Lab Members

Postdoctoral Fellows

Shelby Johnson, Ph.D.

Shelby joined the Lodato lab in April 2020. Her main interests are investigating the role of somatic mutations in neurodegenerative disease, namely, Parkinson’s disease using human tissue and cellular models. Shelby recently graduated from the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program at the University of Rhode Island, where she utilized a variety of model systems to investigate natural products and repurposed pharmaceuticals for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Jennifer Ziegenfuss Ph.D

In the Lodato lab, Dr. Jenn Ziegenfuss is researching how human aging and brain cell type are promoting the accumulation of somatic mutations & mutational signatures in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Jenn is excited to use and develop cutting edge technologies to bridge the gap between cell biology and human genomics in hopes that new translatable discoveries are made that can revolutionize the treatment of currently untreatable diseases. Prior to joining the lab, Jenn was a post-doc in Wes Grueber’s lab at Columbia University.  Her research in the fruit fly explored neuron-substrate interactions and the long-term maintenance & protection of sensory neuron morphology and function. While in the lab, Jenn was a Charles H. Revson postdoctoral fellow.  Jenn received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she worked in the lab of Marc Freeman. In the Freeman lab, she explored how glial cells recognize and respond to dying and degenerating neurons. Her work showed that glial responses to neurodegeneration are genetically separable events mediated by distinct signaling pathways. She also helped identify a cell-autonomous suppressor of degeneration, providing direct evidence that axons actively promote their own destruction.

Graduate Students

Cesar Bautista Sotelo

Cesar joined Dr. Lodato’s Lab in April 2020 and is interested in somatic mutations and aging, specifically in skeletal muscle stem cells. He received his B.S. from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in 2018. As an undergraduate, he worked in the Dr. Shizue Mito Lab working on synthesizing DNA intercalators for cancer therapies. He went on to join the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) Post Baccalaureate Program in 2018 and worked in Dr. Sharon Cantor’s Lab for a year. His work there focused on the development of chemoresistance in Breast and Ovarian Cancer. He officially joined UMMS in 2019 as a PhD Graduate Student. Cesar is now a student leader as the Co-Vice President of the Diversity Interest Group (DIG) at UMMS where he is highly active in promoting advocacy, inclusivity, and equity across the institution.

Ailsa Jeffries

Ailsa started her PhD at UMMS in 2019 and joined the Lodato Lab in 2020. She received her BA in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology from Harvard University in 2017 and spent two years working as a technician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before grad school. She’s interested in using genetics and somatic mutations to understand disease.

Research Assistants

Allie Tolles

Allie received her B.S. in biology from Keene State College in New Hampshire. Her undergraduate research, done with Dr. Jason Pellettieri, investigated the regulation of gene expression in adult stem cells and regeneration in planarian flatworms. As a Laboratory Technician she manages general lab upkeep and contributes to the Lab’s exploration of somatic mutations in the brain.

Undergraduates

Kaylee Hill

Kaylee is currently in her third year at Wellesley College pursing a double major in Computational Neuroscience and Computer Science. Her past research experiences have revolved around many different areas of Neuroscience from dopamine reward related learning in Ann Graybiel’s lab at MIT to studying the Neural Correlates of Consciousness in Mike Wiest’s lab at Wellesley College. She is interested in anything brain related and after undergraduate will pursue a PhD in Computational Neuroscience. Kaylee right now is a volunteer in the Lodato lab applying her computational skills in Matlab to the various ongoing projects exploring somatic mutations in the brain. 

Principal Investigator

Michael Lodato, Ph.D.

Mike received his B.S. in 2005 from Hofstra University, where he got his first taste of academic research in the laboratory of Joanne Willey, Ph.D., studying sporulation in the bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, where he worked on the transcriptional regulation of stem cell state in the laboratory of Rudolf Jaenisch, M.D. Mike began his studies of somatic mutations in the human brain in 2013 during his postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Christopher A. Walsh, M.D./Ph.D. at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Mike has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Kreig Cortical Explorer Award from the Cajal Club, the Charles H. Hood Child Health Award, and the Glenn Foundation and American Federation for Aging Junior Faculty Award. He was named as a Next Generation Leader by the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

© Michael Lodato

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