance Majors

I perform genetic and developmental research with Dr. Robert Cornell of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, as well as dance history research with Dr. Rebekah Kowal of the Department of Dance. With Dr. Cornell, I work to understand the genetic causes of melanoma by investigating the gene regulatory network responsible for the development of melanocytes in the model organism zebrafish. With Dr. Kowal, I study how movement is an agent of social, cultural, and political change. Specifically, I examine how the presence of international dance in 1950s America shaped both our immigration laws and notions of race and ethnicity. 

I aim to pursue an MD/PhD dual degree through the NIH's Medical Scientist Training Program and work toward a career in performing clinical and translational research. (All while dancing on Broadway of course!)

In my free time I love dancing, shopping, watching Hawkeye football, and hanging out with friends!

Preston Anderson
Preston Anderson
      Class of 2018
      Biochemistry & Human Physiology Majors

I work in Dr. Engelhardt's Lab who is the Chair of Anatomy & Cell Biology and Director Center for Cystic Fibrosis. Our focus is on stem cells in the lung and developing  translational gene therapies using transgenic ferret & mouse models. We collaborate closely with Dr. Parkeh who is the Director of Thoracic Surgery, and our goal is to develop personalized treatments using inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to reduce the progression of obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) after transplantation.

I am double majoring in Biochemistry & Human Physiology and after graduation I plan on pursuing a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). My long term goal is to converge our understanding of stem cells in the lung and surgical techniques to reduce the progression of lung cancer which is the most deadliest form of cancer. In my free time I enjoy to workout, read, and hangout at the lab. 

Lance Heady

      Class of 2018
      Neurobiology and Biochemistry Majors

I have been involved in research for the since my fresman year  in Dr. Andrew Pieper's lab in the UIHC Department of Psychiatry.  We study Huntington’s disease (HD), a fatal genetic disorder that causes progressive dysfunction and death of nerve cells in the brain.  

I am the editor of Did You Know... an online magazine that highlights the work that undergraduate researchers do here at UI.  It emphasizes communication of work to a general audience and reveals why research matters to the public no matter what the topic. I am also an RA for the STEM Scholars Living Learning Community,  a residential program designed for high ability first-year students pursuing degrees in science, engineering, or mathematics. 

In my free time, I am a competitive ballroom dancer who loves ice cream and Grey's Anatomy. 

Eric Mittauer
   Eric Mittauer

     Class of 2018
     Human Physiology Major

   I work in Dr. Fang Lin's lab in the department of Anatomy and Cell Biology. We study the role of a class of proteins known as G-Protein Receptors in the placement of tissues in embryos. Specifically, I am investigating a gene that is responsible for migration and placement of cardiac tissue, and the role this gene (and others like it) may play in congenital heart defects, the most prevalent class of birth defects. Better understanding of these pathways would improve diagnosis and treatments for babies born with these devastating and little-understood defects.

I am hoping to work in emergency medicine, and spend my free time volunteering, playing guitar, and going to concerts. 

    Lindsey Floryance

         Class of 2018
         Chemistry Major, Pre-Pharmacy

   Lindsey works with the Forbes Lab on radiochemistry in the department of Chemistry. Currently, her focus is studying exploring the basic chemistry structures of Aluminum and Gallium for thin films that make nanomaterials efficient. Specifically, she is studying the hydrolization rates of these metals in the electrochemical cell. 

Lindsey is studying Biochemistry (B.S.) with a minor in Chemistry on the Pre-Pharmacy track. She one day hopes to become an oncological pharmacist and earn a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics to pursue research. In her free time, she loves to watch movies, spend time with her Black Lab puppy, Finley, travel, sail, and perform research in the lab. She one day hopes she can travel the world and help provide health care to third world countries. 

