Meet Our Team

Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD

Ronna Hertzano, MD PhD - Principal Investigator

Dr. Hertzano is an otolaryngologist surgeon-scientist tenured Associate Professor at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Born in Israel, Dr. Hertzano received her M.D. and Ph.D degrees from the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Her doctoral thesis, which was performed both at Tel Aviv University and at the National Institutes of Deafness and Communications Disorders (NIDCD/NIH) focused on elucidating the signaling pathway downstream of the deafness causing gene POU4F3 in the mouse inner ear. She then performed her residency training in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she also established her research team.

Dr. Hertzano’s clinical practice focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the ear, with a specific emphasis on hearing restoration. As such, she sees and treats patients of all ages that suffer from hereditary and non-hereditary auditory and vestibular dysfunction. The goal of Dr. Hertzano’s research program is to make significant contributions towards the treatment of congenital and acquired auditory and vestibular dysfunction. Towards hearing restoration, she works to unravel the regulatory signaling cascades that lead to the proper development of the ear and specifically the hair cells. A second main interest is in developing therapeutics to prevent age and noise induced hearing loss. To facilitate dissemination, sharing and analysis of multi-omic data Dr. Hertzano developed the gEAR portal – gene Expression Analysis Resource ( Finally, Dr. Hertzano has a strong interest in mentorship. Her diverse team consists of undergraduates, medical students, residents, audiologists, graduate students, and post docs.

Dr. Hertzano is the recipient of several awards including the Burt Evans Young Investigator Award, from the National Organization of Hearing Research; Brian E. Emery, M.D., Outstanding Teaching Award, UMSOM; and Distinction Award in Alternative/Basic Science for the Triological Society Thesis. Dr. Hertzano is chair of the American Neurotology Society research committee; core faculty of the University of Maryland College Park Center for Comparative and Evolutionary Biology of Hearing T32 grant; a member of the Hearing Restoration Program of the Hearing Health Foundation, and an organizing committee member of the HEAR@JAX workshop of the Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine. In her free time, Dr. Hertzano enjoys running, cycling, and playing Rummikub.

Beatrice Milon, PhD - Research Supervisor

Beatrice received a master’s degree in Molecular Genetics of Developmental Diseases and Oncogenesis followed by a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University René Descartes (Paris, France). This led her to the University of Maryland Dental School for a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Franklin’s laboratory. She then moved on to Dr. Nurminsky’s laboratory (UMB, SOM) as a research associate. In July 2013, Beatrice joined Dr. Hertzano’s laboratory where she is using her skills in gene transcription regulation. In her free time, she likes to climb walls.
Mark McMurray, BS - Research Technician​

Mark McMurray, BS - Research Technician

Mark received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland, College Park. During his undergraduate studies, Mark also took courses in math and physics and worked as a research assistant in the Gravitation Experiment Laboratory. He later combined his biology and physics interests to complete additional coursework in biophysics while analyzing electrostatic and structural aspects of polylysine interaction with lipid membranes. In his current position, Mark’s main duties include conducting auditory and vestibular evoked potential testing and the associated waveform analyses, performing in-vivo inner ear AAV injections, and setting up various testing equipment for the lab. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and traveling.
Elena Chrysostomou, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow

Elena Chrysostomou, PhD - Postdoctoral Fellow

Elena was born in London, England. She received her undergraduate degree in Physiology and her master’s degree in Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Bristol. She completed her Ph.D. in Auditory Neuroscience at the UCL Ear Institute. Her Ph.D. research involved visualizing the dynamics of Notch signaling and investigating the mechanism of Delta-like1 during the development of the chick inner ear sensory epithelia. Elena completed a post-doctoral fellowship at John’s Hopkins University where she investigated the roles of Jagged1 during supporting cell development in the mouse inner ear. Elena joined as a post-doctoral fellow in the Hertzano Lab in 2020 to expand her knowledge of genomics and bioinformatics and to contribute to the development of a multi-omics data portal for Alzheimer’s disease (NeMO-AD). In her free time Elena enjoys salsa dancing, attending concerts, and cooking.

Katie Gwilliam, BS - Fourth Year PhD Student

Katie is a fourth year Human Genetics, PhD student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She received her B.S. in Biology, with a concentration in Biotechnology and Molecular Biology, and minor in dance at George Mason University. Katie studies the genetics and molecular mechanisms of inner ear development and hearing loss. More specifically, she researches the roles of specific transcription factors, such as the Regulatory Factor X (RFX) transcription factor family, in hair cell development and maintenance of the cochlea and vestibular system using mouse and zebrafish models. Katie is known as the lab’s baker and provides the lab with sweet treats for meetings, holidays, and more.
Kevin Rose, BS - Third Year PhD Student

Kevin Rose, BS - Third Year PhD Student

Kevin Rose obtained his bachelor’s degree in health sciences from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. He joined Dr. Hertzano’s lab as a graduate student in July 2018 to undertake a project that involved both wet lab and bioinformatic techniques. His current research project focuses on the otic mesenchyme specific transcription factor, Pou3f4. With techniques such as scRNA-seq, scATAC-seq, and CUT&RUN, he is unraveling the gene regulatory network downstream of Pou3f4, leading to novel deafness genes. In his free time, Kevin enjoys playing basketball, long walks with his dog, and video games.
Benjamin Shuster, BS - Research Fellow

Benjamin Shuster, BS - Research Fellow

Ben received a B.S in Neurobiology and Physiology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and joined Dr. Hertzano’s laboratory as a post-baccalaureate research fellow in 2017. He investigates sex-differences in auditory physiology and estrogenic protection from noise-induced hearing loss. Ben also co-leads a public outreach/community science project investigating recreational noise exposure in gyms. In his spare time, Ben enjoys playing sports (all of them), reading, and cultivating a newfound appreciation for fine whiskey.
Erika Lipford, MS - Research Fellow

Erika Lipford, MS - Research Fellow

After graduating from Mount Saint Mary’s University with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Spanish, Erika joined the Hertzano laboratory to study sex differences in the expression of estrogen and estrogen-related receptors within the mouse cochlea. In 2020, she completed her thesis and received a master’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biomedical Science from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She is now a full-time research fellow and continues her work to elucidate the molecular underpinnings of estrogenic protection from noise-induced hearing loss. When not in lab, Erika can be found hiking with her dogs, traveling, and concocting new brewing recipes.
Lawrance Lee, BA - Fourth Year Medical Student

Lawrance Lee, BA - Fourth Year Medical Student

Lawrance received his B.A. in biology with a minor in music from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. He is currently pursuing an MD at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Lawrance’s prior experience in the professional and personal audio industry steered him to Dr. Hertzano’s laboratory, where he studies recreational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss. Lawrance leads a public outreach and community science project investigating recreational noise exposure in gyms. In his free time, Lawrance enjoys singing with his music group and will never turn down an invitation to eat sushi.
Kennedy McDaniel, BS - Master's Student

Kennedy McDaniel, BS - Master's Student

Kennedy McDaniel is a first-year master’s student in the Human Genetics and Genomic Medicine program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Kennedy previously received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Industry from Kansas State University. To complete her thesis research, Kennedy joined Dr. Ronna Hertzano’s laboratory, where she currently develops a multi-omics data curation and visualization platform for Alzheimer’s research called NeMO-AD. She hopes to continue her neurodegenerative disease research in the future after graduation. In her spare time, Kennedy enjoys hiking, trying out new coffee shops, and cuddling with her cat Chewy.

Chris Shults, MS - PhD Rotation Student

Chris is a first year PhD student in the Molecular Medicine program. He recently graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with a master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. He received his bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Tennessee Tech University. Before completing his master’s degree, he served as a high school science teacher in Baltimore City. Chris is excited to continue his education at UMB studying the molecular mechanisms contributing to hearing loss during his first rotation in the Hertzano Lab. He is an avid tennis player and always enjoys finding new restaurants Baltimore has to offer. 

Yang Song, PhD - Lead Bioinformatician

Yang Song, PhD - Lead Bioinformatician

Yang received her master’s degree in Biological Statistics and Modelling and her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology from Illinois State University. In 2012, Yang joined the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore as post-doctoral fellow. Yang continues to work at the IGS as a bioinformatic analyst. Yang combines her expertise in bioinformatics, statistics, and molecular biology to analyze and optimize transcriptomic and epigenetic datasets generated in the Hertzano laboratory using mouse and zebrafish models. In her spare time, Yang enjoy swimming and oil painting.
Joshua Orvis, MS - Lead Bioinformatics Software Engineer

Joshua Orvis, MS - Lead Bioinformatics Software Engineer

After completing an undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma, Joshua started work in bioinformatics at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) working on primary eukaryotic annotation and distributed grid computing systems.  He transitioned to the Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) in 2007 while completing a graduate degree in Bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins University, where he is now also an Adjunct Professor, teaching three courses in their graduate program.  At IGS his work focus includes gene expression studies, data visualization projects, and metagenomics.  He works remotely from his home in Oklahoma and, outside of work, enjoys track racing (and rebuilding his car between events), reading, drawing, Spartan Races, and hiking with his wife and four children.

Lab Alumni

Maggie Matern, PhD – PhD Student, 2014 – 2019

Current Position – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Stanford University

Sunayana Mitra, PhD – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2016 – 2017

 Current Position – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Michigan State University

Yoko Ogawa, PhD – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2015 – 2016

Manoj v2 (2)

Manoj Racherla, MD – Research Assistant, 2011 – 2013

Current Position – Physician of Internal Medicine at University of Maryland Medical Center

Manan Shah, MD – Research Assistant

Current Position – ENT Physician at the Advanced ENT & Allergy Center in Colorado

Laura Morrison, DO – Research Assistant, 2014

Current Position – DO at Holtz Children’s Hospital in Florida

Nikhil Paladugu – Research volunteer, 2017


Danisha Gallop – Research Assistant, 2014

Current Position – Research Assistant at University of Maryland, Baltimore

Zachary Margulies, BSc – Research Assistant, 2014

Lorna Silipino, BSc – Research Assistant, 2011 – 2015

Current Position – Research Staff at the Frederick National Laboratory

Mallory Highstein, MD – Resident Researcher, 2020

Current Position – ENT Resident at University of Maryland Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Ryan Casserly, MD – Resident Researcher, 2017

Current Position – Otology and Neurotology Physician at Otologic Medicine & Surgery at Christiana Care Health System in Delaware

Andrew Tkaczuk, MD – Resident Researcher, 2016

Current Position – Laryngologist and Assistant Professor at Emory School of Medicine

Katherine Perry, MD – Resident Researcher, 2013

Current Position – Otolaryngologist at Chesapeake Otolaryngology Association in Maryland

Gavin Gassen, MD – Resident Researcher, 2009

Current Position – Otolaryngologist and Assistant Professor at Tulane University School of Medicine

Kelly Finck, AuD – Student Researcher, 2017 – 2018

Current Position – Audiologist at Hearing Assessment Center, LLC in Maryland

Summer Students and Volunteers

Ashley Barnes, Summer Student 2013

Andrew Biedlingmaier, MD

Alok Shetty, Summer of 2017

Alexis Mears, Summers of 2018 and 2019

Sindhu Murugan, Summer of 2019

Katherine Williams, MD, Summer of 2013

Graham Trent, MD, Summer of 2015

Virginia Drake, MD, 2014

Christopher Toth, PA, 2014 – 2015

Allen Myers, Summer 2014 and Fall 2016 to Summer 2018

Tomer Lagziel, BSc

Lauren Chessum, PhD, 2017