Eight Budding Scientists

Growing the Stowers Graduate School

In August, eight new predoctoral researchers joined the Stowers Institute Graduate School program. Over the next four to five years they will be instructed and mentored by some of the most accomplished scientists in the world and will have access to cutting-edge technologies and equipment. They have the opportunity to acquire a wealth of knowledge to help prepare them for a career in research while earning a PhD degree.

Hear more about these promising scientists in their own words.


José (Fibo) López Hernández
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV)

José (Fibo) López Hernández studied genomic sciences and earned a BS degree, then completed his master’s program in bioinformatics, biostatistics, and cellular differentiation. He thought his next step was a PhD in biology and math, but his experience as a Summer Scholar at the Stowers Institute changed that plan. He found himself amazed by the beauty and power of experiments—the power to test a hypothesis and establish new knowledge.

Sirma User
Middle East Technical University

During her childhood, Sirma User’s parents bought her science magazines geared toward kids. Her favorite parts of the magazines were the posters and cards about animals, star maps, and planets. She credits those magazines with her fascination of the scientific world.

Today, her interests focus on the biological sciences as she explores and solves complex questions in biology.

Alejandro (Alex) Rodríguez Gama
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Complexity of cellular processes and molecular structures fascinates Alejandro (Alex) Rodríguez Gama. His interests range from cellular biology and biochemistry to synthetic biology and proteomics.

An experience that furthered his interest and shaped his scientific education was his participation in his college’s team effort in the 2015 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. Rodríguez Gama led his team’s experiments as they created a bacterial glucose sensor that would respond to glucose concentrations during insulin production.

Todd Gallagher
Humboldt State University

A high school biotechnology class exposed Todd Gallagher to various technologies and the theories behind experimental techniques, and provided visits to labs and biotech companies. He also got to try his hand at laboratory skills, learning restriction enzyme digestions, bacterial transformation, PCR, and some protein analysis.

Gallagher knew then that he wanted to pursue a career in this fast-paced branch of research. He is endlessly fascinated by “the ways people have figured out how to view and understand processes we cannot directly see with our eyes.”

Augusto Ortega Granillo
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Adventures, whether of the mind or the body, captivate Augusto Ortega Granillo.

As a former Stowers Summer Scholar in the Jaspersen Lab, Ortega Granillo enjoyed the Institute’s balance of creativity, collaboration, efficiency, and hard work. He is glad to return to pursue his passion for hands-on research and bioinformatics as he earns a PhD. He finds the idea of “making experiments with my own hands” and exploring the “what ifs” deeply exciting.

Qiushuang Wu
Wuhan University

Qiushuang Wu hopes to understand nothing less than the nature of life, on a genetic level, and to change the world. That interest may explain her two loves, biology and cooking.

Wu takes great pleasure in cooking, especially Chinese dishes. She finds the creativity in cooking similar to conducting scientific experiments. “You follow the protocol and get the normal result, but if you add something new, chances are you will get a surprise.” When she isn’t cooking, Wu wants to research the general mechanisms for transcription regulation.

Soham Karmakar
University of Calcutta

A lifelong love of science fiction novels and movies stoked Soham Karmakar’s passion for real-world science and ultimately led to his decision to become a research scientist.

In high school, Karmakar says the ”absurd ideas and technologies” depicted in science fiction inspired him to read about different areas of science. His reading made him even more curious as he earned a BS in microbiology and an MS in biotechnology. Following his master’s training, Karmakar interned in the lab of Associate Investigator Kausik Si. He considers the Stowers Institute a dream location as he continues his education.

Wei-Ting Yueh
National Taiwan University

Deep-seated curiosity has driven Wei-Ting Yueh for as long as he can remember. As a child he wanted to know “why,” especially when it came to the mystery of what makes living things do what they do.

Yueh believes the most important aspect of basic science is to ask good questions. He hopes to learn how the researchers at the Institute find and solve interesting scientific problems, from the design of experiments to the analysis of data.