   Paige Noble

        Class of 2018
        Biochemistry Major

  Hello! I am a Biochemistry major in the Pre-Med track. I am part of the Grumbach Lab, which is a part of the Internal Medicine Department in the Carver College of Medicine. Our lab studies the molecular mechanisms involving calcium homeostasis in vascular diseases.  My project focuses on restenosis, or renarrowing of arteries by neointimal formation following balloon angioplasty procedures.  I work closely with graduate students and staff scientists to investigate potential therapeutic targets and pathways to prevent  arterial restenosis.

For fun I like to run, read, and volunteer. When I have the time I also enjoy thrift shopping, and watching Star Trek. After I graduate I hope to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. I am not sure what specialty I would like to pursue as a career; to me all science is intriguing!

  Angela Schab

     Class of 2018
     Biology(Cell and Developmental) Major

  Hello! I am majoring in Biology and minoring in Physical Activity and Nutrition. I am a research assistant in Dr. Quelle's Lab in the Pharmacology Department. The goal of the project is to determine the role of a tumor suppressor called NIAM in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Specifically, I am working with genetically altered mice that have a deficiency in NIAM. Through observation and cellular analysis we hope to better understand the role of NIAM.

On campus I am involved in WISE and Medicus. In my free time I like to run and spend time with friends and family. 

  Megan Helms

       Class of 2018
       Biomedical Engineering Major

  Hello! I am a part of Dr. Arlene Drack's translational research Ophthalmology lab, which is a part of the Wynn Institute for Vision Research. We are studying potential treatment methods for retinal degeneration in mouse models of human genetic retinal diseases, including albinism, Bardet-Beidl Syndrome, and Batten disease, among others. 

  I am majoring in Bio-medical Engineering, with the hope of going to medical school once I graduate. In my free time I like to read, run, knit and volunteer. I also hope to travel in the future, to learn more about other cultures and improve my Spanish skills!  

   Aparna Ajjarapu

        Class of 2018
        Biochemistry Major

  Hello!  I currently work in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Dr. Mark Santillan’s lab. The research I am involved in studies preeclampsia, a currently incurable cardiovascular disease during pregnancy characterized by hypertension. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to liver failure, kidney failure, heart disease and sometimes death. Dr. Santillan’s lab has recently discovered Vasopressin  to be a novel biomarker in the early detection of preeclampsia.  Findings from this research will be used to formulate better treatments for this disease.   

I have also conducted research in the Philippines at the International Rice Research Institute as a 2014 World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Intern where I studied the rice preferences of rural consumers and farmers in the Nueva Ecija province. Last summer I was a USDA Wallace-Carver Fellow at the Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, PA  working on improving the functionality of dairy whey proteins through protein-polysaccharide interactions.

 Aside from conducting research, I love playing the flute, grabbing froyo with friends and traveling! 

   Anya Kim

        Class of 2018
        Biology (Neurobiology) and Spanish Majors

  Hello! Right now I am working in Neurobiology Department, specifically in Dr. Michael Dailey’s lab. Our lab as a whole focuses on studying the ways glial cells react to neuronal injury. My specific project deals specifically with microglial cells and how they react to stroke. Right now I am looking at the effects of adenosine on these cells, and what role it plays in microglial cell death.

  Outside of research, I am majoring in Biology (Neurobiology Track) and Spanish with a minor in Psychology. Currently, I’m on the pre-Medicine track, but I would really love to become a part of a M.D./ Ph.D. Program after college! I also love to knit, spend time with my dog, cook, run, and garden. I’m also a Latham Science Engagement Initiative Fellow, which you should look into applying for if you’re interested in science communication!

   Angela Olvera

        Class of 2017
        Biomedical Engineering Major

  Angela is currently conducting research in the Abel Lab. Her research focuses on the role of skeletal muscle in diabetes. In her free time, she enjoyes playing   sports with her friends and cheering on the Hawks at all the games!


Cari  Wadman

       Class of 2018
       Psychology Major

My research involves analyzing ATV-related deaths and injuries for the Emergency Department at UIHC, under the supervision of Gerene Denning, PhD and Charles Jennissen, MD. We map and study the causes of ATV crashes with the hopes of educating Iowans and preventing more from occurring through education and legislation.

