Student Spotlight January 2023

    Danielle Little is a 4th year PhD candidate studying Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics set to graduate in the Fall of 2024.



    Q: What is your educational background?

    A: I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Q: What brought you to the University of Louisville?

    A: During my gap year, I worked as a technician in a biochemistry lab at the University of Kentucky investigating the mechanisms underlying the ability of Shoc2 to accelerate ERK1/2 signals. During that time, I applied to several graduate programs including UofL and I decided UofL would meet my needs as a graduate student the most.

    Q: What is your specific area of research and why does it interest you?

    A: I currently study how hyaluronan plays a role in cardiac remodeling and wound healing. The survival events after cardiac injury are an amazing phenomenon. Understanding how the cells communicate with their surroundings to preserve heart function and structure as much as possible is very interesting to me and important for us to know.

    Q: How would you describe your area of study/specific research to your grandmother?

    A: I’m trying to understand how large sugar compounds are contributing to the healing process that happens after oxygen to the heart is lost and causes an injury.

    Q: What made you go into this field of study?

    A: I have always been interested in the regeneration of tissue and how that can change the outcome of disease. My lab studies the mechanisms involved in chronic fibrosis after heart injury, a phenomenon that leads to heart failure. Understanding these mechanisms will aid in the research to understand how cardiac regeneration can improve disease outcomes.

    Q: How do you think this advanced degree will change your role in society?

    A: The goal of a PhD is to improve your skill to think critically, and this training has challenged me to do just that as well as think logically, strategically, and creatively.

    Q: What are your long-term goals or aspirations?

    A: One of my long-term goals is to study cardiac regeneration.

    Q: What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?

    A: Being able to help fund my research with NIH F31 fellowship award.

    Q: What has been your favorite part of the graduate school experience at UofL?

    A: Attending conferences and meeting people who work on similar things and getting to discuss our work together.

    Q: What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?

    A: One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in the program is the uncertainty and that has brought a lot of stress, but I have adapted well and increased by resilience and tenacity. This program is also very isolating so making sure I maintain a good social life is something I have to do to be successful.


    Awards, honors, publications:

    • NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellowship
    • Graduate Dean Diversity Supplement
    • Integrated Program for Biochemical Science Research Fellowship
    • Departmental Travel Grant
    • Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program for Biotechnology Scholar


    Fun Facts:


    A talent you have always wanted: To be multilingual


    Favorite quote: “Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7


    Role model: My mother


    Favorite vacation destination: Jamaica


    If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now?
    Computer science or investigative journalism