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Beyond the Abstract Podcast

Attention all podcast aficionados and researchers alike! Beyond the Abstract podcast is a new way to learn about science at UMB.

This new podcast will be accessible on the Office of Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Program in Life Sciences webpage, and will feature the research of students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty across campus. Postdoctoral Fellow Sarah Laun thought a podcast would be a good medium for scientists around campus to share their research, hoping to facilitate collaborations, inter-departmental connections, and an overall better understanding of the variety of research across campus. Laun says the target audience is “everyone on campus interested in getting to know the scientists, and other faculty, on campus and what new research is being produced here.” Furthermore, the podcast format will allow researchers to enhance their communication skills by describing their work without the crutch of data or visual media. Laun has teamed up with student Christina Ross as co-host, ensuring that Beyond the Abstract enhances both graduate and post-doc connections. Most podcast episodes will feature UMB Postdoctoral Fellows, Graduate Students and Faculty with new or recent publications, guaranteeing that the information is relevant, fresh, and still exciting to the researcher. Instead of focusing on the details of the publication, the podcast will focus more broadly on the big picture and how the research makes an impact. Additionally, some episodes will feature other faculty on campus to spread awareness of the different people, departments, groups, and services across campus. Episodes will be released bi-weekly, and will last about 10-15 minutes.

Are you interested in getting involved or sharing your work on the podcast? Feel free to contact Sarah Laun at or the organization at


Beyond the Abstract Episode 1: Dr. Katie Leonard

Katie Leonard, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology within the School of Medicine. She received her PhD from Wright State University in 2012 where she studied the molecular mechanisms of non-melanoma skin cancers. Dr. Leonard is continuing her training in the skin cancer field under the current guidance of Dr. David Kaetzel to investigate how melanomas metastasize." 


Beyond the Abstract Episode 2: Courtney Petro

Courtney Petro is a 5th year graduate student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program. She received her B.Sc from Juniata College in 2010 where she majored in biochemistry and studied Streptomyces coelicolor genetics of with Dr. Jennifer Bennett. Courtney continues to study microbes with Dr. Michael Donnenberg in the Microbiology and Immunology Department here at UMBSOM. She is currently working on her dissertation research, understanding the type IV pilus structure produced on the surface of enteropathogenic E. Coli. (EPEC) 


Beyond the Abstract Episode 3: Nathaniel Safren

Before doing his PhD in Dr. Mervyn Monteiro’s lab at University of Maryland Baltimore, Nathaniel Safren attended Binghamton University in New York. He has since moved on to do a postdoc at University of Michigan. In his free time he enjoys forensic astronomy and long walks on the beach. Paper links: and 


Beyond the Abstract Podcast Episode 4: Kelsey A. Gregg

Kelsey A. Gregg is a 4th year Molecular Microbiology and Immunology PhD student in Dr. Robert Ernst's lab. She studies the structure and function of lipid A, a unique lipid found in Gram negative bacteria. Kelsey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and her Master of Science degree in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. Outside of the lab, she enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, and training her German Shepherd Dog. Linkedin  


Beyond the Abstract Podcast Episode 5: Sarah Laun

Sarah Laun PhD, up until September 2015 was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Bret Hassel's lab from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and prior to that received her PhD in Dr. Gerald Wilson's lab from Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology within the School of Medicine in 2009. For the past decade she has been uncovering RNA regulation and expression systems involved in cellular homeostasis and cancer progression. She created Beyond the Abstract in 2014 when realizing a growing passion for connecting scientific minds to enhance ideas and knowledge. She now works as the Lab and Program manager at Baltimore Under Ground Science Space (BUGSS) a non-profit citizen science lab pursuing her dreams and spreading her passion for science, human curiosity and creativity, and absolute nerdiness. 


Beyond the Abstract Podcast Episode 6: Randy Schekman

Randy Schekman is a Nobel Prize-winning American cell biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and former editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2011, he was announced as the editor of eLife (, a new high-profile open-access journal published by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society and the Wellcome Trust launching in 2012. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992. Schekman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof for their ground-breaking work on cell membrane vesicle trafficking. Along with his research, he is a passionate science advocate, supporting appropriate research assessment (


Beyond the Abstract Podcast Episode 7: Grant Jones

Grant grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and attended Arizona State University to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Microbiology in 2008. He then started at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. program in 2010 and will be graduating this Spring 2016. He has two cats. He Likes to go to the Farmers market and experiment in cooking. Grant will be starting at the National Institutes of Health in June 2016 and is looking forward to starting his career.