  A highlight of my undergraduate career was getting to travel to Washington D.C. for the annual Posters on the Hill, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. In addition to presenting my research and its findings, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Iowa Congressmen and Senators about my project and the importance of education and legislation in the prevention of future ATV-related deaths and injuries. 
I am currently pursuing a psychology major with a pre-med track in the hopes of getting a Masters in Public Health before attending  medical school.  I am also on the University of Iowa Dance Team and enjoy cheering on and supporting the Hawks! In my free time, I love playing with my favorite Boxer, Rocky, baking, and traveling to new and exotic places!

Rana Hewezi
Rana Hewezi

Class of 2020
Biomedical Sciences Major

Rana Hewezi works in the Dale Abel laboratory, focusing primarily on how the absence or presence of a mitochondrial protein, OPA1, in adipose tissue, affects diabetes and obesity. Rana is majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in English on the pre-med track. 

She loves anything cheesecake related.

Rikki Laser
Rikki Laser

Class of 2020
Neuroscience Major

In the Blumberg lab, Rikki studies how myoclonic twitching (the little jerky movements we make during REM sleep) works in the brain to help it figure out which muscle connects to which neuron.  The project she is currently on involves examining the differences between twitching in autism mouse models and regular, wild-type mice. 

Along with being a neuroscience major, Rikki is a part of hte Iowa Biosciences program and is a student ambassador for both ICRU and the biology department.  She plans to continue with neuroscience through graduate school, and her biggest wish is to be someone's favorite professor one day.  

Rikki very much enjoys talking to students and helping them in any way she can!  In her free time, she likes to read fantasy novels and crochet.

Allexis Mahanna
Allexis Mahanna

Class of 2020
Biochemistry, International Studies, Engaged Social Innovation Major

I am a sophomore who is triple majoring in Biochemistry, International Studies, and Engaged Social Innovation, along the Pre-Med Track.  I have been doing research since my freshman year with Dr. Daniel Weeks in his Biochemistry Lab, which is focused on amyloid research using Xenopus Laevis (frogs).  Amyloids are aggregates of protein that cause diseases like Alzheimer's and Huntington's.

I love to help people, so in my free time I volunteer with hospice patients, the UI hospital, and the Crisis Center, and in addition I tutor.  Other interests of mine include hiking, traveling, and cooking.

If you have any questions about research or just generally getting involved at Iowa, send me an email, as I'd love to help!

Tori Cassady
Tori Cassady

Class of 2020
Biosciences Major

The Weigel Lab studies the relationship between a few specific transcription factors and cancer cells - particularly in breast cancer.  OUr projects focus on tumor growth, invasion, metastasis, and "tumorigenesis" (which refers to a cancer cell's ability to take root in a tissue and proliferate), and how transcription factors we study regulate gene expression to affect these processes.  

Outside of hte lab, I love playing violin with my string quartet, knitting, gardening, and watching Game of Thrones.  I am also working toward my fourth degree black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do.

Anj Droe
Anj Droe

Class of 2020
Neurobiology and Microbiology Major

I've worked in Dr. Michael Dailey's neurobiology lab since freshman year.  We study glial cells (the "other" cells of the brain), in particular microglia and their role in brain injury and recovery.  Currently, I'm working on a project using microparticles in an attempt to reduce the harmful inflammatory effects of microglia.

In addition to my neurobiology and microbiology majors, I'm working on a minor in German and a certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences.  Outside of school I am very involved in music, playing viola in the symphony orchestra and a quartet, as well as playing guitar for cancer patients at the hospital.

Akanksha Chilukuri
Akanksha Chilukuri

Class of 2020
Neurobiology Major

I work in the Psychiatry and Early Neurobiological Development Laboratory with Dr. Hanna Stevens in the UIHC Department of Psychiatry.  We study preeclampsia, a medical condition in pregnancy that is characterized by high blood pressure and proteinuria, and how it affects the cortical development and cortical dependent behavior of offspring.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, dancing, and hanging out with my friends.  After graduation, I would love to further explore my interest in public health and anthropology by pursuing and MPH or MD.

