• Of all the ORs in all the world, he had to walk into his! It's a small, small world! McMurry Lab alumnus Dr. Dino Romero (KSU '13), now a surgeon in Miami, has an interesting clinical rotator: Kevin Bennett (MSIB, '18), now at med student at FIU. While not technically a McMurry Lab alum, Kevin is married to one and was approximately 2-503 vs. McMurry on the squash court, so he's honorary! Work him hard, Dino!

Dino & Kevin


  • McMurry's return to competitive squash was not without incident. Playing in the Atlanta Community Squash 4.0 level draw, he got to the final, facing Chad Robbins, who had defeated him in the 4.5 draw. It was 10-5 McMurry in the fifth when a terrible call that should have been a stroke but was given as a let, led to a complete meltdown wherein he blew six match balls and went down to defeat. Keeping one's cool seems a lesson in need of lifelong learning, for McMurry, at least!

Some solace was to be found in the runner-up (first loser!) trophy...

First Loser Trophy

... but even more was found when Saurav Ghosal, 9-time National Champion of India and current World #19 (visiting in July on his way from Calcutta to train in Ithaca, NY) watched the video and pronounced it a stroke! Vindication! I have applied for a retroactively awarded championship!

ME and Saurav


  • Match Day 2023! Former minions Hannah Moorman (BS '18) and Emma (Parks) Bennett (BS '18) are finishing up med school at Mercer and FIU, respectively, and have matched for residency! Dr. Moorman is off to a pathology residency at Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Bennett will be entering psychiatry residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center (the good one in Miami Beach, way better than snow-bound Manhattan!). Congratulations! We're super proud of you!






  • Oh, Happy Day! Dr. Verra Ngwa (M.S. '16) successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, "Targeting Vascular Endothelial Glutaminase in Triple Negative Breast Cancer," at Vanderbilt University School of Medicines's Cancer Biology Program.  And with a just-accepted paper (her 7th! We're proud that 3 of them are bylined at KSU during her master's work!) she's cruising into a post-doctoral position. Dr. Ngwa will stay in Nashville for the next step in her career - maybe she just likes all the country music!



  • Those sneaky McMurry Lab alumni! They went and finished their Ph.D.s without us noticing! Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Martini and Dr. Israel Scott, both of whom graduated from UGA in 2021, respectively in genetics and biochemistry. Dr. Martini is now a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell Weill College of Medicine.








  • On the other hand, Dr. David Axford, D.O., was caught in the act! Congrats to David and family on finishing med school and going on active duty in the U.S. Navy. Dr. Axford will be reporting to Virginia for service and post-graduate training in obstetrics! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! McMurry Alumni make waves! Anchors Aweigh! Don't give up the ship! He has not yet begun to fight deliver babies!







  • It's been another banner year for McMurry Lab Alumni. '19 alumnae Jisu Lee and Comfort Orekoya have been admitted to D.O. schools at Auburn VCOM and PCOM Gwinnett, respectively! And '21 alumnus Aidan Keelaghan will be starting doctoral studies at Emory this fall, rightly choosing it over Dook and thus avoiding the humiliation of witnessing first-hand the coming humilating losses to my Tar Heels!

Bacot Love





  • Collaborations pay off, though sometimes it takes a while. Our study with the Chrestensen Group on the phospho-regulation of NOS3 by MAP kinases, begun years ago when the protein was called eNOS, was published in FEBS Open Bio. Hot off the virtual presses here! It's open access, so download early and often and tweet it every day! McMurry alumni spanning several 'generations' contributed - Dr. Amber Caldara (B.S. '15), Dr. Katie (Rhoades) Smith (B.S. '14), Dr. Katy Helms (from her research associate days in the group) and Lydia Wade are all on the paper as authors. Congratulations, everyone!


  • Merle Haggard famously sang "if we make it through December we'll be fine," but January finds more than one tear in McMurry's eye as the group bids farewell to our dynamic duo of research associates, Lydia Wade and Stephanie Hill, who have found private sector employment. They kept the lab running smoothly for several years and made invaluable contributions to the research - I will forever be grateful to both. It is the nature of academic labs that people move on and we wish them nothing but the continued success their hard work and talent deserves, but I can't help but wonder, a la, George Jones, "who's gonna fill their shoes?" As we wait for word from the NIH on our proposals, it's just Dan and me now,. #HeavenHelpUs!
  • More good news on the alumni front - Aidan Keelaghan, after a our of duty at Emory, has been admitted to the Ph.D. program at Duke University! Congrats, Aidan - another McMurry Lab Miracle (tm)! And is it just coincidence that Coach K is retiring as Aidan enters the scene? He must know that he was about to get smoked!



