Lab Alumni

Cory Ungles, Ph.D.
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cory Ungles, Ph.D.

Cory Ungles, Ph.D.
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology

Cory was the first graduate student to get a Ph.D. In the Mills lab and recently completed postdoctoral training in Paul Hwang’s lab at the National Institutes of Health. She and her husband have recently celebrated the birth of their second child and have recently relocated back to Austin.


ELLEN (ABRAMSON) CONNER, PhD
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology
Email: eabramson@mail.utexas.edu

Ellen Conner, PhD

ELLEN (ABRAMSON) CONNER, PhD
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology

Within 6 months of defending her dissertation Ellen got married and gave birth to an adorably sassy little girl.  Shortly thereafter Ellen completed her alternative teaching certification through Region 13.  She is currently teaching upper division science electives at Vandegrift High School, here in Austin, and writing professional development curriculum focused on creating better digital citizens.


KATSUYA HIRASAKA, PhD
Visiting Scholar, 2008-2010
Assistant Professor, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
Email: hirasaka@mail.utexas.edu

Katsuya Hirasaka, PhD

KATSUYA HIRASAKA, PhD
Visiting Scholar, 2008-2010
Assistant Professor, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan

My research interests are focused on skeletal muscle metabolism and pathophysiology.  In my former lab in Tokushima, Japan, I identified reactive oxidant species and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl-b as critical components of the proteolytic cascade that leads to muscle degeneration in response to lack of use or microgravity.  In the Mills lab, my project explores how intracellular redox signals coordinate skeletal muscle fatty acid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and mitochondrial thermogenesis regulated by uncoupling protein 3 (UCP3).

Education:
B.S. Fisheries Science, Nagasaki University, Nakagaski, Japan
M.S. Nutrition, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
Ph.D. Nutrition, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan


ALEXANDER KENASTON
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Center for Molecular & Cellular Toxicology, College of Pharmacy
Current Position: Study Director, Pharmaceutical Industry

Alexander Kenaston, PhD

ALEXANDER KENASTON
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Center for Molecular & Cellular Toxicology, College of Pharmacy
Current Position: Study Director, Pharmaceutical Industry

Uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are mitochondrial transmembrane proteins that waste energy in the form of heat.  Uncoupling protein 3 is enriched in skeletal muscle, an established thermogenic organ. UCP3 knockout (KO) mice almost completely lack the hyperthermic responses to the widely-abused drugs ecstasy and methamphetamine.  My project uses multiple mouse strains and cultured primary and secondary myocytes cell lines to determine the physiological and cellular mechanisms of UCP3-driven thermogenesis.

Education:
B.S. Nursing, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX


MATT PFEIFFER
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Center for Molecular & Cellular Toxicology, College of Pharmacy
Email: pfeifferme@gmail.com

Matt Pfeifffer

MATT PFEIFFER
Graduate Student – PhD Recipient
Center for Molecular & Cellular Toxicology, College of Pharmacy

Uncoupling proteins are highly conserved members of the mitochondrial anion superfamily.  Unlike other UCP homologues, only UCP4 is present in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), suggesting that it is the ancestral uncoupling protein from which other homologues diverged.  UCP4 knockout worms are obese, accumulate triglycerides, and have deficiencies in the import of mitochondrial substrates.  My project involves molecular, cellular, and biochemical approaches to characterize the physiologic functions of UCP4 and the mechanisms by which UCP4 regulates mitochondrial functions.

Education:
B.S. Microbiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX


SARA NOWINSKI, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scientist
Rutter Lab, University of Utah
Email: sara.nowinski@utexas.edu

Sara Nowinski, Ph.D.

SARA NOWINSKI, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scientist
Rutter Lab, University of Utah

After receiving her Ph.D., Sara began postdoctoral research in Sept. 2014 and is extending her work on mitochondrial function and physiology in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah, in Salt Lake City.


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