Jump Start Awardees

Learn More:  Stanford’s Jump Start Awards for Excellence in Research for Postdoctoral Scholars / Fellows

2020 Jump Start Awardees

Dr. Stephanie Balters is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at the Stanford School of Medicine. Her current research focus lies in engineering robust fNIRS systems for interface-embedded neurofeedback and advancing fNIRS hyperscanning applications for understanding human-to-human interactions. She received her PhD in Engineering Design from NTNU in Norway. Before joining the School of Medicine, Stephanie was a visiting researcher at the Center for Design Research and at the Computer Science Department as well as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Radiology Department at Stanford University. She is an active member of the NATO Human Factors Specialist Team for Unmanned Aerial Systems.




Dr. Eleanor Cole is a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University working with Professor Antonio Hardan to develop novel transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapies for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Cole completed her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at The University of York in the UK. Her previous postdoctoral work with Dr. Nolan Williams at Stanford, was aimed at optimizing accelerated, individualized, neuronavigated TMS treatments for psychiatric conditions such as depression and OCD. Alongside her research, Dr. Cole has run an award-winning campaign supporting the mental health of students, organized peer support groups for adults with ASD and is currently volunteering as a counsellor for a crisis helpline.



Dr. Fatima Enam is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Justin Sonnenburg at Stanford University School of Medicine. Lying at the intersection of synthetic biology and the gut microbiome, her research interests include engineering biological systems and expanding the repertoire of chemistry compatible with these living processes.

She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2014 and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Iowa State University (2019), where her work focused on harnessing the programmability of microbes to understand the role of prebiotic oligosaccharides. Her current research in the Sonnenburg Lab focuses on developing approaches to engineer the gut microbiota and using in vivo gnotobiotic mouse models to understand underlying host-microbe interactions.

Fatima was recently named one of MIT Chemical Rising Stars, a Leader of Tomorrow by the 2020 GapSummit and selected as a delegate to the 70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany. She was recognized during her graduate studies by several honors including Iowa State’s Research Excellence Award, Teaching Excellence Award, Brown Graduate Fellowship and an honorable mention for the Karas Award for Outstanding Dissertation.

Dr. Leah Guthrie is a postdoc in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in Justin Sonnenburg’s lab. As a postdoc, Leah combines experimental and computational approaches to study diverse questions relevant to the role of microbes in human health and disease: how gut microbes shape food and drug metabolism, how microbial metabolites shape human biology, and how the microbiome can be manipulated to benefit human health.





Dr. Chinyere Agbaegbu Iweka is a postdoctoral researcher in the Neurology Department in the Stanford School of Medicine. She obtained a BSc in Biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, an MS in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and a PhD in Neuroscience from Georgetown University. Chinyere is currently investigating the impact of circadian rhythm disruption on immunometabolism and consequently on stroke severity and outcome. The Jump Start Award has enabled her to develop, not only the K application but also her project. The feedback and peer reviews have been exceedingly helpful and has made the process of the K grant application less daunting and intimidating.





Dr. Husniye Kantarci is a Berry Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brad Zuchero lab, and was also a winner of a 2017 Stanford ChEM-H Postdocs at the Interface seed grant and a 2017 Stanford School of Medicine Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. She is very interested in discovering the signals that enable the communications between glial cells and neurons, and understanding how these signals regulate neural function and myelination in the nervous system. Husniye attended Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, Turkey and majored in Molecular Biology and Genetics. She became fascinated with neural development during her undergraduate work and joined Dr. Bruce Riley’s lab at Texas A&M University for doctoral studies to study the genes and signaling pathways that regulate development of the inner ear neurons. During her PhD, Husniye characterized the signaling pathways that control formation, migration, and differentiation of inner ear neurons and discovered novel genes and mechanisms that govern inner ear neurogenesis. During her postdoctoral work, she is hoping elucidate novel pathways that regulate the interactions between the cells of the nervous system and characterize the role of disruptions in pathways in diseases of the brain. Husniye plans to power her postdoctoral work with hiking, cycling, climbing and running the wonderful trails of California.


Dr. Joanna Lankester is a postdoctoral fellow who studies the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease using large-scale data. Her research uncovers the causal link between nutrition and cardiometabolic diseases where previous work has described correlations subject to confounding. She also studies women’s health outcomes and prediction of subsequent cardiovascular and other adverse events. She holds a PhD in electrical engineering and has worked as a software engineer and data scientist in industry. Joanna has truly enjoyed developing her scientific writing and becoming part of an amazing community of scientists through the Jump Start program.



Dr. Catherine Tcheandjieu is currently a postdoc in Dr. Assimes’s lab in the Department of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine, and at the Palo Alto Epidemiology Research and Information Center (ERIC) for Genomics, where she studies the genetic risk factors for Cardiovascular disease. She has been leading the current multi-ethnic GWAS of Coronary artery disease in the Million Veteran Program with meta-analysis including currently available data from Cardiogram+C4D, the UK-Biobank, and the Biobank Japan (>1M participants). Dr. Tcheandjieu received a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine degree from the National High school of veterinary Medicine in Alger (Algeria) in 2010 and a Ph.D. in Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Paris Saclay (France) in 2017. Her research interest is to define the genetic architecture of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) in diverse populations and develop genetic approaches for disease risk prediction and therapeutic targeting beneficial to these populations.


Dr. Rahel Woldeyes is a postdoctoral fellow in the Wah Chiu group in the Bioengineering department at Stanford University. For Rahel’s graduate work,  she studied the effects of conformational heterogeneity in protein function using various structural biology techniques. In her current research she is interested in answering the same structural questions of her graduate training but within cells. Rahel wants to bridge the gap between structural and cellular biology using cryo-electron tomography-based imaging techniques.