Thomas Jefferson University

Graduate Student Association

Mission Statement

The Graduate Student Association (GSA) was formed in 1969 to provide a link among graduate students, Jefferson College of Biomedical Sciences (JCBS) administration and faculty and the surrounding Philadelphia community. Our goal is to be a voice for graduate students within the University, representing their unique needs and concerns. Monthly open meetings are held to deliver news and information and provide a forum for students to address new issues that arise.

About the Program


The Graduate Student Association plans programs in four areas:

  • Intellectual
  • Professional
  • Social
  • Community service

Presentations and Conversations in Research (PCR) allow students to present their research in a relaxed atmosphere to other students.

The GSA also works closely with the Alumni Association to bring in speakers from various science careers, enabling students to explore different career paths. The GSA sponsors a Women in Science seminar series, as well as a Bridging the Gap seminar series to promote the bench-to-bedside aspect of research. 

The GSA hosts several Social Hours each semester and plans trips to local museums and sporting events, providing students with discounted tickets.

The Graduate Student Association is open to all students in JCBS and encourages participation from new students during Welcome Month activities as well as other events year-round.  There are countless ways to volunteer and contribute to the GSA, from attending and helping us plan events to soliciting donations for our Annual Halloween Charity Raffle.

Want to learn more? Find us on Facebook.


2015 - 2016

Danielle Decicco

Danielle DeCicco

Danielle grew up for half of her life in Brooklyn, New York, and the other half in a small town named Lititz, Pennsylvania. She attended Penn State University where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering. She is currently beginning the fifth year of her PhD in the lab of Dr. Rajanikanth Vadigepalli where she studies the role of microRNAs in the brainstem during hypertension.

Caitlin Logan

Caitlin Logan
President Emeritus

Caity grew up in the Bucks County area of Pennsylvania, near Doylestown. She attended Smith College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and Chemistry. She is now a fifth year MD/PhD student in the lab of Sue Menko, studying the role of the cytoskeleton in lens.

Annabel Torres

Annabel Torres

Annabel is from New Jersey where she earned her B.S. in biology at Rider University.  She is currently in her 5th year in the Cell and Developmental Ph.D program.  She is in the lab of Dr. Iozzo studying the role of the imprinted gene PEG3 in autophagy.

Maria Gubbiotti

Maria Gubbiotti

Maria grew up in a small town outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Scranton where she received a BS in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. She is currently a fourth year M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Dr. Renato Iozzo studying decorin, an extracellular matrix proteoglycan, and its implications in autophagy.

Timothy Higgins

Timothy Higgins
VP of Social Events

Tim grew up in the Main Line area outside of Philly. He attended Carnegie Mellon University, where he triple majored in Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics. Later, while working for the EMR company Epic, he decided to pursue a career in medicine, and is currently a Post-baccalaureate student at Jefferson.

Zachary Schoepflin

Zachary Schoepflin
VP of Academic Affairs (PhD)

Zach grew up on Long Island in New York in a small town named Centerport. He attended the University of Delaware where he earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree. He is currently a fifth year MD/PhD student and works in the lab of Dr. Makarand Risbud where he studies the roles of HIF and PHD signaling in intervertebral disc disease.


Farha Ali
VP of Academic Affairs (MS)

Farha grew up in Berks County and attended the University of Pittsburgh for her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences. She is now a second year Master's student in the Cell & Developmental Biology program. She is working in Dr. Aplin's' research lab assisting with Melanoma research and she is also a TA for Biology & General Chemistry Lab for the P4 program.

Ileine Sanchez

Ileine Sanchez
VP of Internal Affairs

Ileine is originally from Puerto Rico, where she lived until she was 8 years old. She spent the rest of her childhood in Germany and subsequently Japan.  She came to the US after high school to attend Washington College, where she double majored in Biology and Psychology. Ileine is currently starting her fourth year as a PhD student in the Genetics, Genomics, and Cancer Biology program. She is in Dr. Aplin's laboratory studying mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies in melanoma.

Mukta Khasnis

Mukta Khasnis
VP of Career Development (PhD)

Mukta grew up in Wilmington, DE and attended the University of Delaware where she earned a B.S. in Chemistry.  After college, she started work as a laboratory technician at Sanofi-Aventis, but soon decided to go back to school, earning her M.S. in Molecular Pharmacology at Jefferson.  She is currently a fourth year PhD student in the Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology program and works in the lab of Dr. Michael Root studying mechanisms of HIV-1 entry.

David Deming

David Deming
VP of Career Development (MS)

David moved to the Philadelphia area in 2007 to attend Temple University. There he achieved a BA in Biological Anthropology. After working for 3 years in Personal Training, he chose to attend Thomas Jefferson University to acquire a master’s degree in Cell and Developmental Biology. He currently is working in Dr. Lucia Languino's lab working on radiation resistant prostate cancer.

Tyler Fenstermaker

Tyler Fenstermaker
VP of Community and Cultural Affairs

Tyler obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton where he double majored in Biochemistry Cell & Molecular Biology and Philosophy. He is currently a second year PhD student in the Genetics, Genomics, and Cancer Biology program. He works in Dr. Alex Mazo's lab where he is investigating the resumption of RNA transcription following DNA replication.