Human Anatomical Sciences Graduate Students

Sawsan Alzukaimi

Sawsan is a graduate student in the HAS program. She graduated from medical school in Syria in 2001, came to the USA in 2008, and worked as a surgical assistant for a few years. She loves to teach, and because she had experience teaching anatomy to medical students in Syria, she came to NIU full of enthusiasm to finish her Master's degree. She plans to teach anatomy and start a Ph.D. degree here at NIU.

Nathalia Anderson

Nathalia is a first-year graduate student in the HAS (Human Anatomical Sciences) program. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering at the United States Military Academy. She has eight years of active-duty military service, including both domestic and overseas assignments, and is presently in the reserves. Following her graduation, Nathalia intends to embark on a career as a community college professor, specializing in teaching anatomy and physiology.

Christina Cline

Christina is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Science department at NIU. She is a 2017 graduate of the HAS program with her M.S. and obtained her B.A in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1997. Christina previously worked as a high school science teacher focusing on biology and anatomy courses for 14 years before returning to graduate school. She spent the last three years working as the lab coordinator for BIOS 357 where she enjoyed the challenges of teaching large amounts of anatomical information to allied health majors, managing the anatomy models collection, and mentoring new teaching assistants while steadily working on her dissertation. Her research is focused on understanding the value that pre-health care students have for learning communication skills and developing curricula that supports the teaching of such skills in anatomy and physiology courses. She recently accepted a more lecture-focused instructor position at NIU and is excited to continue to develop her skills in teaching across the HAS curriculum.

Kara Coffman-Rea

Kara Coffman-Rea graduated from NIU with a Bachelor of Science in 2007 and a master's in Human Anatomical Sciences in 2016. After graduating in 2016, she taught Anatomy and Physiology to allied health students until returning to NIU in 2019 to pursue her Ph.D. in biological sciences. Kara's Ph.D. research focuses on detecting microplastic particles throughout the human body. While completing her research, Kara continues to share her passion for anatomical sciences as an anatomy instructor at NIU.

Cait Elwart

Cait Elwart is a 2015 graduate of Northern Illinois University (NIU) with a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a specialization in Athletic Training. Over the past eight years, she has worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer, earned Orthopaedic Technologist credentials, and collaborated closely with some of the country's leading physicians and medical practices.

She takes particular pride in her experience at Northwestern Medicine and later at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, where she served as a Physician Extender and surgical assistant to a team physician for the Chicago White Sox. In these roles, she specialized in clinics focused on shoulder and spine care.

Currently, Cait works as a Physician Extender in Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Lurie Children's Hospital. She has a deep affection for her young patients and a specific interest in fracture care.

Outside of her professional life, Cait is a mother to two young daughters and a proud wife to an incredible husband. She shares her home with three dogs, two cats, and a horse.

Cait is enthusiastic about furthering her passion and expanding her knowledge in the Human Anatomical Sciences (HAS) program. She has future aspirations to become a Physician Assistant.

Devin Ephgrave

In Spring 2023, Devin graduated from Northern Illinois University (NIU) with a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences and a minor in Anthropology. During his final semester at NIU, he collaborated with the HAS program to instruct students in the NIU High School Anatomy Short Course when they visited the lab on field trips. This experience introduced him to the program and its comprehensive offerings for a deeper comprehension of human anatomy. Devin intends to apply to medical school after completing the program, with the aim of providing direct assistance to others.

Lisa Licari

Lisa is a student in the Human Anatomical Sciences program. Her passions in life include teaching, learning, and enjoying all of what life has to offer. Through her study of science in college at Benedictine University and her opportunities being a TA in several laboratory courses, she fell in love with teaching and went on to get a master's in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lisa works full-time as a high school Human Anatomy and Physiology and Biology teacher at West Chicago High School. She has also coached girls swimming, a sport she has competed in since she was young. Whenever she can, she enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, trying new activities, and spending time with her fiancé, family, and friends. Lisa is very excited about having gotten the opportunity to complete this program while still working full-time as a teacher. Her knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the human body has increased greatly, and she wants to thank her professors for providing her with the tools necessary to be a better, more knowledgeable teacher, one that is able to integrate many of the concepts she has learned into her high school curriculum. When Lisa completes the program, she would like to teach at a higher education level, and possibly also get a Ph.D. She also plans on pursuing a graduate degree in educational leadership and possibly becoming a principal one day. She is eager to expand her knowledge in this field of study and is very passionate about the marvelous, extraordinary machine that is our human body!

Brian Gabrielsen

Brian is a first-semester graduate student in the HAS (Human Anatomical Sciences) program. He graduated magna cum laude from Northern Illinois University (NIU) in the fall of 2022 with a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences. Currently, he assists undergraduate students in learning anatomy and physiology. As part of his Master's program, Brian conducts research under the supervision of Dr. Yasui, focusing on the study of deficits in autophagosomes in irradiated brain cancer cells. He utilizes a Transmission Electron Microscope for this research. Upon completing his degree, Brian plans to attend medical school with the goal of earning his M.D. and pursuing a career in pediatrics.