Alexa Kort
Alexa Kort

Class of 2020
Biochemistry and Spanish Majors

I work in the Dr. Andrew Pieper Laboratory, which is part of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute and UIHC Department of Psychiatry.  We study preclinical models of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's Disease (AD), ALS, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), as well as the role of neuroprotective compounds in rescuing cognitive deficits and preventing degeneration and cell death.  THe project I'm currently working on uses a TBI model to explore the efficacy of a neuroprotective compound called 4R-Cembranoid.

I'm also passionate about public health and would like to pursue a MD/PhD in epidemiology or medical anthropology, with the goal of combining clinical practice with disease research in my future career.

In my free time, I enjoy boxing, reading, spending time with friends, and listening to music in Spanish!

Katie Lillis
Katie Lillis

Class of 2018
Human Physiology and Psychology Majors

Hello! I am currently involved in research in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Dr. Ryan LaLumiere's lab. Our primary focus is to gain a better understanding of the neurobiology of drug addiction and cocaine-seeking behavior in rats. There are various methods, such as optogenetics, used to isolate areas of the brain that might play a role in these behaviors. By analyzing the results of these studies, our findings could help psychologists gain a better understanding of drug addiction in humans.

I am double majoring in Human Physiology and Psychology, and I am planning to pursue a PhD in neuroscience. I look forward to continuing with research in the future, especially as it pertains to mental health. In my free time, I work on the executive board for Active Minds, which is a student organization focused on mental health on campus. I also enjoy cooking, spending time outdoors, and cheering on the Hawkeyes! 

Please let me know if you have any questions about what undergraduate research is like or if you'd like help finding a lab!


Aishwarya Kothapali
Aishwarya Kothapali

Class of 2019
Human Physiology Major

Aishwarya is a Junior majoring in Human Physiology and minoring in Spanish and Music. She works with Dr. Arlene Drack studying retinal degenerative disorders such as Bardet-Biedl Syndrome and Batten Disease. She also works with Dr. Alina Dumitrescu examining surgical outcomes in patients with Nystagmus. In her free time, Aishwarya likes singing with the University Choir on campus, spending time with friends and drinking lots of coffee. 


Sam Ponnada
Sam Ponnada

Class of 2020
Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics Major

Hello!  I currently work with Professor Philip Kaaret in the Physics and Astronomy Department.  Our research group studies the Universe in high energy wavelengths (mostly X-ray and gamma) by both analyzing observations taken by telescopes and developing instruments to do so ourselves.  Right now, I am involved with the former, using archived data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory.  My current research focuses on studying local counterparts to the early galaxies to determine a relationship between metal content and the production of high mass X-ray binaries to see whether they played a significant role in the reionization of the Universe.

Outside of research, I enjoy reading, playing tennis, and engagine in amateur astronomy.  I hope to pursue doctoral studies in Astrophysics after graduating from college with the long-term goal of becoming a research scientist.


Russell Martin

Profile Coming Soon!

Alexa Santaniello

Profile Coming Soon!

Our Partners:

University of Iowa Honors Program (UIHP)

Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development (OVPR)

Office of the Provost

Latham Science and Engagement Initiative (LSEI)

Women in Science and Engineering (WISE)

Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program Iowa

Iowa Biosciences Advantage Program (IBA)

Iowa Research Online

ICRU Steering Committee

The ICRU Steering Committee consists of faculty and staff members, each representing a different area of the University of Iowa.

Bob Kirby - ICRU Director and Committee Convener

Marc Armstrong - Professor, Geography

Lon Moeller - Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean, University College

Lindsay Marshall - ICRU Associate Director

Craig Just - Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Rebekah Kowal - Associate Professor, Dance

Cornelia Lang - Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy

Ann Ricketts - Assistant Vice President for Research, Communication and External Relations

Sarah Vigmostad  - Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering