Biology

Meet Our Students and Alumni

SECOND-YEAR STUDENTS (Class of 2017)

Our second-year students are just beginning their final semester and second to last rotation. They are working on their research projects and preparing for job interviews throughout the spring semester.  

Top row (l to r): Rachel Higdon, Jessica Kenney, Samantha Melnick
Bottom row (l to r): Jamina Oomen, Pooja Swaroop, Victoria Tecson

Student


Rachel Higdon
(University of Colorado at Boulder - Integrative Physiology)

My name is Rachel Higdon and I was born and raised in Denver, CO and I have lived there my whole life until coming to LIU-Post. I graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Integrative Physiology. I spent the last three years working with genetic counselors and medical oncologists at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers in Denver. I have been an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood and the oncology program at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Hospital. I also spent a significant amount of time volunteering with our research department at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. I made genetic counseling the center of my life for three years and I believe whole-heartedly in the work we do. I’ve been working towards and looking forward to this opportunity to be a student of genetic counseling, especially since I have been able to witness and participate in this life-altering and life-saving service that genetic counselors offer the medical world. While I have a great passion for cancer genetic counseling, I am excited to see where this journey takes me. I feel honored to be part of this program and humbled to have the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Jessica Kenney
(Northeastern University - Communication; LIU Post - Nutrition)

Jessica Kenney is a mom of two amazing girls: Ella is a 4 year old and Sophie is 9 months of age. She received her first bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Northeastern University in 2001. She spent 12 years in corporate fashion, mostly in the footwear wholesale sales arena selling to major department stores and specialty stores. She then sought out a career change to bring her closer to her interests of human anatomy and biology by returning to school in 2012 and enrolling in the Nutrition Program at LIU Post from which she received a second bachelor of science degree in 2014. Through her time at LIU Post, Dr. Ramer and friends, she discovered the field of genetic counseling and is now pursuing her graduate degree in such.

Samantha Melnick
(University of Pennsylvania - Biological Basis of Behavior)

Samantha Melnick is a native of New Jersey. She attended the University of Pennsylvania where she studied Biological Basis of Behavior. She also attended the post-baccalaureate program at Columbia University. Samantha has volunteered in the Emergency Department at Weill-Cornell Medical Center; she has a special interest in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

Jamina Oomen-Hajagos
(Yale University - Biology; Stony Brook University - Genetics MA/PhD)

Jamina Oomen-Hajagos is originally from the Netherlands, but grew up all over the world. She earned a Bachelor's of Science in Biology from Yale University, as well as a Master of Arts in Biology and a PhD in Genetics, both from Stony Brook University. She has taught science at the high school and college levels, and spent several years working in the financial planning field. Jamina became interested in genetic counseling through her teaching experiences as well as her work in developmental biology as a graduate student, and she is looking forward to combining her interests in genetics and teaching as a genetic counselor. Jamina is married with two children (a boy and a girl) and enjoys traveling, reading, crafts, spending time outdoors, and hanging out with her many pets. She is honored to be joining the LIU Post Genetic Counseling Graduate Program and looks forward to an exciting and fulfilling experience!

Pooja Swaroop
(University of Toronto - Human Genetics and Psychology)

Pooja Swaroop, from Toronto, Canada, graduated with a double major in Human Genetics and Psychology from the University of Toronto. In addition to her undergraduate degree, Pooja’s diverse experiences have further confirmed her interest in Genetic Counseling. She has gained experience in a clinical setting at a Familial Breast Cancer Clinic, and in a research setting at the Autism Research Unit. The research study characterizes the phenotypes of individuals with 22q duplication or 15q deletion and investigates the association with neurodevelopmental disorders. Pooja has also been volunteering for the Toronto Distress Centre for over a year. Her employment history includes experience as a Laboratory Technician, and Student Instructor at the Faculty of Medicine, U of T. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, rollerblading and playing with her cat. Pooja is excited to pursue the career of a genetic counselor, and is looking forward to begin her journey at LIU Post.

Maria Victoria Tecson
(Rutgers University - Biochemistry)

Having completed her Biochemistry degree as a Scarlet Knight at Rutgers University almost three years ago, Victoria Tecson is ready to get back into the classroom as part of LIU Post's Genetic Counseling program. With endless curiosity and an open mind, she realized her new dream to become a genetic counselor while working as a molecular technician at Reprogenetics for the past two years. When she is not in scrubs, she enjoys tennis, boxing, traveling in and out of the country, reading, and cuddling with her dachshund. With this opportunity and fresh start, she hopes to make a lasting impact, not just at LIU Post, but on those she encounters in this new chapter of her life and career.


FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS (Class of 2018)

Our first-year students are just beginning their second semester on campus this spring and heading out on their observational rotations. They are also planning their research projects.