  • The 16th year of the McMurry Group is ending on a high note. We celebrate the admission of Jisu Lee ('19) to Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn University, the 14th former minion to get into med school! And that's two McMurry Alumni at VCOM (David Axford, '18, being the other), officially establishing the KSU-to-Auburn Pipeline!



  • Blake got a job! May graduate Blake Langefels (B.S. Biochemistry) was hired as a lab manager at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Gainfully employed McMurry Lab survivors +1! Excelsior!


Farewell '21


  • It was a long road, winding through the research world but then landing in medical school, but soon-to-be Dr. Dino Romero, M.D. (KSU '13) has matched in General Surgery at Memorial Healthcare in Ft. Lauderdale. Sun, sand and Florida Man await! Godspeed, Dr. Dino!

Dino Match Day

  • The McMurry Lab just got woke! Er... OK, we got Wake! Hope Didier, '21 was accepted into Wake Forest School of Medicine P.A./Ph.D. Program. First a doctorate in Molecular Medicine and Translational Science, then an M.M.S. in P.A. studies for kicks! To our knowledge, Hope is the first KSU alumna to be admitted to a combined doctoral/medical graduate program. Go Deacs! Go Hope!

Hope Wake

  • Another McMurry Lab Miracle!!! Up from the mean streets of Burley, Idaho, forged in the crucible of the McMurry Lab, from thence to scientific greatness!!!! Rock-star undergrad, Carrie Lyn Barron just burst into lab and collapsed on the floor, screaming with joy that she got into Case Western's Ph.D. Program! We've never seen someone so excited about moving to Cleveland, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Congrats, Carrie Lyn! Polycystic kidney disease has no idea what it's in for!

Carrie Lyn Barron



  • We bid a "don't let the door hit you in the tuchus on your way out" to 2020. And even though they didn't cure COVID-19, or cancer, or, well... anything, McMurry still took the group to lunch. Better luck next year, guys!

McMurry Group Dec. 2020





  • Another McMurry Lab MiracleTM! When she joined the group, she was just another lump of scientific coal, another kid fresh off the mean streets of Parnu, Estonia. But forged in the crucible of two years' of grueling training in the McMurry Lab, she has emerged a shining diamond of a young scientist! Meet our latest contribution to America's Biomedical Research Workforce, Laura-Maria Oja, M.S.! Lolo is off to a research associate position at the Carl Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC, where she will work to develop new stem cell therapeutic technologies. Godspeed and Excelsior, Lolo!

Laura-Maria Oja


  • The COVID shutdown couldn't shut her down! Laura-Maria Oja (MSCB '20) not only defended her thesis with flying colors and unanimous approbation from her committee, but was named the CSM Outstanding Graduate Student! Congratulations, Lolo! Now to find a job...


  • Buckeyes, Hokies & Gophers, oh, my! Once again proving that students can go anywhere from the McMurry Lab Launching Pad, alumnus Luke Dickson ('17, MSIB '19) was admitted to DVM Program at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary MedicineEmma Henry ('19) has accepted an offer of admission to Viriginia Tech's Ph.D. Program in Biological SciencesMichael Woods (MSIB '21) is short-circuiting his MS program because he's been called up to the Big Leagues. After receiving several competitive offers, he has chosen to accept that of the University of Minnesota Pharmacology Ph.D. Program! #StillNotTiredofAlltheWinning! 
  • Superstar undergrad Hope Didier ('21) was invited to present her research "Downtown" at the Board of Regents and then, on the 25th, at Posters at the Capitol. McMurry showed up to bask in the glow of Didier's reflected glory.

Hope @ BoRDidier at Posters at the Capitol


  • Yet another paper that will forever be in preprint. Check out our manuscript "Utilization of a cell-penetrating peptide-adaptor for delivery of HPV protein E2 into cervical cancer cells to arrest cell growth and promote cell death" at biorvix right here!



  • Congratulations to Maria Mbugua (MSIB '19), who defended her MSIB thesis and graduated ahead of schedule! Her thesis is embargoed until we get the papers out, but when we do (or Dec. 2024, whichever comes first!), you can read it here!

