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Welcome to our newest lab members!

Updated: May 1, 2023

By Randall Carpenter, Francesca LiCausi, & Mahamudun Bhuiyan

In August of 2022 we welcomed TWO new members to the Maryanovich Lab!

Our first member highlight is Francesca LiCausi, a Ph.D. Graduate Student here at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Francesca graduated from Stockton University in 2018 with a B.S in Biology and a minor in neuroscience. Following graduation, she received a Post-baccalaureate Intermural Research Training Award from the National Institutes of Health. In 2018, Francesca joined the laboratory of Dr. Robert Colbert as a research trainee, where she examined how a disease risk variant of spondolyoarthritis influenced mesenchymal stem cell fate and osteogenic differentiation. In 2019, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Zu-hang Sheng and examined how intercellular communication between oligodendrocytes and neurons influenced axonal metabolism.

After her time as a post-bac researcher at the NIH, Francesca entered the Ph.D. program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 2020. She completed her Masters in Cell Biology in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Kitsis studying mitochondrial-mediated cell death. After completing her masters degree, Francesca joined the Maryanovich lab in August of 2022, investigating intercellular communication and ROS signaling in the hematopoietic niche with a focus on mesenchymal stem cells.

Where are you from?

"I grew up in Staten Island, New York."

What drove you to pursue a career/education in the sciences?

"When I entered college, I wasn’t quite sure the direction I wanted to go in. I toyed around with the idea of medical school, or other health professions. As I took my introductory classes, I found myself most excited about answering the questions I would come up with “in the margins”. Here on the side of my loose leaf, I would scribble down things I was curious about based on what we were learning. These would take me to what I really thought was cool- the behind-the-scenes of textbook knowledge. I wanted to know how these foundational principles were discovered, what led scientists to even think to go in a particular direction and the overall context. My “in the margin” curiosity eventually grew into the desire to answer some of these questions myself. Ultimately what drives me as a scientist is the ability to be a lifelong learner, to translate ideas into discovery, and uncover the secrets of biology."

Is there a particular scientific question/problem you are interested in?

"Broadly, I am interested in understanding the dynamics of intercellular networks and the mechanisms in which cells can respond to or generate external cues. I am particularly intrigued by aging-induced dysfunction and want to examine how intercellular signaling differs in this context."

What are some of your scientific (and/or non-scientific) heroes?

"Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini was an astounding scientist and person I really admire. She was an Italian-Jewish scientist during world war II who faced extreme adversities. When Jewish individuals were banned from university positions, she responded by setting up a laboratory in her bedroom. The work from her home lab eventually led to the discovery of nerve growth factor and she was awarded a Nobel prize for her contribution in 1986. Her determination and drive to her research despite her environment are simply astounding."

What scientific finding/paper/book (in any field) impacted you most?

"While there have been hundreds of papers that impressed me over the years- I would say that the most impactful lesson for me is the one that influenced my perspective as a scientist. When I was younger I was really curious about how plants move toward the light. This process is called phototropism. To put it simply, UV triggers a cascade that blocks the synthesis of a growth hormone. Since the shady side is protected from this, growth signals become concentrated on this side. The unequal growth of the shady size causes the plant to bend towards the light. When I learned this my jaw actually dropped. I was just astonished by the “behind the scenes” that occurred in such an everyday observation! This led me to want to understand more about the minuscule processes that give rise to daily life, and eventually my focus on cellular biology."

What are some of your non-science hobbies?

"I enjoy rollerskating, exploring NYC, and canceling plans with friends to spend time with my cat Rosebud."

Anything else of interest you'd like to add?

"My favorite pipette is the p200. I feel like that's pretty self-explanatory..."

Our second member highlight features Mahamudun Bhuiyan, our Research Technician in the Maryanovich lab. Mahamudun graduated from the City College of New York with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Economics. In addition to his course work at the New York Academy of Sciences, Mahamudun completed and presented two projects. One project studied the effects of drinking alcohol on the neuronal firing rate of earthworms and how this can be correlated to its effects on humans. The second project explored methods of maximizing the use of freshwater for both laymen and large companies at the academy’s Challenge 2030 event.

Mahamudun is also an alumnus and facilitator for the New York City Urban Ambassadors program, a program created to assist young men of color entering college and helping them grow into established leaders in their communities. Throughout his tenure as a facilitator, Mahamudun gave talks at many Department of Education events to help superintendents, principals, and other DOE administration officials to better serve their students. Mahamudun joined the Maryanovich lab in the August of 2022 with hopes to garner research experience to enter a prospective Ph.D. program.

Where are you from?

"I am from a small farming village in Bangladesh I lived in a one-room farmhouse with my parents and older brother."

What drove you to pursue a career/education in the sciences?

"Being from a very small and poor nation like Bangladesh I was exposed to many sick and homeless people on the streets begging for money, many of whom were children, which gave me perspective on how hard and expensive it can be to treat diseases.. After moving to America, I originally wanted to pursue a career as a doctor to directly help those in need. However, after years of following this path, I found that it was not the best fit for me. Luckily after participating in and leading two research projects with the New York Academy of Sciences I fell in love with research. It allowed me to explore some of the many questions I have about the world."

Is there a particular scientific question/problem you are interested in?

"How is the human body so fragile and yet able to heal and bounce back from the most traumatic of injuries and disease?"

What are some of your scientific (and/or non-scientific) heroes?

"I don’t really have a “hero” per se, I do not believe in idolizing people or putting someone up on a pedestal. However, I do have people in my life that I look up to and take inspiration from. For example, a mentor of mine, whose name is Hector Calderon, was given the opportunity to work as a higher-up in the Department of Education in Washington DC under the Obama Administration but refused it because he knew his calling was to work on the ground with teachers, students, and administration."

What scientific finding/paper/book (in any field) impacted you most?

"Gregor Mendel’s genetic research showed me how even simple experiments can lead to great discoveries if analyzed well and viewed through the proper lenses."

What are some of your non-science hobbies?

"Reading, hiking, and camping."


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