O'Donnell Lab Graduate Students
Ray (Wes) Bowman- 6th Year Graduate Student
Originally from Stoystown, PA
B.S. in Biology from Seton Hill University (2010)
Currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh
Joined the lab: March 2016 (Rotated December 2015)
Wes is the O'Donnell lab's first graduate student and his research will focus on defining how postranslational modifications regulate α-arrestin function. Specifically, Wes is working to define the ubiquitin-dependent interactome for α-arrestins as well as mapping α-arrestin phosphorylation changes using MS analyses. As part of his work in the O'Donnell lab, Wes will be helping to redesign the Cell and Molecular Biology Undergraduate Superlab (371W) to incorporate α-arrestin research. His future plans are to secure a professorship and continue his teaching career while starting his own lab to conduct research and train a new generation of scientists. When not in the lab, Wes enjoys exploring the outdoors, fanatically rooting for the Colts and Cavaliers, and enjoying time with his wife and son!
Natalie A. Hager- 5th Year Graduate Student
Originally from: Franklin, PA
B.S. in Biology from Juniata College (2016)
Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh
Joined the lab: April 2017 (Rotated September 2016)
Natalie is the O'Donnell lab's second graduate student, having joined the lab in April of 2017. Her research focuses on understanding α-arretin-mediated regulation of the mammalian potassium channels, Kir2.1. Kir2.1 is important for maintaining potassium homeostasis in cardiac cells. Natalie is working on transitioning her findings in yeast to a mammalian model with HEK293T cells and primary cardiomyocytes. Her future plans include working for a BioTech company. When not in the lab, Natalie enjoys watching The Office, reading, running, yoga, and playing bocce & basketball with her friends.
Mitchell Lesko- 2nd Year Graduate Student
Originally from: Cranberry Twp, PA
B.S. in Biology from Kent State University (2019)
Currently pursuing his PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh
Joined the lab: April 2020
Mitch is the O’Donnell lab’s third graduate student having joined in April 2020. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying resistance to the metabolic inhibitor, 2-deoxyglucose (2DG). He is making synergistic use of computational modeling and traditional laboratory techniques to understand how mutations in the glycolytic enzyme, hexokinase II, and alpha-arrestin activity play a role in mediating resistance in yeast. He later plans to translate his work to mammalian cells to gain insights into how cancer cells obtain resistance to 2DG. When not in the lab, Mitch enjoys the outdoors, exercise, video games, reading, and cheering for his hometown Steelers.
Rody Kingston- Rotation Student
Originally from Douglasville, GA
B.S. in Biology from Morehouse College (2016)
Currently pursuing his PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.
Rody is the O'Donnell lab's Fall 2020 rotation student and his research will focus on examining how α-arrestins contribute to amino acid homeostasis and subsequent iron balance to influence mitochondrial metabolic function. With a targeted approach using growth assays, microscopy and mass spectroscopy, he will assess 5 amino acid transporters (Mup1, Yct1, Bap2, Bap3 and Avt1) and their contribution to iron starvation phenotypes in 9 of the 14 α-arrestins and Ldb19 deleted yeast cells. Rody will also observe localization of Aft1, a transcription factor that regulates iron-responsive elements. Furthermore, he will measure iron-sulfur cluster formation, which if disrupted, is indicative of mitochondrial dysfunction. When not in lab Rody enjoys exercise, hiking trails, videogames, reading, tv shows and movies, art, and music.