Kukekova Lab

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Lab Members

Faculty

Anna Kukekova

  • Hometown: St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Degrees:
    MS, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1993
    PhD, Institute of Cytology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1999
  • Current Position: Anna started the lab at the University of Illinois in the fall of 2012. Prior to that she was a Post-doctoral Research Associate (1999-2002), Research Associate (2002-2010), and Principal Research Scientist (2010-2012) at Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University.

Research Associates

Jennifer Johnson

  • Hometown: Unadilla, NY
  • Degrees: BS, Cornell University, 1994
  • Current Position: Research Specialist
  • Description of Research: Jennifer is currently enrolled in a Masters program studying bioinformatics. She is studying selective sweeps in the tame and aggressive foxes.

Ph.D. Students

Jessica Hekman

  • Hometown: Arlington, MA
  • Degrees:
    DVM, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 2012
    MS, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, 2012
  • Current Position: PhD Candidate
  • Description of Research: The transcriptome of tame and aggressive foxes; behavioral syndromes in domestic dogs
  • http://dogzombie.com/cv.html

Halie Rando

  • Hometown: Sharon, MA
  • Degrees:
    ScB Human Biology, Brown University, 2011
    MPhil Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge (Selwyn College), 2013
    MSc Bioinformatics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015
  • Current Position: PhD Student
  • Description of Research: Halie is currently finalizing a chromosomal assembly of the red fox genome, which will facilitate investigation of genomic regions that may be of interest in fox social behavior, in addition to a partial Y-assembly and a set of microsatellite markers for analysis of Y-haplotype diversity in the red fox. She is working on using SNPs to analyze variation between wild fox populations and the strains of foxes maintained at the ICG to identify signatures of selection that can offer insight into the genes under selection during the fox's transition to captive breeding.
  • Career Goals: Halie is passionate about using computational analysis and large data sets to address questions that can improve society. She is interested in the red fox as a model for the genetics of psychological resilience, in the hopes that this will benefit studies of PTSD in humans and military working dogs. Outside of the lab, she teaches programming and data science to graduate students from demographics frequently under-represented in computational areas.

M.S. Students

Ali Ford

  • Current Position: Master's Student in the Program for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Undergraduates

Estelle Bastounes

  • Hometown: Chicago
  • Description of Research: Estelle works on testing microsatellite markers for phylogenomic analysis of the red fox Y-chromosome.

Grace Lee

  • Hometown: Taiwan
  • Current Position: Animal Sciences '18
  • Description of Research: Grace is working to sequence the promoter region of the c-Kit gene in silver foxes.
  • Career Goals: Go to vet school and hopefully practice somewhere in California.

Haley Rymut

  • Hometown: Mokena, IL
  • Current Position: Animal Sciences '18
  • Description of Research: Haley is trying to find which gene causes leukoencephalomyelopathy in German Shepherd puppies.
  • Career Goals: To work at or start a big cat rescue for big cats in America.

Omar Shennib

  • Hometown: Libya
  • Current Position: Molecular & Cellular Biology '17 (Chemistry minor)
  • Description of Research: Omar is working to identify gene(s) that are responsible for white spotting (Star Phenotype) in Silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes).
  • Career Goals: Genetic counseling and research on human inherited disorders

Jeremy Stutchman

  • Hometown: Saratoga, CA
  • Current Position: Animal Sciences '18
  • Description of Research: Jeremy is working on the development of a set of microsatellite markers for analysis of Y-haplotype variability in wild foxes.

Naomi Won

  • Current Position: Molecular & Cellular Biology '18
  • Description of Research: Naomi is testing putative rearrangements in the fox genome relative to the dog.
  • Career Goals: Open up my own veterinary clinic on the west coast and run a dog treat bakery on the side.

Alumni

Flora Fong

Monica Jarboe

  • Current Position: Veterinary Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Description of Research: During her time as a Research Assistant, Monica worked on a variety of projects, including screening candidate genes in regions under selection in the fox breeding projects at the ICG.

Alexandra Kozysa

  • Current Position: Veterinary Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Description of Research: During her time as an Undergraduate RA in the Kukekova lab, Alex studied the genetics of coat color variation in the Silver Fox.

Julie Lihosit

  • Current Position: Veterinary Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Description of Research: While she was an Undergrad RA, Julie worked on identifying rearrangements in the fox genome relative to the dog.

Qianwen Zhao

  • Degrees: B.S. Integrative Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign