Current Lab Members
Sheri Holmen, PhD, is a Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) investigator and Co-Director of the Melanoma Disease Oriented Research Team (MDOT). She is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oncological Sciences. Dr. Holmen’s Lab aims to defin... Read More
Specialties: Melanoma and Cutaneous Oncology, Neuro-Oncology
Cooper is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University (BYU) majoring in neuroscience. He is on the student run board for BYU's Cancer Research Center, Simmon's Center. With the Holmen lab, Cooper is interested in better understanding medicine from the research front, and hopes to find a passion for neurological research in order to better the health and well-being of those around the world. After graduating, he hopes to attend medical school to train to be an orthopedic surgeon. Cooper previously attended UC Berkeley as a varsity oarsman for the Bears helping them win Pac-12's in 2018. Following that, he served a two-year service mission in Mongolia. He enjoys pickleball, rowing, hiking, and being outside.
Sydney is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Utah. She is majoring in Biology - Emphasis in Genetics and a potential double major in Anthropology - Emphasis in Cultures. Sydney is committed to her childhood dream of becoming a surgeon. She wishes to work with research institutions and hospitals to further understand various genetic mutations; specifically Turners Syndrome and its increased presence of metastatic melanoma. Sydney believes that working in the Holmen lab will allow her to unravel the complexities and marvel of DNA. In her free time Sydney is involved in many University and community organizations such as being a member of the Science Research Initiative Presidency and VP of the American Nuclear Society. Sydney’s hobbies also include competing in USA Olympic Recurve Archery, skiing, and hiking.
Katie moved to Utah from Montana in 2018 to study biology at Westminster College. She received her BS in Biology in 2022 and hopes to attend medical school. Katie was on the volleyball team at Westminster, and enjoys spending time with her teammates and friends, and also enjoys reading and hiking in her spare time.
Tori is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah majoring in biology with a microbiology emphasis and a minor in health. She is also involved as an ambassador for the College of Science at the university. With the Holmen lab, Tori is interested in better understanding the biology of cancer and the ways biology can be applied to prevention and treatment. After graduating with her bachelor's degree in 2023, she has interests in pursuing further education towards a career in epidemiology or related areas of disease research. Besides science, Tori's other passions are cooking and exploring nature.
MiKaela is an undergraduate student in the Honors college at the University of Utah, double majoring in Biology and Psychology. Her campus involvement currently includes being an active member of the Bennion Center in various organizations, such as Primary Children’s and Special Olympics Utah. She is also working to start a giving tree program in the Salt Lake City area for underrepresented populations. After completing her undergraduate degrees, MiKaela plans to attend medical school, with an interest in pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation. In the Holmen lab, she hopes to get a better understanding of the research process while learning more about the causes of metastatic and primary brain tumors. When not doing schoolwork or extracurriculars, MiKaela loves to spend her time getting involved in campus life and giving back to her community.
Anagha Gurjar, PhD
Anagha moved to Salt Lake City from Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey. She joined Penn State in June 2018 as a postdoctoral scholar with Dr John Elfar. Her area of research at Penn State was to study the neuromuscular effect of peripheral nerve injury and evaluate the protective effects of 4 Aminopyridine. Before moving to the United States, Anagha completed her PhD in the lab of Dr Sabyasachi Sanyal at Central Drug Research Institute in India where she studied the myogenic and anti-atrophy effect of liraglutide in preventing skeletal muscle atrophy in rodents. Anagha joined the Holmen Lab in Jan 2020 where she will assess the effectiveness of mutant IDH1 inhibitors in preventing the growth of glioma cell and in the development of glioblastoma. Her interests include music, Indian classical dance, travelling and cooking vegan culinary delicacies during her free time.
David Kircher, PhD
David graduated from the University of Utah in 2013 with a degree in biology and joined the Holmen lab in May 2014. He successfully defended his thesis in May 2019 and has continued on in the lab as a postdoctoral fellow. He has a background in law enforcement as a police officer, a position that he resigned to pursue a PhD in cancer biology. His interests include astronomy, chess, sports, and traveling with his wife and daughters. David aspires to one day run a laboratory of his own or work in the industry as a research scientist studying signaling pathways in cancer.
Gennie moved to Salt Lake City from Missouri in 2014 and completed her undergraduate degree in Cell & Molecular Biology at the University of Utah. She joined the Holmen lab as a lab technician in December 2015 before applying to graduate school. She defended her PhD in 2022 and joined the lab as a postdoc in June 2022. Her project focuses on the role of the PI3K lipid effectors in melanomagenesis and particularly AKT’s role in melanoma initiation and survival. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, hiking, biking, traveling, and cooking.
Shepard attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he received a B.S. in Biology, before moving to Utah to work in the Holmen Lab. He hopes to continue his education after setting a strong foundation in research science. Shepard commissioned into the U.S. Army Reserve in 2022, and serves as an Engineer Platoon Leader near Salt Lake City. He enjoys climbing, running, and spending time outdoors in his spare time.
Lorelei is an undergraduate student at the University of Utah, majoring in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biology. Her campus involvement includes being the Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity, as well as a volunteer with TRAILS, an outdoor recreation program for individuals with spinal cord injuries or disease. She also works as a Patient Care Technician for DaVita Kidney Care, providing dialysis treatment for patients suffering from End-Stage Renal Disease. Upon completion of her B.S. in Chemistry, Lorelei plans to attend medical school with an interest in anesthesiology. As a part of the Holmen lab, she hopes to further recognize patterns in melanoma formation and gain a deeper understanding of how chemistry can be used to combat its growth. In her free time, Lorelei enjoys rock climbing, hiking, skiing, soccer, and running, and is training to complete a marathon in the near future.
Karly graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2021 with degrees in Biology and Chemistry. During her undergraduate career she worked at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy studying the effects of an epigenetic regulator on oncogenic senescence. Now in the Holmen lab, she is excited to continue researching cancer biology to improve therapeutic strategies against the disease. When not in the lab, you can find Karly at a concert, hiking with friends, or watching Carolina basketball.
Initially from southern Missouri, Chris moved to Salt Lake City in 2017 to study biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, he hopes to continue his studies in a PhD program and contribute to research in cancer biology, with an emphasis on using bioinformatics and computational research methods. He loves attending and watching all kinds of sporting events (especially those involving his beloved Minnesota Vikings), watching movies, reading and writing, and spending time with his friends and family.
Ashley is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Utah, majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Modern Dance and Chemistry. Her campus involvements include being the Associate Director of Academic Affairs, Teaching Assistant for BIO1615, and volunteer for Feed U Pantry. After completing her B.S. in Kinesiology, Ashley plans to attend medical school with an interest in dermatology. By participating in some of the research projects in the Holmen Lab, Ashley hopes to gain a better understanding of the different causes of skin cancer in order to build a foundation for the research projects she hopes to lead as a physician. When she is not doing schoolwork or extracurricular activities, Ashley enjoys hiking, biking, camping, rock climbing, dancing, snowboarding, and anything outdoors.
Tursun received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Utah in spring 2021 and joined the Holmen lab in May of the same year. Previously, he worked in a metabolic dysfunction lab studying aberrant lipid accumulation in peripheral tissue. In the Holmen lab, he is hoping to learn more about the therapeutic interventions used for glioma and melanoma and the basis for their mechanistic effects.