PDA Leadership Biographies

Member Biography

Luke Bury, PhD
~ ???????

Photo of Luke Bury


A native of northeast Ohio, Luke Bury went to Clemson University in South Carolina for his undergraduate degree before coming back to complete his doctorate at CWRU in the department of Pharmacology. For his postdoc, Luke stayed at Case but switched labs and is not a postdoc in the department of Genetics and Genome Sciences. In his lab, he utilizes mouse and human stem cell models to study early brain development in neurological diseases. 

Luke wanted to get involved with the PDA because he realized that some of the employee benefits he enjoyed as a graduate student at Case were not available to him as a postdoc. In order to try and change the situation, he started the Benefitcs Committee of the PDA, which he still currently helps to lead. He also completed a term a co-president of the PDA after he saw the value in what an organized and energized group of postdocs could get accomplished. 

Luke is somebody who lived in the nice, warm weather of South Carolina and chose to come back to Cleveland, which tells you how much he enjoys the city and living here. He has a wife and three young kids that he loves dearly, and when he is not enjoying time with them he likes running around Shaker Heights, playing piano, and spending time out in the garden. 

Marie McCausland, PhD
~ Co-chair, PDA
~ Co-chair, PDA Women's Initiative Committee

Photo of Marie McCausland

Marie McCausland, PhD, is a scientist, mother, and an advocate for women's reproductive health. McCausland is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology researching HIV, Colon Cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease.

She serves as the co-president of the PDA and co-chair of the Women's Initiative Committee. her passion for maternal health comes from a personal experience with postpartum preeclampsia, after the birth of her firstborn son, which nearly took her life in 2017. She has served as the spokesperson for Merck for Mothers from 2018-2019 and has won both the Mom Congress Advocate of the Year award in 2019 and the Merck for Mothers 2019 Maternal Health Maverick award. 

Ellen Palmer, PhD
~ Secretary, PDA
~ Post doc representative, Faculty Senate Libraries Committee

Photo of Ellen Palmer

Ellen "Elle" Palmer is originally from Montana, coming to CWRU after completing her PhD at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. She is a postdoc and TL1 scholar in the Population and Quantitative Healthy Sciences department. Elle currently has two primary areas of focus - functional genetics of Alzheimer's disease and electronic health record assessment of chronic kidney disease. Her other academic interests include bioethics and rare disease research. Her non-academic interests include literature, gaming, and playing with her pet hedgehog. 

Ellen joined the PDA right after arriving at CWRU. This year, she is serving as the secretary of the PDA and as the Postdoc Representative on the Faculty Senate Libraries Committee. At first, Elle wasn't a fan of Cleveland, but the city has slowly grown on her and she now hopes to remain in Cleveland indefinitely (ask her why!).

Justine Renauld, PhD
~ Treasurer, PDA
~ Chair, PDA Social Activities Committee

Photo of Justine Renauld

Justine completed her PhD in cellular and tissue biology lab at GIGA Neurosciences in the University of Liege in her native Belgium. Her PhD thesis investigated the cytoskeletal development of the inner ear. She joined Dr. Basch's lab in 2017 to work on the development of cell therapy strategies to treat deafness caused by stria vascularis defects in children.

Outside the lab, her favorite pastimes are DIY projects such as crocheting or sewing and gardening. She joined the PDA group in 2018 to help address J1 visa issues postdocs often have. This year, she is the chair of the Social Activities Committee and the Treasurer of the PDA. 

Kristine-Ann Buela, PhD
~ Chair, PDA Communications Commitee

Photo of Kristine-Ann Buela

Kristine-Ann or K-Ann Buela is a mother, scientist, and STEM advocate. K-Ann came to the US from the Philippines to pursue graduate studies in immunology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Pathology investigating the role of innate lymphoid cells in inflammatory bowel disease. 

She is one of the co-founding members of the Postdoctoral Association, and has served as co-president (2016-2018) and chair of the Professional Development Committee (2018-2019). She joined the PDA because there was a critical need in making postdocs more visible at CWRU and for advocating for improved postdoc academic and professional development. She is currently serving as the chair of the Communications Committee (only two members right now so please consider joining!). If she still has spare time after chasing to take pictures of a 2-year-old tyrant, she loves to try making new recipes, hiking new trails , and conquering new workouts. 

Ilaria Tamagno, PhD
~ ?????