Top row (l to r): Brittany Brassell, Rachel Goldberg, Brianna Gross, Dani Kupperman
Bottom row (l to r): Haley Nisson, Deborah Paul, Chana Ratner, Chevi Strum

Student


Brittany Brassell
(University of Connecticut – Diagnostic Genetic Science - Cytogenetics)

My name is Brittany Brassell and I am from the very small town of Seymour, CT.  I recently graduated in 2015 from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Diagnostic Genetic Sciences; concentration in cytogenetics.  At UConn, I worked for 2 years as a student research assistant in a genetics lab and for one semester as a teaching assistant in a cytogenetics lab.  I completed a 6 month internship at AmeriPath Northeast in Shelton, CT, and have most recently been working there as a cytogenetic technologist.  I have also been an active “listener” on a website called 7 Cups of Tea and have met with numerous genetic counselors over the past couple of years.  When it comes to the field of genetics, I consider myself one of the biggest nerds out there; most people would agree after listening to my never-ending banter on gene rearrangements and my favorite chromosome (which is 7).  Becoming a genetic counselor has been my dream for years and I am extremely excited to be joining the class of 2018 at LIU.

Rachel Goldberg (Binghamton University – Integrative Neuroscience)

Rachel Goldberg is a Long Island native who has spent the past four years at Binghamton University obtaining a Bachelor's of Science in Integrative Neuroscience. While at Binghamton she founded a Genetics Club, and participated in the Neuroscience Club and Global Medical Brigades. She volunteered at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in the hospice, oncology, and emergency units. At Binghamton's Crime Victim's Assistance Center she became a New York State Certified Rape Crisis Counselor. Rachel gained experience in preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and prenatal genetic counseling prior to applying to LIU, which not only confirmed her passion for genetic counseling, but also led to a strong interest in pursuing either as a specialty. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys going to the beach, reading, and spending time with friends.

Brianna Gross (Binghamton University – Integrative Neuroscience)

Brianna Gross is from Freehold, NJ. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrative Neuroscience following an organismic track at Binghamton University. She is eager to begin her journey as a genetic counselor where she can share her passion for helping others. To prepare, she has held internships at a local family planning agency and at an on campus public health institution.  She especially enjoyed volunteering at ACHIEVE, a facility in which adults with varying genetic disabilities can go to grow and spend time. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the world, running, kickboxing, and spending time with family and friends. She is honored to be following her longtime dream of becoming a genetic counselor at LIU Post.

Danielle (Dani) Kupperman (University of Delaware – Health Behavior Science)

My name is Dani Kupperman and I am a native New Yorker. I recently graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor's degree in Health Behavior Science and a minor in Business Administration. During my time at UD, I shadowed in Maternal & Fetal Medicine Genetic Counseling and I interned full time with the cancer genetic counselors at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center. These experiences have helped me to discover my passion for genetic counseling. I was also a programming chair for the Student Centers Programming Advisory Board at UD. During this time, I was able to plan various events for students; my favorite events to plan were concerts since I love live music. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going to concerts, and traveling. I cannot wait to attend LIU so that I can pursue my passion for this exciting field and train to become a genetic counselor.

Haley Nisson (James Madison University – Biology)

My name is Haley Nisson and I am from Wallingford, Connecticut. I graduated in 2015 from James Madison University with a degree in biology and a specialization in genetics. I found my passion in genetics after joining a research team at JMU that focused on the genetics of the neurological patterns in drosophila. After graduating, I took the year to further explored the field by working as a genetic counseling assistant for four GCs at Reprogenetics. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, being outside, and dancing.  I am thrilled for this next chapter in my life and having the oppertunity to expand my knowledge of genetic counseling with the LIU Post program.

Deborah Paul (Binghamton University – Integrative Neuroscience/Spanish)

Deborah Paul, from North White Plains, NY, graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with a double major in Integrative Neuroscience and Spanish. She hopes to combine her love of genetics and the Spanish language into her future career as a Genetic Counselor. Deborah has been fortunate enough to shadow in a cancer genetics setting as well as volunteer with Gilda's Club Westchester, a cancer support community. In her free time, Deborah enjoys playing volleyball, seeing Broadway shows, and travelling along the east coast visiting friends. She is looking forward to beginning her journey to becoming a Genetic Counselor and is thrilled to be doing so at LIU Post.

Chana Ratner (Yeshiva University – Biology)

My name is Chana Ratner and I was born and raised in New York. I graduated from the Honors Program at Yeshiva University, Stern College for Women, in May 2016 with a major in Biology. During my undergraduate years, I was a research assistant at Mount Sinai Medical Center in the lab of Epigenetic Regulation of the Human Brain. I was also one of the directors of TEACH (Together Educating All Children in Hospitals), an organization that brings science experiments to children in hospitals across New York. During my free time, you can find me in the kitchen cooking up a storm, reading a good book, ice skating or playing the piano. I love learning new things and I enjoy being challenged. I am super excited to be a part of the genetic counseling program at LIU!

