Congratulations 2020 G&G Graduates!

This summer four more students will graduate from the UF Genetics & Genomics Graduate program! Two students are graduating with their PhD in Genetics and Genomics and two are graduating with their Master's Degree.


Aishwarya Gurumurthy, member of the Bungert lab, will be graduating with her Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics after 5 years in the program.

Gurumurthy has always had an interest in gene regulation and her research focus has been understanding the Locus Control Region mediated regulation of the Beta Globin Gene.

“These five years have definitely helped me develop transferable skills, such as teamwork, management of undergraduate and high school students, project and time management, writing and problem-solving skills. The program had widened by knowledge to areas I have not been exposed before.”

Upon graduation, Gurumurthy plans to pursue a career in academia.

“I have always seen myself pursuing an academic career track to explore the different facets of gene regulation,” Gurumurthy said. “With the development of sequencing technologies, we are uncovering the breadth and depth of the genome and I cannot wait to study the hidden mechanisms that are crucial to gene regulation and expression. I see myself mentoring, teaching and supervising graduate students in my lab. This has led me to the first step to pursue a postdoctoral research at University of Michigan.”


David Friedman worked in the Horticultural Sciences department under Dr. Bala Rathinasabapathi. He is graduating with his Masters in Genetics and Genomics.

Friedman's research focus was exploring the genetic components of the novel ‘crisp’ phenotype that is present in the UF blueberry breeding lines.

"I developed an interest in genetics in during my undergraduate studies, resulting in an undergraduate thesis on yeast lifespan and aconitase 1," Friedman said. "When I came to UF, intent on studying genetics, I had already determined I did not feel strongly attached to microbial work and decided to expand my horizons during my rotations. My final rotation with Dr. James Olmstead, the former head of the UF Blueberry Breeding program, solidified my interest in the working with plants, and I joined his lab after my rotations were over."

After graduation, Friedman plans to pursue a career in government and eventually pursue his PhD.

"I am currently interested in applying for government work, particularly with the FBI or the CIA, as I believe my degree and skillset are valuable to both organizations, considering that they need to hire diverse backgrounds and skillsets," Friedman said. "I am also interested in applying for jobs in private industry, such as at Driscoll’s, though the current job climate may make that more difficult for the time being."

Friedman stated that he learned a lot of important lessons during his time in the G&G program.

"While I have learned a great deal over the course of my time in the G&G program, perhaps the most important thing has been the value of persistence, even in the face of challenging or disheartening circumstances," Friedman said.


Chandra Earl is graduating with her Ph.D. in Genetics and Genomics after completing her research in Biodiversity informatics. Earl's mentors were Akito Kawahara and Rob Guralnick.

Earl stated that her research took an unexpected turn during her time in the program and ultimately led her to her passion for biodiversity informatics.

"I knew I wanted to do something related to biology and computers and originally thought it was going to be tied into bioinformatics, but as we all know, nothing turns out the way you expect it to," Earl said. "I feel like I didn’t really choose my field, but more stumbled into it and decided I really liked it. Once that happened, it was really easy to take it and make it mine by hopping onto different projects and really learning as much as I could about computational methods being used in the museum."

Earl stated that she takes great pride in getting a Smithsonian fellowship during her academic career.

"One of my biggest accomplishments was landing a Smithsonian fellowship, where I lived in DC for 2 months and was able to learn a lot about machine learning and how it can further the natural sciences," Earl said.

Upon graduating, Earl plans to begin a postdoc in Hawaii.

"I’m currently about to start a postdoc in Honolulu at the Bishop Museum helping them with their Pacific Island Land Snail collection database," Earl said. "Ideally I’d like to become an informatician at a museum, helping researchers with large scale computational analyses."


Maria Martinelli is graduating with her Master's Degree in Genetics and Genomics after two years in the program. Martinelli worked in Dr. Valérie de Crécy-Lagard's lab doing research on characterizing salvage pathways of the epitranscriptome.

"I did not come into this program expecting to work in the field of comparative genomics, but an interest in learning about bioinformatics led me to Dr. de Crécy-Lagard's lab," Martinelli said. "This work, combined with my interest in molecular genetics, particularly of RNA regulation, fit perfectly to challenge me to learn new ways to address scientific question."

Martinelli stated that she is grateful for the program and all that she has learned.

"The genetics and genomics program showed me the power and significance of collaboration and learning about research tools across disciplines," Martinelli said.

She plans to continue her career doing research at UCF.

"I will be continuing to develop my skills as a researcher at UCF, and look forward to discovering more about my skills as a scientist and where those skills will fit into a scientific career," Martinelli said. "I am looking forward to using the skills I developed in Dr. de Crécy-Lagard's lab to address scientific questions and challenge myself to understand new depths of different research areas."