Photo of Ilaria Tamagno

Ilaria Tamagno received her PhD from the University of Turin (Torino) in italy. She landed in Cleveland six years ago to start her postdoc in neuro-oncology at the Lerner Research Institute. Later on, she transitioned to CWRU where she is now studying the mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

She joined the CWRU Postdoc Association because she believes that inspired membership is an important component at any academic level, including postdoctoral education. She devotes her free time to animal welfare and writing. 

Nathan Rohner, PhD
~ Post doc representative, Faculty Senate Committee on Information and Communications Technology

Photo of Nathan Rohner

Nathan Rohner was originally from Illinois and adventured to Georgia Tech in Atlanta for his PhD. He is now a postdoc in the department of Biomedical Engineering researching polymers for gastrointestinal drug delivery.

He wanted to become involved in the CWRU Postdoc Association to better understand the issues impacting postdoc life. Nate is the Postdoc Representative for the Faculty Senate Committee on Information and Communications Technology. In his free time he practices new recipes and is preparing to audition for Chopped. 

Samira Joussef-Pina, PhD
~ Co-chair, ????

Photo of Samira Joussef-Pina

Samira Joussef-Pina came to CWRU from Venezuela in 2017. She is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the department of Dermatology in the School of Medicine. She holds a PhD in microbiology from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research and she is interested in Microbiome, Mycobiome, and Virome analysis using hte Next Generation Sequencing as well as the study of polymicrobial biofilms.

She got involved with the PDA because she wanted to be an advocate for international postdocs. In collaboration with fellow postdocs and the Postdoctoral Affairs Office, Samira helped to create a subcommittee of the PDA dedicated to international postdocs and she currently holds the position as its co-chair. In her free time, she enjoys baking at home and traveling. 

Elliane Irani, PhD
~ Post doc representative, Faculty Senate Committee for Graduate Studies

Photo of Elliane Irani

Elliane Irani is a third year postdoctoral fellow at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in Lebanon, then moved to the United  States to pursue her doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her personal and clinical experiences as a staff nurse in Lebanon and in the United States has shaped her passion to improve outcomes for patients and their family caregivers as they recover from a recent hospital stay and transition home. She is particularly interested in the social and behavioral determinants of health and she is currently testing an intervention for patients with heart failure and their family caregivers to help them work together as a team and improve their health and well-being. 

Elliane joined the PDA at the end of her first year as a postdoc because she wanted to meet scholars from other schools and backgrounds. This year, she is serving as the post doc representative on the Faculty Senate Committee on Graduate Studies. Besides being a postdoc, Elliane is a proud mom of two little boys (4 and 2.5) that keep her busy 24/7.

Michelle Grunin, PhD
~ Co-chair, PDA Benefits Committee
~ Co-chair, PDA Women's Affairs Committee 


Michelle Grunin is originally from Chicago, Illinious and did her PhD across the Atlantic Ocean at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. She is now a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, focused on quantitative genetics and translational genomics using large data from patients and families with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Alzheimer's disease. Her previous work was with the International AMD Genomics Consortium, involving pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine studies.

Michelle is the co-chair of the Benefits Committee and the Women's Affairs Committee of the PDF, and is one of the founders/organizers of the WISHED-CONNECT-HER women to women mentoring program in conjunction with the PDA and the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women. In her free time, she is a mom of two adorable kids, and she loves to read everything she gets her hands on. 

Kofi-Kermit Horton, PhD
~ ????, Professional Development Committee

Photo of Kofi-Kermit Horton
Joseph Ortega, PhD
~ Post doc representative, Faculty Senate Committee for Research

Joseph Ortega is a second year postdoctoral fellow in the department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Virology in his homeland country of Venezuela. He has been working in Pharmacology for the last 10 years and is interested in drug development and evaluation of new compounds sing different experimental approaches. He enjoys working with computational tools to optimize drug discovery trials.

He joined the PDA because he thinks that the only way to make changes is by getting involved. He got elected to be the postdoc representative on the Faculty Senate Committee for Research. He is a huge fan of the Cleveland Browns, Mitchell's ice cream, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. 

Sandra Hnat, PhD
~ ???

Sandra Hnat received her Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate of Engineering form Cleveland State University in 2013 and 2018. She has worked as a postdoc at CWRU in the Biomedical Engineering department and the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs hospital, Advanced Platform Technology Center, since 2018. Her research focuses on designing balance controllers for hybrid exoskeletons that help restore mobility for persons with paraplegia. 

She joined the PDA in 2019 to help the Women's Committee and Benefits Committee. In her free time, she either works on crafts (crocheting stuffed animals) or writes science fiction novels that she never intends to publish.