Yocheved "Chevi" Strum (Brooklyn College – Biology/Psychology)

My name is Yocheved (Chevi) Strum. I have lived in Brooklyn my entire life, surrounded by my giant family. I graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College with a degree in biology and psychology in May 2015. I volunteered at IMAlive, where I was able to reach out to people all over the country and be a listening ear in their times of need. During my gap year, I worked as a medical assistant at Segulah Pediatrics in Brooklyn and relished my time being a mom to my baby girl Zoey. I want to show her that just as her mommy can achieve her dream of becoming a genetic counselor, she too can achieve whatever she sets her mind to. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, and cross-stitching.

ALUMNI

Class of 2016

Genetic Counseling Class of 2016

Top row (l to r): Sara Malka Cohen, Emily Lundberg, Janet Malcolmson
Bottom row (l to r): Rachel Rabin, Emily Rosen, Jaime Tramontana

Alumnus Current Position

Sara Malka Cohen

Genetic Counselor, Boston Children’s Health Physicians (Valhalla, NY)

Emily Lundberg Griffin

Genetic Counselor, Columbia University Medical Center (New York, NY)

Janet Malcolmson

Genetic Counselor, St. Peter’s Healthcare System (New Brunswick, NJ)

Rachel Rabin

Genetic Counselor, NYU Langone Medical Center (New York, NY)

Emily Rosen

Genetic Counselor, Madonna Perinatal Services (Brightwaters and Mineola, NY)

Jaime Tramontana

Genetic Counselor, Winthrop University Hospital (Mineola, NY)


Class of 2015

Genetic Counseling Class of 2015l to r: Mikaela Lum, Lee Ann McCoy, Nikki Salvatore
Marie Chuldzhyan (not pictured)

Alumnus
Current Position
Marie Chuldzhyan
Genetic Counselor, UCLA Health (Los Angeles, CA)
Mikaela Lum
Genetic Counselor, Genetics Center (Orange, CA)
Lee Ann McCoy
Genetic Counselor, St. Francis Hospital (Roslyn, NY)
Nicole "Nikki" Salvatore Cancer Genetic Coordinator, Meridian Health (Brick, NJ)

Class of 2014

Genetic Counseling Class of 2014Top row (l to r): Lauren Giannetti, Alex Markese, Michelle Primiano
Bottom row (l to r): Jay Shaw, Elizabeth Strawderman Monast, Francesca Tubito 

Alumnus
Current Position
Lauren Giannetti Genetic Counselor, Gene Screen (Morristown, NJ)
Alexandria "Alex" Markase
Genetic Counselor, Recombine (New York, NY)
Michelle Primiano Genetic Counselor, New York Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY)
Jessica "Jay" Shaw Genetic Counselor, New York Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY)
Elizabeth Strawderman Monast Genetic Counselor, Breast Center at Charleston Area Medical Center (Charleston, WV)
Francesca Tubito Genetic Counselor, Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York, NY)

Class of 2013

Genetic Counseling Class of 2013Top row (l to r): Lauren Ely, Julie Handy, Katherine Fink
Bottom row (l to r): Jessica Miles, Sabrina Mobilio, Victoria Schoepke

Alumnus
Current Position
Lauren Ely Regional Medical Specialist, Myriad Genetics (North Atlantic Region - NJ/PA)
Katherine Fink Regional Medical Specialist, Myriad Genetics (Mid-Southern Region - AR/IL/MO)
Julie Handy Genetic Counselor, Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Center (Greater Philadelphia, PA)
Jessica Miles Genetic Counselor, Prenatal Wellness Center, Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston, SC)
Sabrina Mobilio Genetic Counselor, North Shore University Hospital (Manhasset, NY)
Victoria Schoepke Genetic Counselor, Gettysburg Hospital (Gettysburg, PA)

Class of 2012

Genetic Counseling Class of 2012l to r: Virginia Sack, Calvin Chan, Caitlin Peters, Veena Ganesh, Amanda Brosseau

Alumnus Current Position
Amanda Brosseau
Director of Genetic Counseling Services, Fetal Care Center, Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas, TX)
Calvin Chan Associate Product Manager, Myriad Genetics (Los Angeles, CA)
Veena Ganesh Genetic Counselor, St. Vincent's HealthCare (Jacksonville, FL)
Caitlin Peters Genetic Counselor, Hawai'i Community Genetics at Queen’s Medical Center (Honolulu, HI)
Virginia "Ginny" Sack Genetic Counselor, Albany Medical Center (Albany, NY)

ALUMNI

Graduation 2013Graduation 2013
Graduation 2014Graduation 2014

LIU Post Genetic Counseling Alumni Reunion 2014 (NSGC)Alumni Reunion at NSGC AEC Conference 2014 (New Orleans)

Back row (l to r): Elizabeth Strawderman Monast ('14), Nancy Steinberg Warren (Past Interim Director), Jay Shaw ('14), Michaela Lum ('15), Nikki Salvatore ('15), Francesa Tubito ('14), Lauren Giannetti ('14), Amanda Brosseau ('12), LeeAnn McCoy ('15), Veena Ganesh ('12), Caitlin Peters ('12)Front row (l to r): Jill Fischer (Director), Ginny Sack ('12)


CONTACT

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Nathaniel Bowditch, Dean

Joan Ruckel
Executive Assistant to the Dean