Maria Mbugua


  • Alumna Verra Ngwa (MSIB '16) has received her own NIH grant as PI! "Saint" Verra was awarded a Ruth L. Kirchstein NRSA for her proposal entitled "The role of vascular endothelial glutaminase in tumor vessel normalization and response to therapy." It will fund the remainder of her Ph.D. studies at Vanderbilt's Ph.D. Program in Cancer Studies! Congratulations, Verra! You're amazing!

Verra at Vandy 



  • Welcome new MSIB student Michael Woods, who is getting a jump on his M.S. program by starting his research this summer! Michael will be working with Dan to fix CRISPR/Cas.


  • Grant renewed! The National Institute on Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering just funded our group for another 3 years! Let's go cure something, guys!
  • News you can use!Intrepid post-doc Julia LeCher has cleared out some grad school cobwebs with a publication in Viruses! It's a freely available handy guide for what to do when you're bitten by a B-virus-infected macaque! Let's get her usage metrics up! Dowload early and often!
  • Dr. Amber Caldara ('15) defended her doctoral thesis at Emory's Cancer Biology Program. She finished her degree in a record-shattering three years, nine months! She's off to a lucrative consulting gig in the Big Apple. Another McMurry Lab MiracleTM!

Amber defending

  • Thanos 'asked' McMurry to give the Graduate Commencement address. In all his years of service to Thanos, he has never failed her. Had he declined, there would have been... judgment. Sadly, the speech is preserved for posterity here, starting ~21 minutes in.


  • McMurry Lab grad students Maria Mbugua and Laura-Maria Oja rocked ASBMB '19 in Orlando with two sizzling poster presentations! You can read their abstracts here and here.


  • All we do is win, win, win! Emma Henry ('20) has been awarded a 2019 Birla Carbon fellowship to pursue research full-time this summer! She joins the long line of McMurry Lab Birla Carbon Scholars Sydney Green, Amber Caldara, David Axford and 2018 Birla Carbon Symposium winner Hope Didier. Thanks to Aditya Birla Group and their Marietta-based subsidiary Birla Carbon for the support!
  • Match Day! McMurry Lab alumnae Lauren (Beaseley) Thomas ('14) and Katy Helms both matched at residency programs of their choice. They're off to UF-Pensacola and Wake Forest, respectively! Congratulations!

Lauren Thomas Match DayKaty Helms Match Day

  • Hot off the virtual presses! Our collaboration with Natalia Hubbs of Hanover College was accepted by Acta Virologica (the #1 Bratislava-based virology journal!). While it's in press, you can get your pre-print copy from bioRvix! Download early and often! Congratulations to Mareena Whisby-Pitts on her first publication!


  • Our first patent application has been published! Read it and weep, Big Pharma! We're coming for you!
  • Recent alumna Jisu Lee ('18) was featured in the Honors College newsletter with a story detailing her rugby and research exploits. And yes, that is David Axford ('18) in the upper right corner! (I call the below photo "If do right, no can defense!")


Jisu rugbyJisu Poster



  • Congratulations to December McMurry Lab graduates Camila Bejarano, Jisu Lee and Hannah Moorman on their Ascension to the Pantheon of the Graduated



  • Congratulations to Emma Parks (B.S. '18), admitted to 5 M.D. programs and counting!
  • Our own Daniel Morris gets his star turn on the Office of Research Website in a story about his grant! He also received a mention from President Thanos in her blog.

Dan at bench







  • To heck with Reviewer #2! After several frustrating years of trying to get it published, we've just released "Control of eNOS and nNOS through regulation of obligatory conformational changes in the reductase catalytic cycle" to bioRxiv, the Cold Spring Harbor preprint server. It's likely John Salerno's last paper. Answering reviewer criticisms without John's expertise (and mostly about to his endearingly Spartan graphing style) in lifetime spectroscopy proved too daunting a task to attempt a sixth time. Here's hoping the work finds its audience and contributes to better understanding of NOS regulation. Download early and often!


  • All-star undergrad Hope Didier beat out the rest of KSU's best and brightest student researchers to win the Best Presentation Award at the 2018 Birla Carbon Symposium. In addition to an all-expenses paid trip to the scientific conference of her choice, Hope won a hearty handshake and photo with Dean Anderson! 

