PDA Leadership Biographies


Member Biography
Photo of Kofi-Kermit Horton

Kofi-Kermit Horton, PhD
~ Senior Co-President, PDA
~ Representative, Faculty Senate

Kofi-Kermit A. Horton is from North Carolina and he obtained his PhD from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. He is a third-year postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine focusing his research on the transcriptional regulation of the endocannabinoid system during sepsis. He is currently a co-president of the postdoctoral association and he joined the PDA because he recognized that "being an active member of the PDA is one of the bets ways to advance my career during my postdoctoral experience outside of my research time." In his free time, he homebrews.

Photo of Ellen Palmer

Ellen Palmer, PhD
~ Co-president, PDA

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 co-president of the PDA. 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!).

Neekkan Dey

Neekkan Dey, PhD
~ Secretary, PDA
~ Representative, Faculty Senate Committee for Research

Originally form Kolkate, India, Neekkan is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Medicine in the Department of Biochemistry. He has a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Calcutta and two postdoctoral fellowships where he studied molecular mechanisms of initiation of cigarette smoke-induced lung carcinogenesis. Neekkan is currently studying the crosstalk between Unfolded Protein Response and Circadian Rhythm in regulating the initial events of cell-cycle during carcinogenesis. 

From his early days at CWRU, he noticed how a small group of passionate postdocs under the guidance of an energetic Director of Postdoctoral Affairs are organizing and accomplishing diverse events for the benefit of the entire postdoc community. This ultimately motivated him to join the PDA. Apart from being an avid bibliophile, he takes an interest in photography as well, devoting whatever little time he has to the camera. He also loves to cook and whips up elaborate Indian dishes. 

Photo of Justine Renauld

Justine Renauld, PhD
~ Treasurer, PDA
~ Chair, PDA Social Committee
~Representative for Faculty Senate Committee for Information and Communication Technology


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. 

Ajay Ashok

Ajay Askok, PhD
~ Chair, PDA Public Relations Committee

Ajay Ashok completed his preliminary education in India and moved on to do his Ph.D. at Deakin University, in Australia. He landed at Case Western Reserve University as a postdoctoral scholar 4 years ago in the Department of Pathology and his research interest has been prion, iron and ocular diseases.

He joined the CWRU Postdoc Association as a chair of Public Relations (2020-2021) to ensure that the university, the community and the people realize the contributions made by postdocs to the field of research. He also feels that the postdocs around the world need to be appreciated more for their multitasking capabilities in an academic as well as industrial setup. In his free time, Ajay likes to sketch and he is also an amateur photographer.  

Ivette Noriega

Ivette Noriega, PhD
~ Co-chair, PDA Public Relations Committee
~ Co-chair, PDA Immigration and Visa Committee

Ivette is a post-doctoral scholar at the Begun Center for Violence Prevention, Research, and Education at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where she works in trauma, violence exposure, mental health, and substance use related projects. In 2019, Ivette earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University, where she had the opportunity to complete a Fulbright U.S. Student Research study on the neurocognitive effects of PTSD youth exposed to violence and trauma in Medellin (2017-2018, Colombia Fulbright). Upon returning from her Fulbright, Ivette continued to work in efforts to increase LatinX representation in the program. When she is not working on projects, Ivette enjoys walking her dogs around the neighborhood, scrapbooking, and traveling to new places.  
Photo of Postdoc Jeremy Didion with a dog by a lake

Jeremy Didion, PhD
~ Chair, PDA Benefits Committee

Jeremy Didion is originally from Northern Ohio and obtained his PhD from the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio where he studied vision in fiddler crabs. Currently, Jeremy is a postdoc in Dr. Jessica Fox’s lab in the Department of Biology where he studies the neural integration of sensory information from fly halteres in the central complex of the fly brain. Within the PDA he currently chairs the benefits committee where he aims to help postdocs better understand their benefits and support the creation of overhead funds to be utilized for postdoc benefits (Ask for details). In his free time, he enjoys sports, gaming, cooking, hiking, dog training, and spending time with his family.
Suman Chaudhary

Suman Chaudhary, PhD
~ Chair, PDA Women's Affairs Committee
~ Representative, Faculty Senate Committee for Women's Affairs

Suman Chaudhary completed her Ph.D. from Deakin University, Australia. Originally from India, she came to USA in 2018 and started her postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Pathology. She is currently working on understanding the dysregulation of iron in Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. She joined the PDA in 2020 as the chair of Women affair committee as she is a strong supporter of women empowerment. She wants to be an active participant in promoting professional development of women researchers. Besides being a postdoc, she loves to cook, bake and experiment with different cuisines.  
Andy Chen

Andy Chen, PhD
~ Representative, Faculty Senate Committee for Minority Affairs


Andy Paul Chen was born to Chinese parents in Pullman, Washington and grew up in Singapore. When asked "where are you from?" he mostly draws a blank. He somehow completed PhD in the National University of Singapore in 2018, having trained his teeth on computing the physical properties of thin films and material interfaces. Since April 2019, he has joined Emeritus Professor Arthur Heuer in on-going studies on defects in alumina caused by impurities, and their role in improving corrosion resistance in aluminum-enhanced steel. Andy is the Postdoc Representative for the Faculty Senate Committee on Minority Affairs. Outside of work, Andy's interests are manifold, less out of precociousness and more due to a short attention span. In his hometown he has developed a reputation for being a prolific painter. Today he enjoys photographing squirrels and playing guitar badly.

Jeffrey McCausland, PhD
~ Representative, Faculty Senate for Committee on Graduate Studies