Rodney Stewart, PhD
Rodney Stewart, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah and a member of the Nuclear Control of Cell Growth and Differentiation Program. He earned his doctorate degree from Yale University, studying genetic mechanisms of organ size and tumor formation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogastor. He conducted postdoctoral research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, studying neural crest development and cancer in zebrafish. The Stewart Lab’s primary interests focus on embryonic mechanisms altered in congenital diseases and cancers of the neural crest, such as neuroblastoma and melanoma.
Rodney grew up in Australia. He enjoys spending time with his new son and hiking and biking with his family and friends.
Katarzyna (Kate) Modzelewska, PhD
Senior Lab Specialist
Kate Modzelewska, PhD, received her doctorate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied signaling in breast cancer metastasis in the laboratory of Dr. Patricia Keely. Before joining the Stewart Lab, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Huntsman Cancer Institute and in the Biology Department at the University of Utah, where she studied organ development in C. elegans. In the Stewart Lab, Kate works on deciphering the effects of RAS activation on brain tumor formation, using zebrafish as a model. She also keeps the Stewart lab and the Jette lab running stress-free.
Kate is a native of Poland and enjoys camping, hiking, and snowshoeing with her husband and son.
Monique Morrison, PhD
Monique received her doctorate degree from the Developmental Biology program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at the University of Cincinnati. As a graduate student Monique studied under the guidance of Dr. Susanne Wells to decipher the repression of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) oncogenes. With a deep interest in developmental biology and cancer, Monique decided the Stewart Lab was an ideal place for her to merge her two interests. Currently her projects include the development of novel paraganglioma models in zebrafish, as well as studying epigenetic signatures in melanoma development.
Monique enjoys running, dancing and watching TV. As a proud Jamaican, she hopes to return to the Caribbean after her postdoctoral training.
Jindong Wang, PhD
Jindong received his doctorate degree from McArdle Laboratory of Cancer Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied EBV biology in the lab of Dr. Bill Sugden. In the Stewart Lab he is interested in understanding epigenetic regulatory mechanisms that contribute to normal development of neural crest cells as well as to the drug resistance in melanoma.
Jindong was born in Tianjin, China. He enjoys traveling and hiking with his son and wife.
Elena Boer received her BS in biology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. During college, she spent her summers as an intern at Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML), an National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases lab in Hamilton, MT. Elena returned to RML as a post-baccalaureate fellow for one year, where she studied viral protein-host cell protein interactions. She is currently studying the role of novel cell adhesion proteins in neural crest development and metastasis in zebrafish.
Elena is from Montana. As a graduate student, she finds balance by skiing, hiking, or doing yoga when she's not in the lab.
Laura Jimenez received her BS in molecular cell and developmental biology from University of California–Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, she worked on identifying the binding domain of an inhibitor drug on the V-ATPase and analyzed novel sequences that potentially encoded calcium transporters in Neurospora. She held an internship at the University of Otago in New Zealand, developing real time PCR assays to detect bioinvasive species. In the Stewart Lab, she is studying the role of the Axl receptor tyrosine kinase in neural crest cell EMT and migration and melanoma pathogenesis.
Laura is from California and enjoys hiking, snowboarding, and soccer.
Jesse Long received his BS in biological sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina. While there, Jesse studied a parasitic relationship between certain wasps and caterpillars, more specifically, the immunosuppression caused by a virus that allows wasp progeny to survive and grow in the host caterpillar. After graduating, he spent a year at Clemson University studying middle ear development in the chick. In the Stewart Lab he is working to identify new mediators of neural crest migration and metastasis.
Jesse is from South Carolina and enjoys the musings of Robert Frost, listening to and playing music, rain, and macaroni and cheese.
Robert received his BS in biology from the University of Utah (U of U). Before joining the Stewart Lab, he worked in the U of U Department of Hematology studying hereditary hemochromatosis. Robert helps everyone in the lab and works with Dr. Stewart on identifying new effectors of neural crest migration in the zebrafish.
Robert is a native of Russia and a full-time rock star. Therefore, his activities cannot be listed on the official lab website.
Cristhian received his BS in biology from Utah Valley University. During college, he worked in histology preparing slides for high school programs around the valley. He also worked as a teaching assistant for a microbiology class. Cristhian has been a combat medic in the U.S. Army Reserve for seven years and participated in several humanitarian missions and disaster relief efforts. Currently, he is the senior manager of the HCI zebrafish facility, working with the coolest people in the world.
Cristhian feeds on the ideas that “nothing is ever good enough” and there is always room for improvement. Cristhian is from Costa Rica and wants to attend medical school one day.
Tyler received his BA in biology from Southern Virginia University. In college, he spent two years as a math and biology tutor and played on the men’s soccer team. In the summer of 2010 he did an internship with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife where he worked on a white sturgeon crew, set-lining for sturgeon in the lower Colombia and Willamette rivers. Tyler’s main priority in the lab is the zebrafish facility. He works in the Jette, Stewart, Jones and Cairns Labs to provide and maintain a clean and healthy environment for the fish.
Tyler has a wife and daughter who he loves to spend time with. He also enjoys snowboarding, backpacking and board games.
Mallory is an undergraduate at the University of Utah working on a BS in geology with an emphasis in environment. Currently, she is a Kennecott Scholarship recipient and wants to pursue a career in research and development for sustainable water practices in the mining industry. Over the last 3 years she has volunteered with Utah non-profit organizations to protect waterways and riparian areas within the Salt Lake Valley. In the Stewart Lab, Mallory works as Lab Aide, gaining laboratory experience and working with some amazing people.
Mallory lived in California and North Carolina before making Utah her home. She loves to travel, play music and cook.
Stewart and Jette Labs
Norma was working towards a BS in geology and physics at Northern Arizona University (best Grand Canyon field trips!) before the travel bug bit. Moving from Flagstaff, she worked in many national parks of the western United States, mainly in clerical positions. At Ohio State University in the Bone Marrow Transplantation Division, she was administrative assistant to MDs and PhDs in their grant, research, and faculty endeavors for 13 years. But the bug bit once more. In answering the call of the west, Norma has since lived in Salt Lake, Reno, Seattle, Portland, and back in Salt Lake. As administrative assistant, Norma makes everyone's life easier by taking care of grant and manuscript submissions, travel, pay, and all the essentials.
Norma was born and raised in western Pennsylvania and has two grown children. She loves to travel and dreams of one day finding Utopia.