Hope & Dean



Amber HHMIDavid Commissioning


  • Welcome to the newest member of the McMurry Group, Laura-Maria Oja (MSCB '20), who comes to us after a glorious track and field career with the Owls. She's 'off and running' on our induced pluripotent stem cell project, a collaboration with Martin Hudson.

Laura Track






  • Spring Minion Mayhem! Former minion Dr. Katherine (Rhoades) Smith, M.D. (KSU '14) graduated from Mercer University School of Medicine and is off to Emory for a residency in internal medicine. David Axford ('18) was featured on the KSU front page as he departs for Auburn VCOM. And Emma Parks ('18) won Outstanding Honors Student. And Kevin Patel of the Chrestensen Lab brought the most awesome E. coli apple pie evah to the lab party! Congratulations to McMurry Lab Alumni near and far! We're proud of you all! Excelsior!

KatieRDavidKSUEmmaPKC and SYavidforthewinColiPie


Steven @ Symposium

  • Doctoral program decisions have been made! Kelsey Clearman has accepted an offer from UAB's Cell, Developmental & Integrative Biology Program and Shaquanna Young has accepted an offer from the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Disease Cluster at the University of Virginia! Excelsior!

Kelsey and Shaquanna







 Minions @ NCURHope @ NCURSteven @ NCURDavid @ NCURMinions @ NCUR 2

  • Kelsey Clearman won the KSU Three Minute Thesis Competition, not only tearing through a field that included several doctoral candidates, but also bringing home the $500 prize! 

Kelsey 3MT winner


  • Congratulations to Hope Didier, who has been selected as a 2018 Birla Carbon Scholar! Hope will spend the summer working in the lab and is widely considered a favorite to win the symposium presentation award! (No pressure...). Thanks to Birla Carbon for sponsoring the award.
  • Congratulations to David Axford! David has been named the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Biology and will be honored with a commemorative plaque and a hearty handshake from Dean Anderson! In other David news, next fall he will start medical school at the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine at Auburn, paid for entirely by the U.S. Navy! Another McMurry Lab Miracle!(TM)

DAHope Didier


  • Hannah Moorman (B.S. '19) made The Waycross Journal-Herald ("South Georgia's Greatest Newspaper) for her appearance on the president's list.
  • Hot off the virtual presses! An old collaboration finally bears fruit. We provided the biosensing expertise to Oli Kerscher's group at William & Mary and his group for their SUMO work. See a cool write up of Oli's work here. Gray, D., Peek, J., Rosenberg, D., Kolla, L., Harvey, C., Levy-Myers, R. McMurry, J.L. and Kerscher, O. (2018) “SUMO targeting of a stress-tolerant Ulp1 SUMO protease,” PLoS One, 13(1):e0191391.



  • Anchors Aweigh! Congratulations to David Axford, who was awarded a U.S. Navy Health Professions Scholarship - full ride to medical school! David Med School







  • Jonathan McMurry gave the Berry College Chemistry Department seminar. It was squatting room only!

Berry College talk

  • The McMurry Group presented seven (!) posters at the GABio Innovation Summit, with Kelsey Clearman taking home the hardware, winning the Anthony Shuker Poster Award! Congrats to Julia LeCher, Emma Parks, Camila Bejarano, Steven Ho, Shaquanna Young and Luke Dickson!


  • Kelsey Clearman and Shaquanna Young presented their work at the Emory Laney Graduate Symposium.


  • Jonathan McMurry has been called up to The Show! Alas, for one day only...Vanderbilt Colloqium


Luke Dickson


  • Jonathan McMurry went on vacation. There was much rejoicing.

Lab June 2017

  • Another McMurry Lab Miracle™! Dr. Josh Francis successfully defended his doctoral thesis June 22 at Emory. Dr. Eric Hoffer was in the crowd of well-wishers. Great to see McMurry Lab alums doing well!

Josh Grad
Josh Talk

  • Kelsey ClearmanMareena Whisby and Shaquanna Young have been accepted to the Emory-Laney Graduate Symposium where they will present their work this October. Congratulations!
  • All of our first year MSIB students have passed their thesis proposals! 'Clearly' in the lead was Kelsey Clearman, who had the good sense to provide her committee with donut-like cupcake thingies and then skated through as committee members slipped into diabetic comas! That's how you pass your thesis proposal!!!