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Pullen Lab People

Principal Investigator

Nicholas Pullen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Nick Pullen

Nick Pullen grew up in the Virginia Mountains and finished a B.S. in Biology (2005) at James Madison University in the nearby Shenandoah Valley.  His first project was as an undergrad in the lab of Dr. Terrie Rife (JMU), doing work on neurodegenerative pathologies like Parkinson's Disease.  In grad school he transitioned into studying the roles of matrix metalloproteinases, their inhibitors (TIMPs), and nitric oxide in cancer, specifically glioblastoma.  In 2010 he received a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Neurobiology from Virginia Commonwealth University for this work under the guidance of Dr. Helen Fillmore (now in the UK). From 2010 to 2012 Nick was a postdoctoral fellow sponsored by the NIH-IRACDA program.  He did work on cell signaling associated with the high-affinity IgE receptor in mast cells, among many other projects on inflammation, in the lab of Dr. John J. Ryan.  Part of his IRACDA time was spent in professional development and research on teaching college STEM, and then a teaching assignment  in chemistry at Elizabeth City State University on the "Inner Banks" of North Carolina.  After a few years stopover in Central Missouri, Nick landed at UNC where his lab studies inflammation, he teaches some awesome students, and enjoys the great Colorado outdoors.


Graduate Students

David Lyons
Ph.D. in Biological Education

Daivd Lyons AAI 2018
Davey was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona.  He attended the University of Arizona with  double majors in Molecular/Cellular Biology and Japanese Language.  He is currently researching the effects of stem cell factor (SCF) on mast cell activation.  Future research plans include sequencing microRNAs of mast cells and identifying key microRNAs responsible for activation and suppression of their responses to IgE.

Alexandra Vita
M.S. (Thesis Track)

Alexandra Vita AAI 2018
Alexandra graduated from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with a B.S. in Biology. Her research interests focus on novel plant compounds that have the potential to become effective treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Alex began research in this area as an undergrad, studying the plant compound berberine and its ability to inhibit the pro-inflammatory responses of TH1 cells. Currently, she is developing a protocol to examine if berberine can effectively reduce the signs and symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Christopher Laster
M.S. in Chemistry (Thesis Track; co-advised with Dr. Hyslop)

Chris Laster

Chris was born in California and raised in Colorado since he was three. He earned an associate degree in psychology from Front Range Community College. He received a B.S. in chemistry from UNC (2018) and has researched  cannabinoids since 2015 with Drs. Hyslop (Biochemistry)  and Pullen. Currently he is working on mast cell responses when exposed to cannabinoids, and is interested in expanding work into T-cell skewing in response to cannabinoids.

Joshua Folsom
M.S. in Chemistry (Thesis Track; co-advised with Dr. Hyslop)

Josh Folsom

Josh is a Colorado native, born and raised in Greeley. He attended the UNC for his undergraduate degree in chemistry. Currently he is working on his masters in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis. He studies the effects of cannabinoids on different cancer cell lines with an ultimate goal of elucidating the mechanism by which cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell proliferation.


Undergraduate Researchers

Michael Berger

Michael Berger

Michael is a Biology major with an emphasis in Pre-Health and minors in Chemistry and  Spanish. He grew up in Denver, Colorado with ambitions of becoming a doctor. As such, his academic goals include attending medical school and with a healthy dose of work, and luck, receiving his MD-PhD. A preferable alternative to this career path for Michael would be becoming the next “Bill Nye: The Science Guy”. Michael has been an actor all his life and hopes to maintain the same charisma in his bedside manner as he possessed on stage. Michael is currently seeking to research Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells and their effects on the tumor microenvironment.


Lab Alums

Jazmyn Mosqueda
McNair & Honors Scholar

Jazmyn Mosqueda
2016-2018. Jazmyn is double majoring in Spanish and Biology with an emphasis in Pre-health. She was born and raised in Greeley, Colorado.  Jazmyn is a SACNAS member, and she is involved in the Spanish honors society at UNC, Sigma Delta Pi. Jazmyn has danced almost her entire life, and hopes one day to pass on her love of dance to her patients as a way to stay healthy and express themselves.  Jazmyn worked on the expression of trefoil factors among diverse cancer phenotypes.  In 2017 she presented her work at the annual McNair research conference in Buffalo, NY and at ABRCMS in Phoenix, AZ (where she also received a travel award).

Joanie Ryan 

Joanie Ryan 

2012-2016 Joanie worked on projects concerning nitric oxide in cancer cell biology, and then on developing a new efficient protocol for equine mesenchymal stem cell differentiation from bone marrow, followed by autologous reimplantation of the stem cells into injured performance horses.  She presented her stem cell work at Immunology 2016 in Seattle, WA.  Joanie is working on a Ph.D. in Microbiology under the mentorship of Dr. Nicole Kruh-Garcia in the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories at Colorado State University.

Cassie Dunn 

Cassie Dunn

2015-2016 Cassie worked on TFFs in cancer cell biology, and developed a stable IL-3 producing cell line.  She finished her B.S. in biology in May 2017 and worked with physics professor Dr. Vern Hart (Utah Valley University) on a project to develop a new tumor imaging platform and image reconstruction algorithms.  Cassie is currently a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Javier González Maeso at the VCU School of Medicine.

Amanda Marty Gruber

Amanda Marty

Amanda worked on nitric oxide signaling in pancreatic, breast, and kidney cancer cells.  She attended Immunology 2014 in Pittsburgh, PA.  In 2014 she finished a B.S. double major in biology and equestrian science from WWU.  Amanda is currently in year three of the D.V.M. program at the University of Missouri.